In July, I took the leaders and students of Lutheran Church and School of Messiah in Grand Junction, Colorado, to the radically different culture of Berkeley, California, on their very first apologetics mission trip. I love taking new groups on the Berkeley Mission, setting up opportunities for them to dialogue with real atheists and then watching them discover just how reasonable it is to believe in God.
The work of Christian thinkers over the last 30 years has significantly strengthened the arguments for God’s existence. In particular, we helped students grapple with and understand the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments for God’s existence. Not only did students see the powerful evidence that God exists, but we also showed them how these arguments provide clues to His identity.
The cosmological argument points to the beginning of the universe as evidence for God as the Great Beginner and gives us reason to think He is an all-powerful being because He can create a universe ex nihilo (out of nothing). Furthermore, His intelligence must be exceedingly great, knowing all the laws of physics and chemistry in order to arrange all the constituent parts of the universe. Lastly, God must be timeless and immaterial, if He existed prior to the creation of time and matter.
Teleological or design arguments give us more information about God. Recent scientific discoveries show our universe is finely tuned. This simply means there are certain details in the universe that had to be “just right” in order to produce life. For example, the gravitational force must be constant. The expansion rate of the universe must be constant. A life-sustaining solar system can have only one star. And on and on and on. Scientists tell us there are more than 50 “just right” details in the universe that make life on planet earth possible. Not only does a finely tuned universe point to a Fine Tuner, but it also demonstrates care and concern for the flourishing of His creatures.
The moral argument points to God’s good character and His social nature. The best explanation for the existence of moral values is a good God who grounds them. Love and kindness are virtues because they are grounded in God’s loving and kind character. In addition, moral obligations only make sense in the context of a relationship between two persons. We don’t have moral obligations to the processes of evolution. We don’t have obligations to inanimate matter. No, we have obligations to a person, a Moral Law Giver who has given us good commands to obey.
If these arguments for God are successful, not only do we have powerful evidence He exists, we also have knowledge about His nature and character. He is a transcendent, necessary, and personal being. He is an intelligent agent using that intelligence to the benefit of His creation. He is a powerful being capable of amazing acts and capable of getting His messages across. He is moral in nature, a Being of incredible goodness.
After five days in Berkeley, dialoguing with atheists and learning the arguments for God’s existence, the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 1 took on new life for the students of Lutheran School: “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.”
Such knowledge of God strengthened faith in Him for these young Christians from Colorado.