This is our last installment on God in the Answering Skeptics series. Several future lessons are connected with this unit, but they fall under different categories, like Science or Jesus Christ.(To be determined, as the series is under construction.) We'll now spend a few weeks looking at how science helps us to believe. As usual, a recap of last week precedes today's lesson.
Recap: Coming to Terms
Atheist: One who denies the existence of God. Point out to him that this anti-position cannot be proved, and share why you believe Christianity is true and reasonable.
Theist: One who affirms the existence of God. Christians are theists.
Hard agnostic: One who claims that God is unknowable (whether he exists or not). Focus on God's initiative in revealing himself to us.
Soft agnostic: One who does not know whether God exists. Encourage them to have the integrity to be true seekers.
The Answering Skeptics series: Hypocrisy, Scripture, Morality, Nonsense questions, God, Science, Suffering, Miracles, Christ, and Religion
"The world is eternal -- no need for God."
Says the atheist, "You believe God has always existed. I say the world has always existed. So there! [No creator required]" How should we respond?
This one is easily answered. The conclusion of physicists and astrophysicists is that the world has not always existed. The current view (as of 2015) is that the world of time and space, matter and energy came into existence about 13.8 billion years ago. In other words, nothing became something. Thus the something has not always existed. The evidence that the cosmos had a beginning is the Big Bang, in which the entire universe exploded out of nothing. Intrigued? Learn more.
In fact, the "creation" (the term scientists often employ) strongly suggests that there is a God. Otherwise, how can we account for the world, especially with its degree of intricacy, apparent design (intelligence), and personality?
It is sometimes imagined that, given sufficient time, the present universe was bound to happen. But we do not know that. Since time itself appears to have begun in the Big Bang, the assumption of "sufficient time" isn't valid. (It's obviously meaningless to claim that, given a long enough stretch of time, time was bound to come into existence.) The initial conditions could just as easily -- and probably more easily -- have prevented the existence of the cosmos. Odd as it sounds, a big topic for scientists is why there is anything, as opposed to nothing! The mind-bending arguments may be difficult to follow. At least we should know the bottom line: Science has determined that the world has not always been here.
Who made God?
But what about God? "Who created him?", the skeptic may gibe. Yet by definition God is uncreated; he has always existed. Only those things that come into existencerequire a cause. But Yahweh is uncaused; he always was. He is spirit (John 4:24) -- not composed of atoms or subatomic particles or photons. Yahweh isn't part of the physical world, and in some sense stands outside it. (He is the "I am.") Yet just because he's outside the scope of scientific investigation doesn't mean he isn't real, since (refer to an earlier bulletin) much of the real world is non-physical (truth, justice, beauty, love, numbers, etc).
At this point, if you are following the argument, you might want to consider the Kalam cosmological argument, for whom the credit must go to medieval Islam. It is also supported by the laws of thermodynamics (the conservation of mass and energy).
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Science and faith: allies, not enemies
This form of the Kalam argument doesn't tell us what that cause was, yet for most of us the conclusion is obvious. In brief, the universe, which has existed only a few billion years, begs a Creator. God, who -- unlike the universe -- has always existed, is the best explanation. I am making a plausibility argument, not offering a rigorous scientific proof. Science cannot prove God -- but the evidence suggests a God. As we see (and will continue to see in the coming weeks), science is the friend of faith.
I hope everyone reading this newsletter realizes that I appreciate our partnership in the international teaching ministry. Let's all work together to spread the good news, using the gifts God has given us to reach all who are receptive to hearing his voice.
2 Cor 4:5,
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