The Evidence for God
Have you ever wondered whether or not God actually exists? It’s okay to admit it. I have. In fact, I'd argue that it’s the most common and most basic of doubts. Maybe you’ve more than wondered it at times, maybe you’re an all out, self-professed skeptic when it comes to the existence of the divine. That’s okay. Let’s go there. So, how do we know that God is actually out there, somewhere? Is it just an idea someone came up with and some people buy into, or is there some actual evidence of it all?
Well, what's taught in Christianity is that God reveals himself in four basic ways. First, God makes himself known through the beauty and complexity of creation. Even if you’re an atheist one thing you have to admit is that at some point in your life – even though you don’t believe in Him – the very beauty of our world has caused you to at least ask the question, “is there a Him?”
The book of Romans in the New Testament argues that the reason even the atheist asks the question of God's existence is because the reality of God is plain to all people through the beauty of creation. It says "For what can be known about God is plain…because God has shown it… For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)
In other words there’s something about staring at the stars, standing at the Grand Canyon, watching winter always turn to spring, or seeing a baby take her first breath that makes all people, everywhere, wonder if there’s an Almighty Power. And the Bible asserts that whenever creation causes you to feel that sense of something bigger, to ponder the possibility of where all of this beauty, all of this complexity came from that itself is evidence of God.
There are really only two camps to be in when you look at creation. You either believe that it’s the product of purposeful design or the result of absolute, utter, random chance. There’s no middle ground. So, the fact that the earth’s axis is tipped 23.5 degrees toward the sun – with one millimeter more or less making life completely impossible – is either done on purpose or it’s a fortunate fluke.
Which by the way, if you believe that all that we see is simply the result of atoms accidentally colliding, with no Maker, no design, and no actual intent, then in order to avoid being a total hypocrite you need to understand what else you believe by way of implication. For example, such a worldview implies that life itself therefore has no purpose, no meaning, and no value apart from what we arbitrarily ascribe to it. The worldview of atheistic evolution states that any feelings or emotions we have about our existence – like love for our children, the joy of music, fulfillment from our jobs – is nothing but a hardwired, neurological response that helps us survive. That’s it. It implies that the only reason you love your child is not because there’s an actual divine virtue known as love. No, it's not because you actually "love" them—love doesn't exist. It's a chemical response, developed by evolution, to keep you from eating your children so as to keep the species moving forward. That's it.
And yet something inside us squirms at that idea, doesn’t it?
You see, what happens is that the beauty of the world and the questions it stirs all begin to tug at our conscience. Your conscience is that little place inside of everyone that starts to wonder, “Well, if there is a God then where to do I stand with him? Does He know me? Does He like me?” It’s that part of every human heart that struggles with stuff like right and wrong, good and bad. Your conscience is the part of you that even if you say there’s no god, no meaning, and no purpose, won’t let you actually live that way.
It’s common in our world to try and deny the idea of a God-given conscience that speaks to a universal standard of right and wrong. We like to say that no one should impose their version of good and bad on another and that everybody has a right to follow their own truth. Ever heard that? But the question I ask is this. Aren’t there people in this world who are doing things, right now, that you believe are wrong—not just kind of wrong but way wrong—like people who are hurting kids, dads abandoning their families and people wearing spandex in public when they clearly don't have the figure for it? Do you believe that there is stuff out there that is so out of line that no matter the person’s beliefs or rationale it just has to stop?
And if you do then doesn’t that mean you do actually believe in some kind of ultimate moral standard that we should all be held to? And you can go ahead and say “no” but the truth is that you'll eventually contradict yourself. You can say that, but your own morality won’t let you live that way. If later today you were walking down the street and saw a grown man taking advantage of a child something inside of you would instinctively ask the question, “What should I do?” And you’ll either be moved to action now to stop it or be haunted by your inaction in letting it continue, later. Isn't that true? So, tell me, what is that? Where does very question of intervening in evil arise from? Where does the instinct to heroically act or the regret over cowardly turning your eyes come from? Rational human beings call it a conscience. The Christian faith and the Bible call it further evidence of God.
Now these two things—creation and conscience—can only tell us so much about God. The redwoods in California only offer clues to a Creator but don’t tell me who that Creator might be or what He’s like. It’s not as if you can pick up a rabbit and see “made by Jesus” tattooed on the tail. This is where the Bible comes in. The Bible is where God introduces himself. It’s where the clues from creation and the convictions of our heart come together and are confirmed.
Psalm 119 puts it like this, saying “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Through the scriptures the lights of faith are turned on we can see ourselves, our world and our God in full detail. For example, in the Bible we not only learn that yes, there is in fact a Creator, but that this same Creator loves us very much, has a plan for this planet and a purpose for humanity. In the scriptures we discover that the struggles we see and the guilt that we feel all flow from a ginormous problem called sin. But most importantly when we break open a bible we learn that everything one could ever want from God – an experience of his power, forgiveness for our sins, assurance of where we stand with Him – can all be found as free gift from one person: the savior, Jesus.
The New Testament puts it like this, “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God.” Col. 1:15 (ESV) And that “…all the promises of God find their Yes in [Jesus]. That is why it is through [Jesus] that we utter Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Cor. 1:20 (ESV) In other words, “If you want to see God or if you need something from God it can all be found in the Son of God, Jesus Christ."
And look, I know that Christianity is not the only team out there claiming to have the goods on God and confirmation of all the evidence of His existence. All of them—Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, even Deepok Chopra and his new age nonsense—offer a different take on who God is. But for all their differences one thing they have in common is a belief that the God who made the mountains has made no effort to save you. Instead they each profess that He’s waiting for you to find Him, to impress Him and prove yourself worthy of His love.
There’s only one faith that says otherwise. Only Christianity says, “Look, the God who created it all has done it all. And in order to save you He demands nothing at all. Through the work of Jesus Christ God the Father forgives your sins and will guide your steps as a free gift, out of pure grace.” Only Christianity say that the God who is so generous that he freely gives the gift of a gorgeous sunrise also freely gives the joy of salvation. Now that makes sense.
From creation and conscience, to the scriptures and a Savior. Nope, it doesn’t mathematically prove God. Nothing does. I don’t care how much evidence God offers you there will always be unknowns and you will always have to trust. That’s how God works. Shoot, that’s how every relationship works. No matter what someone else does to "prove" their love the relationship will still require faith in them coming from you. No, these things don't prove God, but they do offer convincing evidence of God. All that's left is faith.
There’s a well-known pastor named Doug Wilson who recently spent time touring the country debating a man named Christopher Hitchens, a well-known atheist. In one of his debates Wilson decided to share his own personal list of evidence he's gathered for the existence of God, things that from personal experience and joys prove to him alone that there is a Creator. But Wilson cautions that even the best of evidence can be scoffed at. “Sure I have evidence," He says. "But it’s tricky. Evidence for God is like food on your plate at dinner. You can either choose to pick at it and wonder about it or you can be thankful for it and consume it. That’s the difference between a skeptic and a believer."
And with that said Wilson offers evidence for God in no particular order: “The engineering that went into ankles. The taste of beer. That Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, just like he said. A woman's neck. The ability of acorns to manufacture enormous oaks out of stuff they find in the air and dirt. Forgiveness of sin. Storms out of the North, the kind with massive lightning. Joyous laughter. The ocean at night with a full moon. Music. A sunrise. Baptizing babies. The pleasure of sneezing. The power of eye contact. Having your feet removed from the miry clay of unbelief and established forever on the rock of Jesus.”
Wilson's point is simple. When you choose to see it, evidence of God is everywhere. And what I've found is that in the face of such evidence most skeptics, who claim they can't know if God is real, choose to live as if they're certain He isn't. Though they might label themselves as agnostic they live like an atheist, not praying, not worshipping, not reading the Scriptures, not even attempting to find Him or connect with Him.
Maybe that's you. If it is, here's my question. What if you were to approach it differently? Sure, you still "don't know" but what if instead of choosing to live as if He didn't exist you chose to live as if He did? What might happen then? For example, what if you were to list the things that you love about this world, the things that make you at least wonder whether or not there's a God who made this world, bow your head and say a prayer of thanksgiving for this world? What would happen then? Try it. I dare you.
You might just discover that all the clues you've seen in creation, felt in your conscience and are supposedly confirmed in Christ are not just hints of a God who might exist but are, in fact, breadcrumbs from a God who's been calling you to Himself all along.