Friday, October 21, 2016

The Universe Proves there is a God

Everything in the universe shouts “God!” The Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2 NKJV). To the writer of this psalm, the existence of God is self-evident by looking at what God created.

This is the argument that Paul uses in Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” In other words, the existence of creation leaves us with no excuse for not believing in a Creator. 

It is obvious when one looks at creation that there is an intelligent designer.

- Creation reveals the creativity of God.
- Creation reveals the vastness of God.
- Creation reveals the love of God.
- Creation reveals the wisdom of God.

Consider the Stars
Do you know how much a star costs? God sprinkled thousands of them across the universe just to decorate the night sky. God spared no expense when He created nightlights.

In ancient times, man tried to number the stars. With the invention of the telescope, galaxies composed of numerous stars were discovered. In 1900, James Keller estimated that there were 100,000 galaxies. As telescopes became more powerful, the sheer size of the universe became more evident. Now, using the Hubble Telescope, it is estimated that we can see over 50 billion galaxies from earth. Since even the smallest galaxy might contain more than 10 billion stars, it is clear that the universe is vast.[1]

Cicero (106 BC- 43 BC) wrote, “What could be more clear or obvious when we look up to the sky and contemplate the heavens, than that there is some divinity of superior intelligence?”[2] Abraham Lincoln said, “I never behold them [the heavens filled with stars] that I do not feel I am looking in the face of God. I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I can not conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.” Are the stars chance, or a product of design? When I gaze up to the heavens on a dark night and behold the star-filled skies...I say, “Yes, God is there!”

[1] Majestic Universe: Views from Here to Infinity, Serge Brunier, 93.
[2] Cicero, De Natura Deorum.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Proof for God's Existence - The Teleological Argument

Design - Teleological Argument
(1) Look at the design of the universe. 
(2) Such a great design must be caused by a Great Designer, just as a watch found in the forest must have been built by a watchmaker.
(3) Therefore God exists.

The word “teleological” comes from the Greek word telos that means “end” or “purpose.” The Teleological Proof for God’s existence argues that creation is full of purpose. This purpose indicates there is a Creator who created with an end in mind.

The classical teleological argument is known as the Watchmaker Analogy. It was proposed by William Paley, in 1802, in his book Natural Theology. For every watch there must be a watchmaker. The complexity, order, and purpose of a watch strongly suggests intelligent design.

Recently, I watched a YouTube video of a watchmaker taking apart a Rolex.[1] There were over one hundred and fifteen individual pieces each carefully designed with meticulous care. There was the crown, a crown stem, a ratchet wheel, barrel bridge, a mainspring, a minute wheel, an escapement wheel, a balance bridge, a tourbillon, a spacer, a yoke spring, setting levers, setting springs, a clutch, perpetual wheels, barrels and weights. It is impossible for a watch to appear without an intelligence directing its design.

When I look at a watch that tics every second in perfect synchronization I know it exists because of a skilled watchmaker.  Logic tells me that in order for an intricate, marvelous, wonderful creation to exist, there must be a Creator. When I see the balance and beauty of creation, I know it was made by an intelligent designer.

Where do houses come from? Houses are built by builders. Experience tells us that houses do not build themselves. When I see a house, carefully planned by an architect and built by a builder, I know that house is no accident. It did not just pop into existence by itself. Just as a house needs a builder, creation needs a Creator. When I think of who caused that house to be built, I realize that this universe must also have someone who caused it to appear and I say, “Yes, God is there!” Hebrews 3:4 uses the argument from design, “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.”

Where do paintings come from? The existence of a painting strongly suggests the existence of a painter. Paintings do not paint themselves. For every painting, there must be a painter.

Where does creation come from? Creation was created by a Creator. Just as a house does not build itself and a painting does not paint itself, so creation does not create itself.

When I hear a beautiful symphony, I think of the ingenuity and creativity of the composer. When  I see a colorful sunset or a  red rose, I think of the creative power of the originator of beauty itself, and I say, “Yes, God is there!”

Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary explanations. Small random changes spread over millions of years cannot explain our existence.

A tiny bird is far more complicated then a 747 airplane. The bird has millions of interlocking cells all working together in unison to keep the bird in flight. The design of the bird is more precise then our most complicated airplane. It is absurd to imagine that a plane put itself together. So, why are evolutionists applauded for proposing that birds created themselves out of nothing? The evolutionist replies, “Birds appeared over millions of years of evolution.” But, if I start with nothing, that nothing will still be nothing if I wait one year or a million years.

The addition of millions of years of time does not solve the fundamental impossibility of design appearing from nothing. Take a piece of iron ore. Lay it on your desk. How many millions of years will you wait before the ore spontaneously forms itself into the intricate springs and levers that enable a watch to accurately tell time? Adding time to the equation does not adequately explain how order appears from disorder.

The argument from design is persuasive to me. The building does not build itself, a watch does not suddenly appear, and automobiles are carefully designed by intelligent engineers. A tornado spinning in a junkyard does not suddenly create a 747 airplane. Only a fool intent on denying the existence of a Creator believes that the intricate design of the human body could drag itself from the ooze of primordial mud.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Proof for God's Existence - A Modified Cosmological Argument

The original formulation of the Cosmological argument starts, “Everything that exists has a cause.” It has been pointed out that if God exists, then according to this statement God must have a cause. But, since God has always existed, an alternative argument has been proposed. William Lane Craig calls this the Kalām Cosmological Argument.[1] It goes like this:

1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause;
2) The universe began to exist;

3) Therefore:
 The universe has a cause.

Notice the difference between the Kalām Cosmological Argument and the original Cosmological Argument. The modified argument postulates, “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.” The universe has a cause because it began to exist. God does not need a cause, because He has always existed.

It can be demonstrated scientifically that the universe has a beginning (known as the Big Bang). The second law of thermodynamics tells us “things left to themselves tend towards disorder.” In a closed system (like the universe), the total amount of usable energy is decreasing. This is why a perpetual motion machine is impossible. The total amount of energy in the universe will eventually run out. In billions of years, our sun will run out of energy and become a cold, dark ball. The fact that the sun is shining proves that the universe had a beginning.

Entropy is a fact of life. The universe moves irresistibly towards disorder. My body is wearing out. Unless I force my son to clean his room, it continually gets messier. The AA batteries in my flashlight stop working. Since the universe moves towards disorder, the fact that there is order in the universe today proves the universe had a beginning.

The universe has a beginning; therefore it must have a cause. But, by definition, God does not have a beginning. Since He has always existed, He never began to exist, thus He needs no cause.

The beauty of arguing that God is the Uncaused Cause is that He really is the only answer to the question, “Where did it all come from?” God is infinite. He is outside the known universe, outside of time and space. He exists and He has always existed. He is the only answer to the question that gives any satisfaction.

If there is a Cause that created the universe, what would that Cause be like?

Let’s think about this Uncaused Cause that we call God. If God caused everything to come into being, what would He be like?

Craig argues:
4 ) If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who unlike the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.
5) Therefore:
 An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who unlike the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.

1. The cause of the universe must transcend the universe.
2. The cause of all matter must be immaterial itself.
3. The cause of all space must be nonphysical.
4. The cause of all time must be timeless.
5. The cause of energy must be infinitely powerful.
6. The cause of all meaning must be personal in nature.

These facts give us a God who is transcendent, immaterial, nonphysical, timeless, infinitely powerful, and personal. Craig writes, “This, as Thomas Aquinas was wont to remark, is what everybody means by ‘God.’”

When we ask, “Who created God?” He might answer us as He answered Moses at the burning bush, “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God is the great “I AM.” Eternally present, uncreated, and always here. Jesus clamed the same present tense title when he said, “Before Abraham ever was, I AM” (John 8:58).

[1] Craig bases his idea on the work of the 11th-century philosopher Al-Ghazali who was a proponent of Ilm al-Kalam, the “science of discourse” in Arabic thought.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Once there was a child who asked his father, “Where do apples come from?”
The father explained, “Apples come from a tree.”
“Where do trees come from?”
“Trees come from a seed.”
“Where do seeds come from?” asked the child.
“Seeds come from apples,” said the father.
After thinking about this for a while, the boy asked, “Where did the first apple come from?”
The father replied, “God created the first apple.”
“So, where did God come from?” asked the little boy.

If the father is an atheist, he might answer, “The apple evolved over millions of years.” But, if the father is a Christian, he would say, “God created the apple.”

This brings us to the Cosmological question, “What caused the first uncaused cause? If everything must have a cause, then where did this Causer come from?”

There are only two options:
1. Humans, the world, and all of creation are here by accident.
2. Everything is here because a Creator put us here.

The Christian faith says there is an eternal, all-loving Creator who created everything for a specific purpose. God said, “Let there be…and there was.” The evolutionist says that from absolutely nothing, prompted by nothing, for no particular purpose or reason came everything, driven by impersonal, undirected, random forces of chance and time. Is “…the Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” [1]

There are two stories about where creation came from. Both stories are based on faith. No scientist was present at the beginning of the universe. It requires a great leap of faith to believe that something comes from nothing, that order comes from chaos, that life appears from non-living matter (abiogenesis), and that consciousness appears from non-conscienceless. Atheists criticize Christians for believing in a “magical being” that created everything, but it is just as absurd to believe that everything came from nothing.

Since we exist, something must have always existed. Is it more plausible to believe that the universe simply popped into being one day or to believe that there is an infinitely wise Being who exists outside of time who created the universe?

If you ask an atheist, “What caused the big bang?” he might reply, “It just happened.” If you ask a Christian, “Where did God come from?” he will answer, “God is just there.”

Either there is an infinite regress of causes and effects or there is something that has always existed. This something that has “necessary existence” just happens to be God. Denying there is a God is like denying you have a mother.

[1] Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Random House,1980), p. 4.

Monday, October 17, 2016

What Can God Do When Believers Work Together? Madagascar Report

At our Gospel Festivals, we see miracles. Blind eyes are opened by God. Deaf ears begin to hear. Cripples stand up and walk. These kinds of miracles are frequent and always exciting. 

But, one of the greatest miracles at our recent Gospel Festival in Antananarivo, Madagascar, was how the local churches were unified in supporting our evangelistic collaboration.

Sometimes, getting pastors to work together is like herding cats. Churches often have their own agendas and their own schedules. Sometimes, when an evangelist comes to town, churches will politely decline to participate or even attend.

This is why I rejoice when pastors get excited about reaching the lost, and catch the vision for what God can do if the entire body of Christ works together. When pastors are willing to put aside their logos and their egos to work together, an entire city can be impacted.

This is the miracle we experienced in Madagascar. Arriving three days before the Gospel Festival was scheduled to begin, I asked a pastor at the airport, “What are the churches doing to prepare for the Festival?” He eagerly told me, “Tomorrow, we are meeting in the marketplace to pass out invitations to everyone there.”

The next morning, I was tired from jet lag but decided to go to the market to see for myself what was happening. To be honest, I thought there would be 15-20 people participating, but to my surprise, hundreds of church members from all over the city were gathered.

One man brought a bucket of homemade glue so he could stick posters to the walls. Another pastor had the creative idea to turn the Festival posters into walking advertisements. Church members glued a cardboard strip to the top of each poster and used string to turn the posters into a costume for a human billboard. They had prepared enough posters for everyone to wear.

The marketplace in Antananarivo is several streets wide and two kilometers long. It has everything that a Wal-Mart offers, but each item comes from a different shop. If you want tomatoes, you visit the tomato stall. If you want batteries, you stroll down a couple of streets and visit a battery store. If you want to buy a pencil, you go and visit a stationary merchant.

The teams fanned out across the marketplace and offered every person the enclosed flyer with the details of the Gospel Festival, visiting every stall and shop. They also asked, “What do you need prayer for?” Right there in the market square, before the festival even began, people were giving their lives to Jesus.

Our first day in the marketplace was so successful that the believers decided to return the following day. But on the second day, they brought their musical instruments. Soon, the sounds of drums, horns, guitars, and accordions filled the city center. The churches formed a parade and danced, sang and played in the streets.  

As they marched, they announced, “If you need salvation, come to the Festival. If you need healing, come to the Festival. If you enjoy music, come to the Festival.” Because of the enthusiasm of the churches, thousands of Malagasy people came to the parking lot next to the soccer stadium right in the middle of downtown Antananarivo. Thousands of people were saved at our Gospel Festival.

It is your faithful financial support that allows us to print posters and flyers to invite people to come hear the Gospel and receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Thank you! The part you play in helping us to print these flyers is just as important as the role of the believers who hand them out by the thousands, and their role is just as important as that of the preacher who shares the good news and invites people to respond to the altar call. We are all part of the body of Christ and every role is important. Thank you for playing your part in helping us impact the nation of Madagascar with the story of Jesus Christ!

Proof for God's Existence - The Cosmological Argument

Cause - Cosmological Argument
(1) The Universe must have a cause.
(2) This cause must be a Great Causer.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

The cosmological argument says that everything in the universe has been caused, one cause after another, all the way back to a great Uncaused Cause, which we call God.

Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion says, “A body at rest, stays at rest, unless moved upon by outside forces.” His second law says, “The change of momentum of a body is proportional to the impulse impressed on the body, and happens along the straight line on which that impulse is impressed.” His third law says, “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.”[1]

Newton’s laws tell us that every movement has a cause. The movement of the caboose implies that somewhere on the train track there is an engine. Imagine a pool table. The black eight ball stays at rest upon the green table, unless it is hit by another object. No matter how long the pool table sits there, the eight ball will never fall into the corner pocket unless I hit the cue ball with a stick and set up a chain reaction that knocks the eight ball into a hole. When the eight ball falls into a pocket it has been cause by the movement of my stick. Every movement has a cause, all the back to what? Aristotle (384-322 B.C), was the first to propose the idea of an Unmoved Mover.

Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274 A.D.), the greatest thinker in Medieval times, proposed five different arguments for God’s existence in his Summa Theologica. Three of his arguments are versions of the cosmological argument. He thought that “the first and more manifest way” to prove God’s existence is the proof from motion. It goes like this:

1) Things move.
2) Nothing moves itself, since everything that is moved must be moved by another.
3) If that which causes the motion is itself being moved, then it must be moved by another.
4) This process of movement cannot go on to infinity.
5) Therefore, there must be a first Unmoved Mover, which all people call God.

When Aquinas talks about motion, he means more then change of location, he is referring to change of any kind. Learning is a type of change. Life and death are types of change. Heating and cooling are types of change.

Aquinas’ second proof is another version of the cosmological proof:
1) Things are caused. 
2) Everything that is caused is caused by something else. 
3) An infinite regress of causation is impossible.
4) There must be an uncaused cause of all that is caused. 
5) Therefore, there must be an Uncaused Cause, which all people call God.

Aquinas follows Aristotle’s dichotomy when he calls this change a transition from potency to actuality.[2] A child has the potential to learn English, but his parents who possess the actuality of actually knowing English must teach him.

A pencil has the potential to write, but not the actuality until it is moved by an outside source. The pencil does not write by itself. A hand must pick up the pencil and move it across paper. The hand is moved by a wrist, which is moved by an arm, which is moved by a brain, which belongs to a person, who was born to parents, who were born to their own parents, and so on in an infinite regress until we come to the first uncaused cause. This first cause, Aquinas claims, all men call God. 

Aquinas’s third version of the Cosmological Proof argues for a Necessary Being.
1) Things exist.
2) Since something cannot come from nothing, there must be a Being who caused things to come into existence. Out of nothing, nothing comes.
3. This Necessary Being is what we call God.

[1] Newton's, Principia