There are several lines of evidence that God exists. Take the universe itself. Philosophers and thinkers down through the centuries have concluded that there are really only three different possibilities to explain its existence.
A. It has always been.
(No need for God. It's just always existed. And someone or something that's always existed doesn't need a creator. It's just always existed.)
B. It created itself.
(Again, no need for God. It brought itself into existence.)
C. It was created by an immaterial creative agent—God.
Let’s walk through these options and consider which is the most reasonable to believe. The first option, that the universe has always been (or is eternal), has been utterly rejected by the scientific community. Why?
The scientific evidence against an eternal universe has demolished this theory. It's not a group of pastors that has scratched option one off the list. No. The scientific community has scratched option one off the list. Why? Astronomers are pointing to the discoveries of:
• the background radiation echo
...all of which have led them to conclude that the universe had a beginning. I'm not going to discuss the evidences for a finite universe in this article, but the consensus amongst the majority of astronomers is this:
The universe began to exist.
Stephen Hawking, the popular and immensely respected astronomer from Cambridge University, agrees that this is the consensus. He says, “Almost everyone believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning.” [Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, The Isaac Newton Institute Series of Lectures (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 20.]
That’s interesting. This is in perfect harmony with what the Bible says (in the very first verse!)…
The Bible makes it very clear that the universe actually had a beginning, exactly like the scientific community has finally discovered—more than 3,000 years after Moses penned those words. (They could have known this a lot sooner had they taken the Bible seriously.)
Arno Penzias, who was awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering evidence (the background radiation echo) that the universe did have a beginning, agrees that the scientific data lines right up with the Bible. He said:
“The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted,
Well, because the universe had a beginning, that rules out option A doesn’t it?—that the universe has just always been. Very well, that leaves us with two options to explain the existence of the universe. Let’s talk about option B for a moment.
B. It created itself.
This option, that the universe created itself, is fraught with problems. The idea that anything could create itself is absurd. For it would have to exist and not exist at the same time. That’s irrational. For something to create itself, it would have to be before it was. This is a violation of the most rudimentary principle of knowledge: the law of non-contradiction.
The law of non-contradiction states:
X cannot be both X and non-X at the same time and in the same relationship.
For example, you can't be at church right now and not at church right now. You are either HERE or NOT HERE. You might be sleeping at church right now, but you are here!
So then, it's absurd to suggest that the universe existed (X) and didn’t exist (non-X) at the same time.
But that is precisely what would be required for the universe to have created itself. So surely, the universe did not create itself. And yet, this is what leading atheist thinkers believe.
How did the universe create itself? Well, many of them conclude, like Richard Dawkins, that:
"The universe evolved literally out of nothing."
Nothing! Stephen Hawking says the same thing, that the universe came from:
"Nothing." [USA Today, September 2, 2010]
These men, considered by some to be two of the brightest thinkers on the planet, say ‘Once there was nothing. And that nothingness turned itself into all the billions of galaxies, stars, and planets making up the entire universe.’
Surely you don't believe this. Friends, nothing cannot do something. Nothing cannot see, smell, act, think, let alone create something.
Can you imagine turning on the news and hearing the newscaster say: “Nothing caught doing something on film! Tune in at 11:00 and see the footage!"
Why do you laugh? Because it doesn’t happen. It can’t happen. And it never has happened!
So, there are three options for the existence of the universe…
A. It has always been.
Options A and B can be thrown out purely on scientific and philosophical grounds. And so we conclude (almost by default!) that option C (that God created the universe) is the most reasonable option. And I’ll continue to strengthen my case as we move along.
SKEPTIC: “Now hold on a second here Charlie. The first law of thermodynamics states that: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. So your theistic view, this idea that God created all the energy and matter in the universe, runs contrary to a widely accepted scientific law!”
ME: This has become a popular objection some atheists bring up when the origin of the universe is discussed. Well, there are a couple of problems with this conclusion that I’d like to briefly point out.
First, those who raise this objection have a misunderstanding of the first law of thermodynamics. A more accurate definition of the law is:
As far as we have observed, the actual amount of energy in an isolated system [like our universe] remains constant despite internal changes.
Friends, the First Law of Thermodynamics in no way rules out a creator of an isolated system like our universe. According to the Bible God exists outside the universe He created. So, at the time of creation, He wasn’t bound by laws that did not even exist. There wasn’t a sign up in the universe that said, "Sorry, Energy levels must remain the same. No creating!" No.
Prior to Genesis 1:1, there was no universe to put a sign up in. There was no first law of thermodynamics. God is the creator of the laws that are at work inside the universe He created. So, it’s a mistake to conclude (as many atheists have) that the first law of thermodynamics somehow rules out a creator of the universe.
SKEPTIC: "But Charlie, if the cosmos demands a creator, then who made God—if He exists?"
ME: "Nobody made God. Unlike the finite physical universe that demands a creator, God does not need a creator. Why? Because God is eternal (He has always existed) and He is immaterial (He is a Spirit; He’s not made up of physical parts that need assembly).
And the fact that God is eternal and an immaterial Spirit is something the Scriptures affirm in multiple places. For example, Psalm 90:2 (written by Moses) says:
God is eternal.
In John 4:24 Jesus said of God the Father…
So, God is an eternal spirit and therefore does not need a creator or someone to have brought Him into existence. But the physical universe falls into an entirely different category. As the scientific discoveries have shown, it has not always existed. And anything that begins to exist, requires a cause or maker. Things don’t just pop into existence all on their own. Nothing does not produce something."
SKEPTIC: "You Christians really believe that God has just always existed?"
ME: "Well, before you scoff at the fact that God has always existed, keep this in mind: something or someone must have always existed. Do you realize that?"
SKEPTIC: "Why do you think that?"
ME: "Well, think through this with me: If nothing cannot produce something, and yet something exists (e.g., the universe), then a creative agent must have always existed. Why? In order to bring that which exists into being. Think of it this way:
1. If there ever was a time that absolutely nothing existed, nothing would exist now.
So, we have no problem believing that God is the One who always existed. And because that is the case, the answer to the question Who made God? is no one. God is eternal and does not need a maker. The universe though is not eternal and therefore does require a maker.
SKEPTIC: "Well Charlie, I still have a hard time believing in something that I can't see—this God that you speak of."
ME: "I understand that. I struggled with that as well before the evidence compelled me to change my mind and become a Christian. So, let me help you think through this.
When you see a painting, what proof do you need to conclude that a painter exists? Well, the obvious answer is nothing besides the painting. The painting (all on its own) is sufficient proof there was a painter. You do not need to see the painter to believe he or she exists. The painting would not be there if the painter did not exist. And so it is with the universe and God. You do not need to see God in order to conclude He exists. The universe all on its own is compelling evidence God exists.
For more help on this topic, go here.
“How do you know if Jesus even existed?”
If I had to narrow it down to a few evidences, I would probably say: fulfilled prophecies, archaeological discoveries, and the Bible’s amazing unity. The Bible, unlike any other religious book, has demonstrated itself to be the Word of God through its ability to rightly predict the future. There are literally hundreds of very specific prophecies in the Bible that were spoken hundreds of years before their fulfillment that have already come to pass. No other religious book can verify itself in this way. The Bible has also been proven to be historically reliable by thousands of archaeological discoveries that have verified the names of persons, places, events, and customs mentioned in the Bible. Finally, there is the Bible’s amazing unity. Here is a book that is actually a collection of sixty-six different books, written down by more than forty different authors, over a period of 1,500 plus years, on three different continents, in three different languages, and it addresses life’s most controversial topics from beginning to end. You would think there would be chaos, confusion, and contradictions, yet the Bible miraculously remains absolutely consistent and internally harmonious from beginning to end. These three evidences (fulfilled prophecy, archaeological discoveries, and the Bible’s amazing unity) build a compelling case for the divine origin and historical reliability of the Bible. For more on this topic, go here.
“Hasn’t the Bible undergone corruption as it was translated hundreds of times down through the centuries?”
The Bible has been translated into hundreds of different languages down through the centuries. You are right about that, but the text of the Bible has been accurately preserved all the way through. How do we know that to be the case? First, there is the manuscript evidence. Today, there exists several thousand partial and complete, ancient handwritten manuscript copies of the Bible, some dating as far back as the third century B.C. These manuscripts have allowed textual critics and scholars to verify that the Bible we have today is the same Bible the early church had. Secondly, there are the writings of the church fathers. By church fathers, I am referring to leaders in the early church. In their commentaries on the Bible, their letters to one another, and their letters to other churches, these men quoted the New Testament Scriptures alone more than 86,000 times. Their quotations have allowed scholars to reconstruct nearly the entire New Testament. These two evidences, the manuscript evidence and the writings of the church fathers, verify conclusively that the original text of the Bible has been accurately preserved. For more on this topic, go here.
“What about those who have never heard of Jesus? Will they be condemned to Hell?”
This is the most common question people have regarding God. Here is an interesting question for you to consider. What do you propose God should do about it? To stop evil and suffering, God would have to stop every act that causes any suffering. To do that, He would have to stop those who cause the suffering (adulterers, liars, murderers, criminals, fornicators, etc.). Wouldn’t that mean He would have to put a stop to you too? Haven’t you, by your own actions, caused some of the suffering that exists in the world? Haven’t you hurt somebody’s feelings? My friend, God has not destroyed evil because He would have to destroy us. By permitting evil and suffering to continue, God is actually showing the world mercy. The Bible says that there is coming a day when God will stop evil (2 Peter 3:7-13). He will judge sinners, put them away forever, and create a new heaven and a new earth where there will no longer be any death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4). In the meantime, God is using the suffering that exists for good (Romans 8:28, Philippians 1:12). Often, when a person is suffering, they turn to God and receive the kind of help they truly need. For more on this topic, go here.
No. The supposedly “lost books” of the Bible that have been found, the so-called gospels of Thomas, Philip, and Mary Magdalene, were not lost gospels, they were pseudo gospels that the early church rejected as uninspired, spurious writings. The Christian church was familiar with these documents, but purposely left them out of the Bible, easily recognizing that they were not divinely inspired. We too can be certain these books do not belong in the Bible. Why? First, they were not written by any of the apostles or their close associates (e.g., Mark or Luke). Most scholars, Christian and non-Christian, date these Gnostic gospels to the second and third centuries, long after the time of Christ. Secondly, these writings contradict authentic revelation. You can be absolutely confident that God, who inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) the men to pen the words of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21), saw to it that none of the inspired writings were lost. It would be foolish for us to think that an all-knowing, all-powerful God could lose track of books He intended to put in the Bible, or anything else for that matter. For more on this topic go here.
God being omniscient certainly did know before He created us, that many would reject Him and end up eternally separated from Him. His foreknowledge is perfect. So then, why did He create us, even knowing in advance that many would be lost? I believe the simplest answer is this: Just as the Lord knew many would reject Him, He also knew that many would freely receive Him and enjoy eternity with Him. Apparently, even knowing that many would reject Him and end up in Hell, He felt it worth it, so that we who would receive Him, could have fellowship with Him, and Him with us. Why should God have not created humans, just because some would refuse to love Him and submit their lives to Him? That would allow evil to triumph over good. I wouldn't refuse to start a family just because I realize that some of my descendants will reject the gospel and end up in Hell. Why? Because I know that many will not. I realize that by having kids, I become the trunk, if you will, to a large family tree. I realize that it is very likely that some of my descendants will reject the gospel and go to Hell. Should I have refused to start a family because these will suffer? No. Why? Because many of my descendants will not go to Hell but will get to enjoy the glories of heaven forever! And those who do suffer will end up in Hell of their own free accord. By me fathering (or grandfathering) children, I am not in any way forcing them to go to Hell. They will have the option to receive God's mercy and forgiveness. So I'm not going to withhold the blessings of eternity from my children and other descendants, because of the evil actions of a few. This is also true with God. He knew that some would reject Him, but He also knew that some would receive Him. For more on this topic, go here.
There are numerous reasons why Christians (including those making up the early church) have rejected the apocryphal books as authoritative or divinely inspired. Let me share with you four reasons. First, the apocryphal writings contain numerous teachings that contradict authentic Scripture (e.g., praying for the dead, the doctrine of purgatory, the teaching that salvation is available through good works and the giving of alms). Secondly, the apocryphal writings contain numerous historical, geographical and chronological errors. Thirdly, Jesus and the apostles cite the Old Testament nearly three hundred times in the pages of the New Testament (referring to it as Scripture); they never quote any of the apocryphal books accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. Fourthly, the apocryphal writings were never included in the Hebrew Bible. The Jews themselves, from whom the apocryphal writings came, did not accept the writings as divinely inspired. The apocryphal writings were not formally declared to be authoritative and inspired by the Catholic Church until the Council of Trent in A.D. 1546. The Catholic Church’s acceptance of these writings into the canon of Scripture was an effort to counter the teachings of Martin Luther and the other leaders of the Reformation. These men were pointing out that many teachings of the Catholic Church came from the Apocrypha, not the sixty-six books of the Bible. For more on this topic, go here.
The Bible says that anybody who refuses to turn from their sin and receive God’s forgiveness will end up in Hell, whether they be a heterosexual or homosexual. Does the Bible teach that homosexuality is a sin? Yes, very clearly (see Leviticus 18:22; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 1:26-28), but it also says that fornication (sex between an unmarried man and woman), lying, stealing, and drunkenness are sins. So, let us lay aside the whole issue of homosexuality for a moment and imagine that our homosexual friends are married, monogamous heterosexuals. They still have a problem. They, like all of us (Psalm 143:2), have broken a number of God’s other commandments. No matter the sin, every person, heterosexual or homosexual, must turn to the Lord and trust in Christ, in order to be saved (Acts 4:12, 17:30-31). For more on this topic, go here.
Darwin’s theory of evolution does not in any way disprove the existence of God. The theory of evolution only seeks to explain how existing life forms have changed over time. Nobody disagrees that life forms have the ability to adapt to their environment. I believe this ability to adapt to the environment is actually evidence of design. And I am in good company. Hundreds of scientists from universities such as UCLA, Cambridge, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, and UC Berkeley, are acknowledging that life is far too complex to have come about by some mindless process and random series of accidents. And evolutionists would be the first to admit that Darwin’s theories do nothing to explain how life originated, or for that matter, how the entire universe came to be. If you hold to Darwin’s theory of evolution, do not allow that to keep you back from acknowledging that there is a God who created the world and that you are a sinner in need of His grace and forgiveness. You’d be following in the footsteps of Antony Flew, who was widely considered the world’s most influential atheistic philosopher, author and debater. In 2004 Flew abandoned his atheism and acknowledged that God must exist. He said, “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design….What I think the DNA material has done is show that intelligence must have been involved.” What changed his mind? The complexity of the DNA inside living cells. Scientists are discovering that living cells could never have come into being apart from an intelligent designer. They are that complex. For more on this topic, go here.
With the way you have worded the question a simple “Yes” or “No” answer will not work. Either answer would suggest that God is not omnipotent (all-powerful), something the Bible clearly affirms (Genesis 18:14, Luke 1:37). Your question is like asking someone, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet? Yes or No?” For the person who has not been beating his wife, a simple yes or no answer will not do. If he says yes, he implies that he used to beat his wife. If he says no, he lies and implies that he is still beating his wife. The same is true with this question. A yes or no answer will not work. I will answer your question this way; God, because He is omnipotent, can create any kind of rock that He wants to and because He is omnipotent, He can lift any rock that He creates.
First, we should not expect to see the word dinosaur in the Bible. The term was not coined until a famous paleontologist, Sir Richard Owen, gave them that name in 1841–nearly eighteen centuries after the New Testament was finished. Second, just because a creature is not mentioned in the Bible does not mean that it did not exist. There are thousands of creatures that are not specifically mentioned in the Bible: giraffes, alligators, penguins, just to name a few. Thirdly, the Bible does actually mention at least two different creatures that very well may have been dinosaurs: Behemoth, and Leviathan. Behemoth is described as having a tail like a cedar tree (Job 40:15-19). Of Leviathan, the Lord said to Job, “…indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; Shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up….Who can remove his outer coat? Who can approach him with a double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face, with his terrible teeth all around? His rows of scales are his pride” (Job 41:9-10, 13-15a). Scales? Terrible teeth? So fierce that no one would dare wake him up? It is easy to see why numerous Biblical scholars have concluded that Leviathan may have been a dinosaur. For more on this topic, go here.
We must remember that the disciples had the supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit. On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance [What?] all things that I said to you” (John 14:25-26). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would help them by bringing to their remembrance “all” the things that He told them. In addition to the help of the Holy Spirit, it’s reasonable to assume that the disciples took detailed notes (Matthew being a tax collector would have been skilled in shorthand). Thirdly, it would be hard to forget the things Jesus did. Many of Jesus’ teachings were accompanied with extraordinary miracles that would have left a indelible (permanent) impression upon the disciples' minds.
This is an important and very good question. The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would be born of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3, 22:18), of the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10), and into the lineage of David (2 Samuel 7:12f). The Bible foretold the city in which He would be born (Micah 5:2), that He’d come while the Jewish temple was still standing (Malachi 3:1, it was destroyed in A.D. 70), that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), that He would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6), that He’d be rejected by His own people (Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:7). The Bible also foretold the precise time in history when He would die (Daniel 9:24-26; a good commentary on the Bible reveals that this passage equates to 483 years after the declaration to reconstruct the city of Jerusalem in 444 B.C.). The Bible also foretold how He would die (Psalm 22:16-18, Isaiah 53; Zech. 12:10) and that He would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27-32). These are just some of the prophecies that were fufilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are many more and you can click here for an in-depth answer.
Ron Rhodes gives a good answer to this. He writes, "According to 2 John 10, we are not to receive into our homes or even greet anyone who comes to us and does not believe that Christ is come in the flesh. How does this apply to cultists? Should we turn them away? I do not believe this verse prohibits Christians from allowing cultists into their homes in order to witness to them. Rather it is a prohibition against giving cultists a platform from which to teach false doctrine. The backdrop to this is that in the early days of Christianity, there was no centralized church building where believers could congregate. Rather, there were many small house-churches scattered throughout the city. As we examine the New Testament, the early Christians are seen "breaking bread from house to house" (Acts 2:46; cf. 5:42) and gathering to pray in the house of Mary, the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12). Churches often met in houses (see Col. 4:15; Rom. 6:15; 1 Cor. 16:19; Phil. 2). The use of specific church buildings did not appear before the end of the second century. So, apparently, John is here warning against (1) allowing a false teacher into the church, and (2) giving this false teacher a platform from which to teach. Seen in this way, this prohibition guards the purity of the church. To extend hospitality to a false teacher would imply that the church accepted or approved of their teaching. If the church were to extend hospitality to a false teacher, he would be encouraged in his position and take this action as an acceptance of his doctrine. This should never be. It is also possible that John may be forbidding Christians to allow false teachers to stay in their houses. It must be remembered that, in the early church, the evangelistic and pastoral ministry of the church was conducted primarily by individuals who traveled from location to location -- from house-church to house-church. These itinerant pastors depended on the hospitality of the people of a local congregation. John is directing the church not to extend this kind of hospitality to teachers of false doctrine. Christians are not to let cultists stay in their homes and use their homes as a base of operations from which to spread their poison and their false gospel. In any case, this verse does not prohibit Christians from allowing cultists into the home for evangelistic purposes. When a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon shows up on the doorstep, for example, the Christian should feel free to invite him or her into the living room in order to witness to them."
|If you like to have have short concise answers ready for conversations with nonbelievers, you'll love:
One Minute Answers to Skeptics: Concise Responses to the Top Forty Questions
by Charlie Campbell