Apologetics- the Classical Method: Can You Prove the Existence of God?

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Tuesday, August 26, 2008– Here are some more Wednesday night teaching notes from when I was a pastor. Our Wednesday night studies were a little bit difficult because I had a group of about 6-8 older folks who were not real interested but were quite faithful and a group of about 4-5 younger folk who were interested. I focused my Wed. night studies on what would most benefit the younger crowd. Perhaps that was the wrong choice, I still don’t know, but I thought that was the right thing to do. These Essential Truths studies are very brief, not at all well written, they are merely my notes. As a bi-vocational pastor Wednesday nights were very difficult to prepare for.

Essential Truths: Apologetics- The Classical Method

Can You Prove the Existence of God?

Wednesday 10-16-02

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Wed. 10-16-02 Apologetics: Classical Apologetics- Proving God’s Existence with the ontological, cosmological, and moral arguments. Deductive, rational test.

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Introduction: Tonight we will briefly examine the Classical Cosmological argument for the existence of God. There are no two ways about it, this stuff is going to be difficult to most of you and will leave some of you wondering “what’s the point?!” A few of you will enjoy this and get something out of it. Not every sermon or lesson is going to be your personal favorite or even directed towards you. I ask you to be patient because those sermons that you may not like at all may be just exactly what somebody else needed to hear or could listen to and learn from. Keep in mind what we are doing: we are preparing for a study in Bible doctrines but we have to answer some questions first, such as Can we be sure there is a God? The goal is to build up our faith and provide answers to those who ask.

            Tonight’s lesson is practical, however, despite what some of it may sound like (philosophical gibberish). Most of what I will share with you tonight I have actually used in witnessing or in answering the questions of folks. A lot of what I will share tonight I learned way before I went to seminary; that means it is not specific for just ministers or preachers. Some of this stuff I remember from witnessing in high school and college. Therefore, what I am teaching tonight is useful for building up the faith of believers, answering the questions of those who ask for the reason for the hope that you have, and in witnessing to the lost.

           

I. The Cosmological Argument

            In classical apologetics we begin with the cosmological argument which can be argued from 2 different angles: the horizontal and the vertical where we look at the Beginner of the Universe and then the Sustainer  of the universe.

            First of all let us look at the horizontal argument where we see God as the Beginner or Creator of the Universe. A curious historical note about this argument, otherwise called the kalam argument which is Arabic for eternal, is that this comes to us from Islam. This is one of the rare times in which we can use something from another world religion positively.

            Here is a summary of the argument: 1) Everything that had a beginning had a cause. 2) The universe had a beginning. 3) Therefore, the universe had a Cause.

            We can say that the universe either had a beginning or it did not. If it had no beginning then the universe is eternal and we should see evidence of this. Guess what? All of science points us to the fact that the universe had a beginning. Science calls it the Big Bang. Gen.1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” At this point science and scripture support each other.

            When we look around us, everything we see is an effect of a prior cause. You once were not, but you were conceived by the physical processes of procreation. The buildings around us were constructed by workmen using substances that were prepared by other workers who received the raw materials from other workers. The wood came from trees which grew from seeds, drawing nutrients from the ground, water and sunshine, etc., etc. Science has detailed knowledge about how stars and planets and galaxies are and were formed. Everything you see had a prior cause.

            But, that process cannot go back indefinitely for infinity. You cannot have an infinite number of prior causes. That would be called an infinite regress. What does that mean and how does that help? If I asked you to start counting now and count to infinity, when would you be finished? You wouldn’t, you could never stop. Now turn that around and count to infinity in years going back in time. Would you be able to do that? No, again because it is an infinite number. What that means is that if the universe is inherently eternal and has an infinite number of years prior to this year it would be impossible to ever arrive at this present time because there are an infinite number of years prior to this year. You cannot go through an infinite number of years! Because there is a today, there is a 2002, there had to be a beginning to time itself. Einstein himself proved that as part of his theory of relativity, but he did not like the implications of that so he modified his theory. Other physicists later proved his modification wrong and he admitted that his modification was a mistake. You see Einstein did not relish the thought of there being a beginning because that directly implied a prior cause that is Itself uncaused and eternal, that would be God!

            Science has the 2d Law of Thermodynamics which supports this argument. Basically the universe is slowly moving toward dissipation and equilibrium of all its energy. The universe is winding down like a big clock. What is winding down could not be eternal. If you spray a can of air freshener in your living room and leave the can in there, the air freshener will quickly dissipate throughout the room fairly evenly; it will never re-enter the can under pressure so as to be used again.

            The universe is not stationary, it is expanding, and all the galaxies are growing further apart just like a big explosion or an expanding balloon. If you could replay the universe’s expansion in reverse you would see it contract into a tiny point called the point of singularity. Beyond that point science cannot go. But the scripture says, “In the beginning God created”. Prior to creation there would be nothing but God, the holy Trinity, no time, space or matter.

            The physicists and mathematicians, early in the twentieth century, predicted that if the big bang theory was correct, there would be a specific background glow of radiation at a certain specific wavelength that should be observable. When technology advanced with spaceflight and the capability to look for that radiation was developed, they found it everywhere, just as predicted.

            You will hear many scientists say that the universe is self caused and perhaps refer to quantum physics. Here the scientists stray into philosophy out of desperation and their argument fails. For in order for the universe to create itself it would have to exist prior to its own existence which violates the Law of Non-Contradiction which states that A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship. The universe cannot exist and not exist at the same time. It cannot create itself.

            Another weak effort by godless scientists is to use the magical word “Chance”. The universe came into being by chance. Chance is not a causative agent, it is a mathematical term to describe probabilities and has not power to create or cause anything. This argument is used as a nice sounding smoke screen.

            Dr. Norm Geisler writes, “The cumulative philosophical and scientific evidence for an origin of the material universe provides a strong reason to conclude that there must have been a nonphysical originating cause of the physical universe.” Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:24 “God is spirit”.

            The vertical cosmological argument comes at the problem from a different direction stressing that the present contingent existence of the universe demonstrates that there is a present neccessary Being causing it to exist. 1) Whatever exists but can/could not exist needs a cause for its existence. 2) Nothing cannot produce something. 3) Therefore, Something must necessarily exist as the ground for everything that does exist but does not have to exist or that can not exist. Further, 1) If Everything were contingent then it would be possible for nothing to exist. 2) But something does exist ‘To be or not to be, that is the question I ask of me’ -or- Why is there something instead of nothing? -or- I think, therefore I am. 3) Thus if some contingent being now exists, a Necessary Being must now exist.

            Another way of stating this goes like this: 1) Every part of the universe is right now dependent for its existence. 2) If every part of the universe is dependent then the whole, entire universe must be dependent upon something for its present existence. 3) Therefore the entire universe depends upon an independent something/Being beyond itself.

            **Look at Col.1:16-17. Here we touch on the doctrines of God’s immutability and omnipotence, and His Name Exodus 3:14.**

 

Conclusion: I hope I have not thoroughly confused you but I know the concepts are difficult. Next week we shall look at the Ontological and Moral arguments for God and confuse you some more!

 

 

 

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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!

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