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"Where is the evidence that God even exists?"

Some say, “This world is all there is. What you grasp with your five senses is the whole story. What you see is all you get.” We call them materialists. They believe that nothing exists besides this material world of matter, space, energy, and time. They do not always see that when they banish God to the world of make-believe, they also banish meaning, morality, hope, and even love.

Some people say they’re wrong: “There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” There are more.

If God himself once broke the silence of heaven with the four words “Do not be afraid,” if he once sent an angel to a nice young girl named Mary, then nothing would ever be the same. Then the materialist world would be the makebelieve one. Sud denly, with that one, sparkling, angelic appearance, anything would be possible. We could begin to use the old words again, words like peace and joy. There would even be a way from here to there, a bridge between all we can see and the So Much More.

Well, guess what? God did. Indeed, God has spoken. He uttered one perfect word. It was the name of a child. Gabriel said to Mary, “You will . . . give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.”

(Please read Luke 1:26-56.)

I’m picturing you, dear readers, as an audience in an auditorium. The stage in front of you—we’ll call it religion for lack of a better word—is dark. You’re wondering if there is anyone standing on it or if it’s as empty as some people think. I sit in the lighting booth somewhere in the back of the auditorium. Before me are the switches to a thousand spotlights trained on that shadowy stage. Making arguments for the existence of our loving, holy God and for the reality of Christ, his Son, is like trying to click these spotlights on, one at a time. The existence and design of the world. Click. The unquiet voice of conscience. Click. The startling phenomenon of prophecy. Click. The unimpeachable eyewitness testimony. Click. And Jesus. Click. Click. Click.

So many spotlights. So much to be said. I hardly know where to begin. My prayer is that at some point I won’t need to turn on another light, advance another argument, and make another point. I will count on the power of God’s Word, on the relentless working of his Spirit, and on God’s own desire to be known. I remember that Moses didn’t find God. God found Moses, drew Moses on wrinkled, bare feet toward a bush that burned and burned, and spoke his own marvelous name: “I AM.” So also with me: the reason I believe in God is God. He still finds ways to descend to us, because we are unable to rise to him. Though my words are weak, his grace and power are the reasons I write to you with joy and confidence. The One on the stage can be trusted to reveal himself.

There will always be those who know him. He will see to it. As we merely listen and take his Word to heart, the lights go on. There appears on our stage the figure of a Man with arms stretched wide. Christ is God come searching for what he lost—God come so close as to share our own flesh and blood and everything it means to be us—everything. He died the way he died that we might know him. Through his death he says what he has forever wanted to say: “I love you infinitely. I forgive you completely. I give your life meaning as simply as this: it means something to me. I will take you to a place that can only be called heaven, and this hope from there will stay alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream here.” In other words, “I can give you God. That is who I AM.”

What will your burning bush be? Will you be reading the “Jesus stories” in this book or staring up at the stars? Will you have the gospel of John lying open? Or will you be stroking your little girl’s hair when . . . click . . . you suddenly know that He Is? You know because he entered the barren world of the materialist and whispered his name: “I AM.”

Now may I reach for the first two switches, namely, two of the classic arguments for the existence of God? One is the “cosmological argument,” that is, the reason for the universe. This is the gripping question: Why is there something rather than nothing? Nothingness wouldn’t need to be explained. Once there is something, however, we have to ask why. Being cannot come from non-being. From everything we’ve ever seen or thought of within the observable universe, whatever begins—whatever did not necessarily have to be—must have a cause. There are no exceptions. A watch found in the woods? Someone made it and left it there. A loud bang at the door? Someone or something is behind it. What of the universe itself? Who is behind it?

I submit that the atheist is not sufficiently amazed by existence itself. And unless you dream that the entire cosmos sprang out of nothingness into existence itself, caused itself, rescuing itself from nonexistence, you must search beyond the realm of matter, energy, space, and time to explain it. Then you come eventually to that one, necessary, eternal, self-existent uncaused cause. “In the beginning God . . .”

Then there’s the “teleological argument,” that is, the argument from design. It’s a law, not a theory, of science that states that things left to themselves “tend to go from order to disorder.” When we observe even the simplest marks of order, let’s say we keep finding our M&Ms arranged according to color, our thoughts cannot help but run this way: “Someone is doing this.” Someone. What we would never expect blind chance to accomplish, not in a million years, a small child can do in five minutes. Let’s, please, just admit what we all know full well: intelligence is a far better explanation for those M&Ms than accident is.

Now consider the dizzying complexity we call life. You can fill a library with facts like these: A living cell contains about two hundred thousand amino acids. The time required for the chance formation of even one—just one!— of the chains of acids found in a living cell can be estimated mathematically, and it is roughly three hundred times the age of the earth according to the evolutionist model (set at 4.6 billion years). The easy appeal that, after all, anything can happen given a long enough amount of time in a big enough universe doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

Have you heard of DNA, the miraculous stuff of life? Each cell of your body has the information for making you; this information would fill an entire library. Information! It’s not going too far to say that DNA is actually a message—scientists have recognized that there is “an identity of structure between DNA and written languages.”

In his book Darwin’s Black Box, molecular biologist Michael Behe coined the term irreducible complexity. That memorable phrase describes a fact that could not have been known at the time the theory of evolution was spawned, that is, before it was possible to observe life at the molecular level. Throughout your body are countless biological systems consisting of numerous parts that work together with dizzying intricacy—fascinating and complex machines that could not even begin to function if each component of the system was not precisely designed and perfectly in place. Irreducible complexity simply means that no step-by-step process of gradual improvements can possibly account for the mysterious workings of life at the biological level. (Try to imagine a flat piece of wood that catches a few mice . . . when you add a couple staples, it catches a few more . . . then you put a spring under the staples, and it catches even more . . . and as the swinging metal bar gradually evolves to just the right length, the trap just gets better and better at catching mice. This makes sense?) Behe, writing without a hint of religious bias, convincingly suggests that the word evolution, when spoken over such intricacies as corneas and flagellums, is more like a magic wand than an explanation. When the biologist peers down a microscope, there’s an elephant in the room. The painfully obvious explanation that people somehow manage to avoid is, simply, intelligent design.

Scientists themselves have conceded that the fact that there is an earth in the first place, that there exists this solitary island of life in this “just right” universe, strains faith in blind chance to the breaking point. One astronomer calculated the odds of an island of life forming—based on the necessary forces, properties, and conditions required by a life-sustaining planet—at one in one thousand quintillion, quintillion, quintillion, quintillion, quintillion, quintillion, quintillion. Life as we know it is truly balanced on a razor’s edge.

It is not beyond our capabilities to distinguish accident from intelligent design beyond any reasonable doubt. Not only common sense allows us to do that very thing with a high degree of confidence but several disciplines also, including archaeology and forensic science, have clearly articulated the principles involved (not to mention the Carl Sagans of the world who listen for radio signals from outer space). People can maintain all day long that they see no thought or intention hidden behind the marks of incomprehensible order stamped on every flat space in the universe and on their own foreheads. I really think they know better, that’s all.

If it were any other question besides the question of origins, so laden with “religious implications” (to quote the grudging admission of Stephen Hawkings), the case would be closed. The possibility that life came about by accident can be effectively ruled out. This explains why when you want to find an atheist for a good, rigorous debate, you go to the philosophy department at the nearest university—the physics and biology departments are getting less helpful all the time. From my point of view, the triumph of materialist assumptions is poised to topple like the Berlin Wall—an apt comparison on several levels.

Now, I suppose the most astronomical of odds can theoretically be overcome—1 in 1 followed by a million zeroes is not technically impossible. Yet, even if coincidence were marginally possible, that misses the point entirely. Would I bet my soul on those odds? Which is the better explanation for the staggering design in our world and in us, blind chance or the intelligence and purpose of a Designer? Can you really stand on a rocky coast at twilight or explore the human marvels of an eye or brain . . . or gaze at your newborn baby . . . and not take it all personally? “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Are there no counterarguments that seem plausible to those who have listened? Of course there are. That is the nature of the question—after the argument is made, a person is always left to ask, “Do I accept this?” The answer comes from another place entirely, beyond the realm of reason. Our depraved nature can always find a reason to say no. God himself must utter his own, “I AM.”

What is so important to me personally about reasoning from cause and from design (just two among many intriguing arguments) is that I can state these particular cases with utter certainty. The reason I know they are valid and will prevail is that God advanced them first in the Holy Scriptures. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

I rest my case on God’s own revelation. Reasons for taking the Scriptures to heart will follow in this book, but here I give you my bottom line: I do not call on my best thinking to validate what God’s Word has already said. Please notice that I’m working from the other direction. It is God’s own Spirit, the author of the Bible, who validates my awe— the appropriate hush as I stare at the fingers of my right hand. When I think of my child “knit together in the secret place” that is my bride’s womb and think the self-evident thought, “Someone is doing this,” God himself confirms the instinct in his sure Word. I am sure that I am right to listen to the song the night sky sings, to look up, and to wonder, not because some philosopher has given me permission to do so, but because . . . the Bible tells me so.

When Job lost everything he held dear, when his wife, his friends, and his own gut-wrenching pain all argued against God, it was God himself that held the man together. God did that for Job. And he can certainly hold me up—and my faith—by the power of his Word alone, so that “I know that my Redeemer lives.” I know.

“Where’s the evidence God even exists?” Perhaps this is your bottom line. “Why can’t I see him?” Allow me to adapt an analogy made by Christian apologist and Oxford don C. S. Lewis. Consider that expecting to find God in this world as just another visible, material thing like us is like expecting to find William Shakespeare as a character in one of his plays. Look for him this way and the author is nowhere to be found, not in all the skies over fair Verona. But ask again, “Where is Shakespeare in his plays?” He is everywhere— behind every word and letter and in the space between them.

If there were no Shakespeare, there would be no play. Do you see that God is to this world something like the author is to the play? That is why you could search the entire cosmos and never find his face. And yet the tiniest seed—of a tree or, for that matter, of a man—is a deafening cry: “He Is.”

It is just at this point that we confront the real mystery beating at the center of Christianity. The Author did find a way somehow to step inside the tragic play. We needed him to. The Artist did enter his own masterpiece, though the masterpiece was defaced by sin. By a journey we can’t fathom—neither its distance nor its cost—God came near, saying, “Do not be afraid.” For nothing, I mean nothing, is impossible with him.

***

A Russian cosmonaut traveled into space and said, “I didn’t find God.” King David knew better. “Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Where can I go and not find God? Where can I run and not hear the unmistakable echo of “I AM”?


Prepared to AnswerFrom Prepared To Answer, by Mark A. Paustian © 2004 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of NASA via Dawn Hudson, licensed under CC0 1.0.