Today’s Christian requires a weight loss program. Not for the body (though many of us might need that as well), but the spirit, as too many people lug around excess baggage — and that’s not good for running a race if you want to win.
In the first of our series on rest Christians miss because they carry around excess baggage, consider the first verse of Hebrews.
God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.
Similar to Moses writing in Genesis, Paul presents no arguments for God’s existence, he simply assumes you understand. Unfortunately, man attempts to satisfy his thirst for proving god exists with various philosophical proofs, most of which fail to appease the god-denier.
If you’re trying to find rest in any of the following “proofs” for God, you’ll discover the rest God wants you to have will forever elude you.
Ontological — The argument states if you can imagine in your mind a perfect, ultimate, greatest possible being — but that being didn’t exist — then that being would not be perfect and ultimate, since it lacks a trait (existence) without which it could not be said to be perfect. If that sounds like philosophical mumbo-jumbo along the lines of asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, yeah, it sounds that way to me too, so we’ll move on.
Cosmological — Since the universe exists, it must be caused by something, and that something must be caused by something, and so on. Eventually a first cause must exist, as an infinite chain of causes can’t exist; that first cause is God.
Teleological — The universe appears as an ordered, designed system, thus it must have a designer. Design implies a designer; if you’re handed a watch, you don’t believe it magically and spontaneously appeared, you understand a team of engineers designed and built it, and precision machinery constructed it. Similarly, the ordered universe must have a designer, God.
The argument (while not a proof) certainly makes sense. Science and other disciplines work because we inhabit an ordered and designed universe.
If you purchased a computer program, would you think it resulted from design, or chance? Obviously design, as we call random, non-designed features in computer programs bugs. Nobody looks at a computer program and believes it came from anything other than skillful and talented programmers.
Yet when considering the universe, suddenly the atheist shifts thinking — while not denying the designed nature of software, the atheist looks at the ordered, designed universe and proclaims poof! This came from nothing! No designer.
Transcendental — An argument from morality and logic, which exist universally apart from the cosmos. Those values existed before (and will continue after), the universe exists. Again, this does not prove God exists, but it does leave the atheist in a bit of a quandary. If no god exists, how do you define morality? A question posed to Richard Dawkins, whom you could call the father of modern atheism.
“What defines your morality?” I asked with genuine curiosity.
There was an extended pause as Dawkins considered the question carefully. “Moral philosophic reasoning and a shifting zeitgeist.” … I asked an obvious question: “As we speak of this shifting zeitgeist, how are we to determine who’s right?” … “Yes, absolutely fascinating.” His response was immediate. “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question. But whatever [defines morality], it’s not the Bible …”
I was stupefied. He had readily conceded that his own philosophical position did not offer a rational basis for moral judgments. His intellectual honesty was refreshing, if somewhat disturbing on this point.
Like the interviewer, we give Dawkins credit for admitting atheism provides no rational basis for morality. What Dawkins describes yields nothing more than majority rules (zeitgeist). That does not mean atheists can’t be moral, or act in moral fashion, but atheism provides no basis for morality.
Ultimately, morality comes from the God they seek to deny.
Are any philosophical arguments for god acceptable? Not really — if the supernatural exists, it (by definition) can’t be deducted by ordinary means, so attempts to prove the existence of God won’t be satisfactory.
You’re left with the basic quandary — you can’t prove or disprove God — you can only examine evidence you do have, and arrive at a reasonable conclusion. Either God exists, or we evolved from slime. You don’t get another option. Unfortunately, evolution doesn’t work, as it violates the laws of Physics, having no scientific evidence (that means repeatable, published experimental evidence) for its foundations (matter comes from nothing, non-living goo becomes alive, and so on).
The first rest required comes from page 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.”
You might believe it, but do you rest in it?
Next week: Part 2