Classical Apologetics, part 2: Can You Prove the Existence of God?
Tuesday, September 9, 2008– Here are the notes from another Wednesday night study from about 6 years ago. Notice the “apologetic tone” in the introduction to this lesson on Apologetics! I was catching some serious grief from some of the older members over these lessons! (see my articles in the Worship Wars section…)
Essential Truths: Apologetics- The Classical Method
Can You Prove the Existence of God?
Wednesday 10-23-02 PM
Wed. 10-16-02 Apologetics: Classical Apologetics- Proving God’s Existence with the ontological, cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments. Deductive, rational test.
Read 1Peter3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Introduction: We are going through some very difficult material for a little while here on Wed. nights in preparation for studying the doctrine of God. This current study is called Apologetics which is the science of defending the Faith and answering the challenges of other world religions, skeptics and atheists. We can call apologetics the art of learning to witness better.
Last week we got into some pretty deep sneakers with examining the Classical method of Apologetics and the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God. I am well aware that some of you may have thought it just so much philosophical nonsense and really wish I would preach something else! But others did prosper from it and told me as much and I have actually used some of those things in real live witnessing encounters with people who asked some challenging questions. These things are difficult but very useful. To those who may find these things hard to grasp, I ask you to be patient, hold on, and in a few weeks we will be in something that is better for you.
Tonight we will try to look at two other arguments for the existence of God from the Classical perspective: the ontological argument and the moral argument.
We discussed last time the idea that since we live in a particular time we can be assured that time itself had a beginning, there cannot have been an infinite number of years before us or else we would never arrive at this year. This implies a beginning for time and the universe. Since something cannot cause itself to exist because it would have to exist before it existed which is a contradiction, there must be something outside of time and the universe that is itself uncaused and eternal, that caused everything else to be. That uncaused Cause is God. Since everything we see, including each other, is contingent, that is- not necessary, we can conclude that there must be something that is Necessary for all other things to exist. In order for anything to be, something must Be because it is and not because it has been created.
Exodus3:14 “God also said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.” The sacred and holy name of God YHWH. The very name is the Hebrew for “to be” or “being”. The very name of God points us to this argument for God and leads us into the next argument for God, the ontological argument.
Look also at **Rev.1:8**; Isa. 44:6; 46:10; 48:12-13.Psalm 90:2;
I. The Ontological Argument
This hard name comes from the Grk. “ontos” meaning being. 1 : a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being. It means existence, existing, being alive; the study of what it means to exist or be; the essence of being. This is the hardest of the arguments for God’s existence for me to grasp but it is also quite short and simple.
Dr. Kenneth Boa writes, (p.117) “1) The existence of a necessary Being must be either a necessary existence, or an impossible existence, or a possible but not necessary existence.
2) But the existence of a necessary Being is not an impossible existence because (so far as we can see) there is nothing contradictory about this concept.
3) Nor is the existence of a necessary Being a possible but not necessary existence, since this would be a self-contradictory claim.
4) Therefore, the existence of a necessary Being is a necessary existence.
5) Therefore, a Necessary Being necessarily exists.
II. The Moral Argument
Rom.2:12-15** The secularists, humanists and scientific materialists believe that man is a cosmic accident and has evolved from the apes, ultimately from a single celled animal accidentally formed in the primeval soup as a result of blind chance. Man is just another animal, though the highest animal. They argue that our sense of morals, truth, beauty and justice, our emotions of love, kindness and compassion are social constructs that we have developed and they do not represent anything real or objective.
Currently in our post-modern education system that stresses feelings and subjective opinion, it is not unusual to hear in college classes that the holocaust in Nazi Germany that killed appx. 6 million Jews may have been all right for the Germans. Their truth of racial purity was true and valid for them. It is common among historians and anthropologists to say that the Aztec culture was marvelous and wonderful and it was totally wrong for Spain to invade and conquer the Indians. While I will grant you that Spain behaved badly and the conquistadores were deplorable, I will also say that the Aztec culture was one of the most gruesome, bloodthirsty and depraved cultures ever to exist, ranking up there with Hitler’s Germany and Stalinist Russia for the Aztecs engaged in human sacrifices on such a grand scale and in such a cruel manner that it makes the Bosnian/Serb civil war atrocities look mild in comparison. European culture, despite its many failures, is hugely more virtuous than the Aztec culture.
The Aztecs were not the only depraved and wicked culture in Native America. But however depraved the Indians were, they still did have many points of virtue and strong morals within their tribes. Every people group in the world has a sense of morals and virtue. As depraved as sinful man is in every culture, every man has a conscience, has an inner sense of right and wrong. Every culture has some system of morals, justice and art forms that reflect truth and beauty.
Dr. Ken Boa writes, (p.116f) “The moral argument relates to the universality of moral experience and holds that unless there is a God, there is no ultimate basis for moral law….there is a built in concept of normative conduct, a universal sense of ‘ought’ and ‘should’….The real thrust of this argument lies in the fact that when people express approval or criticism of the actions of other, they are behaving as if theism were true, that is, as if there are such things as absolute rights and absolute wrongs. Classical apologists typically argue that one would have to assume this position in order to criticize it as wrong.”
In other words, we as Christians say there are some things that we ought always to do and some other things that we ought never to do; there is a right and wrong that is objective and outside of us. The secularists would respond that it is wrong (immoral) to impose your belief in objective truth on others. Right there and then the secularist relies on something being true and good in order to criticize us for believing in things that are good and true.
Imagine John Lennon Imagine there’s no heaven It’s easy if you try No hell below us Above us only sky Imagine all the people Living for today… Imagine there’s no countries It isn’t hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace… Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger In a brotherhood of man Imagine all the people Sharing all the world… You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope some day you’ll join us And the world will be as one
Even in the lyrics of one of John Lennon’s most famous songs, which is a very ungodly song, you see that he want us to imagine a world of “ought” and “should be”. The song promotes the idea of there being absolute truth, which ultimately depends on there being an Ultimate Lawgiver. The universal moral law is a prescription which must come from a prescriber.
Even among thieves and murderers, criminals of the worst sort, if they are wronged by somebody, they have a sense of outrage that says you should not have done that to me! Man has an inner sense of justice that not only says things are right and wrong, but that punishment must be meted out to the violators. The doctrine of hell is reviled by most people but only because we all know we are sinners at heart and deserving of the wrath of God. Otherwise the doctrine of hell is the logical extension of our inner concept of justice.
The secularists say that justice and morals are merely social conventions that society has developed over time. But there are other objective truths that are neither physical nor evolved. Math and logic are objectively true though not physical; they are not evolved or contrived by society. Every attempt in history to get rid of objective moral law has ultimately failed; it is inconsistent with human nature.
Dr. Norman Geisler writes (p.37) “The main objection to an absolutely perfect Moral Lawgiver is the argument from evil in the world. No serious person can fail to recognize that all the murders, rapes, hatred, and cruelty make the world far short of being absolutely perfect. But if the world is imperfect, how can there be an absolutely perfect God? (CS) Lewis’s answer is simple and to the point: The only way the world could possibly be known to be imperfect is if there is an absolutely perfect standard by which it can be judged to be imperfect. Injustice makes sense only if there is a standard of justice by which something is known to be not just. And absolute justice is possible only if there is an absolute standard of justice…. Rather than disproving a morally perfect Being, then, the evil in the world presupposes an absolutely perfect standard.”
Paul’s argument in Rom.7:14-24 also portrays the moral dilemma of man in that we have some knowledge of what we should do and even a desire to do it, but our flesh wars against us and we do what is evil, we do what we do not think is right or even what we don’t want to do, but we still do it.
It is this argument perhaps more than any other that the secularists hate because they desperately want to do away with the moral order of the universe so that they can do whatever they want.