September 20, 2017

Faith in God

By Cecil Willis

Last week we began our discussion of faith and pointed out that faith was nothing more than mental assent or intellectual persuasion to any given fact or promise which is outside the realm of the five senses, which faith is such that it must be based upon evidences presented. Since this faith which we have must be founded upon evidences presented, it is our purpose now to discuss the evidences supporting our faith in God.

The Christian finds himself obligated to give reasons for his faith as we read in 1 Peter 3:15: "But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord, being ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear." The hope that the Christian has of entering into eternal life is dependent upon the existence of such a Being as God that has the power to grant those things for which we hope. This passage, then places the responsibility upon every Christian to give the reasons for his faith in the existence of such a personality as God.

Man's mind is so constructed that he cannot accept as a fact any idea for which there is no evidence. It might be that I will not investigate the evidence myself, but will place confidence in the idea because of the examination of the evidence by others in whom I have confidence. That evidence might either be correct or incorrect, yet it must be sufficient to persuade one's mind or else he can have no faith in that idea. It is our purpose in our study to examine the evidence for God's existence ever seeking for its honest conclusion.

The statesman, Jefferson said: "It is hard to believe in God, but much harder not to." By this he meant that the evidence amassed for God's existence was so overwhelming that one could do nothing but acquiesce and believe when confronted by such a mass of persuasive evidence as can be given for God's existence.

Knowledge of Self

The first evidence which we want to consider for God's existence is the knowledge of ourselves. One says: "How is it that I can argue to the existence of God from a knowledge of myself?" Let us just reflect for a few minutes about some things that each of us knows about himself. It is certain that no one of us understands everything that we should like to know about ourselves, but there are some things that man so universally knows of himself that they are beyond dispute.

Augustine, years ago, in disputing with the skeptics of his day, used an argument, which through Descartes, has come to be a famous one, concerning the thinking of the soul. His argument was, "I think, therefore I am." From this argument, and from common sense, we know that we exist. From our existence and experience we know other things about ourselves. We choose to refer to all our knowledge concerning ourselves simply as the "knowledge of self." Every person realizes that he has some limitations. There are some questions that he should like to answer, but because of human limitations he cannot. In every realm of human endeavor there are some limitations beyond which man cannot go. Therefore we can say that man has the idea that he is limited, finite, imperfect, evil and dependent. But the question arises, "In comparison to Whom does man measure as imperfect, finite, limited, evil and dependent?" There must be some Being to whom man is comparing himself when he says that he has these limitations. There must be some Being somewhere who knows no such limitations. Man cannot conceive the finite, except as he is compared to the infinite. Man cannot be reckoned imperfect except when compared to Him who is perfect. We cannot say we are dependent, except as we place ourselves along side Him who is independent. In every inadequacy, imperfection, limitation, and dependency of man, whether he is conscious of it or not, he is referring to Him who is not so limited, and that Being who is not bound by human limitations, the Christian calls God.

"We know God as that Being over against Whom we are perpetually set, upon Whom we completely depend, and to Whom we are finally responsible" (Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics, p. 160). The thought is expressed by John Calvin: "Thus a sense of our ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, depravity, and corruption, leads us to perceive and acknowledge that in the Lord alone are to be found true wisdom, solid strength, perfect goodness, and unspotted righteousness; and so, by our imperfections, we are excited to a consideration of the perfections of God" (Carnell, op. cit., p. 160). So from consideration of our limitations one cannot but argue to that transcendent Being, to Whom we compare as finite, Who is perfect in all His ways (Ps. 18:30), which Being the Christian by revelation in God's word has chosen to call Jehovah God.

Moral Law

The second argument to which we call your attention as being a part of the cumulative evidence that is presented in support of the Christian's faith in God is the existence of moral law. "Man is a moral being. He is a creature not only of appetites and passions, but he is also a creature with standards of right and wrong, of justice and duty, which make him a moral creature" (Hamilton, Floyd, The Basis of the Christian Faith, p. 51). The most immoral of men feel a sense of duty to moral law. The worst drunkard is ready to admit that he ought not to do as he does. All of us admit that we should not kill one another. Now why is it that we ought to do some things and ought not to do others? What is it that classifies some things as being right and yet others as being wrong? One of the things that amazed the philosopher Kant was that in every man there was a sense of recognition of responsibility to moral law.

Since the existence of moral law is in man, and all of us think of some things as being right and others wrong, the timely question might be asked, "Just what makes a thing wrong?" Why does one feel he is doing wrong when he goes out and gets drunk and spends all of his time and money in riotous living? Just because he is taken from his family and might be even unfaithful to his responsibilities to them, why does he reckon himself guilty? Why is it wrong? There can nothing be said to be wrong with his action except that it does not conform with God's law. It is wrong simply because it is antagonistic to the infinite holiness of God, which is; the standard of all morality. Even the atheist who doe&:not believe in God recognizes moral law, and yet can give no reason for his recognition of it. There are things that are wrong to an atheist but there is not one living that can tell you why they are wrong.

In America there is an atheistic association called the 4 A's. The four A's stand for the Association for the Advancement of Atheism in America. In 1947 the Secretary of this association was asked by a Christian in public discussion what would be wrong with one man or group of men lynching another man, or shooting him, and he could only reply it would be inconvenient or unpleasant (Bales-Teller Debate, p. 45). In other words, there can be no moral law except as given by God. The immoralities committed are but perversions of God's moral law. Many of our so-called moral acts and practices are perversions also of God's moral law, but which we think are moral within themselves. We have noticed that there is a universal recognition of some standard of moral law. The existence of this law implies the existence of a Law-giver, for no law could exist until someone had given it, but moral law does exist, and therefore there must likewise be the existence of the great Law-giver, and God only can be this Law Giver. For as we have seen, a thing is right as it corresponds with God's holiness and his laws of Holiness, and a thing is wrong as it fails to correspond with God's laws and standards of holiness. Therefore the existence of moral law implies the existence of a Law-giver which the Christian refers to as God.

Design In Creation

The third argument for the existence of God to which we invite investigation at this time is that of design in the universe. The universe is so constructed that it connotes design and if it does demonstrate design, then there must be a Designer. That the universe is a Cosmos instead of a Chaos it seems there should be no rational dispute. But lest there should be, let us just note some of the features of nature that show us there must have been purpose and plan behind the construction of the universe.

Do the heavenly bodies just accidentally happen to act as they do, or is there design behind it all? Certainly they must have been planned! The exactness of the operation of the heavenly bodies, by which the astronomers can look into the heavens and tell exactly to the second when there will be eclipses of one planet by another, even thousands of years before they happen, demonstrates that they did not just happen to be as they are accidentally. With David we proclaim, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork" (Psa. 19:1, 2). Or with Moses we might say, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1).

It is said that Benjamin Franklin, while on a mission to Paris, France, at a time when French skepticism reigned supreme at least in that land, made a replica of the universe. Upon seeing the wonderful piece of work, an atheist friend asked, "Who made it?" Franklin replied, "No one did, it just happened" (Hardeman, "If Not God then What?" p. 2). Wouldn't it be a lot easier for a minature or a reproduction of the real accidently to have just sprung into being than for the universe itself?

We all are a part of the content of the universe, and so we see design in our bodies. Take for example, the body of an hour old infant. The blood flows through its body just the same as it does through our own bodies. It has been said that the blood system in our bodies is more complicated than the water system of a giant city like New York. Think about all of the water pipes in your own home, then of all of them in the city, and then think of all of them in New York City. Your body, and the body of an hour old infant, has within it a blood system even more detailed and complex. Did all of this just happen or did someone plan it? One might just as well say that our bodies just happened to be as they are and were not planned, purposed, or designed. The universe does denote design everywhere we look. Design necessitates a designer, and this Designer can only be Jehovah God.

Existence of Life

The fourth and final argument which we shall now submit as supporting the Christian's faith in God is the existence of life. That life exists at present certainly no one would deny, but either life has always existed or it had a beginning. If one should say that life has always existed, not only would he contradict all of the biological sciences, but he would also find himself affirming the same thing which he ridicules the Christian for affirming, namely the eternity of life. The Christian affirms the eternity of God. The evidences of geology demonstrate that life has not always existed and thus it must have had a beginning. Where did life begin? Did it begin with matter or God?

The atheist and evolutionist affirm that matter is eternal and that somehow millions of years ago by a chance reaction in the environment, something occurred by which a movement was set up within this matter that eventually resulted in life. In other words, life came from matter. The atheist is very hesitant to affirm that life began with matter, or what is commonly called "spontaneous generation," but. actually this is what he inevitably is forced logically to believe, for it has either always existed or else at some time life came from the non-living. Since life could not always have existed, according to atheistic data, then it had to have a beginning, which beginning had either to come of mind or matter. If it began of matter, then life would be a product of chance. This would mean that the living came from the non-living, the moral from the nonmoral, the spiritual from the dead mass of insensate matter.

Isn't it more reasonable to believe that God who has all power created us and the universe, than to believe that we came from that which has no life itself, namely matter? Man has never yet been able to create or reproduce life. Only God can do that. This shows that life had to have its beginning in something higher than man, which could only be in the supernatural realm, God himself being the Creator. Is it not much more reasonable to say with David: "Know ye Jehovah, he is God: It is he that hath made us, and we are his" (Ps 100:3).

Supporting the Christian's faith in God is evidence, which as yet has not been met with counter-evidence. Four of these evidences we have listed in this article: (1) Knowledge of Self; (2) Moral Law; (3) Design in the Universe; (4) Life itself. So as Jefferson said, "It is hard to believe in God, But harder not to." Yes, there is everything to demand that we have faith in God-the book of nature, the book of reason or common sense, and above all these the book of God which says "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

Truth Magazine XIX: 19, pp. 291-293
March 20, 1975