Friday, March 23, 2007
Why Should I Believe in God?
Today I am posting another Q&A that I turned in for my Systematic Theology I class:

Suppose someone asks you for some reasons why he or she should believe in God. How would you construct your answer in terms of “arguments” for the existence of God? If that approach is problematic for you, just how would you answer the question?

Suppose someone asked me for some reasons why he should believe in God. How would I respond? I would say, “There is only one reason to believe in God. As your creator, you owe him your love, trust, and submission.” If this individual refuses, then he demonstrates his rebellion against his creator. As the Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 1:18ff, the reason we do not believe in God is because we suppress the truth in unrighteousness (v. 18). Humanity’s problem is not our ignorance of God but our refusal to honor him as God or to give him thanks (v. 21).

The person asking this question has already made a fundamental mistake. He is trying to sit in judgment of God. He wants to decide whether God exists. To do so, he asks me to give him arguments so that he can judge them through his use of reason. But what is reason? It is thinking logically. How can we know these rules of logic? Ultimately, they come from God. Apart from him, there is no logic or reason. So, God must be known in order to be denied. To state this point differently, someone cannot even evaluate truth claims without already assuming that God exists. In asking for reasons to believe in God, he is questioning the basis upon which he can ask this question in the first place!

Therefore, this individual needs to be confronted with his rebellion against God. Arguments that appeal to his use of reason are all flawed as normally used. They fail because they leave the questioner with the ability to sit in judgment of God. They are built upon the assumption that an individual’s problem is ignorance. If a Christian can share the compelling reasons and evidence to believe in God, then an unbeliever can make the proper decision in light of new information he has been given. The problem with this conclusion is that it begins with an invalid starting point. Those who are not Christians are repressing the truth of the God they already know. No amount of reasons or evidence will ever be compelling because their heart is set against God.

Nevertheless, this fact has not stopped Christians from using various arguments to prove the existence of God. One popular explanation is the cosmological argument. Since every beginning has a cause, there must be an uncaused cause. This cause is God. Applied to the universe, since it had a beginning (commonly known as the Big Bang), something must have caused it to come into existence. God caused the universe to begin. Next, some believers use the teleological argument. Also known as the design argument, they maintain that something is too complex or ordered to have occurred without purpose. Since it cannot be explained as an accident or by randomness, it must have been designed. This intelligent designer is God. Some individuals find the ontological argument persuasive. Anselm originated this argument, saying, “God is that [being] than which nothing greater could be conceived.” Since we can conceive of God, he exists. After all, which is greater, existence or nonexistence? Therefore, the greatest being conceived must have existence. This greatest being is God. Other Christians utilize the moral argument. We live life assuming there are objective morals. These morals assume a giver of ethics, which is God. Lastly, believers have posited the religious argument. Every society and culture has a religious core. How can this be explained? The universality of faith calls for an answer. The answer is found in God.

Obviously, these arguments use different avenues to prove God, but they all fall short of adequately responding to an unbeliever. They assume the unbeliever will be neutral in assessing their case. But as we have seen, people are not neutral. They have rejected God and suppress his truth. Additionally, what do these arguments prove? Do they lead to the God who has revealed himself through creation and in Scripture? Of course not, for the same arguments can be used by Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or any other theistic belief system. Essentially, these arguments try to establish a conception of God which will be acceptable to the reason and judgment of unbelievers.

While these arguments are not satisfactory when defending the faith, unbelievers do ask questions which Christians must answer. As the Apostle Peter says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). With this in mind, how should we respond? Believers need in love to let them know that they are in rebellion against God and to point out their inconsistency in living their lives as if God does not exist. Christians can show them that the ways they understand the world (their worldviews) are not capable of grounding their lives. We must establish that the Christian worldview provides the only true basis for our existence.

Proverbs 26:4-5 gives us a two-fold apologetic procedure when answering the unbeliever: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.” In the first place, believers should not fall into the trap of reasoning under the rules set by an unbeliever. Christians need to defend their faith by working within the biblical worldview or they will fail. In the second place, believers should answer an unbeliever according to his self-proclaimed worldview. By doing this analysis, Christians reveal the inconsistency and foolishness of an unbeliever as he lives his life opposed to God.

An unbeliever has no basis to ask me for some reasons why he should believe in God. He already knows God. The problem is that he is also running from God, determined to refuse God his rightful lordship over creation. He needs to be confronted with his foolishness and sinfulness. Through the power of the gospel, he can have salvation through Jesus Christ.

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posted at 12:00 PM  
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1 Comments:
At 5:24 PM, Blogger Dan Paden said...

Now that was a really good post.

I once had an hours-long discussion with a neo-pagan over evidence and arguments, and his ultimate position--almost his exact words--was "I cannot refute what you say, but I still won't believe it." That has stuck with me to this day.

It is curious how this plays out in the human mind. It is abundantly clear that the real issue is with the will, but it seems to me that an individual will often--much as Spurgeon described his own experience--initially perceive the conversion as being something done all on his own, as though he had made up his own mind through careful consideration. It is only later, after more consideration and study that one realizes how wrong that really is.

I also thought it interesting that Dr. James White put up a short little post quoting a tract he once wrote, said quote being very similar in content to some of your material. You are in good company, I would say. We can use more men like you in the SBC. Don't ever get discouraged.

 

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