Presentation on theme: "How can we know that God exists? Leslie Wickman, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:
1 How can we know that God exists? Leslie Wickman, Ph.D.
2 Dr. Bert Thompson: “The Case for the Existence of God” …when we employ the word “prove,” we do not mean that God’s existence can be demonstrated scientifically in the same fashion that one might prove that a sack of potatoes weighs ten pounds, or that a human heart has four distinct chambers within it.Such matters as the weight of a sack of vegetables, or the divisions within a muscle, are matters that may be verified empirically using the five senses.
3 Dr. Bert Thompson: “The Case for the Existence of God” (continued) …And while empirical evidence often is quite useful in establishing the validity of a case, it is not the sole means of arriving at proof.For example, legal authorities recognize the validity of a prima facie case, which is acknowledged to exist when adequate evidence is available to establish the presumption of a fact that, unless such fact can be refuted, legally stands proven.It is the contention of the theist that there is a vast body of evidence that makes an impregnable prima facie case for the existence of God—a case that simply cannot be refuted.
4 Proof of God? What would it take to prove the existence of God to you? What exactly do we mean by “proof”?…empirical proof?…or logical proof, as in cause and effect?…or legal proof…“beyond a reasonable doubt”?… “a preponderance of the evidence”?What exactly is “enough proof” to you?
5 Classical Arguments for God’s Existence The cosmological argumentThe ontological argumentThe anthropological argumentThe teleological argument
6 Cosmological Argument Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.The universe has a beginning of its existence.Therefore:The universe has a cause of its existence.If the Cosmos had a beginning, then there must have been a Beginner: a Cause outside of resulting matter and energy.
7 Ontological ArgumentMan’s “God-consciousness” implies a God who imprinted such a consciousness on himPascal suggests there is a “God-shaped vacuum” in every manIf perfection is a part of the concept of God, and if God’s perfection implies God’s existence, then God’s existence is implied by the concept of God
8 Anthropological Argument Distinctly human, spiritual traits point to an intelligent, moral, personal Creator“Moral conscience” or “natural law” implies a moral CreatorReligious experiences can only constitute direct evidence of God’s existence for those that have them, but the fact that there are many people who have had such experiences constitutes indirect evidence of God’s existence to those who have not.
9 C.S. Lewis: “Mere Christianity” Now what interests me about all these [arguments] is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: “To hell with your standard.” Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, … or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise.
10 C.S. Lewis: “Mere Christianity” (continued) … It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behavior or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarreling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.
11 Teleological Argument The design and orderobserved in the natural worldpoint to a purposeful Creator“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”Romans 1:20“Whence arises all that order and beautywe see in the world?”- Sir Isaac Newton, 1650
12 Teleological Argument: Earth Consider Earth’s:Narrow range of relatively moderate temperaturesProtective and perfectly balanced atmosphere and magnetic fieldJust right gravity
13 Teleological Argument: H2O Consider the incredible chemical and physical properties of water:In liquid phase: the perfect solventIn solid phase: a thermal insulatorIn gaseous phase: a self-purifierJohn 3:16 “…for God so loved the COSMOS…”
14 Try to imagine a universe without fixed physical laws… Without physical laws, the universe would be chaotic, having no order. There is no natural reason why the physical laws that govern the universe MUST exist.Newton’s Universal Law of GravityEinstein’s Theory of RelativityCoulomb’s LawOhm’s Law
15 The Physical Laws work perfectly together Structure of an atom: protons & neutrons in the nucleus, with electrons in shells above the nucleus.Protons are positively charged, neutrons are neutral, & electrons are negatively charged.The positively charged nucleus holds the negatively charged electrons in place because unlike charges attract each other.Why don’t the positively charged protons that are stuck so close together in the nucleus repel each other?
16 The Physical Laws work perfectly together (cont’d.) The Strong Nuclear Force (SNF) is much stronger than any other force known, but only for very small distances, equal to the average diameter of the nucleus of an atom.Beyond that distance, it is suddenly non-existent.Without the SNF, the only atoms we’d have would be Hydrogen, with just one proton.Without the electromagnetic force, we wouldn’t have atoms at all… we’d have nothing but subatomic particles!Or imagine that the Strong Nuclear Force didn’t have a limitation on its distance… all the protons & neutrons in the universe would be stuck together in one gigantic mass!
17 Examples of Design in Biology: the Cell A single living cell contains as much information as 100 million pages from an encyclopedia!Sir Fred Hoyle estimated the odds of getting the basic enzymes together that are necessary for life to be 1 chance in 1040,000
18 Examples of Design in Biology: the Eye “…fitting together efficiently and cooperatively of the lens, retina and brain, enabling humans to have vision, as conclusive evidence of the design of an all-wise Creator.” – William Paley“To suppose that the eye, with so many parts all working together…could have formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” – Charles Darwin
19 Historical Argument History gives evidence for God’s existence Belief in God is “universal” in time, place, culture, and societyThe history of the Christian church can be traced back to ~ 32 A.D. in PalestineThe Christian day of worship became Sunday in ~32 A.D., a dramatic shift from the Jewish Sabbath day of worshipLuke, the historian, traveled with Paul, researched his gospel accountChurch history…
20 Archaeological Argument Archaeology has found much to validate, and nothing to invalidate, the claims of the BibleSpecific biblical events previously doubted have been confirmedOverall cultural background and practices confirmedArchaeology confirms biblical accounts in more than 25,000 sitesAncient historical dated coinsSacred sites identifiedJerusalem: the temple, the Pool of Siloam
21 The “Miracles” Argument Reliable records of Jesus’ miraclesThey were performed in publicNot denied by his enemiesJesus’ miracles were done before unbelievers, skepticsVerified by testimony of the beneficiariesDemonstrated Jesus’ various “powers”Over natureOver diseaseOver demonsSupernatural knowledgePower to createPower over death
22 The Miracle of Jesus’ Resurrection The most significant miracleBody buried by Joseph of Arimethea in a tombNo competing burial storiesSunday after his Friday crucifixion, his tomb was found emptyMultiple appearances of the risen Jesus to various individuals and groupsconfirmed by friends and foes of the faithJesus’ disciples were convinced of his resurrection, despite their original predisposition to the contraryAlternate stories rejected for lack of credibility and contrary evidenceDemonstrates existence of God, credibility of Jesus
23 The Argument from the Credibility of the Bible Multiple manuscripts of Old and New Testament documentsBiblical texts referenced and quoted as authority by ancient friends and foes alikeNew Testament canon criteria:Books authored by apostles or close associatesBooks widely recognized by the churchesTeachings in conformity with sound doctrine taught by churchesfulfilled prophecieshistorical corroboration
24 Summary of Arguments for God’s Existence Cosmological argumentEffects have causes; beginning must have a BeginnerOntological argumentWe have in us the idea of God; God must be its causeAnthropological argumentExistence of universal objective absolute moral valuesOne can only perceive that which exists; God must exist because people have experienced HimTeleological argumentAnthropic Principle: Goldilocks PrincipleDesign requires DesignerThe historical argument, andThe archeological argument,history & archeology corroborate Biblical events & propheciesThe argument from miraclesdemonstrates existence of God & credibility of JesusThe credibility of the BibleCorroboration & fulfilled prophecy
25 ResourcesThe Remarkable Spaceship Earth, Ron Cottrell, Thousand Oaks, CATheism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, Reasonable Faith,and The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe, William Lane Craig, theologian and philosopher, Talbot Seminary.The Cosmic Blueprint, Paul Davies, physicist“Evidence for God from Science”, Richard Deem,The Symbiotic Universe , George Greenstein, theoretical astrophysicist, Amherst College“Philosophy of Religion”, Tim Holt,The Universe , Sir Fred Hoyle, astronomer and evolutionistUntil the Sun Dies, Dr. Robert Jastrow, astronomerGreg Koukl, Stand to Reason, Long Beach, CA;Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft & Ronald TacelliMere Christianity, C.S. LewisKnow Why You Believe, Paul E. LittleDr. Hugh Ross and Dr. Fazale Rana, Reasons to Believe, Glendora, CA;Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions, Kenneth Richard SamplesFaith & Reason: Why Christianity Makes Sense, Austin Schmidt & Joseph PerkinsThe Case for Faith, Lee Strobel“Reason & Revelation”, Dr. Bert Thompson,