Perspective

In this final argument in favor of God’s existence, I will explore the questions that were asked in the introduction to this series concerning the view that if God exists, it would be obvious to all people, and he would somehow be directly accessible or subject to physical proof.

An atheist’s objection often comes down to this: there is no real, empirical evidence a theist can offer to prove that God exists, and if God does exist, he doesn’t seem to be willing to prove it himself on demand.

I would like to begin with an analogy: when an author pens a novel, he participates in an act of creation. Peculiarly, even though he is in control of every word and page, the characters tend to take on personalities of their own, and they can even surprise their own author with what they will do and say. Whatever causes this phenomenon, imagine for a moment that the characters do in fact take on a certain life of their own.

One character, Archibald, begins to philosophize from within the story that there is no God. The entire universe, he argues, is composed of ink and paper, and all of the people and objects and events that occur in the universe, even the emergence of matter and time, are explicable by the laws of ink and paper. The world we inhabit, he continues, may have the appearance of design, but it is useless to imagine some supernatural Author-God for whom no real evidence can anywhere be found.

His brother Roland acts the foil, arguing in return that paper and ink cannot explain every aspect of existence. For example, where did the laws of ink and paper come from? Also, how could mechanistic laws produce sentient characters like us, who are far too complex and intricate to arise by the chance blotting of ink on the page? And how do you explain that the world and its characters seem to be telling a story unfolding over time?

Archibald responds that Roland only believes in a God of the Gaps, that wherever there seems to be a blank page of understanding, Roland simply writes in his imaginary Author-God. As far as a story, well, anyone can look at history and concoct some grand story that it tells; it is the result of a character’s overactive imagination to look for design where it is not.

Now, you will notice that Archibald is quite correct in many ways. However much he and his brother examine the universe they inhabit, the physical evidence will only yield ink and paper. All conceivable empirical results will end in materialism if empirical theories are all that are allowed. The only thing Archibald is wrong about is everything. Because he refuses to examine the empirical for evidence of the ethereal, he will never see the fact that the Author is writing the story, even Archibald’s own words, at that very moment.

You may wonder, what could the Author do to disprove Archibald’s atheism? In whatever way the Author wishes to reveal himself, it will in the final result be composed of ink and paper, for that is Archibald’s own composition. The poor character, because of his inky nature, has no means of direct contact with any part of the world existing outside of the book. As long as he persists in his thinking, he will explain away any miraculous intervention by the Author, for he is trapped by his assumptions and his own limited perspective.

The Author, in a radical act, could write Himself into the story and confront Archibald face to face. Even in this, however, Archibald could easily accuse the Author of being insane, a pitiable character with delusions of grandeur. The Author could reveal all sorts of hidden information; he could even predict the future. But the more the Author intrudes on the natural order of things, the more he risks being misunderstood, hated, and even attacked by the other characters. His presence has the potential either to complete or to wreck the story and the harmony of the world he has built.

This is not, of course, a perfect analogy of the New Testament, but it is suggestive of how an atheist could be right about his observations and wrong about the big picture, and of what challenges God would face if he wished to interact as directly as possible with his creation.

One of the finest works of fiction I have encountered is Flatland, published pseudonymously by Edwin Abbott (as A. Square) in 1884. It is a tiny volume, easily read in a day. In it, Abbott brilliantly lowers the reader’s perspective from his own 3-dimensional world to that of the main character, A. Square, who inhabits the 2-dimensional world of Flatland. From this lower vantage point, it is easy to see how Mr. Square is able to master planar geometry while remaining oblivious, even with the most clear arguments and demonstrations from the Sphere, to the world both above and below his plane of existence.

There is a simple fact confronting both Archibald and A. Square: the only access these characters have to the beings who are above them, even if direct contact is made, is faith. The evidence is there, but it is imperceptible to an empiricist; to see the story of a higher realm unfolding requires a willingness to shift perspective.

In this series, I have constructed, based on my reading and understanding, four arguments for God’s existence. Here is the fifth: put the evidence together, and try to see the big picture that unfolds. This was C. S. Lewis’s purpose in his series of radio broadcasts during World War II that became Books 1 and 2 of Mere Christianity. He wanted a bombarded British people, who had alone withstood the Blitz, to see the big picture of their lives and understand that the evidence of a benevolent God was all around them. This is required reading for anyone who wishes to be educated on the topic of theism and atheism.

Even if God exists and has directly interfered with human affairs, there is no deductive logic (i.e. scientific experiment) that would prove his existence. The thing is impossible and inconceivable. Assuming for argument’s sake that a personal God exists, the only way to reach the correct conclusion is through inductive reasoning, which is to say, evidence-based faith. Just as a reader of Frost’s The Road Not Taken must transcend the physical imagery of nature to grasp the poem, so an atheist must take the leap out of materialism to infer what the material suggests.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

A few common atheistic arguments fall into this topic of perspective, one of which we received from Archibald.

The “God of the Gaps” issue is particularly fascinating to me. I do not think that most atheists who pose it understand its inherent dishonesty. Their argument is that faith is only needed where gaps exist in scientific understanding, but if there is any demonstration that would persuade an atheist to believe, wouldn’t it have to be an event that defies scientific understanding? As I have detailed in this series, there are numerous such cases all around us, but atheism is a philosophy that refuses to infer the supernatural from the incredible.

Atheism functions in this manner exactly as faith does, and as any other philosophy does. The power of a worldview is its ability to fill in the ubiquitous gaps in human understanding with its own explanatory features. This is what every theory, scientific or spiritual, is designed to do. Every philosophy is a “[That Philosophy] of the Gaps.” The argument is an utter triviality. We all face an abyss on every side of the unexplained, and we all must choose a worldview that fills in the gaps, or else we relinquish the capabilities of human thought.

A similar issue of perspective is the famous double-blind prayer experiment in which scientists have a prayer group attempt intercession for a sick beneficiary group, with no contact between them. These experiments typically yield no relation between prayer and recovery. Their foolishness is fundamental to the problem of perspective. If God is a person who answers prayers, as the hypothesis implies, then he is another person involved in the experiment over whom the scientists have no control. What is needed is a triple-blind experiment, in which God is unaware that the scientists are attempting to probe him. I would not admit these futile efforts as an argument even if they showed a positive correlation.

I suspect that atheists have trouble seeing such issues because they do not take the hypothesis seriously enough to think analytically about it. My argument on the human perspective is crucial to this debate: God cannot be proven scientifically because the scientist is not in control. The reason humans cannot experiment on God is the same reason that mice cannot experiment on men: the latter is by nature superior to the former.

God’s superiority to man is also the answer to why he does not reveal himself on command. I think many people who wish for this have no idea what they are asking. His silence is pure mercy and patience. It is an issue of authority. I cannot command the President of the United States, or even the mayor of my own city, to come into my presence to satisfy my curiosity. If I made such a demand of the Being who created the Andromeda Galaxy, and he chose to arrive at my door, I don’t know why I should expect anything but to be utterly crushed by the enormity of his presence and power. When any person in the Bible beheld God or an angel face to face, the immediate reaction was sheer terror.

As it happens, I believe he is merciful and patient, and so no harm usually becomes the demander. I am not against asking God, humbly and sincerely, for a sign of his presence, although I do not think it is the wisest thing. I know quite a few former unbelievers who made this request and are completely convinced that they were answered. Some of the stories are amazing. Still, an answer is in no way guaranteed and the wiser course is to stand in awe of creation and simply worship.

G. K. Chesterton wrote his story of conversion to Christianity by inductive reasoning in Orthodoxy, published in 1908. It is a masterpiece of philosophy and wit. In the 2nd chapter he traces a certain connection between materialistic philosophy and madness. I have abridged his argument here.

The madman’s explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense satisfactory. If a man says (for instance) that men have a conspiracy against him, you cannot dispute it except by saying that all the men deny that they are conspirators; which is exactly what conspirators would do. His explanation covers the facts as much as yours.

Nevertheless he is wrong. But if we attempt to trace his error in exact terms, we shall not find it quite so easy as we had supposed. Perhaps the nearest we can get to expressing it is to say this: that his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle. There is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity.

That unmistakable note I hear from the madman, I hear also from half the chairs of science and seats of learning to-day; and most of the mad doctors are mad doctors in more senses than one. They all have the combination of an expansive and exhaustive reason with a contracted common sense. They are universal only in the sense that they take one thin explanation and carry it very far. But a pattern can stretch for ever and still be a small pattern. They see a chessboard white on black, and if the universe is paved with it, it is still white on black. Like the lunatic, they cannot alter their standpoint; they cannot make a mental effort and suddenly see it black on white.

As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman’s argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out. His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world.

For we must remember that the materialist philosophy is certainly much more limiting than any religion. The materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle. The poor fellow is not allowed to retain even the tiniest imp, though it might be hiding in a pimpernel.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. Perhaps the road is least traveled by the one who turns back, and takes the other.


When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Reason

Reason is the dividing line between man and animal. Human beings for eons have gazed longingly at the stars, admiring the chiaroscuro of effervescent beauty, contemplating the forces that created and govern the world, mapping patterns and movements, exploring new geometries and calculations; the glory of the heavenly bodies inspires all kinds of cognitive powers. Walk into the night with your dog, however, and point out to him to beauty of the stars, and he will likely sniff your finger and then contemplate where to mark his territory.

Why is the difference between man and every other creature so stark? A torch is ablaze inside man, an awareness of the unseen and a self-reflective spark. There is no continuity between him and the most intelligent animal; there is a clean break from creaturely cleverness to the world of mathematics, democracy, machinery, and poetry. In The Devil’s Delusion, mathematician and philosopher David Berlinski critiques the excitement in the scientific community inspired by experiments with other primates.

The idea that human beings have been endowed with powers and properties not found elsewhere in the animal kingdom – or the universe, so far as we can tell – arises from a simple imperative: Just look around… After years of punishing trials, a few [apes] have been taught the rudiments of various primitive symbol systems. Having been given the gift of language, they have nothing to say. When two simian prodigies meet, they fling their signs at one another.

Dr. Berlinski is even more critical of the community’s embrace of the human mind as an extension in complexity of the digital computer.

An idealized abacus has precisely the power of a Turing machine, and so both the abacus and the Turing machine serve as models for a working digital computer. By parity of reasoning, they also both serve as models for the human mind.

Yet the thesis that the human mind is an abacus seems distinctly less plausible than the thesis that the human mind is a computer. And for an obvious reason: It is absurd.

The absurdity, as he explains, results from the dependence of a computer or an abacus on its program, or its initial conditions, to produce anything resembling a thought. In other words, in order to “think” they require a human initiator or operator, and so are limited as analogies to the human apparatus. Nothing in the mechanistic view explains the power of human creativity, Reason, or the mere fact that, the biological abacus’s beads spinning down the wire, the person is consciously experiencing the moment.

The spark of Reason in man is perhaps the ultimate mystery in the universe. While the physical sciences gaze longingly at the expanse between man and animal, or man and abacus, there is still the theistic explanation, rising from the deep recesses of human memory, wielding a certain power that the scientific community has simply not managed to harness.

God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Rene Descartes in the 17th century left an indelible mark on civilization by contemplating Reason. Considering that any man at any time could err in his logical thought, he was willing to dismiss every argument, conclusion, proof, and demonstration in his philosophy as an error or an illusion, but before plummeting into complete radical doubt, he settled on such a sure first principle that no skeptic could ever disturb it: Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am.

In that monumental work, Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences, Descartes also took God’s existence as a foundational truth, the only possible guarantee that Reason itself is not an illusion, that the logical thought happening in the human mind actually reflects a logical order in the universe.

This raises the crux of the problem of Reason from an atheistic perspective. If matter is all that exists, what sense does it make for a piece of matter over here to be true about a piece of matter over there? A movement occurs in my brain, a swirling of cerebral fluid, electrical signals fire like manic gunmen, and a thought arises: the sun is made of blazing gold.

What does it mean for this thought to be true or untrue about the sun? It is obviously untrue inasmuch as the sun is mostly composed of hydrogen and helium. Yet the neurons fired, and the phrase arose and emerged as an artifact of human thought. Is this not the truth? There is the sun, perpetuating its plasmatic dance, and here is my brain, dancing to its own neural tune. Both events are real, and what is left to explain whether one event is true about the other?

Even more confusing is that, inasmuch as my companion, beholding with me the glorious sunrise over the Atlantic, would agree, my statement is true. It is surely a metaphor easily available, almost latent, in experiencing such a moment. Yet still the sun dances eight burning light-minutes away, and my neurons dance in their dark dungeon of bone. What is it precisely that connects them?

C. S. Lewis wrote about this problem on several occasions, most notably in Miracles and in De Futilitate. He is worth quoting at length. Lewis is speaking here in De Futilitate on whether logic is the result of mindless nature.

It is as if cabbages, in addition to resulting from the laws of botany also gave lectures on that subject: or as if, when I knocked out my pipe, the ashes arranged themselves into letters which read: ‘We are the ashes of a knocked-out pipe.’ But if the validity of knowledge cannot be explained in that way, and if perpetual happy coincidence throughout the whole of recorded time is out of the question, then surely we must seek the real explanation elsewhere.

…Perhaps the safest way of putting it is this: that we must give up talking about ‘human reason.’ In so far as thought is merely human, merely a characteristic of one particular biological species, it does not explain our knowledge. Where thought is strictly rational it must be, in some odd sense, not ours, but cosmic or super-cosmic. It must be something not shut up inside our heads but already ‘out there’ – in the universe or behind the universe… Unless all that we take to be knowledge is an illusion, we must hold that in thinking we are not reading rationality into an irrational universe but responding to a rationality with which the universe has always been saturated.

The mechanistic reduction of the mind to the brain is no deeper a conclusion than the strength of its materialistic conviction. The fact of their relation, that the ability of the mind is affected by damage to the brain, no more proves their unity than would damaging a radio forever silence the electric guitar. Lewis is correct that fundamental Reason lies elsewhere, and the human mind is capable, even imperfectly, of siphoning off from some immaterial source the logical truths of the universe that are available to the senses.

Descartes also concluded that the mind is separate from the body, that no mechanism would be fit to explain the capabilities of human thought. His dualistic view of the mind and the brain is philosophically robust and scientifically prescient. It is also, as Descartes intended it to be, spiritually suggestive of the Divine, the ultimate source of Reason.


Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?

I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.

The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be.

I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

Morality

In a dispute about God’s existence, such as is easily encountered on a college campus, I usually raise the subject of morality at the outset. It is the first argument that C. S. Lewis introduces in Mere Christianity, although he thought a more powerful argument resided in Reason, which will be my next topic. Sam Harris, on the other hand, a prominent neuroscientist and atheist, recently wrote The Moral Landscape in a valiant attempt to derive morality from scientific principles. Morality has a primary role in this discussion because it is central to human experience; it is also the most obvious source of cognitive dissonance for an atheist. There is usually a great amount of confusion on this topic.

We ought to be clear about what morality is: it is the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Morality does not simply describe behavior and its motivations; psychology is the appropriate field for that. Morality judges behavior and motivations, imposing a quality and a value on human activity. As a judge of human thoughts, feelings, instincts, and behaviors, it is itself none of these things, otherwise it would not wield its authority to discriminate between their right and wrong forms. If it was among them, a moral dilemma would be no different than deciding between a hot meal and a good night’s sleep.

Morality is also axiomatic. Nothing we learn in Ethics class leads us to morality; it is the first thing we acquire from our parents and our society, and we learn it directly. Simple rules imposed by pure authority at the youngest age possible are how we learn right from wrong, and those behaviors and sensibilities developed early in life remain with us forever. Stealing is wrong; hurting others for no reason is wrong; selfishness is wrong; sexual deviancy is wrong. Generosity is good; caring for others is good; self-sacrifice is good; marriage and family are good. These are not logical conclusions, but pillars on which conclusions can be built.

In The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris makes a notable attempt to achieve scientific morality. The basic premise of his book is that moral behavior is an observable fact: some human behaviors lead to the well-being of conscious creatures, and others diminish it. He quickly rebukes secular academia for its moral relativism, especially its refusal to acknowledge the moral failures of Arab Muslim cultures today.

Although beginning from a sane position, Harris reaches a moral wasteland in chapter 2 by arguing against the existence of free will, as any intellectually honest atheist must do. If materialism is true, after all, no matter how complex a system the brain might be, it is still a direct result of all the physical causes that preceded it and is subject to all the physical laws that act on it, with no remainder. Therefore, I will add as his unspoken conclusion, morality by definition does not exist. There cannot be a moral judgment on a system that only deals in physics. A non-transcendent philosophy always leads to this moral dead end.

To contrast The Moral Landscape, a study of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity is in order. Both authors acknowledge that morality is an observable fact of human life, but where Harris attributes this observation to states of the brain, thereby philosophically bankrupting it, Lewis draws the inference of a transcendent law, acknowledging its legitimacy. Reading these books together is a very worthwhile study.

Atheism, more than any other philosophy, has a chasm separating it from real human experience. It can only deal with morality backwardly because its basic assumption is Matter and it rejects the transcendent. Thus, atheistic arguments about morality must always devolve into explaining why we have moral intuitions and sensibilities on evolutionary, psychological, sociological, genetic, and chemical bases.

Evolutionary arguments make no judgment about how people behave; at best they give an interesting historical explanation of our tendencies. Psychology makes no judgments about right and wrong; at best it deems a person’s mind healthy or unhealthy, which is a physical or mental judgment and not a moral one. The physical sciences have no direct relation to morality; they describe what is, not what ought to be. Morality demands transcendent wisdom, but atheism only offers physical knowledge.

Atheists, although possessing morality as all normal people do, have, often uncomprehendingly, rejected it from their philosophy. This is called cognitive dissonance: they live as if morality is fundamentally true, which it is, while discarding its only possible source, which is something transcendent.

The weakness of this position can be detected in the case of the psychopath. If convinced by Harris’s argument that morality is a scientific study of which human behaviors lead to the well-being of conscious creatures, what is the imperative for him to be moral? There is none. He is apparently immune to this science. Just as a person immune to gravity could jump off a cliff with no physical consequence, so can this psychopath mistreat others for fun with no moral consequence. The fact that others face consequences is meaningless to him: that is the definition of a psychopath.

However, supposing he was convinced by Lewis’s view of a transcendent law demanding right behavior, this fellow can at least intellectually appreciate that he is not only in a physical situation, but a spiritual one, and that there is Someone both to respect and to fear who accounts for moral behavior. A powerful example of this phenomenon can be viewed here.

Thorough atheists (Nietzsche for one) who have thought through their beliefs understand that they disbelieve morality. For this reason, an intellectually honest atheist cannot tell you that theft is wrong, that murder is wrong. He cannot say with any certainty or clarity that the Nazis were wrong. He can say they were a sociologically deleterious group, and he can be revolted by what they did, and he can say he feels that they were wrong, but he cannot say that they were wrong. They were cruel, evil, and utterly morally wrong. He cannot say this because there is nothing in his philosophy that stands outside the material world and makes that judgment. His own judgments, by his own admission, are nothing beyond complicated brain chemistry, a physical process at the core. Anyone can be moral, but only a religious person has the privilege of moral clarity.


You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
I, the Lord, have created it.

Life

Now we turn our attention to origin of life studies. This field is in constant competition with SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) for the discipline which yields the most absurd theories with the least supporting evidence. Since Miller and Urey produced a few racemic amino acids in a test tube in 1952, some scientists have been obsessed with proving the plausibility of abiogenesis (the chance arrangement of inert matter into life), yet at every turn they comically show it to be more and more improbable. The resulting desperation has produced an amusing plethora of bizarre theories, whose characters can include crystals, deep sea hydrothermal vents, meteorites, aliens, and of course the famous primordial soup.

This extreme improbability stems from several issues; I will explore one of them here briefly, chirality, but it is not the only problem dragging atheistic evolution into the realm of mythology. After abiogenesis, the evolution from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, the advent of sexual reproduction, the complexity of human language, and the ascendance of human consciousness are all problems that staunchly defy materialistic and evolutionary explanations.

Louis Pasteur, one of the greatest scientists of all time, in 1848 first discovered, by experiments with tartaric acid, the phenomenon of molecular chirality, the possibility of the same molecule to be left or right handed based on its atomic connectivity (you may remember this from Walter White’s classroom lesson). Chiral substances generally occur in racemic mixtures (left and right handers mixed randomly together), but, incredibly, living organisms use single-handed chirality almost exclusively. Only a brief study on this subject is enough to realize that it has been an insurmountable problem for abiogenesis.

The most interesting thing about the origin of life issue is the confidence much of the scientific community has placed in abiogenesis. There is literally zero evidence that any living entity ever spontaneously arose from nonliving matter, or that the probability of this happening is any more than essentially zero for the length of time available in earth’s history (especially considering chirality), despite over 50 years of research and experiment.

Richard Dawkins, a most vociferous defender of atheistic evolution, accidentally betrays the shallow level of thought behind this idea in The God Delusion: “The origin of life is a flourishing, if speculative, subject for research… the probability of its happening is, and always was, exceedingly low – although it did happen once!” In another stroke of brilliance, he later says, “I think it is definitely worth spending money on trying to duplicate the event in the lab and – by the same token, SETI, because I think it is likely that there is intelligent life elsewhere.”

Origin of life is a scientific-cultural dogma rooted in the materialistic assumption that nothing exists outside the physical universe, and therefore all observed phenomena, including life, must have arisen by natural processes. In order to understand the facts, the assumption needs to change. There is nothing unscientific in observing the awesome phenomenon of life and acknowledging its most likely cause, an extremely intelligent and inventive Designer from outside the natural world. Dawkins, unimpeded by scientific evidence, can only gleefully assert that life occurred by chance. As evolutionary critic David Berlinski wrote, “There is no absurdity Dawkins is not prepared to embrace so long as he can avoid a transcendental inference.”

When abiogenesis was first proposed as a serious theory by Soviet biochemist Alexander Oparin in 1924, no one had even dreamed what kind of intricate complexity resided in a single cell. By any description, the cell is a marvel of mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, software, and systems engineering on an incomprehensibly small scale, all orchestrated by processes that still elude understanding. Metaphors of factories, cities, and airports permeate attempts to describe the cell, and even the most rigorous materialists always slip into design-oriented language. There is no other way to provide accurate information about the cell: it is, as biochemist Bruce Alberts once described, “a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines.” Cells typically have diameters on the order of microns (10−6 meters).

Abiogenesis is the cornerstone of any materialistic theory of evolution, but Charles Darwin never imagined the implications of this with regard to complexity. How could he have known? Mankind has set foot on the moon, controlled robots on Mars, and explored the bottom of the ocean, but has not achieved anything remotely approaching the brilliance of the cell. Origin of life studies will continue to expand the gap between abiogenesis and reality, and thus between atheism and reality.


Then the Lord answered out of the whirlwind, and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”

Assumptions

A logical train of thought cannot exist in a vacuum. Without some premise, some basic assumption, logic has no ground from which to push off. If you make some statement about the world, or about life, and someone asks you to give your reasons, and then to give reasons for those reasons, and so on (as children at a certain age enjoy doing), you find that eventually you land on a simple assumption you have made about life, with no reasons to back it up. You might not even be aware that you had this assumption; it just exists implicitly in your mind.

The fundamental assumption about existence is critical. Something must be assumed to be eternal because if at any point there existed absolutely nothing, it is inconceivable that anything could ever exist after that point. Ex nihilo nihil fit. There is Something that must be taken as a base assumption always to have existed, with no reason behind it for existing.

For a theist, this Something is God, the divine Creator of matter, who transcends time and space, existing eternally. For an atheist, this Something is Matter. The physical universe, or its physical predecessor, simply always was. This should be absolutely clear: a theist cannot explain why God exists, and an atheist cannot explain why Matter exists. These are assumptions at the very core, from which all other reasons are derived. Many atheists are mistaken in thinking this to be a religious problem, but it is in fact an inherent limitation.

Isaac Newton in the 17th century arguably accomplished more to advance scientific knowledge than any single person in history. While Newton gave us the laws of motion, unveiled the mystery of gravitation, solidified the heliocentric model, exposed the nature of light and color, and invented the calculus, he argued against the view that the universe is reducible to Matter. “Gravity explains the motions of the planets,” he said, “but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”

In the modern era, however, the scientific view has slowly shifted into a Matter-oriented philosophy. Perhaps the transition is marked by Albert Einstein, the other arguably most accomplished scientist in history, who introduced general relativity in 1915 and developed the quantization of light into photons. Although agnostic about the origin of order and complexity in the universe, Einstein rejected the idea of a personal God.

Is there any particular reason for taking Matter or God to be a more valid assumption than the other?

This subject was sharply debated throughout the early and mid-20th century because a new scientific theory was amassing evidence that contradicted a materialistic worldview. The scientific community (including Albert Einstein) almost uniformly believed in a Steady State theory of the universe, that it was basically static and had eternally existed as we now see it. This supports the atheistic assumption of Matter.

However, two discoveries sent the Steady State theory into obsolescence. The first was the galactic redshift (observed by Vesto Slipher in 1912), a kind of Doppler Effect with light indicating that the universe in all directions accelerates outward. The second was the predicted observation of cosmic microwave background radiation (measured by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in 1964), a residual effect of an ancient cosmic explosion. What became known as the Big Bang theory gained acceptance.

It should not be lost to history that both sides of this argument acknowledged that the Big Bang was forcing theological questions into physics. Many scientists fought against the new theory for precisely this reason: they were fighting for their worldview, for their basic assumption about reality. Nevertheless, the Big Bang implies a beginning; it begs the question of what ethereal hand could have entered nothing to imbue it with the gift of everything.

A beginning implies a story. The reverberating evidence that supports this implication is man, a being who arose from within the story, readily able to appreciate the story. If Something deliberately authored our universe, our existence, then it stands to reason that there would be conscious readers like us who can grasp the plot and study its drama, its artistry, and its grandeur.

In the beginning, a point of infinite density and temperature exploded outward, giving birth to the universe, to matter and to time, to all the physical properties that enabled the elements, and stars, and galaxies, and the earth, and man; this explosion carries all the objects of the universe within its expansive force. Opponents of the Big Bang argued that it would bring religious implications into physics, and they were certainly correct. The most obvious conclusion is inescapable.


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning was the Word.

The Question

The question of whether God exists or not is very odd, if you think about it. It is much like the question of whether the earth rotates or not, which troubled many natural philosophers long ago. A skeptic could pose several arguments that sound persuasive on the surface. If the earth is constantly rotating under our own feet, wouldn’t it be obvious? Wouldn’t we feel ourselves being pulled along in a circle? If the ground was in motion, wouldn’t a vertical arrow shot fall to the ground some distance away?

There are perfectly logical answers, of course, to all of these. Many things we experience are true without being obvious, including how air oxygenates the blood and how disease is transmitted by microbes. The earth is an inertial reference frame, which means we can only “feel” a force relative to its rotation. The earth’s movement transfers momentum to the layers of air above it by viscous forces, so that on average the lower atmosphere rotates along with it.

The odd thing is that these answers are not intuitive, that it takes a certain amount of study in physics and fluid mechanics to convince yourself that these are logical. It takes a certain detachment from your own body’s experience to see the earth’s behavior as an outsider, even while standing on it.

If God exists, wouldn’t it be completely obvious? If God is watching over us, wouldn’t he answer directly when questioned? Wouldn’t double-blind experiments prove that God answers prayers to heal the sick? Wouldn’t he simply display himself to everyone and end the argument all at once? Wouldn’t he intervene to stop a horrific crime? Or a terrible accident? The answers are similarly logical, yet counterintuitive. They require a certain detachment from your body and your emotions, an ability to think analytically, as an outsider.

Many people do not require this exercise, but do indeed have an intuitive knowledge of God’s presence. For others, these questions are haunting, and they cannot rid themselves of the sense that they inhabit a very small speck beneath an infinite nothingness. Still others relish this last conclusion, and feel free from an oppressive divine authority. I have no anticipation of persuading this type, but I do believe in miracles.

In this first series of seven posts, I will make several arguments that I find to be decisive in favor of God’s existence. First is an argument about base assumptions, then on the origin and complexity of life, then morality, then reason, and finally on the human perspective. All of the questions above will be addressed, most in the post about perspective. The last two more poignant ones I will answer in the epilogue, wherein I will address what most persuaded me to have faith, which is not a detached argument but an inductive conclusion based on a deep intuition.