As an addition to the recent article on atheism, Christian Arguments Against Atheism, we wanted to provide a succinct overview of the various proofs for God. The following are formal proofs for God, stated in the form of doctrinal affirmations. Thanks to Greg Bartlett, professor at Foundation Bible College in Edmonton, Alberta Canada for supplying this material.
I believe that the best ontological argument is insufficient by itself and must be supported by other proofs for God’s existence. The proof proceeds as follows:
- It is possible that a being with omnipotence, omniscience, and moral perfection exists in some possible world.
- There is a possible world in which a being with omnipotence, omniscience, and moral perfection exists, and, therefore, by definition, must exist in every possible world (“maximal greatness”), including the actual world.
- Therefore God exists.
Since some might attempt to refute the argument through asserting that no one has any way of knowing a priori whether a maximally great being exists, we can come to believe through a posteriori considerations, namely other theistic arguments.
I believe that the horizontal, kalam cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of God that concludes that something caused the world to come into being and that God is that First Cause of the universe, which began to exist a finite time ago (Gen. 1:1).
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a First Cause.
The properties required to be the First Cause of the universe are uniquely ascribed to God. God alone is intelligent and powerful enough to create the universe. Therefore, the universe began to exist and is not infinite.
- Temporal series of events are formed by the addition of successive events.
- A series formed by addition cannot be actually infinite.
- Therefore a temporal series cannot be actually infinite, but must have a beginning.
- The universe has progressed through a series of events.
- Therefore the universe began to exist.
The vertical cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of God that is based on the fact that something continues to hold the universe together (Col. 1:17).
- Every component of the universe depends on something for its existence.
- Every characteristic of a component characterizes the sum of the components (the whole).
- Therefore, the whole universe must also depend on something for its existence.
- Therefore, the whole universe depends on an independent, transcendent Being for its present existence.
I believe that the teleological argument for the existence of God moves from design to a Designer but can, at best, only yield the highest cause of design (a very great Designer), not necessarily a First Cause. This fact is insufficient for religious devotion. But combined with the cosmological argument, it demonstrates the intelligence and power of the Creator.
- All design requires a designer.
- Great design requires a great designer.
- There is great design in the world.
- Therefore, the world requires a great designer.
A more specific version is as follows:
- Living cells and written language are both characterized by their specified complexity, demonstrated:
- Some are specified but not complex (crystals, repetition of a single word).
- Some are complex but not specified (random polymers, series of random letters).
- Some are both specified and complex (living cells, sentence).
- Only intelligence possesses the capacity of producing specified complexity.
- Therefore, living organisms were produced by intelligence.
However, the teleological argument, though highly probable and valuable, does not offer an absolutely certain argument for a Designer.
- The teleological argument is based on human experience.
- Experience is unable to produce the idea of a necessary Being.
- If God is considered merely a higher being of a chain of beings, then a higher being than God is possible and God is not necessary.
- If God is considered separate from this chain of beings, then his existence is not based on experience, for no known, physical being is separate
- from this chain of beings.
- Therefore, importation of a necessarily invalid ontological argument is required for the argument to remain valid. But this is self-refuting.
- Therefore, a necessary Being cannot be proved from design in the world.
The Anthropological and Moral Argument
I believe the anthropological argument is an argument for the existence of a personal God from the personal nature of human beings.
- Humans are personal beings, equipped with consciousness, conscience, rationality, love, morality, and meaning.
- Something in congruous with these attributes equipped humans with these attributes.
- Only God is in congruous with these attributes.
- Therefore God exists.
The moral argument for God’s existence is that without God, objective moral values do not exist.
- If objective moral values do not exist, then God does not exist.
- But objective moral values exist.
- Therefore God exists.
If there is no absolute standard of morality, then morality does not exist. Without God, there are no moral absolutes. The most hideous of sinful acts, though unpleasant and unprofitable for society, would not be technically wrong. However, few atheist philosophers would claim not to feel a sense of injustice at the mention of the torture of children. Atheists who claim to sense this injustice may do so because they say it violates their announced stipulation of utilitarianism. But announcing a stipulation does not effectively justify it as the absolute standard. Atheistic attempts at forming a basis for objective moral values fail to adequately account for their existence. Atheists do not have an adequate reason for demanding that the violators of utilitarianism conform to it. An atheist universe cannot account for the existence of nonmaterial entities, including not only the laws of morality, but also the laws of logic and science.
I believe that the transcendental argument (presuppositionalism) for the existence of God is the most scripturally sound and produces the most certitude. The argument states that without God, it is impossible to prove anything. Only a Christian theistic world view is capable of explaining the existence of abstract, universal, invariant entities like the laws of logic, science, and morality. The existence of the triune God is what makes knowledge possible.
- Without God, abstract entities do not exist.
- But abstract entities exist.
- Therefore God exists.
I favor the transcendental argument because it does not set up fallible reason or logic as the foundation for epistemology or as an ultimate trust. “Christ as Lord” is the ultimate trust and is the foundational epistemological presupposition (1 Pet. 3:15). The unbeliever’s problem is first ethical (pride, rebellion) and secondarily intellectual. He attempts to participate in Satan’s rebellion against God in order to establish his own autonomy.
- The scriptural presuppositions (e.g., Ro. 1:20) are already manifested in an unbeliever’s immaterial nature (Ro. 1:19, 21).
- Because he actively represses these presuppositions, he may still recollect them.
- Therefore, an apologetic witness must be directed to the manifestation of these recollected presuppositions.
Thus, the solution to belief in Christian theism is submission to the claims of the King. These claims are clearly inscripturated for humanity in the Bible. Therefore, it is necessary to present the claims of this King to the unbeliever. However, it may also be necessary to present traditional proofs for God’s existence. This can accurately address an unbeliever’s reason for unbelief, encouraging him to submit to the King, despite the fact the unbeliever’s rational capabilities are fundamentally flawed (Ro. 1).
The claims of the King and the demands of the Gospel for salvation must be clearly presented, praying that the Holy Spirit will grant faith to him (Ro. 15:18-19; Eph. 2:8-9). Since even the most clear evidences for Christian theism can be presented and people will not believe (Lk. 16:31), there must be a reliance upon the Holy Spirit illuminating the holy Bible to produce holy people.
Discussion of the Problem of Evil
I believe that the problem of evil is only a problem for atheists. If God is omnibenevolent and omnipotent, how can evil exist? The atheist answers that, since evil exists, there must be no God. The deist may state that if there is a God, He must not be good or He must not be omnipotent.
However, there is no logical contradiction in the posing of the problem for the theist.
- God is omnibenevolent.
- God is omnipotent.
- God created the world.
- The world contains evil.
But the atheist posing of the problem is problematic:
- The idea of God is that He is omnibenevolent.
- This God is omnipotent.
- This God created the world.
- The world contains evil.
- An omnibenevolent God would not allow evil to exist [or] an omnibenevolent God always eliminates evil immediately, with no delay.
- Evil exists [or] evil is not immediately eliminated.
- Therefore, this God cannot exist.
For the atheistic syllogism to hold true, the two options in premise 5 must be proven. Either “An omnibenevolent God would not allow evil to exist” or “an omnibenevolent God always eliminates evil immediately, with no delay.” However, neither of these can be proven by posers of the problem. More importantly, atheists and naturalists cannot prove premise 4, concerning the existence of evil. The atheist does not believe in an ultimate standard of evil. If there is no ultimate standard, evil cannot be defined absolutely and is, therefore, merely “the violation(s) of a subjective preference.” But evil defined as “violation(s) of a subjective preference” in the premise “the world contains evil” does not contradict the premise that God exists. Absolute evil exists only for the theist. Therefore, the very posing of the question presupposes the Christian worldview.
God created everything good, but man rebelled, bringing about evil. Nature, the serpent, and man were cursed. God does not cause evil (Ja. 1:13), but He is sovereign over it. He has good purposes for evil (Ro. 8:28-30). I believe that God’s decrees and sovereignty are not fatalistic, because fatalism has no ultimate cause in view. Fatalism is controlled by unintelligent factors and does not allow for human choice. However, the Bible clearly teaches that human responsibility is as real as divine sovereignty. Behind the living God’s actions is always love (1 Jn. 4:8).
If you enjoyed this article, you may wish to read the article, Christian Arguments Against Atheism.
Bibliography and Helpful Resources