Summary: We offer three agruments: 1. Cosmological -- God’s fingerprint is on the cosmos. 2. Teleological -- God’s design is seen in the universe. 3. Anthropological -- God’s character is reflected in mankind.
Jim Carrey plays one of his more serious roles in the 1998 movie The Truman Show. It is a fascinating film in which Carrey plays Truman (True Man) Burbank, a young man who was adopted as a newborn by the OmniCam Corporation. OmniCam has created a movie set the size of a city and places Truman in it shortly after his birth. All through his life he believes his life in Seahaven (notice the similarity to the word “heaven”) is normal, even idyllic, but his world is actually tightly controlled. His parents, friends, and even his wife, are actors. There are 5000 hidden cameras in the set which, unknown to Truman, are televising almost every step he takes. He does not realize it, but he has been caged in this make-believe town his entire life for the sake of TV ratings and commercial profits. Truman is the unwitting star of the longest running and most popular “reality” show ever. The show’s director is Christof (notice the use of the name “Christ”), who is a god-like character, is controlling everything in Truman’s world.
Truman’s reality has been manipulated by Christof, and Truman believes himself to be a happy man. The sky is perfect and he lives in a computer controlled climate. It is a false reality, yet it is the only reality Truman has ever known. But after 30 years living in Seahaven, Truman slowly begins to realize that the answers people have given him do not quite make sense, and he starts to question everything about the world in which he lives. In a valiant attempt at escape, which includes sailing across a pretend sea in the artificial hemisphere and facing his biggest fear, he emerges from the structure in which he has lived his entire life. He opens the door and walks outside to the freedom of the real world.
The movie tries to make the point that even though Truman was happy before, he was a tragic figure because his world was based on something that was not real. The things he believed held him captive and he did not have true freedom. The film implies that even though the “true man” is happy with his world, he will be willing to see that much of what he has been told is only fiction — an illusion. Organized religion has used the idea of God or Christ to control people, and to regulate their understanding of reality. But authentic individuals will break out of that world, as safe and comfortable as it may be, in order to experience the freedom of what is real. It takes courage to break out of a make-believe world where God seems to be the director, but authentic and courageous persons who use their minds will escape no matter how frightening the real world may be.
The show’s writers are taking an old philosophical idea and presenting it in pop culture terms. The 19th century philosophy, which gained notoriety through the writings of Sigmund Freud, said that God is simply a product of our imagination. We wished for something like God, so the human race made him up. It felt good to think of a benevolent Being who was in control of the world, so we thought him into existence. In other words, man created God in his own image — not the other way around.
The challenge for Christians is how to answer this kind of thinking in an unbelieving and skeptical world. How do we help people to see that God is not just a product of our collective imaginations, and that a worldview which includes God as the Creator of the cosmos is not make-believe? How do we help them to experience the God we know and love?
There are three answers we offer to those who are honestly seeking to know whether or not God exists. In order to do that, I want to introduce you to what may be new words to some. The three proofs we will use are the cosmological, the teleological and the anthropological arguments for the existence of God. Don’t let those words scare you, they have very simple meanings. First of all, we have: The Cosmological Proof — God’s fingerprint is on the cosmos. The cosmos exists, so we have to ask how it came into existence. Scientists agree that the universe had a beginning. Since that is true, we have to ask how it began. How could something this complex just happen? Something had to cause the world to come into existence. If something made the world happen, whatever it was existed before the world began and is greater than the world. Whatever this force was which caused the world, it must be either personal or impersonal. Either it was something like “The Force” in Star Wars, or this first cause was a personal being with intelligence guided by purpose. Since the overall purpose of the world resulted in life and the world is full of good, we would say that this first cause resembles the God of the Bible. Since there is such a strong resemblance, we claim that it is, in fact, the God of the Bible. The existence of the world implies a God who is capable of creating such a world and that he maintains a continued interest in it.