Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Answering a skeptic

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on May 23, 2012 at 4:44 am

I was corresponding with an unbeliever the other day and he said, “…until I see something that proves there is a higher power beyond a shadow of a doubt, I can’t believe in a God.”

I replied to him that “beyond a shadow of a doubt” is not a standard you apply to a lot of things you believe to be true.  Most things we believe, we believe based on the preponderance of the evidence.  We are inherently limited in our capacity to know with absolute assurance (beyond a shadow of a doubt) much of anything.

Epistemology is a long philosophical discussion.  The point is, it is entirely reasonable to believe what has the greatest likelihood of being true based on the preponderance of the evidence.  That is how all of life is lived by the rational person.

I offered him the following arguments for the existence of God:

1. Creation.  This fantastically designed creation had a Designer.  It did not and could not have happened by blind chance, as evolution asserts.  Science (which Christians are huge supporters of) has never proved that blind chance has produced anything with life.  The irreducible complexity of even a single cell that can reproduce requires that it had to come into existence all at once: no natural process could have produced it out of non-living matter.

2. Conscience.  God has placed in every man the knowledge of Himself and of His moral code.  That is why the vast, vast majority of humanity always has and always will acknowledge and worship a God of some kind.  Men the world over from the most primitive to the most educated are religious; they all acknowledge a universal moral code at a basic level and the existence of a God who will hold them accountable to that code.  God built the knowledge of Himself in us, and no amount of philosophical reasoning can shake it out of us.

3. Christ.  God has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.  The way we know there is a God, is that He has come and visited us and walked among us for 33 years.  He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He rose again from the grave after three days, and forty days later He ascended into heaven.  Jesus was God in human flesh.  His birth, His perfect life, His teachings, His miracles, and His resurrection cannot be explained any other way than by concluding He is God.  No mere human could have led His life.

4. Communication.  God has communicated with us through the Bible.  This book is the revelation of God.  For 40 different human authors to write 66 different books over a period of 1500 years; and yet to have a unified non-contradictory revelation that has consistency in its design, its doctrine, and its central theme of redemption through God’s promised and revealed Son is the indication that a single divine author and mind was inspiring it and bringing it all together.  The perfectly fulfilled prophecies in the Bible that came true 100% of the time in all their details shows that an omniscient mind was revealing the future before those future events ever occurred.

5. Conversion.  The proof of the existence of God is in the radical transformation He worked in my life and in the lives of millions of others when we were born again, placed our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, and were transformed into new people who now have a personal relationship with God.  God exists because He changed my life radically, decisively, and comprehensively when I was born again; and He has done the same for millions of others.

The first 4 proofs are objective and the last is subjective.  All of them added together form a solid basis for concluding there is a God; and therefore makes invalid the charge that we are believing in something with no evidence.  We have a large body of evidence for what we believe which far outweighs any arguments that deny the existence of God.

I hope these five C’s will be easy for you to remember when confronted with the question: How do you know there is a God?  We will never argue anybody into the kingdom of God, but we should be able to provide every man a reason for the hope that is in us.

Pastor Max Doner
Sovereign Grace Bible Church
Lebanon, Oregon

  1. A very good post. I knew only one person who claimed to be an athiest. He said when he died he would be as dead as any plant outside his window. Sad. I wish I had had something like this to tell him then (about 50 years ago). Not that I might have convinced him but I could have given him more of a solid answer.

  2. Excellent post. To say there is no God is to ignore the world around us. Many will sadly do just that.

    Blessings
    Greg

  3. It seems I keep getting in these conversations, too. The skeptic wants absolute proof for God, but doesn’t live that way in any other area of life. Strange that the evidence for God needs to be so strict, but the evidence for life can be so minimal. “Oh, there’s water? There must be life!” But somehow saying that nothing ever creates itself is not self-evident enough to show that the universe must have been created by God. Great post.

  4. […] out this post on Absolute Proof of God for […]

  5. Bryan,
    Thanks for posting this.
    I like how even handed yet firm this subject is presented both here and in your posts.
    I greatly value the Christ Centrered encouragemernt you offer in your posts.
    We are all learning much along the way!

    C.C.T.

  6. These are great reasons. They would be even better if they were actually true.

    1) Evolution is not mere chance. Just as you can develop different breeds through artificial selection, so natural selection can favor certain characteristics. Is it mere chance that faster antelopes will likely outlive slower ones? Of course not. There are natural, environmental pressures that cause faster antelopes, over time. Additionally, many experiments have been done that show evolution at work. Just look into Richard Lenski’s work with e coli, or the experiments with silver foxes that have been going on in Russia for decades. There are many interesting examples that have been documented within modern history that support evolution, and that’s saying nothing about the evidence within the fossil record or genetics. Even our own bodies show evidence of it in some of our vestigial organs. The information is out there — just look at it and decide for yourself.

    2) Every culture throughout time has had moral codes. Even animals display morality. There are fantastically good reasons to be moral that have nothing to do with religion. Also, it’s hard to overlook the moral implications of some of God’s commands in the OT. Genocide is the most heinous one that comes to mind. Killing children and pregnant women should strike us as unequivocally evil. There’s also the law that raped women are to marry their rapists. Pretty tough to reconcile those things with morality.

    3) The most information we have about Christ comes from documents written by Christians. Of course they would support the notion of Christ’s divinity. In fact, it’s well known now that other gospels existed during that time that took differing views of Christ, but those were silenced as much as possible. And the 4 gospels in the Bible have a number of problems that call the details of Christ’s life into question. It’s impossible to prove Christ’s divinity historically.

    4) The Bible is flawed, so it’s hard to use this as very good evidence. In Daniel 5, Daniel refers to Belshazzar as the son of Nebuchadnezzar 7 times. We know from history (even theologians admit this) that Belshazzar was actually the son of Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible says that hares chew the cud, which is completely false. In Gal 3:16-17, Paul says that the law of Moses came 430 years after God made the 3 promises to Abraham. That’s completely false. In Exodus 12:40-41, we’re told that the Israelites were in Egyptian bondage for exactly 430 years. Moses was given the law sometime after that, but the promises given to Abraham came way before the Israelites went to Egypt. Jacob was an old man when that happened, Jacob’s father was Isaac, and Isaac wasn’t even born yet when Abraham received the promises. We’re looking at something closer to 500-600 years between the promises and the law. Paul was way off, and made a simple mistake. But it shows that problems do exist in the Bible. There’s also the problem of Jesus’ genealogy, which is completely different in Matthew and Luke. And neither of those matches the one in Chronicles. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus is killed on the day of Passover. In John, he’s killed the day before. The times of death are different too. If you compare the details in the accounts of Jesus’ birth, there’s no way to reconcile them all. And as far as prophecies go, they’re a mess as well. The virgin birth prophecy is no such thing, as can easily be seen by reading Isaiah 7 and 8 (not to mention the Hebrew word used their was maiden, not virgin). And in Ezekiel 26-28, it’s prophesied that Tyre would be destroyed and never rebuilt — yet Tyre is still around today. Even when Alexander the Great sacked it, it was immediately rebuilt. In other words, the Bible is far from a perfect book. It contains failed prophecies and it contradicts itself (and science and history) in a number of places. Plenty of information about this exists, and anyone interested would be well served by researching it.

    5) As you said, this piece of evidence is completely subjective. And you’d probably agree that people’s lives have been changed for all kinds of reasons. Some have been changed because of a new romantic relationship, some because they stopped drinking, some because they became Hindu, or Buddhist, etc. Some people’s lives have been changed for the better by leaving religion completely. So the subjective effects of changes like this have no bearing on whether or not something is true.

    I hope this reply hasn’t seemed excessively rude. I really haven’t meant it that way. I used to be a Christian myself, and I believed many of the things you posited above. But once I became more familiar with the evidence, I found that my position on these issues was way off. The information isn’t hard to come by, and at the very least, it shows that the truth of Christianity is far from being a slam-dunk. I’d recommend that people who are serious about the truth of their beliefs simply study all sides very deeply. Read Christian sources — but also read skeptical ones. If you don’t, you’ll never get a clear view of the big picture.

    Thanks

  7. Pastor Doner, this is an intriguing post. However, I must disagree with some of your points. You claim that the first four points are objective. Yet, there is evidence that evolution is real, more than there is evidence that God created the world in 7 days. I believe in God, and also believe evolution is real. One does not necessarily exclude the other. I totally agree with the second point. We are all spiritual beings and always seek God in some way. We are called to seek something bigger than us. The third argument, even though you also say it is objective, is actually based on faith. Although I also believe that Jesus was a manifestation of God, He is not necessarily the only one. The fourth point is troubling because, although the Bible is a great inspirational book, it has contradictions (i.e. Paul and James differ on the definition of ‘salvation’). Finally I can relate with the last point, because I also believe God works on us throughout our lives, which is a process of spiritual growth that can be accomplished by simply living a life of genuine service. You are welcomed to visit my blog for more details on my spiritual journey. God bless.

  8. I’m printing this off for my Atheist father. He’s 92.

  9. Well, Nate, I did not think your reply rude at all. But I was also not surprised by it, either. You state your objections as though Christians have never heard them before, and that they are unanswerable.

    In fact, I was able to predict with reasonable accuracy what you were going to say on each point before I read what you said, so old and tired are the arguments you bring forth. What is amazing is that in all your alleged wide spread reading of “both sides” you have not come across the very compelling and convincing answers that already exist to every point you brought up.

    They are out there, and I will not write the book length replies in this blog forum that would be needed to answer each point you brought up.

    For example, the points you make about evolution betray a real ignorance of the subject and the questions and issues involved in it. I would suggest you read Darwin on Trial, by Phillip Johnson, in order to grasp the insurmountable fallacies of the fantasy of evolution.

    Mere Christianity, by CS Lewis, Answers to Tough Questions skeptics ask about the Christian faith by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, and He is There and He is not Silent by Francis Schaeffer are just the tip of the iceberg of apologetic answers to the objections you suggested.

    Whole web sites such as http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/bible.htm supply answers to the supposed contradictions you bring up.

    In short, Nate, you have been duped by pseudo-intellectual objections to the Christian faith that upon impartial examination are proven to be the fallacies that they are.

    Of course, if you have already decided for other reasons to search out a justification for your apostasy, you will be unmoved by anything I have cited, even if you read it all.

    As I stated in my blog post, I do not think I can argue anybody into the Kingdom of God. But for those who are looking for intellectually satisfying answers and proof for the genuineness of Christianity and her claims, answers are there in abundance.

  10. Hi Max,

    Thanks for the reply. That’s cool if you feel justified in your continued belief. I mostly posted that for your readers who may not be aware of the issues. And it’s not because I want to lead them away into error — it’s because the Bible simply isn’t what it claims to be. I’ve read a couple of the books you mentioned, and I’ll add the others to my reading list. I’m aware of the responses to the problems I listed, but I’ve never seen any that actually answer them. They’ve all been weak attempts to gloss over the issues. But again, any of your readers who decide to look into these for themselves can make up their own minds. Hopefully, if they’re interested in actual truth, they’ll spend time researching both sides.

    As a brief final point: if evolution is something you’re interested in, I’d recommend checking out The Greatest Show on Earth by Dawkins and Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. You can also check out talkorigins.org as a good starting place. The evidence for evolution is just staggering, and accepting it doesn’t have to rock your faith. Many Christians accept evolution.

    Thanks,

    Nate

  11. Nate – Actually, the evidence against evolution is just staggering. If it were not for the philosophical implications of admitting that evolution is not true, it would have been rejected long ago on purely scientific grounds.

    The scientific arguments against it are overwhelming, but the philosophical implications of abandoning evolution are so terrifying to those who do not want to admit there is a God, and have to submit to that God, that the fantasy of evolution has to be propped up at all costs, even at the cost of scientific integrity and honesty. Dawkins is a classic example of that.

    Read Darwin’s Black Box, by Michael Behe, which proved the fallacy of evolution based on the molecular biology of the cell and it’s irreducible complexity, or Evolution: a Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton, to see how even the secular scientific community is beginning to admit that they are in trouble on the issue.

    No Christian who accepts the inerrancy of the Bible and the infallibility of Christ believes in evolution, because they both explicitly deny it in no uncertain terms, by explicitly declaring repeatedly and in the clearest language that God created every kind immediately with His Word without any process of development, and that each only reproduce after their kind.

    Your efforts to cast doubt on the Bible simply echo those of Satan in the Garden of Eden: Yea, Hath God said? Indeed, He has said, and science and facts back up the historicity, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Bible at every point. Someday, you will understand that. I hope it is not too late for you when you do.

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