God is at work here. And if you give him a chance He can rock your world. We believe that Jesus is the single smartest person who ever lived. And we find the key to a transformed and changed life through a friendship with Jesus – and by committing ourselves to doing what Jesus taught us, we believe we will live a life that is purposed, peaceful and joyful.
Now this morning, we are in the next to last week in a series we’re calling FAQ’s. And we are answering the questions that are coming in from you all. And one of the reasons I like the series is because it tends to give skeptics a chance to ask the questions that are kind of bugging them about faith, or God or the Bible or the church.
Today will be a little bit different. Usually we open up the bible and we spend considerable time reading what it says and applying it to our lives. Today we will have less scripture to read – and for a reason. Today we are going to try to make an argument for the existence of God. And it doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t believe God exists to say – well see, here it says so in the bible.
So we’ll talk a little more and look at scripture a little less, but it’s not the norm for us. Normally we are diving in… as a matter of fact we will be going from this series into a longer series on the book of Colossians and I am really excited about it… but the deal is that we here at Journey talk a lot about respecting people wherever they might be on their spiritual journey. And this week is more for the skeptic than for the believer. And the skeptic is probably not that keen on using the Bible to demonstrate the possibility of the existence of God.
But first – let’s handle one quick hitter. Last week I said we’d cover this question – are there dinosaurs in the bible?
Well this is actually a pretty loaded question. Because the real question here is whether or not God created the world in a literal six day span, or whether or that is figurative language.
If the earth was literally created in six days, then one would be led to believe that humans and dinosaurs co-existed on earth up until the flood – where God would have apparently said, “That was fun, but it’s time to be done with Dinosaurs.
If the language in Genesis 1 is figurative language – and each day could stand for millions of year period – then we would say that no Dinosaurs lived and then died out and then man was created at a later stage.
Many Christians have decided that since Genesis chapter one speaks about the earth being created in six days, that it must be a literal six days. Because, the argument goes, if we look at those days as being figurative, then we open up door to taking everything in the bible figuratively, and then it’s the slippery slope – nothing means anything. “The reliability of the Bible falls apart if it isn’t a literal six day creation period,” they argue.
And I am going to say that is going way too far. The trustworthiness of scripture is NOT at stake. Here’s why. The Bible has many different genre’s of writing styles. There is poetry and narratives, and prophecy and letters – and each genre of style needs to be read appropriately.
Genesis one is clearly poetry. And the rules of poetry are different than say, the rules of how to read a letter written by the Apostle Paul. And they are certainly different than the rules of a scientific document. Genesis 1 is not a scientific document. This was written to be memorable in a pre-literate world. It was written to be beautiful and majestic and to drive home the point that God created all things out of nothing. Everything you see, God created, including your life and my life.
I mean you have Genesis 1 – God created everything and it was perfect and majestic. Genesis 2 – Man messes it up. And the rest of the bible is the story of God at work to rescue and restore both nature and humankind.
Now truthfully I have no problem with God creating the earth in six days. It’s certainly not an issue of whether he could or not, he certainly could. But to me the problem I have with demanding it is that it’s putting too much at stake.
It’s like the person who told me that they like Jesus but couldn’t ever become a christian because they couldn’t be a republican. Yudda Yudda. Wha??? Well, you do know that’s wrong, right? Listen, I grew up in New York. I served in a church in Massachusetts. I didn’t know republicans actually existed. We had heard rumors… I remember once that they put a video up of an alleged sighting of a republican. But others said, no that is just a democrat dressed up as a republican.
Anyway, listen – if you have a certain conviction about whether the earth was created in a literal six days – I’m not asking you to change your convictions. But we mustn’t elevate our concivtions to the level of a biblical standard. You MUST believe exactly as I do – it just creates unnecessary barriers to belief.
Now for all of you young earth republicans out there – just before you leave – let me throw you a bone. The Bible does have this one interesting thing that people aren’t quite sure what to make of.. there is some kind of sea creature that the Bible calls the Leviathan – that no one knows exactly what it is…
Isaiah 27:1 says. “In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword— his fierce, great and powerful sword— Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.”
So does the Bible talk about dinosaurs? I dunno. Next question…
Last question of the day. Here it comes… How do we know God isn’t a figment of our imagination? What proof is there of his existence?
Okay – great. Thanks for asking. I’d like to talk about this for a bit – but first I have to say that there are people far smarter than I am who have carried on this argument far better than me. And so I would say people like C.S. Lewis, Tim Keller, Alvin Plantinga, Ravi Zaccharias- brilliant minds that can speak to the philosophical questions better than I can. And so if you want to take this to the next level – there are far smarter resources than you will find on this stage this morning…
Now generally speaking I don’t love philosophy. I’d rather preach than philosophize. But sometimes a pastor needs to dabble in it because we live in a world filled with ‘fine sounding arguments’ that, according to Colossians 2:4, can deceive people. So we need to run at these objections to faith – not away from them.
That said, I am not a scientist nor a philosopher – and I’m sure there are people in here who are trained or have some advanced training in these fields and so I am stating publicly that what I am presenting I am presenting humbly – understanding that I am trying my best to represent the arguments fairly.
This morning I’ll give you five clues of God’s existence – apart from the Bible.
Two things before we jump in. First – We have to call these clues – not proofs. Not one of these arguments is airtight proof of God’s existence. But I think, cumulatively, they deserve consideration as clues to the existence of God.
Why not proof? Well, God has always valued faith. Even in the Garden of Eden his relationship with mankind has been built on trust. Adam and Eve were asked to trust that God knew what he was talking about when he said to not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ultimately, Adam and Eve did not trust that God had their best interest at stake – and we’re in the similar situation now. Faith is important to God.
But that doesn’t mean it’s blind faith. I remember recently sitting with a man whose biggest obstacle to faith in God was science. I like numbers. And my issue was – God is not asking you to become dumb to follow him. Numbers cannot disprove God’s existence – and I’d make a very strong argument the opposite is true.
But it’s not just me – a 2009 survey from sociologists at Rice University asked more than 1600 scientists at 21 elite US Research facilities this question: “Must there be a conflict between faith and science” and an overwhelming majority of scientists said no. 86 percent stated there doesn’t need to be a conflict. And this comes from a target group where 33 percent of the responders indicated that they considered themselves atheists.
So although no proof – there are clues that could lead someone to the belief in God.
Second – these clues will only help someone move from atheism to theism.
I think the biggest hurdle to cross is the hurdle from believing no God exists – which is called atheism – the belief that there is no God, to theism – the belief that a God exists. After you cross the hurdle from atheist to theist – I think it quickly will lead you to Jesus. Because then you’ll have to say, let’s line up all the world’s religions and begin to compare – and very quickly you will see that no religion on earth even comes close to the message – the good news of Christianity.
So let’s jump in… Six clues of the existence of God.
- The Big Bang
Okay – so what is the Big Bang theory? In essence it is the theory of how the universe expanded. That 15 Billion years ago at the very beginning of the universe, there existed a super dense, super hot, super infinitesimally small – so small as to be unobservable – nothingness – and then in one trillionth of a trillionth of a second – there was everything.
Now scientists are sure to say they it doesn’t explain where or how it came into existence – but basically, the theory is from nothing – everything in a multi-trillionth of a second.
Hey – that’s interesting – the bible, which is thousands of years old – it says that in the beginning God spoke and all things came into being. From nothing – everything, in a moment of time. Cool huh?
The theist – no that’s not how it happened – in the beginning was basically nothing and then it all came into existence in a moment – hey doesn’t that sound similar?
Well, let’s at least give the bible credit – it doesn’t say that the universe fell out of an elephants ear or something. It sure sounds like it’s describing similar scenes at least…
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Self proclaimed agnostic Dr. Robert Jastrow was an American Astronomer – first chairman of nasa’s lunar Exploration committee. He wrote this in an article he gave to Christianity today in 1982 when he retired…
“Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”
Proponents of the Big Bang theory are careful to remind people that it is not a theory of the beginning of the universe – its a theory of the expansion of it. They cannot explain where it all came from – because doing so would require them to break all the laws of science they have worked so hard to produce.
Theism provides an answer – that there must be a cause that is outside – there must be an uncaused causer. There simply must be. Scientifically there needs to be. It requires a supernatural force.
- The four aces in a game of poker argument. If you and I were playing poker and let’s say I dealt you four kings. And i also just so happened to deal myself four aces. You would of course, lose all your money. Because surely you would think that the chances of dealing myself four aces on the same hand you were dealt four kings would be astronomically small. In deed you might say there is no chance.
Now I would win all your money and say, listen, it’s a game of chance. And certainly you have to admit it’s a random chance – I could have been given any four cards – it was bum luck. Now let’s say it happened two hands in a row. Now let’s say twenty times in a row I dealt myself four aces. I could say – it’s random – but if we were playing cards in the old west, I don’t think I would get the words out due to the fact that my mouth is full of lead. Probably the first time I dealt four aces.
If I dealt myself four aces two times in a row – I would try to make an argument for chance luck – but you would be right in assuming that something is up. Right?
Well, the odds of life happening the way it has here on earth – the odds are so astronomically small – it would be like dealing myself four aces billions of times in a row. One article, written by an atheistic scientist acknowledged that the chances of life occurring randomly at 1 in 1040. That’s in in 10 with 40 zeros. In comparison the estimated amount of all the atoms in the universe is 1080
Given those odds – isn’t it fair to at least suggest that, something’s up? Is it unfair for a theist to suggest that it is a clue of God’s existence?
Now the atheist will say, well you are taking that statement by faith. And I’d suggest that who is demonstrating more faith. You are telling me that your one in 10 with 40 thousand zeros chance that this all just happened.
It reminds me of this famous scene from Dumb and Dumber.
What are the chances that life came into being purely by random chance? Level with me – give it to me straight? Is it like one in a hundred? I’d say more like one in trillion trillion trillions…
So you’re saying there’s a chance! Yeah!
Listen, I’m not trying to be obnoxious about this – but I feel quite sure that were I to stand in front of you and say that I have proven the possibility of the existence of God – and that mathematically there is a 1 in a trillion trillion trillions chance that God exists – I think the statisticians in the world would stand up and say – see, doesn’t that prove that God doesn’t exist?
There is a double standard – Well – I say God created everything we see- and that he sustains everything we see. Yeah, what chance is that? Well if there is a God it’s basically a one hundred percent chance.
Let’s move on…
The Sunset argument. This is a picture I took a month ago out at Memphis Lake in Ashland – it’s the second time I’ve used it on a Sunday morning. I think I’m proud of it. But I’m not the only one. If you have facebook – I’m going to guess there is a picture you took of a sunset – maybe a sunrise – something that you post just because you think – it’s beautiful and needs to be shared.
Why? Why do we find some thing beautiful? Why do you find some music beautiful? Mountains, beautiful? For some, gently waving heads of corn beautiful? What is Beauty and why does it exist?
The naturalist will have to come up with a neurological reason. Well we find it beautiful because our ancestors knew that water was a place where food would be plentiful. We think it’s beautiful because food is there. And where food is it is good.
Okay – so in the future, there will come a time when people will drive by a slaughterhouse and stick their camera phones out of the window to capture the moment? Oh man – babe did you see the picture of this feedlot the Warrens snapped on vacation? Fantastic. Sooo beautiful!
Is there music to you that is beautiful? Is there a beautiful sound? Well, the significance of that sound is an illusion if you are a theist. It’s not real. Neither is love. Love is something that is a biochemical response. It’s not more.
Now to a theist, beauty is easily explainable – a gift from a loving God who desires to please us. He desires to give us good gifts. And Poets, artists, writers, musicians, they are more than people with a certain chemical makeup with no real purpose anymore in our life. You artists, you poets, you musicians, are crated by God to be like Him. You are an artist because God is an artist. You are a musician because God is a musician!
I’d make the argument that every time we hear music that gives us chills. Or read a book that makes us cry. Or stand mesmorized before a painting. Or even stick our phones out of a window to snap a picture – clue clue clue. Beauty, Love, these things stand outside of a leftover bio-chemical response. It’s a clue that God exists.
This by the way – is the argument that Paul makes in Romans chapter 1. He writes
19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
The slap you in the face argument. If I slap you in the face – you are going to say, “That’s not right!” Most people will argue for human rights. We intrinsically understand that something is wrong. It is wrong to injure children. It is wrong to exterminate people in concentration camps.
This alone is a problem for people who say that we are just bigger brained animals. For instance -if a Lion attacks and eats a newborn fawn. Do we hold that lion accountable for wrong? Isn’t it a law of the jungle – the strong eat the weak?
Why do naturalists insist that human beings have to act differently than the rest of the animal kingdom? Why do we insist that human beings have intrinsic worth, individual dignity, and deserve to be treated with respect? Why do fight for human rights?
Whether or not you believe God exists we can all agree that people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. However, the theist has a stronger answer as to why. Because we are different – fundamentally different than an animal. We are created in the image of God. We carry within us a soul.
But this would lead me to another clue that God exists.
The Joe Delaney clue. Joe Delaney was a football player for the Kansas City Chiefs. Rookie of the year in 1981. In the summer of 1982 he was outside when he heard a kid shouting about his friends that were drowning in a nearby pond. Joe ran to the pond and jumped into the water in an effort to save the boys. The problem was that Joe couldn’t swim, and he himself died in that muddy waters as he tried to save those two boys.
I’d argue that the urge that Joe felt was a clue of God’s existence. Especially the God of the Bible.
Why did Joe do that? Why did he jump in? Well, why would you? You would – or you would live a long time with the guilt of doing nothing while those children drowned. Right?
See here’s the deal – if you eliminate the possibility of God existing then it doesn’t make sense to risk your life to save another. It actually goes against the grain – darwinism would have to say that the DNA of the strong and fittest survived and gets passed along – and so one would think that humanity would be filled with people who have learned to protect themselves at all costs, and not to sacrifice themselves out of love for others.
What motivation is there to lay down your life for another in the naturalistic world? If there is no God then what good reason is there to be kind, or loving, or self sacrificing.
The Christian alone would say, it’s because we are made in the image of God, we are made like Jesus, who laid down his life for others. Who willingly gave himself to rescue and save others.
Who, out of love for us, willingly laid down his life to rescue a world drowning in sin.
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Ultimately, these six clues – not airtight proofs – but there are clues that God exists. And I think that ultimately, I’d like to propose that you’ve known that there is a God all along.
Would you give yourself permission to put your faith that the God of the Bible actually exists? That your thoughts are being heard by someone – that they are going somewhere further than a synapse firing accidentally in your head?
Would you give yourself permission to believe that there is a God – that not only knows you exist, but loves you – yes, even likes you. You know one thing that almost all humanity desires – longs for – is to be completely known and completely loved.
Maybe today is the day that you move from atheism to theism – where do you go from here? May I suggest reading the book of Matthew? Listen to Jesus. Learn about him? Allow yourself to be open to th epossibility that God not only loves you but likes you and desires to shepherd you, to lead you, with wisdom and grace.