Part 1: Five Reasons to Believe in a Personal God
Here are five thoughts to intrigue both the believer and non-believer alike and help demonstrate that faith can be reasonable. If you like what you read (or are curious to learn more) please come to our apologetics (defense of the faith) class to ask good questions and hear sound arguments. We will be meeting every Saturday evening, beginning January 18th, at 6:00 pm in the Church for Vespers (Evening Prayer) and then class afterward.
- Science, Religion and Absolute Truth. Many think that science and religion necessarily disagree but this is not the case. Science tries to answer the question of how things happen (Ex. How can the human eye see a sunrise and how does the sunrise happen?), and religion tries to answer the questions of why they happen and who made them (who made the sunrise and why do we perceive it as beautiful?). The questions and answers are different. They are complimentary, not contradictory. Science and religion both seek the truth. Some disagree that there is such a thing as absolute truth (at least in terms of religion and morality). They say that all truth is relative to each person/culture. How can it be absolutely true for everyone that there is no absolute truth for everyone? Some say that the only truth for everyone is that which is scientifically verifiable. But that conclusion is not scientifically verifiable. How much does that idea weigh? What is the shape, color, and molecular density of that thought? There is none. We cannot be so narrow-minded as to suppose that absolute truth excludes religion and morality and is only limited to science. The only good reason to believe anything (including religion) is because it’s the best and truest thing. Here is an example of where faith and science agree: before the Big Bang, essentially nothing existed in the physical universe (not even empty space). As Christians, we can believe in the Big Bang theory (which was formed by a brilliant scientist and Catholic priest – a believer in a Creator and intelligent design). The universe had a beginning and will have an end (due to entropy). Faith and science agree that there was a definite starting point to creation.
- God the Uncaused Cause. The beginning of the universe was caused by a divine Creator who is a necessary and uncaused Being – the First Mover who personally set the Universe in motion (like a person pushing over the first domino in a line). Without a Cause to act upon the series and set it in motion the universe would have remained nothing (non-existent) forever. Believers in a universe without beginning must admit that time is infinite and therefore an infinite amount of time and nothingness would have to pass before a universe could begin. Since clearly the universe exists, and not nothingness, time is not infinite, nor the universe begun by chance. Plus, if the universe only had an end but no beginning that would be like a stick with only one end, which is impossible. Only an Uncaused Being could have chosen to create all that exists – and this Being is called God by Christians. Those who would say that no one created the sunrise but rather that it is merely a collection of molecules scattering rays of sunlight (how a sunrise exists – a question of science) must take the argument a step further: who made the molecules, the sun and the universe? The universe was necessarily begun by a Being outside of it.
- Evolution or Intelligent Design? Christians can believe in the theory of evolution as fine-tune species adaptations guided by God – the Intelligent Designer. When Darwin, the founder of the theory of evolution, wrote “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” he lacked the scientific understanding available today (biochemistry, and cellular and molecular biology). Because of this, and the evidence found in the Fossil Record (an explosion of variation in species during the Cambrian Era happening in much too short a span of time for the slow process of evolution), among other things, many scientists and professors from the most prestigious universities in the world are skeptical of claims holding that evolution is to account for the complexity of life. In their own words, “Research on animal development and macroevolution over the last thirty years—research done from within the neo-Darwinian framework—has shown that the neo-Darwinian explanation for the origin of new body plans is overwhelmingly likely to be false—and for reasons that Darwin himself would have understood.” To say that everything exists because of happenstance is to ignore science and have blind faith in an astronomically implausible event– odds of 1 in 10^37 (one divided by one with 37 zeros after it: 1/10000000…) of producing a single promising mutation in the whole history of life in the universe. Since time is not infinite the odds of this happening are effectively zero. An unabridged dictionary forming from an explosion in a printing press is vastly more likely. Additionally, if all that exists is due to random chance mutations, then that means our brains (incredibly sophisticated organs beyond scientific comprehension) are merely the results of so many atoms bouncing off one another like billiard balls and offer no assurance that this conclusion is correct. Brains as collections of atoms evolving accidentally are not to be trusted to know what is true. Brains designed by a divine and intelligent Creator, and which see the world as intelligible (able to be known by reason and logic), can be trusted. How much more worth there is in a person created specifically and uniquely by a Creator than by random chance.
- The Immortality of the Human Soul. The human soul is both immortal and immaterial (not made of matter). It is proven to be immaterial in that it produces immaterial things: ideas. Immaterial things must proceed from an immaterial power and not merely a material one. Ideas have no physical, measurable properties and yet they exist and are capable of changing the world. No one has ever seen redness itself; we have seen red things. No one has seen a pound in itself (we have seen things that weigh a pound). One cannot see greed walking around but one can see greedy people walking around. Every person has ideas. Those who would say ideas are merely a collection of neurons firing in the brain would have to admit that to conceive of an idea would mean that the part of the brain that conceived it would become that idea. Ex. I think of the color blue and my brain turns blue or I think of an elephant and my brain suddenly becomes an elephant. This is clearly ridiculous. But to say that when I think of the color blue, I am merely thinking of neurons is also incorrect as I am thinking not of neurons but the color blue (people know the color blue who don’t know what neurons are). When I say that mercy is kinder than justice, I am not saying that the neurons of mercy are somehow kinder than the neurons of justice. Rather the electro-chemical activity of the brain corresponds to ideas the way the decimal system in a library computer corresponds to a book. The barcode is not the book itself but rather a way that the computer’s “brain” engages the reality of a book. Similarly, neurons firing in the brain may correspond to an idea, but they are not the idea itself. The immortality of the soul is proven in that it does not die. The definition of death is the decomposition of something into its constituent parts such that the thing can no longer function. Our mortal bodies are made of parts and therefore can experience death. The soul does not die since it is not composed of parts (being immaterial it has no weight, no color, no shape, no length or width, no atomic structure, no physical properties at all). Therefore, every human soul lives forever.
- Worship owed to a personal God. God is a personal God and not merely an impersonal force that caused our universe. If He were merely just another domino in the line, then He would not be the ultimate Uncaused Cause and First Mover of the Universe. Therefore, He acted with freedom and deliberate intent, qualities of personhood. God did not have to create (nothing can force an omnipotent Being) but He purposefully chose to. God as a perfect Being lacks nothing and therefore was already perfectly content, fulfilled and glorified. Creation did not give God more glory or more happiness but rather shared in His splendor, power and joy and manifested it. As Creator of everything, God is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient) and all-good (being the inventor of goodness), and rightly owed our worship (as the inferior owes deference to the superior). We owe Him our lives since He created them – they are His. Since God is personal (a real Being with real desires and actions), He can and does communicate Himself to His creation. As God’s creations we do not get to choose how we rightly worship God but rather we must worship Him the way in which He asks.
Come find out how God asks us and teaches us to worship Him! The answer may surprise you and it will be the most fulfilling quest imaginable!