Question from Marvin: What are the top most powerful arguments for the existence of God, and if there’s a logical order in which we should present them.
Marvin, this one is fairly easy for me since I have two favorites I think are relatively easy to follow and are really powerful evidences for God.
Let me introduce the first one—my favorite—with a question: What is the most frequently raised objection against theism of any sort? If you answered “the problem of evil,” you’d be right. There’s a reason for this. There is one thing every person knows, no matter where he lived or when he lived. Everyone knows the world is broken. Things are not the way they’re supposed to be. That’s the complaint. And they don’t simply mean that things happen they don’t like. That’s relativism. They mean there really are evil, wicked things that take place (objectivism).
Since this awareness is universal—it’s an obvious and undeniable feature of reality—we can use it as an ally to make our case for God. Contrary to popular belief, the problem of evil is not a good argument against God. It’s actually one of the best arguments for God. The problem with the problem of evil is that if God does not exist, there can be no real evil to object to. Here’s why.
The complaint about evil itself requires transcendent, universal laws that govern the world—objective morality—in order for real evil to exist as a violation of those laws. Transcendent moral laws require a transcendent lawmaker—God. Saying the world is “supposed” to be a certain way requires a “sposer,” so to speak—someone who intended the world to be much better than it is.
If there is no God, then there is no transcendent moral lawmaker. If no lawmaker, then no universal moral laws we’re all obligated to obey. If no moral laws, then no broken laws. If no broken laws, then no problem of evil. Simply put, then, if there is no God, there can be no evil (or good, for that matter).
Yet there is a problem of evil (we all know this), so there must be broken laws, so there must be laws, so there must be a transcendent law maker, so there must be a God.
If you want the philosophic mumbo jumbo, here it is. This approach is classically called the moral argument for God’s existence. Stated as a syllogism, it looks like this:
- If there is no God, then there is no objective morality (no lawmaker, then no laws).
- But there is objective morality (evidenced by the problem of evil).
- Therefore, there is a God.
The form of the syllogism is valid (modus tollens), and the premises are true. Therefore, the argument is sound.
My second favorite argument for God’s existence is a little easier. It has a fancy name—the Kalam cosmological argument—but it’s really easy to understand. By the way, a “cosmological” argument is any argument for God’s existence that’s based on the mere existence of the cosmos, the universe.
Here’s the basic idea.
- First, for anything that came into existence, there must have been something that caused it to come into existence. Clearly, effects have causes. Pretty basic, and entirely consistent with our common-sense experience of the world.
- Second, the material universe (the cosmos) came into existence sometime in the past. Virtually everyone affirms this point because of the widespread and, I think, justified belief in the Big Bang.
- Therefore, the material universe must have had a cause.
Put most simply, “a Big Bang needs a big Banger.” The bang didn’t bang itself. Note, by the way, that this line of thinking puts the cause of the cosmos outside of the material universe. So the cause would have to be immaterial, intelligent, powerful, and personal—since only persons can start a causal chain of events.
This argument doesn’t prove the God of the Bible, of course, but it gets us pretty close, and it’s a great springboard to other arguments and other evidences for Christianity.