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Without Excuse

Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

"If you can show me conclusive evidence that God exists, then I will immediately become a Christian!" Have you ever had unbelievers say that to you? They presuppose, of course, that you cannot show them any concrete evidence for the existence of God. They truly believe that no such objective evidence exists--that it is only your highly subjective and suspect faith that has created God in your simple mind. "You may be a very sincere person," they say, "but unfortunately you have been brainwashed by your religion. Your life of faith may be very meaningful to you, but in reality you are very naive and have simply been duped by your unsophisticated family or friends." Yes, those unbelievers are convinced that there is not a scrap of evidence to support your "erroneous" belief in God.

Is there any solid proof for God's existence? Is there any objective evidence that we Christians can point out to unbelievers in order to show conclusively that God exists? According to the Bible, God has given mankind sufficient evidence of Himself so that no blind leap of faith is necessary. In fact, Romans 1:20 states that the evidence for the existence of God is so overwhelming and clear that an individual has no excuse for not believing in God. And Romans 1:20 is not just talking about people who have been exposed to the Bible or Christianity! It includes all persons from the beginning of time. The Bible says emphatically that any person who turns away from the evidence and denies the existence of God is a "fool". (See Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, and note the universal context in verses 2 of these psalms.)

Well then, where is this indisputable evidence for the existence of God? It is all around us in nature! Romans 1:20 indicates that God's existence and divine nature are "understood through what has been made." The natural world all about us cries out for an explanation of its existence, and the only adequate explanation is God. Not everyone has been exposed to the special revelation which God has given of Himself in the Scriptures and in the Person of Jesus Christ, but all mankind has been given the general revelation of God in nature. The proof of God which the skeptic so smugly demands is staring him in the face every day.

Theologians categorize the evidence which we find in nature as the naturalistic arguments for the existence of God. Three of the naturalistic arguments are known as the cosmological, the teleological and the anthropological arguments. You might think that these arguments are highly complex and complicated because of their long and technical-sounding names. However, they are really quite simple and easy to follow once the basic causal argument is understood.

The causal argument consists of two statements, or laws, and a conclusion. The first law of the causal argument states that "for every effect there must be a cause." That is, there must be a cause behind every single thing that happens. A car moving down the street, for example, did not just materialize out of thin air and start driving itself! There are causes behind the effect of the moving car. The second law of the causal argument states that "no effect can be greater (quantitatively or qualitatively) than its cause." That is, a cause must always be equal to, or greater than, the effect it causes. A large tree falling over, for example, must have a cause behind that fall which is quantitatively greater than a light summer breeze! A beautiful painting must be caused by something qualitatively greater than a few cans of paint falling on a canvas. Now behind every immediate cause there is obviously a chain of prior causes. Behind a printed page, for example, is an immediate printing press "cause". But what caused the printing press, and what caused the cause of the printing press, etc., etc.? It is not difficult to see that the logical conclusion of the causal argument is that behind everything there is either an infinite and eternal chain of greater and greater causes, or there is ultimately a first great cause which is itself infinite and eternally uncaused. And when you really think about it, there is not too much difference between these two options! The Christian takes a reasonable step (not a blind leap!) of faith at this point and believes that the God of the Bible is this infinite and eternal First Cause. Unbelievers ridicule Christians for this step of faith by asking, "What caused God?" They think that this question somehow wins their case or gets them off the hook, but they are actually showing their own ignorance of logic. Every rational person, including unbelievers, must logically conclude on the basis of the causal argument that somewhere at the beginning of the line there has got to be an uncaused cause. The unbeliever who labels this uncaused cause "Big Bang" or "Eternal Universe" takes just as much of a leap of faith as the Christian who believes in God. We could reasonably ask at this point, "Who has really been brainwashed in their thinking?!"

Now when the causal argument is applied to the matter and motion of the universe, it becomes the cosmological argument for the existence of God. When applied to the design and order found throughout the universe, it becomes the teleological argument. And when applied to the immaterial aspects of man such as his rational, moral aesthetic nature, it becomes the anthropological argument. Let's trace each of these naturalistic arguments for the existence of God in a little more detail.

The matter of the universe is an effect. There must be an adequate cause for all the stars and planets as well as every single atom and subatomic particle that exists. The causal argument demands a first cause or Prime Maker for the material of this universe. The motion of this universe is also an effect. The causal argument indicates that there must be a first cause for all the intricate movements in this universe. Everything from orbiting electrons to reverse spinning moons to spiralling galaxies must be accounted for! A Prime Mover is called for by the causal argument to explain the complex motion of the universe. The cosmological argument cannot be denied. The only adequate rational answer to the matter and motion of the universe is the answer of Romans 1:20--His eternal power.

What about the teleological argument? We don't have to look far to realize that there is plenty of design within our universe. Consider things like the structure of the atom or the marvel of the human eye. Consider the delicate balance of nature here on earth. Consider the many natural laws which govern the vast universe. Did all of these effects come about by pure chance? The causal argument demands that each of these effects must have a greater cause. Order and design and structure and law demand an intelligent cause. It seems so obvious! (See Psalm 94:9.) No wonder Romans 1:20 uses the words "clearly seen". How can any sophisticated theory of evolution adequately explain the "how's" and "why's" of the origin of the effects? Have you ever watched a spider spin a web? Is it even conceivable that this highly complex creature with its "web machine" and "web know-how" could have come about through random mutations? Think of the human brain. What principle of evolution can explain the development of such a complex computer, the capacity of which is never fully utilized by any individual? Surely the wisdom of a Creator is stamped all over this universe.

In the anthropological argument the many different non-material aspects of mankind are considered as effects and then the causal argument is applied. The fact that human beings are rational and have a moral nature and can perceive beauty and harmony means that the cause of these effects must also be rational and moral and aesthetic. The fact that humans have a will and personality means that their cause must be volitional and personal. Romans 1:20 declares that not only God's power but also His nature can be seen in what He has made. It's easy to see that as the many different immaterial effects of man are examined, the first cause becomes more and more a description of the nature of the God of the Bible. To say that all these effects in mankind have come into being without God is to deny the causal argument and to opt for the idea that they all came about through a chance-guided rearrangement of molecular matter. Does anyone have an acceptable excuse for believing such a myth?

The naturalistic arguments which God has made intrinsic to His work of creation are so obvious that His word of revelation declares that unbelievers are without excuse forever! How much better to go with the evidence now and agree with the Psalmist: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies declare the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1). "I will praise Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Thy works are wonderful and my soul knows this full well" (Psalm 139:14).
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