Does God Exist?

Bob Martin October 21, 2000

I. Welcome:


We’re glad you could join us for our study on Reasons to Believe.  Q:  How many of you were NOT here last week?


II. What is the series?


Our goal is to show you compelling evidences to demonstrate why Christianity is the true religion and anything that opposes it is false. This series is taken from my seminary professor, Dr. Norman Geisler’s approach to demonstrating the truthfulness of Christianity to unbelievers. Pastor Dutton and I teach a class that covers this material in much greater detail than we will cover here.


III. Overview of Series


• Last week we demonstrated that truth exists is knowable, is absolute, and is exclusive. These points are undeniable. For the Christian truth is what corresponds to the mind of God.
• Tonight we will present compelling arguments for God’s existence and deal with the issue of the existence of evil and a loving all-powerful all-knowing God.
• Next, we will review the authenticity and accuracy of the New Testament.
• Finally, we will see the compelling evidences why you should believe that Jesus is God and why the Bible is the Word of God.

IV.  Review Last Week


Let me do a brief review to get everyone up to speed.

1. For this study on defending the faith or APOLOGETICS, our theme verse for us as a church family has been 1 Peter 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
2. There are two forms of belief. Belief that something is true and a belief in something. Apologetics only deals with a belief that God exists, Jesus is God, and the Bible is the Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can bring someone to the salvation experience of believing in God, Titus 3:5.
3. We are doing this series because God has commanded us to defend our faith; 2 Corinthians 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  
4. We are doing this series because reason demands it; Matthew 22:37 ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
5. We are doing the series because the Christian church is under attack. From within the church by heresies, sects and cults. From without the church various world views and religions.
6. Apologetics strengthens the believer. When we know what we believe, why we believe and most importantly iin whom we believe we are able to attractively in meekness and fear of the Lord engage those who disagree with us. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.
7. Apologetics contributes to the health of our culture, by demonstrating that the Christian faith has much to contribute in the arena of public discussion on moral and ethical issues.
8. Last week, we demonstrated that TRUTH DOES EXIST. There is a lot of confusion in our society about whether truth exists, whether you can know it and whether different claims to truth can all be true.
9. Last week you met my unbelieving friend, Sherlock, who didn’t’ believe that truth exists. This view is illogical because it is a truth claim that truth doesn’t exist. He introduced us to 3 of his friends that had various views on the nature of truth.
• Atheism believes that there is no truth. But this view is self-defeating because he made a truth claim that there is no truth.
• Skepticism Believed that we should be skeptical of all truth claims. But that view is self-defeating because she was certain about her uncertainty. To be consistent she would also have to be skeptical of her own view.
• Relativism (1-2 sentence summary) believed that all truth claims were relative to the individual. But this too, is self-defeating, because he was making an absolute truth claim that all truth is relative.
• Pluralism (1-2 sentence summary)  criticized Christianity for excluding the beliefs of others because they belief that you can include all religions, that all roads lead to God. But pluralists violate a fundamental law of logic called the Law of Non-contradiction, which says opposites cannot both be true in the same way, at the same time. Opposite truth claims cannot both be true. Truth is exclusive. For the Christian John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.  Futhermore, we learned that pluralism is not consistent with their truth claims. We showed them that they EXCLUDE CHRISTIAN truth claims. Finally we reminded them that their claim of “tolerance” implies that they intuitively recognize some beliefs as evil or wrong because we don’t tolerate things that are good and true only things that are wrong or evil.
• Even if Sherlock and his friend don’t change right away, that’s ok.  Because we want to meet people where they are and lead them to the cross as quickly as possible.
1. Don’t’ let those words scare you.  We pointed out in a kind way, to Sherlock, the weaknesses of each of these. We can do that with God's help!  As Christians, we accept the words of Jesus Christ in John 17:17 “Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.   

 

V.  Transition to tonight’s topic


• Tonight we face some new issues with my friend, Sherlock.  He questions whether God even exists!
• For the Christian, we understand the Bible pre-supposes God's existence – Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
• While we believe that is true, there are other compelling reasons that we can use to help Sherlock consider the existence of God.
• Nobody can PROVE with 100% certainty God exists – but God has given us without plenty of evidence in the world around us  that points us to the existence of a God who:
• Is above and beyond this universe
• Who created the universe from nothing
• And who is intimately involved in our lives – He cares about what happens, and He wants to have a relationship with us!
• Now a big question that comes up or fosters questioning of God existence is this:  The presence of evil!  In other words if the God of the Bible exists, and He is holy as the Bible claims He is, then:
> WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?
• Tonight, we will demonstrate the compelling “REASONS TO BELIEVE”: that God’s exists. And if God exists, then we are accountable to Him (that’s the hard part)! And, we will help you answer that question regarding the presence of evil.
• Let me first introduce our Bereans, named after the Bereans of the New Testament  who were good students of the Word will again remind me of important Scritpture that I need to communicate to Sherlock in a way he will understand.
• Help me welcome my friend, Sherlock Holmes!      

VI. Skit


-- Sherlock enters

Sherlock:  Good to see you again, Bob.  I almost ‘had you’ last week didn’t I?

Bob:  I don’t think so – I think it was the other way around!

Sherlock: Yeah, you’re probably right.  I beginning to see that truth does exist and that not every truth claim is correct.  I’m not sure I believe yours yet (Bob: Of course not – we have 4 weeks left in this series!) – but I am thinking!

Bob:  Last week, you introduced to me 3 of your friends.  I want to introduce to you 3 of my friends.

Sherlock:  They aren’t like you are they?

Bob:  No, actually, they are better!

(Out comes each of Bob’s friends -- he introduces them, one at a time; they each will explain WHAT they believe as this develops.)

Bob:  My first friend is:
• Dr. Cosmo Logical (Brent Aucoin)
• Dr. Dee.Ziner (Jonathan Lambeth)
• Judge. I.M. Moral (Jeff Baker)

Bob: Sherlock, have a seat, sit back, relax and listen!

Sherlock: Wait a minute!  Is this going to be some fanatical, pseudo-scientists making up a bunch of stuff – sounding really knowledgeable, but not knowing what they are talking about?

Bob: The short answer is no.  But let me ask you a question:  Do you remember me asking you about your epistemology, your source of truth?

Sherlock:  Yes!

Bob: Well, there is no such thing as EPISTEMOLOGICAL NEUTRALITY!  What I mean is, we both come to this discussion with a source of truth – we all put our faith in something – even if it is wrong!

I’ve told you before; I believe that truth is what corresponds to the mind of God, which we can know from the Bible which is the Word of God and ‘faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ However, I must be honest with you Sherlock, I cannot PROVE with 100% certainty that God exists. And the facts that these men will present to you are not quoted directly from the Bible, but instead are from the people that you claim as your authorities. 

And I want to point out, that these facts fit better in my worldview than yours.  In fact, they are very consistent with God of the Bible!

(DING – the Bereans speak up)

Berean A: Dr Martin, Romans 1:19-20 says, “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Bob: (to Berean) How true! God has purposefully given us enough evidences to make belief in Him reaosnable, BUT He has left enough out to make faith necessary. Let me ask you to be praying for the Lord to help my friends open Sherlock’s eyes to the awesome things that God has done to reveal Himself. 

What we are about to talk about is know as what?

Berean B:  General revelation! Special revelation is what God has revealed to us in His inspired Word.  That’s what God uses to bring a person to Christ, but general revelation as stated in Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”

Bob: You’re praying for us, right?

Sherlock:  This isn’t going to be over my head is it?

Bob:  No way… take it away Cosmo!

Dr. Cosmo:  That’s “Dr. Cosmo” to you Bob!

Dr. Cosmo:  Sherlock, I want to present to 2 simple principles about how we got here (i.e. our existence as persons) and draw ONE conclusion:

Principle #1:  Whatever begins to exist has been caused to exist by another. Or every effect has a cause.
Simply stated, you have 4 options for the origin of any being:

#1:  Uncaused – i.e. something simply came into being by itself.  It just showed up one day!  But that’s impossible – ‘nothing’ cannot cause anything! You have to start with something.
#2:  Self-caused – This is impossible since a being would have to exist prior to itself to cause its own existence.  That doesn’t make sense either!
#3: Has existed forever: But we will show in a minute that is impossible.
#4:  Caused by another – (don’t tune me out yet – you’re going to like this!)

Principle #2:  The universe began to exist -- Basically, there is some rather compelling evidence that indicates that we haven’t been here forever.  This universe has not ALWAYS existed! 
Let me give you an example from you scientists who include top notch astrophysics and noble prize winning scientists and who not necessarily confessing believers who have demonstrated that the universe came into existence. It cannot be infinitely old.

Sherlock: You mean the “Big Bang”?

Dr. Cosmo:  Yes: The evidence from various realms of science has shown that the universe at one time in the past exploded into existence. The evidence is an expanding universe and whether you believe in creation or not these facts are undeniable. The first fact for the “expanding universe” was discovered by an astrophysicist, Edwin Hubble who demonstrated that the planets are expanding from one another like dots placed on a balloon that is being blown-up [Brent blows up prepared balloon]. Suggests it had a beginning.

The second piece of evidence is the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the amount of useable energy is decreasing. So if we have existed for an infinite period of time all the energy would be gone a long time ago. And you would not exist.

Finally, two scientists won the noble prize for discovering the echo of this past Big-Bang explosion.

Therefore, ONE Conclusion:  The universe was caused to exist by another – in other words, the universe, including us, didn’t get here by itself!  Something (or SOMEONE) caused it all!

Bob:  Well, what do you think of Cosmo?

Sherlock:  I think I better meet your other friend!

Bob: You have heard me say it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand this. Well it just so happens we have one. Go ahead Dr. D – get it going!

Dr. D. Signer:  Thank you Bob, Thank you Sherlock.  Sherlock if I can just ask you to take a look behind you.  Do you know what that is? (show picture of universe)  Isn’t it beautifully Designed.  Basically I would like to show only one thing and that is   A Design implies a designer!

First: Since the universe began everything seems to be ‘pre-set’ for sustaining life here on this earth. What I mean by preset is this. . .if somehow certain parameters are changed in the tiniest amount in any direction, life is not sustainable.  This is an example of DESIGN from the very beginning of the universe.  Let me just give you some examples
• (Show picture of earth’s atmosphere)  Sherlock do you see that blue and orange band right there?  That is the earth’s atmosphere and That circle there is actually the moon.   That atmosphere contains . . .21 % Oxygen which is what human’s need to live, Humans can live on higher percentages of oxygen  but .  Did you know that if the percentage of Oxygen were 25% spontaneous fires would break out  And if it were 15% we would suffocate.
• (show picture of earth) Another example. . .If the thickness of the earth’s crust was greater than it is now  much more oxygen would be absorbed into that crust like a sponge—and we would suffocate, if the earth’s crust were thinner you would be living in a place like this (show picture of lava). . . .the volcanic and tectonic activity would be too great  (How do you like that?)
• But that’s not all. . .Here we see the earth rotating. . .(show animation) If the earth slow down so that it’s rotation took longer than 24 hours, Here is how our days would look (show picture of hot desert like conditions)  and here’s our night (cold, icy and barren). . .the  temperature extremes between night and day would be unbearable
• But If the earth’s rotation speed up  we would be living in this (show picture of winds in hurricane). . .the  atmospheric wind velocities would be too great—talk about having a perpetual bad hair day. . .
• Another amazing example from outerspace. . .If the gravitational force constant was altered slightly our solar system would become unstable and planets would  moon would crash into the earth or fly out off into space.
Let me show you . . .(show similations)

Second  Let’s move from outerspace to a little closer to home—inner space actually in our bodies. . .(show animation of DNA) In each of our cells we have genetic material called, DNA, which makes us what we are. The four building blocks that make up the DNA have the same pattern as the human language. Meaning that if the human language has an intelligent mind behind it to produce those sequences, then DNA must have had an intelligence behind it to produce it’s sequences.

Remember Sherlock, this information comes from the scientific community  – the problem is that many of them don’t have an explanation for it all – or they simple won’t admit what Bob has been sharing with you!

[Show Mt Rushmore and another arbitrary rock formation.]

Dr. D. Signer:  Now, Sherlock let me show you one more thing and you tell me.  Here are two rock formations. . .which of these communicate intelligent design?

Sherlock: Well, I have to admit Mt. Rushmore.

Dr. D. Signer:  Sherlock. . .Sherlock . . .WHAT will it take for you to admit the that complex creatures like humans and animals came from an intelligent cause?  A design implies a designer


Sherlock: [to Bob]  Are you trying to prove God by all this science?

Bob:  No.  I would never use imperfect, fallible science to prove a perfect and infallible God! All I’m trying to show you is that something cannot come from nothing or cause itself to exist or exist forever! It began to exist – it had a beginning!  I believe that beginning was caused by God.

Furthermore, look at the incredible design of the universe. If the universe appears to be tailor made for life; perhaps the best explanation is . . . that it was tailored made for life.

I am simply trying to communicate with you were you are! The scientific facts given by persons you accept as credible fit my world better than yours.

(DING – the Bereans speak up)

Berean A: Dr Martin, what your friends are saying is consistent with Gen 1:27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him.  What is it going to take to convince Sherlock to accept the truths of Christianity?

Bob:  Well, that’s not our responsibility – but we’ll keep sowing the seed, cultivating the friendship, and pray that the Holy Spirit works in his heart!

[Bob to Sherlock]

Bob:  Wait till you hear this – Judge I.M. Moral is one of the best you’ll ever meet!

Judge:  Sherlock, I’m going shoot this straight.  You know that every piece of legislation has a legislator.  Every prescription has a prescriber.  Every law has a lawgiver.  So a moral law implies a moral lawgiver.


Secondly, there is a moral law.  You cannot escape from realizing that there are laws of human nature.  We all know that some things are wrong – cowardice in battle, rape, and child abuse – these wrongs go beyond any person, place, or culture.  We would not know injustice if there was no absolute sense of justice. 

We know that these laws apply to all people at all times in all places – i.e. they are universal and absolute.  To say that these laws are relative to a culture or certain people is to make that moral statement that all morals are relative!  Bob showed you last week the emptiness of that argument!

Therefore, there must be a universal Moral Law giver that is the absolute standard.  Before C.S. Lewis became a Christian, he reasoned there could not be a God because of all the injustice in the world.  Until he realized one day that his sense of injustice implied an absolute standard of justice – that absolute standard must be God!

Judge:  [raps the gavel and says] I rest my case.  Is there any cross examination?

Sherlock:  [shakes head] (no words)

Bob: Sherlock, are you ok?

Sherlock:  Bob, I am convinced that there is truth, that truth is knowable, and that opposite facts cannot both be true.  Tonight, you’ve shown some compelling evidence (even from my side of the fence) that God exists. But there is something that has always troubled me:  If there is a God, how do you explain evil in the world? Especially if your God is as awesome as your Bible says He is.

Bob: Sherlock, listen carefully. It didn’t start that way! In the beginning, when God created angels and man, He created them perfect -- they were holy -- without sin!

But God didn’t make the angels or man as a ROBOT!  He gave them a free will -- freedom to choose to submit to God’s authority -- to love Him.  

Lucifer, along with some of the other angels, chose to reject God’s authority. 

Adam chose to disobey God -- that’s how we got evil! 

Evil is the absence of a good thing. It is the absence of God's holiness. 

(DING – the Bereans)

Berean A:  Dr. Martin, listen to this verse, Isaiah 14:12-15  12 "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13 "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 14 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' 15 "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.

Berean B:  As far as man goes, Paul said in Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Bob:  Those are great verses!  I’ll keep them in mind!

Bob: Sherlock, We have a real choice about what we do.

God made us that way so that we could be like Him and could love freely. Forced love is not love at all!

But in making us with free will, God allowed for the possibility of evil.

But God is not responsible for the presence of sin -- man is!  Adam, like Satan, made the wrong choice.

Sherlock:  But Bob, if God knew man was going to do that -- if He knew Lucifer would rebel, why did He create them?

(DING – the Bereans)

Berean A:  Dr. Martin, Romans 5:8 is perfect for Sherlock – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Berean B:  Even though God knew Adam would sin, He still created him and even provided a way to restore man to a proper relationship with God!

Bob:  That’s exactly what I’m trying to communicate with Sherlock.  You keep praying that the Holy Spirit will work his heart!

Sherlock:  But Bob, if your God were ALL GOOD, He would destroy evil!  If He is ALL-POWERFUL, He could destroy evil.  But evil isn’t destroyed – therefore your God can’t exist!

Bob: Wait just a minute. Think about that. 
• We just discussed that evil was the result of man’s freedom. God gave man freedom, so he could love God.
• If you want to destroy evil you have to take away man’s freedom. But, we just said that God gave freedom to mankind, so we could love Him.
• Sherlock, you cannot see into the future and claim evil will not be defeated. Just because evil has not been destroyed, “right now”, does not mean it never will be. 
• In fact, my source of truth says that one day death and sin will be destroyed completely!
• Because God is GOOD, He will destroy evil -- Because God is ALL POWERFUL, He can destroy evil!

Are you ok?

Sherlock:  [struggling at this point – his belief system is crumbling] Bob, if you’re going to knock my windows out, you’ve got to give me something to put in it’s place.  Explain this to me; if what you say is true, then an all-good God must have a good purpose for everything.  I can’t think of one good purpose for suffering! So I just can’t reconcile how there can be an all-good God!

Bob: Sherlock, that is a question that has kept a lot of people from trusting Jesus Christ.  This is a question that all worldviews must answer at some point.  Christianity is the only one that makes sense and gives hope. 

We can’t assume that there isn’t a good purpose for something, just because we don’t know what that purpose might be.

An all-good God must have a good purpose for everything – even when we don’t know what it is.

In fact, faith has been described as “believing that God knows something that we don’t know, and God is able to do something that we can’t do.”

So, an all-good God has a good purpose for all suffering, even if we do not know what it is.

(DING – the Bereans)

Berean A:  Dr. Martin, listen to Romans 8:28  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Berean B:  God didn’t say that all things are good -- He said, “all things work together for good” for those who love God.

Berean A:  And even if someone doesn’t love God, God still wants to use that suffering to show that person how much they need a personal relationship with His Son.

Bob: Furthermore, we do know some of God’s purposes for evil. God sometimes uses suffering to warn us of greater evils. As parents, we never want our child to be hurt and we warn them that the stove is hot, but if they do touch it despite our warnings and precautions they will never do it again, when we warn them.

Suffering can protect us from self destruction. Chest pain can warn of heart attacks and unnecessary death. Toothaches can prevent further tooth decay

Suffering can also bring about a greater good Some one who has lost a loved one or gone through a serious illness is often more sensitive to and able to help others going through the same trials. . 

Sherlock: Can I ask you one more question?

Bob:  You can ask me all the questions you want!

Sherlock:  I’ve really struggled with this last question – How can a loving God send anyone to that place called hell – if it even exits?

Bob:  Sherlock, God desires all men to be saved.

(DING – the Bereans speak up)

Berean A: Dr. Martin 2 Peter 3:9 says, The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 

Berean B: God cannot force anyone to love him (forced love is a contradiction).  Maybe you remember one of the most familiar passages in all the Bible, John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Bob: That’s right Bereans. Let me read a quote to you from a book I read recently.  I will apply it to you personally as I read:

“In the long run, the answer to all those who are struggling with how a good God can allow anyone to go to hell, is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ To wipe out (your) past sins and, at all costs, to give (you) a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary.” – (C. S. Lewis, Problem of Pain, p. 116)

What I’m trying to say is that there is a sense where God doesn’t want to send anyone to hell – in fact, He has made every provision possible to keep it from happening – the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Can I show you some other statements that Bible makes about salvation?

Sherlock: [Seriously searching]  No. . .  not right now – I need to think about what you’ve said. [Sherlock exits]

Bob:  Ok Sherlock, remember I am here for you. We can talk more later if you want. 

[Bob walks over to the Bereans]

Berean A:  Dr. Martin, you let him go – why did you let him walk away? You could have quoted 2 Corinthians 6:2 For He says, "at the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you"; behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is" THE DAY OF SALVATION "--

Bob:  He’s not ready – He’s my friend, but he’s not ready.  We need to pray that God will help Him to take the next spiritual step.

Berean B:  Yeah, I guess you’re right.  Sometimes I forget what Jesus said in John 6:44 "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him;


Bob: [to the audience] We gave Sherlock some very strong reasons to believe THAT God exists – God did not leave us without evidence.  He’s given us enough to reveal His presence and power, but His Word reveals the details of what we need to know about salvation.

1)  To the Christians here:
• Are you praying for your unsaved friends?
• Are you looking for ways to use the Word of God and sow some seed?
• Are you cultivating friendships and building relationships with those of a different worldview?
• Are you challenged tonight with the awesomeness of your God?
• Seriously, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know all this stuff – the scientist have done all the work for you – we just RESPOND to the evidence by saying, “Yep, that’s exactly what the truth claims of the Bible tell us!” – ‘the ‘heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows forth His handiwork.’

2)  To those who are not Christians:
• What do you do with the evidence?
• How do you respond to what we call ‘general revelation’ – these facts the reveal intelligent design of the universe?
• There is a God; He has revealed Himself to us in His Word in great detail.
• I leave you with a question that another man asked, “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" The crowd to whom he was speaking replied, "Let Him be crucified!"
• My friend, He was crucified for me and for you – “What will you do with Jesus who is call Christ?”

Bob Martin

  • M.D. - Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • M.A. - Southern Evangelical Seminary
  • Professor of Apologetics - Faith Bible Seminary

Bob is married to Deb with five adult children and practices medicine in southern Indiana. He has been on faculty at Johns Hopkins, Case Western Reserve, Southern Illinois, Indiana Universities, and Purdue Pharmacy School.