How Does God’s Aseity Affect You?

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked up one scientist to go and tell God that he was no longer needed. The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things through science. So, why don’t you go and get lost?” God listening patiently said after he was finished speaking, “Very well, how about this? Let’s say that we have a man-making contest?” “Okay, fantastic!” replied the scientist. “But,” God said, “we have to do it just as I did back at the very beginning.” “Sure,” the scientist replied. The scientist bent down and grabbed some dirt and chemicals. God looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go and create your own dirt, air, water, chemicals, and universe.” The scientist conceded their defeat.[1]

In Exodus 3:13-14, we read God’s response to Moses. Moses was a Hebrew growing up in Egypt. Egypt had a multiplicity of gods. Here, God had asked Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of bondage. It was natural for Moses to ask, “Who should I tell them is sending me?” God gave his personal name, “Yahweh.” The name Yahweh is a complicated name which means “I AM WHAT I AM.” In other words, it means the “self-existent One.” Theologically, this attribute of God is known as “aseity.” Aseity comes from the Latin term “aseite” or “a se” which means “to exist from oneself.” What does this mean? Due to the complexity of today’s topic and to simplify the issue, many of our points today were borrowed from the section of Norman Geisler’s book Systematic Theology dealing with aseity.[2]

God’s aseity demonstrates God’s ACTUALITY (Exodus 3:13-14).

Looking back at today’s primary text, Moses said to God, “’If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-14).[3] Here, we find the name “Yahweh aser Yahweh.” The name Yahweh is defined by Strong’s Dictionary as “to exist, be in existence.”[4] In other words, the name of God demonstrates that God is self-existent. Theologically, this is called God’s “actuality” which means that God is independent and self-existing.

God’s aseity demonstrates God’s UNCAUSALITY (Psalm 90:2).

Psalm 90 is a psalm written by Moses. Moses writes, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, ‘Return, O children of man!’ For a thousand years in your sight are but yesterday when it is past or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:2-4). In other words, Moses, in his psalm along with Genesis 1:1, teaches that God is the uncaused cause of all things. God had no cause. He is eternal, timeless, in nature.

God’s aseity demonstrates God’s NECESSITY (John 1:3; Romans 11:36).

John writes “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Paul writes, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). In other words, they tell us that God’s existence is necessary because of the existence of anything.

God’s aseity demonstrates God’s Immutability (Malachi 3:6).

The prophet Malachi, speaking for God, writes, “For I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6). When we speak about God’s immutability, we mean that God is unchangeable.

God’s aseity demonstrates God’s SUSTAINABILITY (Colossians 1:17).

Paul writes in Colossians 1:17 that God is “before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). In other words, God’s self-sustaining existence demonstrates the need for God to hold and sustain all of creation together.

So, how does God’s aseity affect you?

  1. God does not need us, we need him!

So often we feel that God needs us in some form or fashion. God could have existed just fine without creating us. Our existence was never necessary. God’s existence is. Thus, we should realize that God should be the center of our worship and adoration. Worship is God-centered not man-centered.

  1. The universe does not revolve around you, it revolves around God.

Living in a time of self-entitlement, this reality may serve as a blow to the ego as we post on social media to see how many “likes” we can obtain. Often people seek to brag about their accomplishments to obtain approval from another. However, God’s aseity reminds us that the world and the universe really does not revolve around us. It revolves around God.

  1. If we refuse to be used by God, God will use someone else.

A person should be humbled to realize that their existence is not necessary. Yet, the believer should be further humbled to realize that it is a great privilege to serve Christ. If the believer refuses to serve God, God will simply use someone else. God’s mission to extend salvation to humanity is not stopped by one person’s obstinacy.

  1. God speaks his love to us by deciding to create us.

The psalmist writes that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Yet, God’s aseity also demonstrates God’s love for all of humanity. God did not have to create any of us. The fact that we can experience life is a demonstration of God’s great love. God gave us life. Life is a great blessing!

  1. It is unspeakable to think that God would also desire to save us!

If you are humbled by the fact that God demonstrated grace to create you, it is mind-boggling to think that God went out of his way to save you! God would have been perfectly justified in condemning all of humanity to an eternal hell. However, God didn’t. God chose, rather, to save those who would receive his grace. God’s aseity should humble us and cause us to desire to worship God with every morsel of our being.

 

© March 9, 2016. Brian Chilton.

 

Sources Cited

Geisler, Norman. Systematic Theology: In One Volume. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2011.

Hodgin, Michael E. 1002 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004.

Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995.

Notes

[1] Michael E. Hodgin, 1002 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 280.

[2] Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology: In One Volume (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2011), 436.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

[4] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995).

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Essential Doctrines (Part 1): The Doctrine of God’s Existence

 

creation-god     The most basic and fundamentally essential belief in the Christian worldview is the acceptance of a theistic God. This article will examine the first essential doctrine to the Christian faith: the existence of God. The article will define what the doctrine entails, why a person can believe the doctrine, and why the doctrine is considered essential.

 

What Is the Doctrine?

The doctrine of God’s existence is critical to the Christian worldview. It is, in fact, foundational to the remaining doctrines of the Christian faith. If God does not exist, then there is no use moving further. Yet, if God does exist, then there is a foundation to all other religious doctrines.

The doctrine of God that needs to hold true for the Christian faith is that of theism. Norman Geisler explains theism as, …the worldview that an infinite, personal God created the universe and miraculously intervenes in it from time to time (see Miracle). God is both transcendent over the universe and immanent in it” (Geisler BECA 1999, 722). Geisler mentions that theism holds that God is both transcendent and immanent. These elements of belief in God are essential to the Christian doctrine. One could prove God’s existence without proving Christianity, but one cannot prove Christianity without proving the existence of a theistic God. Transcendence means that God exists as a separate entity from the universe. In contrast to pantheistic religions, God exists apart from the universe. Therefore, the universe is a creation of God. Immanence describes God’s working within the universe. Deists, like Thomas Jefferson, believe in God’s existence, but do not hold that God works within creation. Creation is like a wound-up clock and is ticking apart from God on its’ own. However, theists understand that God works in creation. God reveals God’s self to human beings (e.g. revelation). This is critical in understanding doctrines such as sin and the incarnation of Christ.

 

Why Should a Person Believe the Doctrine?

The Bible states, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Psalmist writes, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known” (Psalm 19:1-2). The Bible clearly shows that God exists. But is there any reason for believing in a theistic God outside the Bible? Actually, yes…there is.

Transcendent God

Is there evidence that God exists? If you have followed this website for any lengths of time, then you know that there are multiple reasons for believing in God’s existence (see article “30 Abbreviated Arguments for the Existence of God”). However, we will still grant one of the reasons for believing that God is the transcendent creator of the universe.

A powerful argument for God’s transcendent existence is the Argument from Efficient Causality. Peter Kreeft explains,

 “We notice that some things cause other things to be (to begin to be, to continue to be, or both)….Existence is like a gift given from cause to effect. If there is not one who has the gift, the gift cannot be passed down the chain of receivers, however long or short the chain may be…If there is no God who has existence by his own eternal nature, then the gift of existence cannot be passed down the chain of creatures and we can never get it. But we do get it; we exist. Therefore there must exist a God: and Uncaused Being who does not have the receive existence like us—and like every other link in the chain of receivers” (Kreeft and Tacelli 1994, 51).

Perhaps the most popular argument in recent times that shows forth efficient causality is the Kalam Cosmological Argument. The Kalam Argument argues: 1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause. 2) The universe began to exist. 3) Therefore, the universe has a cause. The Big Bang Theory shows that the universe holds an absolute beginning in space-time history. Some argue that a multiverse (M-Theory) exists which could hold several mini-universes of which ours is one. However, such a theory only pushes back the “God problem” one step. Robin Collins explains,

 “Although some of the laws of physics can vary from universe to universe in superstring/M-Theory, these fundamental laws and principles underlie superstring/M-Theory and therefore cannot be explained as a multiverse selection effect. Further, since the variation among universes would consist of variation of the masses and types of particles, and the form of the forces between them, complex structures would almost certainly be atomlike and stable energy sources would almost certainly require aggregates of matter. Thus, the said fundamental laws seem necessary for there to be life in any of the many universes generated in this scenario, not merely in a universe with our specific types of particles and forces. In sum, even if an inflationary-superstring multiverse generator exists, it must have just the right combination of laws and fields for the production of life-permitting universes: if one of the components were missing or different, such as Einstein’s equation or the Pauli Exclusion Principle, it is unlikely that any life-permitting universes could be produced. Consequently, at most, this highly speculative scenario would explain the fine-tuning of the constants of physics, but at the cost of postulating additional fine-tuning of the laws of nature” (Collins 2012, 264-265).

In other words, even a multiverse where a generator existed to produce other universes would require fine-tuning and would, therefore, require a creator. In addition, the Borg-Vilenkin-Guth theorem (BVG) demonstrates that all universes…including a multiverse…would require a beginning point. So, really, a transcendent God is required for M-Theory, or a multiverse, to exist as much as just this universe alone. There are many more arguments for the existence of God (for a listing of 30 arguments for God’s existence, see “30 Abbreviated Arguments for the Existence of God”).

Immanence of God

How does one know that God is immanent? There are a few ways that one can know that God is immanent, or personal. One, if the human soul (consciousness) exists, then it must have been placed there for personal reasons. Consciousness is something that baffles modern skeptics. Thomas Nagel, an atheist, recently wrote a book titled Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. In the book, Nagel explains that atheists are going to have to consider the fact that a human soul, or consciousness, exists. Why would God create such a consciousness in human beings? A good answer would be that God could have a personal relationship with God. Also, near-death experiences (NDEs) would demonstrate the consciousness (soul) of human beings existing outside the material bodies of human beings.

Two, miracles would be a great way to show that God is personal. If only one miracle occurs, then one would have enough to claim that God is personal. There are a multitude of miracles that can be concurred (see Craig Keener’s book Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts). One of the greatest is the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see articles on this website devoted to the resurrection of Christ).

Finally, personal experiences with God would demonstrate that God is personal. Thousands of cases exist across the globe of individuals who have had personal experiences with the divine. A recent phenomenon is that of visions of Christ. Many have visions of Christ that lead the person to faith. These are not isolated experiences either. The personal experiences and encounters with God show that God is personal. The transcendence and immanence of God leads one towards theism. This does not necessarily prove the Christian worldview…other essential doctrines are necessary to do such. However, this shows that Christianity is at least credible.

 

Why is the Doctrine Essential?

The doctrine of God’s existence is essential. Perhaps it is one of the most essential doctrines of all. How can one claim that Jesus is the Son of God if one does not believe in God? Otherwise, one would say that Jesus is a son. Well, that’s good, but you do not have Christianity in such a case. The belief in God is also critical in understanding the value of every human being. When God is understood to be transcendent AND immanent, then  one will be able to acknowledge that everything in this universe has a purpose. It might be that the person does not understand the purpose of a particularly thing…but there is a purpose nonetheless. The fact that every human being possesses a God-given soul shows that each person holds great importance. It is inescapable that a theistic belief in God is essential in Christianity.

 

Bibliography

All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007.

Chilton, Brian. “30 Abbreviated Arguments for the Existence of God.” pastorbrianchilton.wordpress.com. (October 2013). Accessed January 20, 2014. https://pastorbrianchilton.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/30-abbreviated-arguments-for-the-existence-of-god/.

Collins, Robin. “The Teleological Argument.” The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.

Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 722.

Kreeft, Peter, and Ronald K. Tacelli. Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions. Downers Grove: IVP, 1994.

 

30 Abbreviated Arguments for the Existence of God

universe 2  Many apologists focus on a few arguments. But did you realize there are multiple arguments for the existence of God? Understand that it would be impossible for one to post an in-depth article on each of these arguments without having written a book. It is not the purpose of this article to present an in-depth look at these arguments. Rather, it is the purpose of this article to open the eyes of the reader to the wealth of arguments that exist for the existence of God. One will note that some arguments, or proofs, are stronger than others. It is not the intent of this article to defend each argument. However, the article does intend to show the strong case for God’s existence when taking all the arguments together as a whole. Most of these arguments were taken from the works of Peter Kreeft. Please see the bibliography and check out his works as he gives a much more detailed explanation of these arguments than what was sought in this article. There may be many more arguments that are not listed in this article. However, the arguments presented are among some of the more popular arguments. The last three arguments are those of this writer, as strong or as weak as they may be. In addition, this article was created to be a quick reference for those seeking popular arguments for the existence of God.

1. Ontological: Anselm’s Argument (Anselm)

One of the more controversial arguments is that of Anselm’s ontological argument. The argument goes like this:

“1. It is greater for  a thing to exist in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone.

2. ‘God’ means ‘that than which a greater cannot be thought.’

3. Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality.

4. Then a greater than God could be thought…

5. Therefore God exists in the mind and in reality” (Kreeft and Tacellli, 1994)

In other words, God is that which nothing greater could be conceived. If God is this, then God must exist in reality as well as in the mind.

2. Ontological: Modal Version of the Ontological Argument (Hartshorne and Malcolm)

Charles Hartshorne and Norman Malcolm developed an additional version of Anselm’s argument. Kreeft and Tacelli define it as:

“1. The expression ‘that being than which a greater cannot be thought’ (GCB, for short) expresses a consistent concept.

2. GCB cannot be thought of as: a. necessarily nonexistent; or as b. contingently existing but only as c. necessarily existing.

3. So GCB can only be thought of as the kind of being that cannot not exist, that must exist.

4. But what must be so is so.

5. Therefore, GCB (i.e., God) exists” (Kreeft and Tacelli, 1994).

It would seem that this version accepts God’s existence as a necessity and continues from there. Since GCB is consistent and the highest thing that could necessarily be, GCB must exist.

3. Ontological: Possible Worlds Argument (Alvin Plantinga)

The following is a difficult argument constructed by Alvin Plantinga and simplified by Kreeft and Tacelli:

“1. There is a possible world (W) in which there is a being (X) with maximal greatness.

2. But X is maximally great only if X has maximal excellence in every possible world.

3. Therefore X is maximally great only if X has onmipotence, omniscience, and moral perfection in every possible world.

4. In W, the proposition ‘There is no omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being’ would be impossible–that is, necessarily false.

5. But what it impossible does not vary from world to world.

6. Therefore, the proposition, ‘There is no omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being’ is necessarily false in this actual world, too.

7. Therefore, there actually exists in this world, and must exist in every possible world, an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being” (Kreeft and Tacelli, 1994).

In other words, if God is possible in one world, God is possible in all worlds. God’s existence far exceeds the rationality of God’s non-existence.

4. Cosmological: Argument from Motion (Aquinas)

Nothing can essentially change itself (i.e., grow wings or grow gills by one’s own power). Therefore, one must be changed or created from something beyond the scope of oneself. Ultimately, this leads to a prime mover (God).

5. Cosmological: Argument from Efficient Causality (Aquinas)

Nothing can create its own existence. One’s existence requires something beyond the scope of oneself. (Even the universe came from something beyond the scope of itself. Quantum physics show how things already in existence can appear to pop into existence. However, this is viewing the physics after it has been created. It should be considered that at the beginning, before physics even existed, even these things have to possess a first cause.) Ultimately, the prime Creator is God.

6. Cosmological: Argument from Contingency and Necessity (Aquinas)

There are contingent beings (beings that exist because of something else) and a necessary being (a being that is necessitated by the existence of contingent beings…in other words a being that must be, or a being that cannot not be). Contingent beings…beings that are here depending on a necessary being…are here because of a necessary being (God). In other words, our existence demands that God must exist.

7. Cosmological: Argument from Degrees of Perfection

Degrees of perfection demand that there be a standard of perfection. A standard must exist before the imperfections of a standard can be known. That standard is found in the person and being of God.

8. Teleological: Argument from Design (Teleological)

Teleological arguments discuss the design in the universe and how such design shows the need for a designer…God. William Lane Craig explains this argument as:

“1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due either to physical necessity, chance, or design.

2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

3. Therefore, it is due to design” (Craig 2008, 161).

Check out Craig’s work Reasonable Faith for more information on this argument.

9. Teleological: Leibnizian Cosmological Argument (Leibniz)

Gottfried William Leibniz also had an argument for the design and/or origin of the universe. This is considered a cosmological argument, but is added here due to the influence of design on the implications of Leibniz’ argument.

1. Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence. (From 1, 3).

5. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God. (From 2, 4)” (Craig 2008, 106).

10. Teleological/Cosmological: Design (Kalam) Argument

We have addressed this argument before in a previous article. The argument goes: 1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. This argument is short, sweet, and stout in its implications.

11. Psychological: Argument from Absolute Truth (Augustine)

Augustine purported that we are in contact with objective absolute truths that transcend us. These absolute truths (such as mathematical formulas) are superior to the human experience and on par with the divine. The divine God is the only acceptable explanation for such truths.

12. Psychological: Argument from  Origin of Idea of God (Descartes)

Descartes seems to make an argument for revelation. Descartes argues that our idea of God could not have originated by the effect (us), but must have originated by the cause (God). Some may write this off. However, it is plausible especially understanding that one cannot know another unless introduced. Animals have no concept of the divine. If humans are merely a product of animalistic adaptations, then why should humans think of the divine? Superstitions would lead to animism, but not to the divine unless the divine introduced Himself to humanity.

13. Psychological: Argument from Morality (Kant)

The argument from morality goes: 1. God is the best answer for the existence of objective morality. 2. Objective morals exist. 3. Therefore, God exists. There are variations of this argument, but we have presented the general gist of the argument. Objective morals are those morals that transcend culture (e.g., wrong to rape, wrong to murder those of one’s community, and et cetera).

14. Psychological: Argument from Consciousness (Newman)

The argument from consciousness argues the existence of God as the explanation of consciousness. Kreeft and Tacelli post the argument as:

 “1. We experience the universe as intelligible. This intelligibility means that the universe is graspable by intelligence.

2. Either this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence, or both intelligibility and intelligence are the products of blind chance.

3. Not blind chance.

4. Therefore this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence” (Kreeft and Tacelli, 1994).

Consciousness comes from consciousness. Ultimately, consciousness must come from an eternal, conscious being…God.

15. Psychological: Argument from Innate Desires (C. S. Lewis)

C.S. Lewis popularized the argument that people have desires for real things (desire for money, desire for power over something, etc.). People have, at least unconsciously, a desire for God and heaven. Therefore, God must exist.

16. Psychological: Argument from Aesthetic Beauty (Von Balthasar)

Peter Kreeft explains, “Beauty reveals God. There is Mozart, therefore there must be God” (Kreeft 1990, 64).

17. Psychological: Argument from Existential Meaning

Without God, everything is meaningless. Since life has meaning, that meaning must be found in God.

18. Psychological: Argument from Mystical Experiences

Individuals have had visions of the divine and other such experiences that could only come from God. This gives credence to the existence of God as many of these experiences are not explainable by hallucinations and the like.

19. Psychological: Argument from Religious Experiences

Individuals all across the globe have had similar experiences of the divine. Most of these experiences can only be attributed to God, especially among those who were adamantly opposed to the faith in the beginning.

20. Psychological: Argument from Love and Value

Without God, no absolute form of love is possible or conceivable. Absolute love is possible and conceivable. Therefore, absolute love is found only in a loving God’s existence. Add to this the value of life found in love.

21. Mental: Argument from other Minds (Alvin Plantinga)

It is just as difficult to prove other minds exist as it is to prove the Mind of God. Since other minds exist, it is conceivable that God exists and God is the source of the mind.

22. Practical: Pascal’s Wager

There are two options: God exists or God does not exist. There are two choices: choose God or reject God. If one is wrong about the existence of God, there is nothing to lose. If one is correct in that God exists, then the only choice to insure eternal happiness is God. So, there is everything to gain with God and everything to lose without God.

20-arguments_pascal

23. Historical: Argument from Miracles

Miracles are understood by supernatural works by God. If miracles occur at any point in history, God must be the cause. Multiple miracles have occurred over the course of human history. Therefore, God exists.

24. Historical: Argument from Providence

God’s working can be seen in history, through the working of Scripture, and through the working of individuals. God’s existence is the only possible explanation of these occurrences.

25. Historical: Argument from Authority

As Kreeft explains, “Most good, wise, reliable people believe in God” (Kreeft 1990, 64). If this is the case, then the common link is God.

26. Historical: Argument from the Saints

If something is positively different about authentic religious people than those who are not, there must be a reason. If the positive results are shown to be from God, then God must exist. Authentic religious people are different than unbelievers. Many show changes and possess strength that could only be attributed to the divine. Therefore, God exists.

27. Historical: Argument from the Resurrection

If the resurrection of Christ can be shown as a real event in history, then the existence of God is demanded as an explanation for the resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is and can be shown as a fact of history. Therefore, God exists.

28. Additional: Information Argument

Processes and programs require information to operate. Information requires intelligence. The universe consists of processes and programs. Therefore, the universe requires programming intelligence. In other words, since there are processes in the universe, there must be a grand programmer of all things…God.

29: Additional: Transformation Argument

This is similar to the argument from the saints. There are several individuals throughout history who have experienced a 180 degree turnaround. Atheists and antagonists to the Christian faith have become Christians due to personal encounters with God. God’s existence is the only rational explanation for these occurrences.

30. Additional: NDE and OBE Argument

Since there are several occasions where people have experienced God after death, and there have been occasions where these experiences have been medically confirmed (for example, individuals who have witnessed and confirmed events and objects after being pronounced dead, then being allowed to come back to confirm the events and objects), the existence of God and the afterlife are the only rational conclusions. See the works of J. P. Moreland and Gary Habermas for greater detail of such occurrences.

Conclusion:

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, some of these arguments may be more convincing than others. However, when one examines the entirety of these arguments as a whole, one is left with a compelling argument for the existence of God. Ultimately, the greatest apologetic is when one is open to an experience with God. All in all, there is, in this writer’s mind, good, solid reasons for believing in God.

Continuing to argue for and experience this powerful, holy, loving God,

Pastor Brian

Nuckolls_County_Courthouse_courtroom_2

Bibliography

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith, 3d Ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

Kreeft, Peter and Fr. Ronald Tacelli. Handbook of Christian Apologetics. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1994. From http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm. Accessed October 21, 2013.

Kreeft, Peter. Annotated Notes in Thomas Aquinas. Summa of the Summa. Edited and Annotated by Peter Kreeft. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 1990.

 

Copyright. Pastor Brian Chilton. 2014.

If We are Here and God is God, Then Why Worry: Removing Christian Fear about Scientific Discoveries

universal_law  In the view of many, science and religion are irreconcilable enemies. Some scientists feel this way and many religious individuals feel this way, too. This is fueled by discoveries  used by secularists to supposedly damage the faith of the faithful. One will read the passive-aggressive, and some outright aggressive, comments of secularists purporting that they possess evidence that will put the idea of God to rest. This has left many Christians fearful that a discovery could be made that would disprove the existence of God. Is such a discovery possible? If God is understood as the creator of all things, then such a discovery is not possible. Why? It is due to the fact that everything in the universe is understood as a creation of God. The universe is like an engine where God is like an engineer. John Lennox said at a conference, “Some people claim that they cannot see God in the universe. Well of course you can’t. That is like seeking to find Henry Ford in a Ford engine” (John Lennox, SES). Lennox explains in his book Gunning for God, “Physical laws on their own cannot create anything; they are merely a (mathematical) description of what normally happens under certain given conditions. Newton’s law of gravitation does not create gravity; it doe not even explain gravity, as Newton himself realized. In fact, the laws of physics are not only incapable of creating anything; they cannot even cause anything to happen” (Lennox 2011 GFG, 33). So if we understand who God is and the fact that we are here, then we would expect to find certain scientific truths.

Jeff Zweerink     1.     If we are here and God is God, then we would expect to find beginning processes.

On a recent Apologetics.com Podcast, Jeff Zweerink spoke on the beginnings of the universe. Zweerink, who holds a PhD in astrophysics, spoke of the early universe and of the possibility of a multiverse. He basically said that a multiverse and many of the theories employed by secularist scientists do not negate the existence of God. He indicated that he, like many Christians, worried  that there could be a finding that would negate the existence of God. But such a finding will not occur if God is God and we are here.

Think about this: say a computer programmer desires to create a new program. It is a complex program and would have characters who would have minds of their own. In order to create this program, the computer programmer needs a super computer. So, the programmer sets forth creating a mega-computer. He starts by developing a motherboard. Piece by piece, he solders the chips in place. Then he adds the hardware and monitor that consists of the computer. After starting up the computer, he programs the computer to hold certain systems. Then, he begins the program with the first command. Command after command and algorithm after algorithm, he continues until the virtual universe is created and the characters within the universe are created. Now suppose the virtual characters begin to wonder how they came to be. They begin exploring. They trace their existence back to the first command. Then, in their scientific experiments, they would notice a universe far greater than they could imagine. They notice circuits which gave rise to their program. They tried to find a unifying theory on how all these things came to be. Do the program and circuitry explain how they came to be? Yes. But, do the program and circuitry explain why they came to be? No. More importantly, do the program and circuitry explain the rise of the characters? Absolutely not. The commands and algorithms are assigned to give order to the program. However, the commands and algorithms came from the programmer.

Why should we expect to find anything different? The laws of nature are descriptive and NOT prescriptive. Because elements have mass, we should expect to find things like the Higgs Boson. Because the universe came into existence, we should expect to find things like the singularity and the origins of the universe. We should expect to find structures in quantum physics that were used to jumpstart the universe. However, these beginnings do NOT negate the importance nor the existence of God. In fact, these things demand the existence of God because they exist. It may be that scientists find that the beginning of the universe was far more complex than expected. We may find that what is beyond our universe is far more fantastic than ever imagined. However, this does not negate the existence of God. For God is far bigger than the beginning of the universe. God is the whole show. God is the author, designer, and implementer of these processes. Again, these processes explain how God brought the universe into being…not why the universe was brought into being. These laws and processes are no more responsible for the origin of the universe than a light bulb is for electricity. They are tools and instruments to explain how the universe came to be, not answers to why the universe came to be. The “why” question can only be answered by the existence of God.

development2.     If we are here and God is God, then we would expect to find developing processes.

Could God create everything at once? If God is God, then yes God could. However, from what we can tell of God through special revelation (the Bible) and general revelation (the universe), it is seen that God works through the process of development. Perhaps this shows the patience of God. If we are here and God is God, then this would be what we would expect to find. People are not born full grown adults. They are born tiny babies and develop into adult men and women. If this is the process God has established, then why would we expect to find anything different in the universe and the world? This does not demerit the existence of God no more than an algorithm demerits a computer programmer. Because there are processes of development, it is necessitated that there exist one who designed the process. For how does non-being give birth to being? How does an inorganic thing give birth to a organic (living) being? Life produces life. Consciousness begets consciousness. Order does not come from chaos unless there is a conscious living being giving order. The processes, like a program, demand an organizing, creating first cause (God). Otherwise, it would seem that absurdities (like a rock giving birth to a zebra) would exist.

Fundamental Forces of Nature3.     If we are here and God is God, then we would expect to find sustaining processes.

The fact that the laws of physics remain stable in a dynamic universe is amazing. But the stability of these laws seem to indicate a stabilizing principle. In a universe of flux and change, a universe governed to run out of energy (2nd Law of Thermodynamics), how is it that these laws remain consistent? These laws demand something greater than themselves. As John Lennox wrote, “However, in the world in which most of us live, the simple law of arithmetic by itself, 1+1=2, never brought anything into being. It certainly has never put any money into my bank account. If I put £1,000 into the bank, and later another £1,000, the laws of arithmetic will rationally explain how it is that I now have £2,000 in the bank. But if I never put any money into the bank myself, and simply leave it to the laws of arithmetic to bring money into being in my bank account, I shall remain permanently bankrupt” (Lennox 2011 G&SH, 41-42). Richard Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in physics, is quoted as saying, “The fact that there are rules at all to be checked is a kind of miracle; that it is possible to find a rule, like the inverse square law of gravitation, is some sort of miracle. It is not understood at all, but it leads to the possibility of prediction–that means it tells you what you would expect to happen in an experiment you have not yet done” (Feynman 2007, 23). Like the designed circuitry and programming by a computer engineer, one would expect to find consistent laws of nature in a universe designed for life. But these laws are not responsible for themselves. They are in fact programmed by a grander Mind…God.

god_particleConclusion:

Understanding the nature of God allows the Christian to rest easy when it comes to scientific findings. When the Christian understands that one needs not worry about the findings of science, it is extremely liberating. The Christian can then appreciate the sciences without feeling the need to be concerned over scientific findings. Science will not…and in fact can not…disprove the existence of God. However, the Christian should still remain wary of particular interpretations. As Frank Turek has stated, “Science does not say anything. Scientists do.” It is not the science that is the concern. Rather, it is the philosophy of those interpreting facts to say things that the facts are not equipped to state. So, enjoy the wonder and splendor of creation found in science. For the sciences, like the heavens, declare the glory of God.

Bibliography:

Feynman, Richard. The Meaning of It All. London, UK: Penguin, 2007. Quoted in John Lennox, God and Stephen Hawking. Oxford, UK: Lion, 2001.

Lennox, John. “Gunning for Gun.” Lecture. Southern Evangelical Seminary’s National Conference of Christian Apologetics 2012. Charlotte, NC. (October, 2012).

Lennox, John. God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? Oxford, UK: Lion, 2011.

Lennox, John. Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Mark. Oxford, UK: Lion, 2011.

Livermore, Jeffrey. “Astrophysics of ‘In the Beginning’–how the Higgs Boson helps us understand Creatio Ex Nihilo with Dr. Jeff Zweerink.”Apologetics. com. (October 8, 2013). http://www.apologetics.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=43&Itemid=74. Accessed October 15, 2013.

Are Abusive Christians the Prime Catalyst for Atheism: A Call for the Rise of Genuine Christianity

As I have begun this adventure known as apologetics, I have been able to meet people from different walks and various perspectives.  I have had the opportunity to converse with atheists and I have learned a little more about their beliefs and perspectives.  One thing that stands out to me is that many, if not most, atheists are not atheists due to intellectual problems with the existence of God and the reliability of the Bible (although there may exist different beliefs about certain passages and various interpretations), most of the atheists that I have met seem to have chosen that worldview because of a bad experience that they had with Christians…especially abusive Christians.  In this brief article, I would like to provide some insights about this problem.  The fact is that Jesus is just as much against Christians acting in an ungodly manner as the unbeliever is…in fact, He is in a greater degree against the problem.  So, what do we do with abusive Christians?  Can they be spotted?  Are they representations of Christianity?

leigh ann tuohy

THE NECESSITY OF LIVING WHAT YOU PREACH

In an interview leading to the release of The Blind Side, lead actress Sandra Bullock said of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the actual mother who inspired the film The Blind Side, that Tuohy was one of the few legitimate Christians that she had met.  Hopefully Ms. Bullock will meet more genuine Christians.  Why are there self-professed Christians who have no change in their lives?  The Bible makes it clear that there is supposed to be a change in the heart of one who comes to faith in Christ.  Yet, many self-professed Christians act no differently than they did before they claimed to have an experience with God.  Some even act worse having a little Bible knowledge.  But, it is wrong to blame Christ or the writers of the Bible for the actions of those who behave in such ways.  For one thing, Christ demanded that His followers love.  This is not a wishy-washy love that does not stand for truth.  But, it is a love that genuinely cares for those around them.  Those who are concerned about the human condition and seek to make things better.  Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35, NLT).  Jesus gives us the command to love one another.  God has showed the greatest love of all to those who are open to receive His grace.  Those who have received the love of God should be able and willing to show love to all people.  Understandably, it is difficult to love some people.  But, the great thing for the Christian is that when we show love to another and that love is rejected, we can leave those circumstances in the hand of God.  So, where is room for judgment and hostility when the Christian knows that God is in the process of working all things out? (See Romans 8:28).  Therefore, abusive Christians may not be actual Christians at all.

Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

“WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING”

It may be that it gets worse when thinking about abusive “Christians.”  Jesus warned us long ago that there would be false Christians mixed in with genuine Christians.  Jesus said,

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.  Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws’” (Matthew 7:15-23, NLT).

How does one decipher one who has had a legitimate encounter with God from one merely puffing smoke?  I feel that I have beaten this to death, but it bears repeating that the genuine Christian will meet certain criteria.  Jesus shows as much in the previous paragraph.  The Christian should have a legitimate change.  The Christian should, because of the Spirit of God abiding within them, produce, those attributes described by Paul when he wrote, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there” (Galatians 5:22-24, NLT).  Jesus said that we could identify a true Christian from a false Christian.  Paul gives the litmus test to do just that.  Does the person live in accordance to those attributes listed above?  It is impossible to do so without God’s Spirit.  Quite frankly, even the best of Christians are going to trip and fall from time to time.  But, do these attributes identify the overall walk of the person?  If they do, then the person is probably a genuine Christian.  But if the person constantly hates others, caustic, a troublemaker, impatient, unkind, bad, untrustworthy, harsh, and is self-destructive, that person cannot be said to be a true Christian.  Such a person is by no means a representative or an ambassador of genuine Christianity.

fake smile

JESUS’ CONFLICT WITH PSEUDO-RELIGIONISTS

The mantra of many a person who abstains from church is, “That church has hypocrites!  They do not live what they preach!”  Quite frankly, Jesus’ standards are extremely high.  No one could live by those standards because if one could, that person would be perfect.  That is just the point!  We need a Savior because we cannot live up to the standards of God.  A genuine relationship with God should bring humility.  That being said, it must also be known that Jesus fought against “pseudo-religionists” in His day just as genuine Christians should, too.  What are “pseudo-religionists?”  These are individuals who hide behind religion.  They have not had a real encounter with God, but they hide in the shadows of the structure and safety of the religious institution.  They are individuals who look nice on the outside, but dead on the inside.  They are like a walnut that I once tried to eat.  The walnut looked nice on the outside, but when one cracked the hard exterior of the shell, nothing but worms and emptiness were found.  Jesus fought against this type of religion.  Jesus even said of the pseudo-religionist Pharisees, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.  Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28, NLT).  You don’t like hypocrites?  Guess what, you are more like Jesus than you thought because Jesus doesn’t either!!!

Conclusion

What do we take from this?  For one, Christians should be on guard.  Christians should realize that not every profession of faith is legit.  Not everyone singing in the choir is truly singing for the glory of God.  Not everyone working behind the scenes does so for the Kingdom of God.  Not every leader is qualified to lead.  Not every preacher is an actual preacher from God.

Two, if you are a skeptic, consider that maybe there is a God and there is a Devil.  Wouldn’t this be a good strategy for the Devil?  Provide Trojan horses that manipulate situations so that others would think that evil actions are acceptable to God?  Isn’t that the sign of a coward and a manipulator?  Isn’t that at the heart of disingenuous Christianity?  For the unbeliever, you should simply take from this that not every self-professed Christian actually is a Christian.  Their deeds speak for themselves.

Many atheists have become atheists due to wolves imitating sheep.  In this writer’s opinion, it is time for the church to take a stand for genuine Christianity and allow God’s Spirit to flood us so that we can produce the fruits of the Spirit and show the world how true Christians should look.  May genuine Christians seek to follow the genuine Chief Shepherd…Jesus Christ.

Good Shepherd Pic

Seeking to display the fruits of the Spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit,

Pastor Brian Chilton