Summary: A survey of three arguments from classical apologetics (cosmological, teleological and moral).
Why believe in God?
Sermon for Adrian Christian Church
Why do you believe in God? Have you ever been asked this question? Are you prepared to answer this question?
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
So we should be prepared. Think for a minute about what your answer would be. If we want to find God, or to show others the way to him, then we must look for ways that he has revealed himself to us. After all, if he wanted to stay completely hidden from us, then he certainly would be able to. But we believe that he has chosen to reveal himself to us in many ways. Some ways are obvious, and others take a little more thought. For instance, the Bible is one of the ways that God reveals himself to us. We could call it a special revelation. God’s interaction with the patriarchs and the prophets are also special revelation. The most important instance of God’s special revelation is when he actually became a man, when Jesus walked the earth. Special revelation teaches us all of the important things about God and what he wants from us. The only problem is that because it’s special it doesn’t happen very often. And unbelievers find it easy to ignore this type of revelation. If someone doesn’t believe that God exists, then will the Bible convince them of that? It’s possible. But really the Bible is a book that assumes God’s existence, rather than trying to prove it. How do we prove that God is real to people who think the Bible is just a bunch of old fairy tales?
God doesn’t reveal himself only in special revelation. There’s also something that we call general revelation. Rather than being a special, one-time, seldom event directed toward a specific group of people, general revelation is going on all the time, for all people. This morning I want to tell you about three ways that we can argue for God’s existence from general revelation. These three ideas are not new. They have been used by the likes of C.S. Lewis, R.C. Sproul, John Locke, Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. They are even hinted at in the Bible.
The three arguments are the Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument and the Moral Argument. If we can get some understanding of these three ideas, then not only will we be more prepared to give reasons for the hope we have, but we will find that our own faith has been strengthened, and doubt will have less power over our minds.
We’ll begin with the cosmological argument. The name comes from the Greek word cosmos, which means ’world, universe.’
This is an argument for God based on the fact that the universe even exists at all. Have you ever wondered why the universe is here? Why is there any universe instead of absolutely nothing? Let’s think this through. Either the universe was always here (is eternal) or the universe came into being at some point. Very few people no believe that the universe is eternal. This has to do somewhat with the Big Bang theory, which claims that the universe came into being several billion years ago. So even unbelievers no think the universe is not eternal. So if it came into being, then we have two choices. It was uncaused or it was caused. There’s no reason to think that anything would just pop into existence for no reason, so it makes the most sense to believe that the universe was caused. If it was caused then we have three more choices. 1) It was self-caused. This doesn’t make any more sense that saying the universe was uncaused. How can something that doesn’t exist cause itself to exist? 2) It was caused by something that was caused by something that was caused by something, etc. In other words, an infinite regress of contingent causes. Again, this doesn’t really explain anything. There must be something at some time that started it all, a first cause. And that’s the third alternative and the one that makes the most sense. 3)The universe was caused by and eternal, non-contingent being.
This gives us very basic, but very important, information about God. Namely, that he is eternal and uncaused.
I want to play a few clips from a video where William L. Craig explains some of these arguments during a debate. The title of the video is Atheism vs. Christianity and it’s available from Willow Creek Resources. (4:03)
So science and logic work together in the cosmological argument to give the same message that we find in Genesis 1:1 – God created the world. Colossians 1:15-17 shows us that his work continues, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Jesus works in the world now to sustain creation."