Why Believe in God?

Many say God doesn't exist. It's time to check out the evidence.
adapted from Know Why You Believe by Paul Little

You're sitting in the cafeteria with a few people from your biology class. The talk around the table is going a little bit of everywhere and not much of anywhere. Somewhere in the conversation, between chatting about dates and a killer bio test, you casually mention the church retreat you attended last weekend. Someone asks, "You go to church?" Another asks, "You believe in God?" Another says bluntly, "I don't believe in God. How can anyone even know if there is a God?"

You listen uncomfortably as everyone else talks about how evolution disproves God. You leave the cafeteria feeling defeated, maybe even wondering if intelligent people really do believe in God. Yes, says Christian writer Paul Little, many intelligent people do believe in God - and with good reason. In this adaptation from Know Why You Believe, Paul offers some evidence that should not only help strengthen your beliefs, but also give you something to say when the lunchroom conversation turns toward religion.

OK, we'll admit something right off. It is impossible to put God in a test tube or prove him by scientific method. But that shouldn't cause us to say, "God really is dead!" Hardly. In fact, there are many reasons to believe that God is very much alive and active in the universe.

Think about humanity's overall longing for something beyond what we see. It's this longing that causes people to turn to religion for answers.

It is significant that studies of the world's cultures show an almost universal belief in a god or gods. This is not surprising to people who believe the Bible. The writer of Ecclesiastes referred to God as having "set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This inner longing was described by Blaise Pascal, the great 17th-century mathematician, as "the God-shaped vacuum" in every human being.

Obviously, this "vacuum" isn't conclusive proof. But it is important to remember as we consider other evidence for God's existence.

What Are the Odds?

There are approximately 11 million species of life on earth, including humans. Did all of these, including the universe itself, begin by chance?

Scientists have claimed that given the right conditions, some sort of life form would eventually evolve. How ever, the same scientists who propose this theory are quick to point out its weaknesses. The respected astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle asks, "What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junk yard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and leave it ready for takeoff?" Hoyle answers, "The possibilities are so small as to be negligible even if a tornado were to blow through enough junk yards to fill the whole universe!"

In his book The Intelligent Universe, Hoyle says, "As biochemists discover more and more about the awesome complexity of life, it is apparent that its chances of originating by accident are so minute that they can be completely ruled out. Life cannot have arisen by chance."

In the Beginning

In 1965, two physicists discovered that the earth was entirely bathed in a faint glow of radiation. Its waves followed the exact pattern of wavelength expected in a giant explosion. Scientists explained that the waves were the obvious aftermath of a "big bang." Thus, an old theory about the beginnings of the universe gained wider acceptance in the scientific community.

Dr. Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA's Institute for Space Studies, says that the Big Bang theory offers scientific evidence for a biblical view of how the universe began. This respected scientist says that "science has proven that the universe exploded into being in a certain moment." He further explains that this sudden explosion points to a truth found in the very first sentence of the Bible: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

So we see that current scientific evidence for the Big Bang theory points toward a Creator God. And it affirms something King David wrote several thousand years ago: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalms 19:1).

Why Is There Right and Wrong?

Another evidence for the existence of God, says Christian writer C.S. Lewis, is that people everywhere in the world believe in some idea of right and wrong. People argue with one another every day: "That's my seat. I had it first! Suppose I did the same to you! How would you like it? Come on, you promised. ... "

These daily arguments show that there must be some law or rule of fair play or morality built into us. Lewis says this moral law cannot simply be about what a group of people decides is right for them. It is more like a mathematical table. We would never say the math table could be made differently if we had simply wanted to make it differently. Two plus two will always equal four. And just as there are math "laws" that can never change, the same is true of moral law.

Yes, there is Somebody behind the universe. He has put a moral law within us, and he is intensely interested in right conduct - in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness.

God's Greatest Evidence

Even though there are many things in nature - even human nature - that point toward God, we could never know conclusively from nature that he is or what he is like. But God has taken the initiative to reveal himself. He has lived among us. He has made his full invasion into human history in the person of Jesus Christ.

Think of it like this. If you want to communicate your love for a colony of ants, how could you most effectively do it? You'd become an ant. This is what God did for us. The best answer to how we know there is a God is that God himself has visited this planet. All of the other pieces of "evidence" for God are merely clues and hints.

The actual existence of Jesus is a well-accepted historical fact. But was he really God? As we consider Christ's claims about himself, there are only four possibilities:

1) He was a liar. That is, he knew he was not God, but deliberately deceived his hearers to give authority to his teaching. There are, of course, people who say he was a great moral teacher, but deny his deity. But a deliberate liar and deceiver would hardly qualify as a great "moral" teacher!

2) He was deceived. We have a name for a person who thinks he is God. That name is lunatic. And that label certainly would apply to Christ if he were merely human.

3) He was a legend. This theory claims that as time passed, Christ's enthusiastic followers put words into his mouth, adding to his legend. Were he to return, he would immediately deny them.

This legend theory has been refuted by modern archaeology, which has conclusively shown that the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were written within the lifetime of contemporaries of Christ. Some time ago Dr. William F. Albright, a world-famous archaeologist, said there was no reason to believe that any of the Gospels were written later than A.D. 70.

Think of it like this. Imagine that someone today wrote a biography of the late President Richard Nixon, and in it said he claimed to be God, to have forgiven people's sins, and to have risen from the dead. Such a story would never get off the ground because there are still too many people around who knew Nixon! The same would be true for the Gospel writers. If they had written lies, they would have been exposed as frauds.

4) He was telling the truth. That is, Jesus was who he said he was. But some might argue, "So what? Talk is cheap!" Anyone can make claims. Others have claimed deity. But when it comes to Jesus of Nazareth, his words are backed up by evidence. He said, "If I don't do the things my Father does, well and good; don't believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes. Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you'll see that not only are we doing the same thing; we are the same - Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him" (John 10:38, The Message).

The greatest evidence to Christ's claims of deity is his resurrection from the dead. Five times, he predicted he would die. He also predicted how he would die and that three days later he would rise from the dead and appear to his disciples.

For evidence of his resurrection, you must turn to the historical record. There are 10 different recorded sightings of the living Christ after his death by crucifixion. In one of his appearances, he was seen by a group of 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6).

For those who still say the Resurrection was made up, I have a question: What was it that changed a group of frightened, cowardly disciples into men of courage and conviction? What turned them into people who were willing to be tortured and killed because they believed Jesus was God? I believe that only the real bodily resurrection of Christ could have produced such a radical change.

Finally, there is the evidence for the Resurrection that is very personal. If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he is alive today, ready to invade and change those who invite him into their lives. In fact, millions now living claim their lives have been revolutionized by Jesus Christ. He has done in them what he said he would do.

"Believe in Jesus and be saved" isn't simply a nice religious saying. It is a life-changing reality. It is evidence that God is alive and living in those who choose to accept him as Lord and Savior.

More Good Reasons to Believe

Paul Little wanted Christians to approach their faith with both their hearts and their minds. He wanted Christian students to be able to stand their ground in a conversation about Christianity and not doubt their faith every time someone questioned it. That's why he wrote Know Why You Believe. We encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and read it from cover to cover.

 


Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com

 

 

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