There is only one good reason to believe God exists — if it is true!
If God does not exist, there is no good reason to believe He does. Likewise, if God does exist, there is no good reason to believe He does not.
As discussed in this article, Christian apologists maintain that since the naturalistic worldview fails to provide an adequate explanation (much less a rationally compelling explanation) for the existence of our life-supporting universe, it is simply unreasonable to rule out the existence of a supernatural Creator. This is especially true with respect to the God revealed in the Bible whose attributes are not only consistent with what logic and science teach to be true about the cause of the universe (more>>), but whose existence adequately explains the things that the atheist worldview cannot explain — why the universe exists, why life exists in the universe, why objective morality exists and why men have an innate sense of significance, meaning and purpose.
In sum, Christian apologists contend there are very good reasons to believe that the God revealed in the Bible exists and no good reason to believe He does not.
IS BELIEF IN THE GOD OF THE BIBLE RATIONAL?
IS IT THE MOST RATIONAL BELIEF?
Christian apologist and astrophysicist Hugh Ross (www.reasons.org) explains that one of the things established by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity is that whatever the cause of the universe was, that cause must transcend the universe; i.e., the cause of the universe must exist independently of all space-time dimensions of the created universe. Unlike “gods” in other religious holy books who are described as being confined to the universe or being “at one with” the universe, the Bible describes God as a self-existent, eternal and transcendent Creator who brought the universe into existence and designed the universe for the purpose of supporting life on Planet Earth. [Listen to Ross’s testimony here>>]
Because the attributes of the God of the Bible are strikingly consistent with what logic and science teach to be true about the cause of the universe (more>>), Christian apologists maintain that belief in the God of the Bible is a rational belief which is uniquely supported by multiple independent lines of argument including the following:
- God’s existence best explains why anything exists rather than nothing (an argument for the existence of a “first uncaused cause”) >>
- God’s existence best explains the cause of the universe coming into existence (the Kalam Cosmological Argument) >>
- God’s existence best explains all the mind-boggling, just-right design features scientists have discovered throughout the universe which make it possible for life to exist on Earth (the Intelligent Design aka Teleological Argument) >>
- God’s existence best explains the existence of objective morality;
- God’s existence best explains man’s search for, and innate belief in, meaning, purpose and significance.
In the view of Christian apologists, not only do each of the above lines of reasoning present a persuasive case for the existence of God but when considered together, the arguments provide a cohesive and convincing case that belief in the God of the Bible (who is described as eternal, self-existent, transcendent, righteous and purposeful being) is the most rational belief possible.
Christian apologists further maintain the case for the existence of God is even more convincing when one considers the failure of the atheist worldview to rationally and/or adequately explain the following:
Why does anything exist rather than nothing?
How can anything come into existence from nothing (no time, no space, no energy and no matter) much less something as complex as the universe?
Why does the universe contain all of the hundreds of exquisitely fine-tuned design features necessary for life to exist in the universe unless the universe was intentionally designed by an intelligent designer for the purpose of supporting life?
How can non-life give rise to life?
Why do all men innately believe certain things (such as torturing a newborn baby for self-pleasure) are always morally wrong if there is no supreme moral lawgiver. Without a supreme moral lawgiver, such things are not always wrong, i.e.objectively “wrong”; rather, there are only subjective opinions about whether such things are morally right or wrong.
Atheists offer a variety of answers to the above questions, but their answers necessarily whittle down to an appeal to one common denominator: “blind, random chance.”
In response to the atheist appeal to “blind, random chance”, Christian apologists maintain that when one considers all the outrageously small probabilities that mathematicians and scientists have calculated would be involved with random chance accounting for the existence of our life-supporting universe, the atheists appeal to random chance is not intellectually satisfying. For example, consider the following random chance probabilities:
Donald Page of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Science calculated the odds of the universe developing by blind, random chance into a form suitable to sustain life as one chance in 10,000,000,000124. This is a number that is so huge that it exceeds all imagination. [See, Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 35 (2008)]
The expansion rate of the universe (which is governed by its mass density and space-energy density) is so exquisitely fine-tuned that if the mass density of the universe varied by even one factor in 1060 or the space energy density varied by one factor in 10120, no life would be possible at any time or any place in the entire universe >>. [See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 53-54, 150-151 (2001)]
- Scientists have identified more than 2,000 enzymes that are necessary to support life. However, scientists Fred Hoyle and N.C. Wickramasinghe calculated that the odds of a single enzyme randomly forming from amino acids anywhere on Earth’s surface as one chance in 1020. Further, the chance of obtaining all 2,000 “in a random trial is only one part in (1020)20,000 = 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.” [Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 35 (2008)]
The extreme improbability of such random chance occurrences are easily appreciated when one considers that the total number of estimated number of grains of sand on all the beaches of Planet Earth is only about 1025 and the estimated number of all subatomic particles in the entire universe is only about 1080. Confronted with these kinds of incomprehensible improbabilities, Fred Hoyle (a well-respected English astronomer primarily known for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis) came to the following conclusion:
“A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.“ (Emphasis added). [Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 20, pg. 16 (1982)]“
Isn’t it Always More Rational to Believe in a Natural Explanation
Rather than a Supernatural Explanation?
Pointing to the principle of Occam’s Razor, skeptics often maintain that because natural explanations are simpler than supernatural explanations, natural explanations are preferred. Accordingly, they argue that no matter how inconceivable or improbable a natural explanation may be, it must always be preferred over a supernatural explanation. As posited by famed atheist, Richard Dawkins, offering God as an explanation for the existence of the universe is no explanation at all because God is just as complex as the thing He is being used to explain so that no explanatory advance has truly been made.
Consequently, even though the odds that the universe came into existence by blind random chance seem “overwhelming”, that explanation is still preferred over a belief in a supernatural Creator.
Christian apologists offer the following replies:
Reply No. 1 — The Principle of Occam’s Razor Only Applies if an Adequate Simple Explanation is Offered: While it is true that simpler explanations are generally preferable to more complex explanations, it is also true that an incorrect simple explanation is never preferable to a more complex, but correct explanation. As stated by Albert Einstein, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Moreover, simplicity is not the only factor scientists consider when assessing competing explanations. They also consider explanatory power (how convincing the explanation is) and explanatory scope (how much is explained). “An explanation that has broader explanatory scope may be less simple than a rival explanation but still be preferred because it explains more things.” [William Lane Craig, On Guard, pg. 122-123 (2010)] Simply put, simplicity is not the only, or even the most important, criteria for assessing competing explanations.
Christian apologists maintain that no adequate natural explanation has been offered with respect to things like: 1) Why something exists rather than nothing (see above>>); 2) How anything, much less something as complex as the universe, could come out of nothing (no space-time, no energy, no matter) (more); 3) How life could have arisen from non-life; 4) What caused the universe (which has not always existed) to come into existence, 5) Why the universe contains hundreds of exquisitely fine-tuned design features which make life in the universe possible (more); 6) Why objective morality exists and 7) Why all men have an innate sense of significance, meaning and purpose?
Because none of the naturalistic explanations have been proven to adequately explain the universe coming into existence as well as the other items set for above, God’s existence (which does provide an adequate explanation to all of the issues) may very well be the simplest adequate explanation.
In sum, in the view of Christian apologists, since the atheistic worldview does not provide an adequate, much less a rationally compelling explanation for the existence of our life-supporting universe and life within the universe, it is unreasonable to rule out the existence of a supernatural being, like the God of the Bible, whose attributes are consistent with what logic and science teach to be true about the cause of the universe (more>>) and whose existence does adequately explain all the “why” questions — why the universe exists, why life exists in the universe, why objective morality exists and why men have an innate sense of significance, meaning and purpose.
Point No. 2 — God May be the Simplest Explanation: While many atheists are quick to assume that God (a supernatural being) is more complex than the thing God is offered to explain (the universe), that assumption has not gone unchallenged. As recognized by astronomer and cosmologist Edward Harrison (known for his explanation of Olber’s Paradox), “the fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design. Take your choice: blind chance that requires multitudes of universes or design that requires only one.” Emphasis added. [Edward Harrison, Masks of the Universe, pg. 252 (N.Y.: Macmillan-Collier Books, 1985)].
Christian philosopher, William Lane Craig, explains:
“As a pure mind without a body, God is a remarkably simple entity A mind (or soul) is not a physical object composed of parts. In contrast to the contingent and variegated universe with all its inexplicable constants and quantities, a divine mind is startlingly simple.“ — William Lane Craig [On Guard, pg. 123 (2010)]
As further noted by Craig, “the mind may have complex ideas — it may be thinking, for example, of the infinitesimal calculus — but the mind itself is a remarkably simple, spiritual entity.” [William Lane Craig, On Guard, pg. 123 (2010)] Consequently, to the degree a simpler explanation is preferred, a self-existent, transcendent divine mind to explain the universe’s coming into existence is, indeed, a step toward a more simple explanation.
Aren’t People Who Believe in God Just Intellectual Simpletons?
Some skeptics, such as atheist Dr. Peter Adkins, are quick to allege that anyone who believes in the existence of God is an intellectual simpleton who just isn’t willing to do the hard work of looking for an adequate natural explanation. To the contrary, there are many well-known and respected philosophers, thinkers and scientists who have come to believe God exists (e.g., Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, Sir Issac Newton, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross, etc.)
While not professing a belief in God, other well-known and respected thinkers and scientists, have admitted the facts scientists have discovered about the universe reasonably imply something supernatural. For example, Stephen Hawking (a well-known theoretical physicist whose contributions to science include space-time theorems of general relativity) stated the following:
The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous…. I think clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the universe — Stephen Hawking [Stephen Hawking, quoted in Fred Hereen, Show Me God: What the Message from Space is Telling Us about God, Wonders that Witness, vol. 1, pg. 186 (Wheeling, Ill.: Searchlight Publications, 1995)]
Atheist, Richard Lewontin (who holds a B.S. in biology from Harvard University as well as a master’s degree in mathematical statistics and a doctorate in zoology from Columbia University) candidly admits that atheist scientists are committed to natural explanations, not because they are the most persuasive explanations, but because of a prejudice against anything other than a natural explanation:
“Our [referring to naturalists] willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. (Italics in original; bolding added) [Richard Lewontin, Review of Carl Sagan’s ‘The Demon-Haunted World’, in New York Review of Books, Jan. 9, 1997, pg. 31]
As contended by Christian apologists, because there are good reasons to believe God exists and because naturalists have failed to provide an adequate natural explanation for our just-right universe and life within the universe (more>>), it is not only unfair for skeptics to claim Christians are intellectual simpletons, but it is intellectually dishonest to write off the existence of God as mere foolishness, as many outspoken atheists (such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens) are prone to do.
As discussed above, Christian apologists maintain there is no compelling reason why belief in the God of the Bible is not a rational belief, if not the most rational belief possible since:
The God described in the Bible has the attributes which logic and science teach to be true about the cause of the universe >> and
God’s existence best explains all of the following: 1) why anything exists rather than nothing >>, 2) the cause of the universe coming into existence >>, 3) all the mind-boggling, just-right design features scientists have discovered exist throughout the universe which make it possible for life to exist in the universe >>, 4) the existence of objective morality and 5) man’s search for, and innate belief in, meaning, purpose and significance
According to the Bible (Romans 1:18-25), men have no good excuse for not believing in God because God has provided men with clear evidence of His existence and His existence has been plainly understood by them. According to Romans 1, the reason men do not believe in God is because they do not want to believe so they suppress the truth. Eventually, their thinking becomes futile and their hearts are darkened:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
John 3:19 teaches that men love the darkness more than they love the light. Men suppress the truth about God because they want to live their lives the way they see fit without worrying about being held accountable by an omniscient, sovereign, holy and righteous God. When men choose to suppress the truth and exchange the truth about God for a lie, God turns them over to their foolish thinking — thinking that says something can come from nothing, that life can come from non-life, that all the mind-boggling, finely-tuned design observed throughout the universe is nothing but an illusion, that there really is no such thing as “good and evil” or “right and wrong” and that there is ultimately no significance, meaning or purpose to any person’s life.
The good news presented in Scripture is that every person’s life has great significance, meaning and purpose and those who choose to hold onto the truth and really want to know God, can do so in a very real and personal way >>.
© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson
Published: Dec. 15, 2011 / Last Updated: July 20, 2017
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision(Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook; New Edition, 2010) (C)
Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God(Navpress; 2 edition, 1995) (C)
Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists(Zondervan, 2008) (HS / C)
IMAGE CREDITS & LICENSING
Slideshow Photo: This image of the Helix Nebula aka “Eye of God” is an image of a large planetary nebula about 700 light years away from Earth lin the constellation of Aquarius. The image was downloaded from wikimedia.org which states the image is in the public domain because it was created by NASA and ESA.