Question 2

How do we know God exists?

The question of God’s existence has been the center of many books, debates, and discussions. In dealing with such a big question, it’s best to step back and figure out where to start.

When we look to the Bible to answer the question, “Does God exist?,” we find that the Bible presents God’s existence as the key starting point of human existence. On page 1, sentence 1 we read, “In the beginning God…”

The Bible’s approach causes us to wrestle with some foundational questions—If God exists, would he be proved by human reasoning, or instead would he prove human reasoning? In other words, if an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise God exists, wouldn’t he be the starting point of all human thinking and not the end result of a human argument? Wouldn’t we have to see the world through his wisdom instead of demanding that he be found through ours?

CS Lewis wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” If God were, in fact, the starting point of all human rationality and experience, we would expect to find clues of His existence everywhere—and that is exactly what we find.

Clue #1—Why are we all longing for more?

It is widely recognized (ie. 2011 Oxford Cognition, Religion, and Theology Project) that humanity has a “transcendent hardwiring.” We have a longing and yearning for more than we experience in this world. If there is no god, then why has the vast majority of all humanity across history and culture believed in some kind of person, being, or power outside of what we can see by observation or human reason alone?

If we can’t see god or prove him by logic, why do the majority of people believe in some kind of deity or higher being? We have two choices. Choice 1 – Everyone is deluded and we need to move on from such childish wishful thinking. Choice 2 – There is someone or something beyond this physical world, and the sense of the divine is a clue that he is really there.

Clue #2 – Why is the cosmos filled with mystery and wonder?

Former atheistic philosopher and professor, Antony Flew, shared four questions that led him to believe that there is a God, after 50 years of arguing against theism.

  • Q1 – Who wrote the laws of nature? Science and mathematics assume order and discover order everywhere. If there’s true order, this points to design. If there is design in nature, there must be a designer.
  • Q2 – How did the universe know we were coming? The incredible ‘fine-tuning’ of the universe is an amazing fact of science. Are we just one accidental universe out of trillions that coincidentally organized itself for life? Or do we find a clue that Someone intended for us to be alive?
  • Q3 – Did something come from nothing? When we encounter the realities and mysteries of science, we must ask, “Why is there anything at all if there once was nothing?”
  • Q4 – How did life begin? How did purposeful, self-reproducing life come from non-living matter?

When we take these four wonders of the cosmos together and apply science’s own principle of “explanatory unification,” we can find something that best explains these four mysteries—God exists, and He made the world.

Clue #3—Why are right and wrong real?

Anytime anyone says something should or shouldn’t be done, we are saying there is a moral standard that has been broken, that this standard is beyond my personal or cultural preferences, and there should be appropriate consequences when the standard is violated.

In all people and cultures – though it can be broken and suppressed – there is a common thread or moral law, that if we deny, we lose all basis for right and wrong. Though we can’t see it, we can’t deny it: we know there is a difference between Hitler and Mother Teresa; between greed and giving to the poor; between protecting life and taking life, and this difference is real.

Real right and wrong cannot come from either a purely material universe or from impersonal spiritual forces. So the argument goes like this: A) Right and wrong are real, B) Real right and wrong require the existence of a god, and C) Therefore, a God exists. Apart from the existence of a perfect personal God, right and wrong cannot be consistently affirmed as real and meaningful. This is another clue.

Clue #4—Why do we live for love?

There is an undeniable beauty in self-giving, sacrificial love. At the very heart of the human experience is the desire to love and be loved. More than our desire to explain the world, even more than upholding right and wrong, what defines us is our desire to love and to be loved in relationship.

“The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved,” said Victor Hugo. Not just sentimental, sappy love but a particular kind of love is what we all crave to give and receive – one that is self-giving, sacrificial, and unconditional.

Atheism cannot explain this. In fact, this kind of love seems counterintuitive to the survival instinct that is supposed to be the driving force in humanity’s existence. Pantheism says the ultimate aim is to achieve enlightenment and to escape from the world of relationship; the personal is an illusion, and the impersonal is the goal. So this kind of love doesn’t make sense in any other belief system besides Christianity.

The strongest reason for God’s existence is how Jesus is God’s response to a world turned away from him and broken by our failure to love. The gospel shows us that he responds in self-giving and sacrificial love. God entered a broken world, and he became broken in order to redeem us and the world. The true story of Jesus is proof that the love we all long for is real and is found in the redemption he came to offer us. Consider:

  • Jesus’ life: Nothing is more beautiful than the life of love Jesus lived. No other life lived on this earth comes close.
  • Jesus’ death: Nothing is more beautiful than his sacrificial death: God himself standing in our place taking the judgment we deserve.
  • Jesus’ resurrection: Nothing is more beautiful than his resurrection – proof that there is a love stronger than death; a love that can take what is broken and hopeless and breathe into it new and lasting life; and a love that will stop at nothing to reclaim what was lost.

In the end, it is the undeniable beauty of love that leads us not only to believe that God exists but to turn back to him and receive his embrace of love.

Want to learn more about Jesus?

One of our pastors would love to grab coffee or lunch and help you process some of your questions as you think through the Christian faith.