What is this? | Contents Page | Summary

Overview Why Apologetics? Did Jesus Exist?  Is the Bible Reliable?  Jesus' Claims  Was Jesus God?  Conclusion

Overview > Is the New Testament reliable? > Internal Evidence Test > Supernatural Accounts > Does God exist?

Does God exist?

  1. To know that there is definitely no God, you would need to have infinite knowledge

  2. Observational evidence for the existence of God

    1. Anthropological research and the universal belief in God
    2. Astronomical observation of design
    3. The improbability of mere chance
    4. Our inherent sense of right and wrong
    5. Origin of the universe
    6. The beginning of time

  3. Philosophical arguments for the existence of God

    1. Pascal's wager
    2. Cosmological Arguments
      1. The Argument from Efficient Causality
      2. The Argument from Change
      3. The Argument from Time and Contingency
      4. The Argument from Degrees of Perfection
      5. The Design Argument
      6. The Kalam Argument
      7. The Argument from Contingency

    3. Psychological Arguments
      1. The Argument from the Origin of the Idea of God
      2. The Moral Argument
      3. The Argument from Morality / Conscience
      4. The Argument from Desire
      5. The Argument from Truth
      6. The Argument from Religious experience
      7. The Common Consent Argument

    4. Conclusion

      Some of the arguments were not watertight proofs, but showed only a strong probability for the existence of God. However, all the arguments taken together make for a very strong case for the existence of God. This, however, raises many other questions. Questions, such as, who is God and what is God like? The rest of this apologetic study examines this question.
Is there anything beyond what we can see and touch? Is the universe self-sufficient and uncaused, its form the result of random motions, devoid of any plan or purpose? Or is there a being outside the universe, outside of matter, space and time? A perfect, unchanging and uncaused being? [1 p. 48] Is there truly a God? A supreme all-powerful being? A creator of the universe? Moreover, how can someone even be sure that such a being exists? [11 p. 43]

The demonstration of the existence of God is no trivial matter and is an exercise, which in order to do it any justice, is far beyond the scope of this study. We will only look briefly at a number of observations and philosophical arguments, which attempt to find an answer to this very important question.

The Possibility

Before we look at some of the evidences, consider the following: If a person opposes the possibility of there being a God, then any evidence can be rationalized or explained away. It is just like when someone is dead set against the idea that people walked on the moon; then no amount of proof is going to change their thinking. Satellite footage of the astronauts walking on the moon, moon rocks of foreign composition, the testimony of the astronauts, written reports from their mission . . . all the evidence would be worthless, because the person has already concluded that people cannot go to the moon. [26]

So before one looks at the evidence to prove God's existence, one should determine if they are even open to the possibility of the existence of God, and if not, why not? It is one thing to, through honest examination of arguments and evidence to conclude that God does not exist, and another entirely to simply dismiss any possibility of God’s existence without careful thought. An examination of one’s motivation and reasoning on the topic is very important, before the evidence is examined.

Also, note that is very difficult to know that there is definitely no God. In order for someone to emphatically know this, implies that they would have to know all things. [27] Our incomplete knowledge should at least open us to the possibility of the existence of God.

One may also find it a little surprising that many people believe in God not out of desperation or wish fulfillment, but as an honest response to the compelling facts before them. [26]

Observational Evidence for the Existence of God

Anthropological Research

Anthropological research indicates that there is a universal belief in God. Anthropology is the science of human kind, that deals with origin and development of races, cultures, customs, and beliefs of humankind. Anthropological research has indicated that among the farthest and most remote primitive people today, there is a universal belief in God. Even in the earliest histories and legends of people all around the world, the original concept was of one God, who was the Creator. An original high God seems once to have been in their consciousness even in those societies, which are today polytheistic; believing, and worshiping more than one god. [26]

Throughout history, in all cultures of the world, people have been convinced there is a God. Could one say with any sense of confidence that all those people have been mistaken? Billions of people, who represent diverse sociological, intellectual, emotional, educational backgrounds … all came to the same conclusion that there is a Creator, a God to be worshipped. [26]

Astronomical Observation of Design

Now that the limits and parameters of the universe have come within the measuring capacity of astronomers and physicists, the design characteristics of the universe are being examined and acknowledged. [28]

One of the remarkable discoveries of the past 30 years has been the recognition that small changes in any of the universal constants produce surprisingly dramatic changes in the universe, rendering it unsuitable for life, not just as we know it, but for life of any conceivable type. In excess of 100 examples have been documented in the technical literature and summarized. [29]

The degree of fine-tuning required for many of these parameters is utterly amazing. For example, if the strong nuclear force were even two percent stronger or two percent weaker, the universe would never be able to support life. The expansion rate of the universe also had to be fine-tuned to an accuracy of one part in 1055 in order to support life. [28]

Another example involves the mass density of the universe, which determines how efficiently nuclear fusion operates in the cosmos. If the mass density is too great, too much deuterium (a heavy isotope of hydrogen with one proton and one neutron in the nucleus) is made in the first few minutes of the universe's existence. This extra deuterium will cause all the stars to burn much too quickly and erratically for any of them to support a planet with life upon it. On the other hand, if the mass density is too small, so little deuterium and helium is made in the first few minutes that the heavier elements necessary for life will never form in the stars. What this means is that the approximately one hundred billion trillion stars we observe in the universe, no more and no less, are needed for life to be possible in the universe! The mass density of the universe has also to be just right in order for life to develop i.e. every one of those stars is needed just for us to have the possibility of existence! [28]

It is not just the universe that bears evidence for design. The sun and the earth also reveal such evidence. When examining the many parameters which are required in order for a planet to support life, one can safely conclude that much fewer than a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent of all stars will have a planet capable of sustaining advanced life. Considering that the observable universe contains less than a trillion galaxies, each averaging a hundred billion stars, we can see the not even one planet would be expected, by natural processes alone, to possess the necessary conditions to sustain life. [28]

Astronomers have discovered that the characteristics and parameters of the universe and our solar system are so finely tuned to support life that nothing less than a personal, intelligent Creator can explain the degree of fine-tuning. [28]

The Improbability of “Mere” Chance

However, in spite of all this evidence for design, some non-theists claim that our existence is simply testimony to the fact that the extremely unlikely did, indeed, take place by chance. In other words, we would not be here to report the event unless that highly unlikely event actually took place. [28]

A reply to this argument has been developed by philosophers William Lane Craig and Richard Swinburne: [28]

Suppose a hundred sharpshooters are sent to execute a prisoner by firing squad and the prisoner survives. The prisoner should not be surprised that he does not observe that he is dead. After all, if he were dead, he could not observe his death. Nonetheless, he should be surprised that he observes that he is alive. [28]

The prisoner could conclude, since he is alive, that all the sharpshooters missed by some extremely unlikely chance. He may wish to attribute his survival to an incredible bit of good luck, but he would be far more rational to conclude that the guns were loaded with blanks or that the sharpshooters all deliberately missed. That is, someone must have purposed that he should live. Likewise, the rational conclusion to draw from the incredible fine-tuning of the universe and the solar system is that someone purposed that we should live. [28]

Another consideration is the total lack of analogy in the world of observed natural processes. We do not see spontaneous generation of anything highly complex and fine-tuned. Also, how much more complex, and information-loaded is the simplest of organisms. Nothing produced by the ingenuity of man can compare with the complexity and efficiency of even the simplest of organisms. Organisms, in fact, are so complex that with all man's study of them we as yet know relatively little of how to build and operate them. [28]

The distinguished astronomer Sir Frederick Hoyle showed how even the amino acids randomly coming together in a human cell is mathematically absurd. Regarding our lives, Sir Hoyle illustrated the weakness of "chance" with the following analogy. "What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junkyard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and leave it ready for take-off? The possibilities are so small as to be negligible even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole universe!" [26]

In all of life we see a reasonable law of cause and effect. Every effect had a cause. When one considers the intricacies of our life and universe, it is reasonable to think that an intelligent, Creator provided for everything we need for life. [26]

Our Inherent Sense of Right and Wrong

Humankind's inherent sense of right and wrong cannot be biologically explained. Even a thief gets upset and feels wronged when someone steals from him. There arises in all of us, of any culture, universal feelings of right and wrong. If someone violently grabs a child from a family and rapes that child, there is an anger and revulsion and a rage to confront that act as evil, regardless of the culture. Where did we get this sense of wrong? [26]

What about courage, love, dying for a cause, dignity, duty and compassion, where did these come from? If people are merely products of physical evolution, material and biological substances, why do we have a sense of right? How do we explain a universal law in the conscience of all people that says murder for fun is wrong? Do not all people sense that a humble spirit and a focus on meeting the needs of others are admirable qualities? [26]

We all agree that some moralities are better than others. If no set of moral ideas were truer or better than any other, then there would be no sense in preferring civilized morality to savage morality. If there were no difference, how could one even say that Nazi morality was wrong! [22]

This inherent morality has resulted in many concluding that there is a God 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. [22]

Origin of the Universe

Cosmology, the theory of the universe, is not neutral when it comes to philosophy and theology. A universe that eternally existed is much more suitable to a worldview that excludes a God. By the same token, a universe that began seems to demand a first cause; for who could imagine such an effect without a sufficient cause? [29]

Albert Einstein’s study of general relativity yielded the surprising result that everything in the universe is simultaneously expanding and decelerating. The only physical phenomenon which expands and decelerates at the same time is an explosion. However, if the universe is the aftermath of an explosion (‘Big Bang’), then sometime in the past it must have had a beginning. There must have been a moment at which the explosion began. If it had a beginning, then there must be a Beginner. [29]

Einstein's own world view initially kept him from adopting such a conclusion, but once astronomer Edwin Hubble proved that the galaxies indeed are expanding away from one another in the manner predicted by Einstein's original formulation of general relativity, Einstein gave grudging acceptance to the necessity for a beginning, and to the presence of a superior reasoning power. [28]

Others were not so ready to concede a theistic world view. Through the years they proposed a variety of alternatives such as the hesitating universe, the steady state universe and the oscillating universe. However, these models for the universe have evaporated in the face of new measurements and discoveries. [28]

The Beginning of Time

In 1968 and 1970 three British astrophysicists, Stephen Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose, extended the solution of the equations of general relativity to include space and time. Their papers showed that if these equations are valid for the universe, then, under reasonably general conditions, space and time also must have an origin, concurrent with that for matter and energy. In other words, time itself is finite. [28]

With the knowledge that time has a beginning, and a relatively recent beginning (17 +/- 3 billion years), science is pointing strongly to a universe that began. Evidence for a creation event is receiving general acceptance throughout the physical science community. [28]

With all the evidence pointing to a beginning, we are left in need of a cause, a beginner – God.

Additional Note
The common origin of matter, energy, space, and time proves that the act(s) of creation must have transcended the dimensions and substance of the universe. For a brief discussion on how this is in fact a powerful argument for the biblical account of origins, please see “Astronomical Evidences for the God of the Bible” by Hugh Ross [28]. For a discussion on the application of quantum mechanics to the origin of the universe, please see the same article.

Philosophical Arguments for the Existence of God

Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, include twenty arguments for the existence of God in their “Handbook of Christian Apologetics”.[1] Most of their arguments will be briefly touched on here – for a more in-depth and thorough study, I suggest obtaining their book, or a book similar in content. Many of these arguments are quite complex, and much thought and effort is required when working through them.

Pascal’s Wager [1]

Suppose that you, after examining all the following arguments, still feel that the arguments are inconclusive. Then there is another, different kind of argument left. It has come to be known as Pascal’s Wager. It is not a proof for the existence of God, but can help us in our search for God in the absence of such proof.

Let us suppose that reason cannot decide for sure whether God exists. Since the question is of such importance that, we must decide somehow, then we must “wager” if we cannot prove. So we are asked: Where are you going to place your bet?

If you place it with God, you lose nothing, even if it turns out that God does not exist. But if you place it against God, and you are wrong and God does exist, you lose everything: God, eternity, heaven, infinite gain.

Suppose God does not exist and I believe in him. In that case, what awaits me after death is not eternal life, but most likely, eternal nonexistence. But what if God, my creator and the source of all good, does exist; and I do not believe in him. He offers me his love and his life, and I reject it. There are answers to my greatest questions, there is fulfillment of my deepest desires; but I decide to spurn it all. In that case, I lose everything.

The Wager can seem purely selfish. However, it can be reformulated to appeal to a higher moral motive: If there is a God of infinite goodness, and he justly deserves my allegiance and faith, I risk doing the greatest injustice by not acknowledging him.

The wager cannot – or should not – coerce belief. But it can be an incentive for us to search for God, to study and restudy the arguments that seek to show that there is Something – or Someone – who is the ultimate explanation of the universe and of my life. It could at least motivate “The Prayer of the Sceptic”: “God, I don’t know whether you exist or not, but if you do, please show me who you are.”

With this in mind, lets examine some of the Philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

Cosmological Arguments

These arguments take their data from without, they are not the simplest of arguments, and therefore may not be convincing to many people.

The Argument from Efficient Causality [1]

  1. Some things cause other things to be. For example, a man playing the piano is causing the music that we hear. If he stops, so does the music.
  2. Assume that all things are caused to exist by other things right now, i.e. there is no Uncaused Being, no God.
  3. So right now, all things, including all those things which are causing other things to be, need a cause.
  4. Therefore, ‘everything that exists’, stands in need of being caused to exist.
  5. But what is causing everything to exist? Beyond everything that is, there can only be nothing.
  6. Therefore everything in reality is dependent on something, and that something is nothing
  7. But this (6) is absurd
  8. Therefore the hypothesis (2) that there is no Uncaused Being is absurd. There must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent.
In other words, if everyone has to borrow a certain book, but no one actually has it, then no one will ever get it. Therefore, there must exist a God: an Uncaused Being who does not have to receive existence like us – and like every other link in the chain of receivers.

Objection: Why do we need an uncaused cause? Why could there not simply be an endless series of things mutually keeping each other in being?

Reply: Things have got to exist in order to be mutually dependent. If things depended upon each other for their entire being, then they would have to be simultaneously cause and effect of each other – this is absurd i.e. A causes B, B causes C, and C causes A. This is saying everything would have to be given being at the same time, but nothing could exist to give it. And that means that nothing would actually be – which is clearly false.

The Argument from Change [1]

  1. The material world is a world of change - things change from state to state. For example, a great oak tree grows from a tiny acorn, and a person grows to be two meters in height.
  2. When something comes to be in a certain state,
    • it was not this ‘new state’ that caused the change. For until it comes to be, it does not exist, and if it does not yet exist, it cannot cause anything.
    • it was not the thing itself that caused the change. It only has the potential for change. Nothing can give itself what it does not have. The result of change cannot actually exist before the change. The changing thing begins with only the potential to change, but it needs to be acted on by other things outside, if that potential is to be made actual.
  3. Therefore, something other than the thing itself causes the change.
  4. However, this other thing(s) is also changing. It also needs something outside itself to actualize its potential.
  5. The universe is the sum total of all these moving things, however many there are
  6. However, the whole universe is in the process of change.
  7. Therefore the universe requires an outside force to actualize it
  8. Therefore, there is some force outside (in addition to) the universe, some real being transcendent to the universe. This is one of the things meant by “God”
In other words

  1. If there is nothing outside the material universe, then nothing can cause the universe to change
  2. But the universe does change
  3. Therefore, there must be something in addition to the material universe.
  4. Moreover, the universe is the sum total of all matter, space and time. These three things depend on each other.
  5. Therefore, this being outside the universe is outside matter, space and time. It is not a changing thing; it is the unchanging Source of change.

The Argument from Time and Contingency [1]

  1. We notice around us things that come into being and go out of being. A tree, for example, grows from a tiny shoot, flowers brilliantly, then withers and dies.
  2. Whatever comes into being, or goes out of being, does not have to be. Its nonbeing is a real possibility. For example, the tree did not have to exist (to be).
  3. Suppose that for everything, it does not have to be. Nonbeing for everything is a real possibility.
  4. Now, suppose that the universe began to exist. Then all being must trace its origin to some past moment before which existed – literally – nothing at all. But
  5. From nothing comes nothing. So
  6. The universe could not have begun. The universe has always been.
  7. Therefore, for the infinitely long duration of cosmic history, all being had the built-in possibility not to be.
  8. But, if in an infinite time that possibility was never realized, then it could not have been a real possibility at all.
  9. Therefore, our hypothesis (3) that “nonbeing for everything is a real possibility” is untrue
  10. Therefore there must exist something which has to exist, which cannot not exist. This sort of being is called necessary.
  11. Either this necessity belongs to the thing in itself or it is derived from another. If derived from another there must ultimately exist a being whose necessity is not derived, that is, an absolutely necessary being
  12. This absolutely necessary being is God

The Argument from Degrees of Perfection [1]

  1. We notice things that vary in certain ways. For example, a shade of colour can be lighter or darker than another.
  2. Some, we arrange in terms of more or less. And, when we do, we naturally think of them on a scale approaching most and least. For example, we think of the lighter as approaching the brightness of pure white, and the darker as approaching the ‘darkness’ of pitch black.
  3. We recognize this scale in ‘being’ - that it is better to be, than not to be; that intelligent being, is better than unintelligent being; that a being able to give and receive love is better than one that cannot; that our way of being is better, richer and fuller than that of a stone, a flower, an earthworm, an ant, or even a baby seal.
  4. But if these degrees of perfection are applicable to ‘being’, then there must exist a ‘best’, a source and real standard of all the perfections that we recognize belong to us as beings.
  5. This absolutely perfect being – the “Being” of all beings,” “the Perfection of all prefections” – is God

The Design Argument [1]

  1. The universe displays a staggering amount of order. The things we observe, and the way these things relate to other things outside themselves can fill even the most casual observer with wonder.
  2. Either this intelligible order is the product of chance or of intelligent design
  3. Not chance
  4. Therefore the universe is the product of intelligent design
  5. Design comes only from a mind, a designer.
  6. Therefore, the universe is the product of an intelligent designer
It is obviously the third premise that is crucial. Ultimately, nonbelievers tell us that, it is indeed by chance and not by and design that the universe exists the way it does. It just so happens to have this order, and the burden of proof is on believers to demonstrate why this could not be so by chance alone.

However, this seems a bit backward. It is surely up to nonbelievers to produce a credible alternative to design, especially when considering the degree of chance required for such an order to exist.

In addition, “chance” is simply not credible. For we can only understand chance against a background, or norm, of order. To say that something happened “by chance” is to say that it did not turn out as we would have expected, or that it did turn out in a way we would not have expected. However, this expectation is only possible if there is order. If you take away order and speak of chance alone as a kind of ultimate source, you have taken away the only background that allows us to speak meaningfully of chance at all. Instead of thinking of chance against a background of order, nonbelievers are saying we are to think of order – overwhelmingly intricate and present everywhere – against a random and purposeless background of chance. This surely, is the wrong way round. Chance is the exception, not the rule – the burden of proof should be on the unbelievers to demonstrate why, and how this incredible design could happen by chance alone.

The Kalam Argument [1]

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
  2. The universe began to exist
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being
The first premise is obviously true. For the second premise, there is both support from natural science (Big Bang) and philosophical arguments in favour of the beginning of the universe. The following is an example

  1. Assume that the universe never began
  2. Therefore, it always was
  3. If it always was, then it is infinitely old
  4. If it is infinitely old, then an infinite amount of time would have to have elapsed before (say) today
  5. Therefore an infinite number of days must have been completed, i.e. an infinite task was completed (an infinite task is one that requires infinitely many steps to precede it). There was one day succeeding another, one bit of time being added to what went before – in order for the present day to arrive.
  6. But an infinite task can never be completed, as
    1. An infinite number of steps can never be completed. The steps would be unending. The task could also not be completed in infinite time, as infinite time would also be unending; just as the steps would be.
    2. Therefore, the task would – could – never be completed
    3. How about the step just before the end? Could that point ever be reached? Well, if the task is really infinite, then an infinity of steps must also have preceded it.
    4. Therefore, the step just before the end could also never be reached
    5. But then neither could the step just before that one.
    6. Therefore, no step in the sequence could be reached, because an infinity of steps must always have preceded any step. And each step (infinite task) would have had to have been completed – which can not happen (2)
    7. Therefore an infinite sequence can never reach, by temporal succession, any point at all
  7. Therefore, either the present day has not been reached, or the process of reaching it was not infinite
  8. Obviously, the present day has been reached.
  9. So the process of reaching it was not infinite. In other words, the universe began to exist.
This leaves us with a cause for the universe coming into being, a Creator.

The Argument from Contingency [1]

  1. If something exists, there must exist what it takes for that thing to exist
  2. The universe – the collections of beings in space and time – exists
  3. Therefore, there must exist what it takes for the universe to exist
  4. What it takes for the universe to exist cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time
  5. Therefore, what it takes for the universe to exist must transcend both space and time

Psychological Arguments

These arguments take their data from within.

The Argument from the Origin of the Idea of God [1]

  1. We have ideas of many things
  2. These ideas must arise either from ourselves or from things outside us
  3. One of the ideas we have is the idea of God – an infinite, all-perfect being
  4. This idea could not have been caused by ourselves, because we know ourselves to be limited and imperfect, and no effect can be greater than its cause
  5. Therefore, the idea must have been caused by something outside us which has nothing less than the qualities contained in the idea of God
  6. But only God himself has those qualities.
  7. Therefore God himself must be the cause of the idea we have of him
  8. Therefore God exists

Objection: The idea of God can easily arise from us noticing degrees of perfection among finite beings – some are more perfect (or less perfect) than others. And to reach the idea of God we just project the scale upward and outward to infinity. Thus there seems to be no need for an actually existing God to account for the existence of the idea. All we need is the experience of things varying in degrees of perfection, and a mind capable of thinking away perceived limitations

Reply: How can we think away limitations or imperfection unless we first recognize it as such? And how can we recognize it as such unless we already have some notion of infinite perfection? To recognize things as imperfect or finite involves the possession of a standard in thought that makes the recognition possible.

Where does this standard come from? Not from your experience of yourself or of the world that exists outside you. For the idea of infinite perfection is already presupposed in our thinking about all these things and judging them imperfect. Therefore none of them can be the origin of the idea of God; only God himself can be that.

The Moral Argument [1]

  1. Real moral obligation is a fact. We are really, truly, objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil
  2. Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the “religious” one
  3. But the atheistic one is incompatible with there being moral obligation
  4. Therefore the “religious” view of reality is correct.

The first premise is claiming that human beings really are morally obligated; that our duties arise from the way things really are, and not simply from our desires, or subjective disposition. It is claiming, in other words, that moral values or obligations themselves – and not merely the belief in moral values – are objective facts.

Most people would agree with this. We just need to see or suffer violence or injustice, in order to immediately recognize that some things ought never to be done.

Atheists, who don’t believe in God, tell us that we are a chance product; this, however, does not account for moral good, moral obligation, or a moral standard against which human desires can be judged. If I say that there is an obligation to feed the hungry, according to this view, I would be stating a fact about my wants and desires and nothing else. I would be saying that I want to feed the hungry, and that I choose to act on that desire. But this amounts to an admission that neither I nor anyone else is really obliged to feed the hungry – that, in fact, no one has any real obligations at all. This reasoning holds for any moral issue, such as feeding the hungry or stopping innocent people from being murdered. This atheistic view of reality is not compatible with the view that there is genuine moral obligation.

This argument shows that those who hold the view that we are objectively morally obligated, may be inconsistent with what they may also believe about the origin and destiny of the universe. If they move to correct the inconsistency, it will be a move toward the religious view and away from the atheistic one.

The Argument from Morality / Conscience [1]

Many people say that there is no universally binding moral obligations, that we must all follow our own private conscience. But that very admission is enough of a premise to prove the existence of God.

No one, even the most consistent subjectivist, believes that it is ever good for anyone to deliberately and knowingly disobey his or her own conscience. Even if different people’s consciences tell them to do or avid totally different things, there remains one moral absolute for everyone: never disobey your own conscience.

Now where did conscience get such an absolute authority – an authority admitted even by the moral subjective and relativist. There are only four possibilites

  1. From something less than me (nature)
  2. From me (individual)
  3. From others equal to me (society)
  4. From something above me (God)
Let’s consider each of these possibilities in order.

  1. How can I be absolutely obligated by something less than me – for example, by animal instinct or practical need for material survival?
  2. How can I obligate myself absolutely? Am I absolute? Do I have the right to demand absolute obedience from anyone, even myself? And if I am the one who locked myself in this prison of obligation, I can also let myself out, thus destroying the absoluteness of the obligation which we admitted as our premise.
  3. How can society obligate me? What right do my equals have to impose their values on me? Does quantity make quality? Do a million human beings make a relative into an absolute? Is “society” God?
  4. The only source of absolute moral obligation left is something superior to me. This binds my will, morally, with rightful demands for complete obedience

Thus God, is the only adequate source and ground for the absolute moral obligation we all feel to obey our conscience. Conscience is thus explainable only as the voice of God in our soul.

The Argument from Desire [1]

  1. Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire
  2. But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy
  3. Therefore, there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.
  4. This something is what people call “God” and “life with God forever”

C.S. Lewis, who uses this argument in a number of places, summarizes it as follows: Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

The Argument from Truth [1]

  1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being
  2. Truth properly resides in a mind
  3. But the human mind is not eternal
  4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside

The Argument from Religious experience [1]

  1. Many people of different eras and of widely different cultures claim to have had an experience of the “divine.”
  2. It is inconceivable that so many people could have been so utterly wrong about the nature and content of their own experience.
  3. Therefore, there exists a “divine” reality which many people of different eras and of widely different cultures have experienced.

Many claim that they are “united with” or “taken up into” a boundless and overwhelming Knowledge and Love, a Love that fills them with itself but infinitely exceeds their capacity to receive.

The question is, are we to believe them? There are an enormous number of such claims. Either they are true or not. In evaluating them, we should take into account:

  1. The consistency of these claims (are they self-consistent as well as consistent with that we know otherwise to be true?);
  2. The character of those who make these claims (do these persons seem honest, decent, trustworthy?); and
  3. The effects these experiences have had in their own lives and the lives of others (have these persons become more loving as a result of what they experienced? More genuinely caring and giving? Or alternatively, have they become vain and self-absorbed?)

The Common Consent Argument [1]

This proof is in some ways like the argument from religious experience and on other ways like the argument from desire. It argues that

  1. Belief in God – that Being to whom reverence and worship are properly due – is common to almost all people of every era.
  2. Either the vast majority of people have been wrong about this most profound element of their lives or they have not.
  3. It is most plausible to believe that they have not.
  4. Therefore it is most plausible to believe that God exists.

Everyone admits that religious belief is widespread throughout human history. But does this undisputed fact amount to evidence in favour of the truth of religious claims? No one disputes the reality of our feelings of reverence, attitudes of worship, acts of adoration. But if God does not exists, then these things have never once – never once – had a real object. Is it really plausible to believe that?

The capacity for reverence and worship certainly seems to belong to us by nature. And it is hard to believe that this natural capacity can never, in the nature of things, be fulfilled, especially when so many testify that it has been. True enough, it is conceivable that this side of our nature is doomed to frustration; it is thinkable that those millions upon millions who claim to have found the Holy One who is worthy of reverence and worship were deluded. But is it likely?

Objection: But the majority is not infallible. Most people were wrong about the movements of the sun and the earth. So why not about the existence of God?

Reply: Even though the people were wrong about the theory, they still experienced the sun and earth and motion. They were simply mistaken in thinking that the motion they perceived was the sun’s. But if God does not exist, what is it that believers have been experiencing? The level of illusion goes far beyond any other example of collective error.

For believing in God is like having a relationship with a person. If God never existed, neither did this relationship. You were responding with reverence and love to no one; and no one was there to receive and answer your response. It is as if you believe yourself to be happily married, when in fact you live along in a broke down apartment.

Now, such a mass delusion is conceivable, but what is the likely truth? It is more reasonable to believe that God really is there, given such widespread belief in him - unless atheists can come up with a very persuasive explanation for religious belief, one that takes full account of the experience of believers and shows that their experienced is best explained as delusion and not insight. However, atheists have never done so.


In this section, we examined many different kinds of arguments for the existence of God. Some were straightforward, while others quite abstract and difficult. Some of the arguments were not watertight proofs, but rather, showed only a strong probability for the existence of God. However, all the arguments, together, like a twined rope, make for a very strong case for the existence of God. [1 p. 49] There is more than ample evidence to conclude that God exists.

This, however, raises many other questions. Questions, such as, who is God and what is God like? The rest of this apologetic study examines this question. For if Jesus Christ’s claims to be God are indeed true, then someone who wants to know who God is, and what God is like, needs only to look at Jesus Christ. How important it is then, to examine the truth of the life and claims of Jesus Christ!



(c) 1999 - KnowWhatYouBelieve.com

Comments and suggestions are welcome

This Free Apologetic Study is available in a small group study format