Tag: Evidence for God

EVIDENCE FOR GOD

Is there any evidence for the existence of God? It’s not “cool” or politically correct to ask such questions in our age, but I say “Ask”! And here I offer some (but not all) answers to the secret seeker…

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Consider first that there are three possibilities as to how we all got here. 1, We were created by a Creator; 2, We evolved; 3, We aren’t really here, we just think we are. Other evolution-related concepts such as “Pan-Spermia” (life evolved somewhere else in the universe and was then seeded on earth) are not really alternatives, since all life, wherever it came from originally, either evolved or was created .

I have no time for the third option: I’m here, and so are you. That leaves two possibilities. I’m convinced that if you’re in the evolution-from-nothing camp, you’re determined to be there, against all the available evidence to the contrary.

DESIGN

I see incredible design in all of nature. Out of the thousands of examples I could give, one of my favorites is a moth I saw late one night near where I live, under a bright light. It was on the ground with its wings fully open on the ground. It had a five-inch wingspan (12.5 cm), and on the back of each wing it had a large fake fearsome eye, so that you seem to be looking at a formidable, intimidating five-inch wide face. Presumably the moth has these “eyes” as self-defense to avoid being eaten. I asked myself how a moth would “evolve” those “eyes” for itself, even given millions of years. Why didn’t all its progenitors get eaten, and if they didn’t, why did it need the eyes?

When we look around at our world we see beauty everywhere, and things which fit and have meaning and purpose. We live, love and exist in a world of wonder, not a world of chaos. Science is not evidence against God, it’s evidence that God is The master scientist.

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INFORMATION

One strand of DNA, invisible to the naked eye, contained in each of the trillions of cells in our body, is packed with more information than a huge library of books. Where did that information come from? So called “simple” life forms are really incredibly complex: how did that first information arise out of nothing, or out of inanimate matter? Information has never been observed to come from nothing or from chaos, and so to believe it did is blind faith, not science. Researchers scan the skies for a radio message from space which, they are convinced, would confirm intelligent life out there, yet ignore the incredible message in plain view within life on earth, as seen in our DNA, in our brains, and in all of life.

 

O is for ORDER. The universe operates in a very orderly, lawful way, as does our own solar system and our own planet. The laws of nature hold all things together and allow us to exist and function. Sir Isaac Newton, whose laws of motion and gravity are still employable and were used to land man on the moon, attributed that orderliness to a Creator.

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ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE

This principle, dismissed as mere “coincidence” by the evolutionist, demonstrates clearly that Earth is uniquely placed and equipped for life in our galaxy and in our solar system. It benefits from many hundreds-thousands-of extremely fortuitous conditions. As an example, if earth were tilted any more or less in relation to the sun, its temperature ranges would be too extreme to support life. If we didn’t have our moon, or if the moon were not at just the right distance from us and at just the right relative size with just the right orbital pattern, we would have no tides to keep the oceans alive and fresh, and there would be no life on earth. Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the harmful power of the sun’s radiation. Water is unique in many of its properties, enabling life to exist and continue.

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ORIGINS

Even famous evolutionists admit that they don’t know for sure how life evolved from non-life, and they’ve never seen it happen. Millions of people are convinced that life has been made, or almost made, in the laboratory: this is not the case. The Miller experiments made a few amino acids only. When the proverbial first living cell miraculously produced itself according to evolution theory, defying multitudes of natural obstacles, who did it mate with and what did it eat? I can much more easily believe in an intelligent creator than in a rock producing all the complexity we see.

There’s plenty of scientifically supportable reason to believe in the Biblical view of origins. Try http://www.icr.org for a start, or http://www.answersingenesis.org

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HUMAN HUNGER FOR GOD

Man has an inbuilt hunger for the spiritual, which explains the existence of many religions throughout history and in every culture. Religion is not always a product of superstition: perhaps superstition is born of  a natural longing for God, and the realization that there’s something much greater than us.

ATHEISM

The condition of atheistic societies to date has not been impressive or endearing. Atheistic philosophy has been the cause of far more evil in our world than any religion has. Hitler, in his book “Mein Kampf” expressed the need to “cleanse” the human race for the sake of “Mother Nature” and healthy human evolution. Also refer to the regimes of such men as Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Once man sees no God to answer to, and no  fixed, objective standards of right and wrong, tyranny is the likely outcome, along with the degradation of the value of human life. We can see this at work in our world now. Please note I am not saying that every atheist is a “bad” person: they are usually no more evil than anyone else. Instead I’m demonstrating  that having a God-less society is not the answer to our problems.

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EMOTION

Most of our emotions would be superfluous and even detrimental if we were only here to contend with other life forms so as to emerge the winner (as we have, if we evolved). The God of the Bible made us in his image, and is himself a feeling, emotional being.

LOVE

Real love produces commitment, caring, empathy, loyalty, faithfulness and truthfulness. Where does love come from if not from a loving, faithful designer? How could chemical reaction and interaction alone-born of rock-produce love? When your significant other asks if you love her or him, do you reply that yes, you are currently experiencing some chemical and hormonal interactions, and as long as they occur you will stick around and refrain from killing and eating him or her? Love in today’s popular definition is a reductionist ploy with the aim of reducing our relationships to good vibes and temporary mutual use while the going is good. Godly love, as found in the Bible, is that which produces stable relationships, happy kids, and successful societies.

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JUSTICE

Our sense of justice is evidence that we were made by a just, moral God. If we “evolved” a sense of justice, why do we still have crime, war and murder, at every level of every society, no matter how many new laws and regulations are created? And why would or should we care anyway? The fact is that we recognize naturally in our hearts that there is such a thing as evil at large in our world, and that it needs to be controlled. This recognition was given to us by a God of justice.

AESTHETIC SENSE

We have an inbuilt appreciation for beauty and for all of creation, and not merely for our mate when we’re having sex, or for the food on our plate. We desire to be creative, to entertain, and to express ourselves, and we appreciate those who do so skillfully. We love art, music, literature, and all forms of recreation and creation. We imagine-often without any practical reason but the pleasure of it. We philosophize and think deeply (some of us do anyway).

SIN and EVIL

The Bible is right about human nature: just look around. You probably need look no further than the mirror, or your own family and friends.  Those who claim that people only abuse each other when they’re impoverished are often the same people who berate the ultra-rich for abusing the rest of us. If poverty were the cause of crime and terrorism, half of India and Africa would be in absolute turmoil. And if we evolved, why shouldn’t the rich abuse the rest of us, since life is all about the “survival of the fittest”?

EXPERIENCE

In the years I’ve been a Christian I’ve experienced God in many ways. This includes an acute awareness of His presence, a feeling of indescribable completeness at times, an inner peace and joy, and answered prayers. It’s important for me to remember those experiences and continuous states of mind, and not to let them be dismissed as mere superstition, hormonal balance or positive thinking. I’ve seen the difference made by the Spirit of God in people’s lives, in homes, and in areas of society where God has been allowed or invited in.

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WHO IS JESUS? PART 1: THE HISTORICAL JESUS

I was raised in a time and place where I frequently heard that there never was such  a person as Jesus Christ, and that the Bible was just a collection of myths which have been changed many times over the centuries, so that you can’t believe a word it says.

I didn’t realize as I was growing up that we do not live in a world of balance where we can just trust in our “experts”, but the world that passes on the “facts” of human and earth history has its own bias and agenda.  We don’t hear about the evidence for the life of Christ because most historians, media people and even some theologians have themselves been misled. They have their own interest in making sure we don’t hear anything about such evidence, unless it’s set it up as a falsehood so that they can then present us with the “facts”. We are all indoctrinated with their biases, and then we are all amused to death so that we don’t even start thinking such thoughts as, “was there really a Jesus Christ?” “Who was he?” “Am I missing something? How can I find out?”

There are not only “experts” who tell us that the Bible is myth, but experts who believe that the life and claims of Jesus Christ and his disciples are supported by evidence. So which “experts” do we believe? It’s my contention that most people will believe the experts they choose to believe, often without taking much notice of the evidence offered on either side. Your choices reflect your heart. 

I want to address the question of the reliability of the scriptures in a future series. This series focuses on the person of Jesus Christ. Did he really exist? Who was he, according to what those scriptures say? Was he invented? Was he totally misrepresented in the fourth century or later, as one theory goes?

Gary R. Habermas, with a DD from Oxford and a Ph D from Michigan State University, states in his book “The Historical Jesus”:

“Very few scholars…” (and he is including the unbelieving scholars) ”…hold the view that Jesus never lived”.

He also says:

“There is a substantial body of data that argues for a historical Jesus who lived early in the first century” 1.

Habermas even lists some of the critical scholars of our age who admit to the early first century existence of important Christian creeds. One such creed outlines the original gospel of Jesus Christ, as I noted in my post “What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

 I’ll have to admit that there are not any surviving photographs of Jesus Christ, or first century newspaper reports of his movements, or coffee tables with his family business logo on, or fish which were caught, stuffed, mounted and autographed by the disciples. You can’t expect a nobody carpenter who was branded a criminal by even the religious leaders of his time and then executed, to have monuments built by the Romans or the Jews in honor of his life. They didn’t even make movies about him.

However, there are certainly some evidences for his life and works.

NON-CHRISTIAN REFERENCES TO JESUS

-In AD 115 Tacitus, the most important Roman historian of the first century, mentioned “Christus” as the ringleader of a sect, who:

“…suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius”.

Not a believer himself, Tacitus wrote that there was an “immense multitude of believers willing to die rather than recant their faith” 2.

-Pliny the younger took pleasure in torturing and killing Christians. In AD 111 he wrote that he killed them for “belonging to that degenerate sect”. He also commented that they chanted to Christ “AS IF TO A GOD” 3.

-The Jewish Talmud mentions Christ as a “False Messiah who practiced magic” 4.

-Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, in his “Antiquities”, refers to James “the brother of Jesus, who is called the Christ”.  

Josephus’ “Testimonium Flavianum” contains a disputed passage which talks about Jesus and his followers and their martyrdom 5.

-Darrell Bock writes about a piece fo graffiti found in 1857 on some stone on the Palatine Hill of Rome:

“It portrays a man with the head of an ass with hands outstretched on a cross. Another man is said to worship this figure, as the picture has the inscription “Alexamanos, worship God!”…The drawing has been dated to somewhere between the first and third centuries” 6

The Roman historian Seutonius also attests to Rome’s execution of Jesus (7).

EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITINGS

Apart from the Bible, there are thousands of writings by the early “Church Fathers”, dated between AD 90 and 160, containing quoted portions of the New Testament. Of course these speak of Jesus (8). The early church believed the authorship of the gospels and letters, including Papias in 125 AD and Iranaeus in 180 (9).

Of the “Apostolic Fathers”, Ignatios, martyred before AD 117, wrote that Jesus was both God and man (10).

THE BIBLE

The Bible is a collection of books by many different authors, written over many centuries, who in the Old Testament often prophesied the life and death of the Messiah, and in the New Testament wrote about a man called Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection. It doesn’t make sense to dismiss the Bible as no evidence at all: it is in itself a witness by many people of the life of Jesus. It is a collection of documents.

The Old Testament, known to have been written before Christ, contains many prophecies of the Messiah, prophecies which were fulfilled in the life of Christ. For example, the Dead Sea scrolls contain an entire book of Isaiah- a copy made or posessed by the Essenes, a separatist Jewish sect (not Christian), which existed from 300 BC to 68 AD. The Isaiah scroll is virtually identical in content to the book which has been passed down to us through the centuries in the Bible, and which therefore has not been changed or corrupted in over two thousand years (11). Isaiah contains prophecies like this one:

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed….He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers he was silent, so he did not open his mouth…..He was assigned a grave with the wicked…Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him” (Isaiah 53).

In the Jewish scriptures, a man “hanged” as Jesus was on the cross was considered to be cursed by God (Deuteronomy 21: 22-23): hence the phrase “yet we considered him stricken by God”.

Isaiah was prophesying- foretelling- the crucifixion of Christ who would be paying for the sins of his people.

Many books have been written on the evidence within the scriptures for the life and person of Jesus Christ. It is something you could spend your lifetime researching, and still not exhaust the evidence.

HISTORY

There’s no denying that someone, or something, had a profound effect on the world from the first century onwards. Much of the world now shares the view of Adolph Hitler, who stated that the advent of Christianity wreaked terror on the “free” (ha ha) Pagan world that existed before it. See my post on Adolph Hitler for the quote from “Mein Kampf”. Something certainly did happen to “turn the world upside down”. Something happened to make a bunch of nobodies decide to travel the world, risking their lives to tell everyone about this Jesus. They did not advance their cause with violence- this was done later by leaders who borrowed the name of Christ  to help cement their power over men and to gain lands and worldly wealth.

We do not find people denying the existence of Mohammed today: why deny the existence of Jesus Christ, who people were prepared to die for? Why would they die for someone that didn’t exist? Bruce M Metzger, a believer in Christ, with Ph Ds from Princeton, St Andrews in Scotland and Munter in Germany, said that no one doubts the existence of Julius Caesar, yet there are far more manuscripts attesting to the life of Jesus than there are manuscripts attesting to the life of Julius Caesar (12).

ARCHEOLOGY

As I said earlier, there are no coffee tables in museums with “Jesus Christ & Co” printed underneath them, and there are no family portraits in neat frames. The disciples were not dignitaries, but men who were hounded and chased. No-one wished to preserve their names or a record of their actions in the history books: their message was far too unpopular.

However, there is plenty of archeological evidence which supports details and characters in the New Testament books. Here are a few of the many examples that could be given:

-King Herod was spoken of in the gospels (e.g. Matthew chapter 2). His name, “Herod, King of Judea”, was found on the remains of a wine bottle at Masada, a structure built by him. First century Jewish historian Josephus wrote about Herod. Herod’s burial place can be seen at Herodium (13).

-Pontius Pilate as Roman governor (Luke 3:1) presided over the judgment of Jesus Christ and gave him the order to be executed (John chapter 19). At Caesarea’s Roman theatre a stone bearing Pilate’s name was discovered. It is a Latin inscription of four lines, saying: “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” (14).

-Caiaphas, according to Matthew 26: 57, was the Jewish High Priest who led the efforts to have Christ crucified. His ossuary (burial box) was found, containing his remains, with an inscription, “Caiaphas” and “Joseph, son of Caiaphas” . Josephus mentions him as “Joseph who was called Caiaphas of the High Priesthood” (15).

-John the Baptist, mentioned three times in Matthew’s gospel, created such a stir with Herod and his girlfriend that he lost his head, as recorded in chapter 14. John was spoken of by historian Josephus (16).

1 Gary R Habermas: “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin Missouri, copyright 1996 by Gary Habermas)

2 “Annals 15.44, in Lee Strobel: “The Case for Christ” (Zondervan, pub. 1998); also Darrell L. Bock “Who Is Jesus?         (Howard Books, New YorkNY, copyright 2012 by Darrell Bock)

3 Lee Strobel: “The Case for Christ” (Zondervan, pub. 1998)  

4 Ibid

5 Ibid

6 Darrell L. Bock: “Who Is Jesus? (Howard Books, New YorkNY, copyright 2012 by Darrell Bock) pg 176

7 Ibid, page 22, (taken from “Claudius” 25.4)  

8 Bruce Metzger in in Lee Strobel: “The Case for Christ” (Zondervan, pub. 1998)

9 Lee Strobel: “The Case for Christ” (Zondervan, pub. 1998

10 Ibid

11 Randall Price: “The Stones Cry Out” (Harvest House Publishers, copyright 1997 by Randall Price) 

12 Bruce Metzger in in Lee Strobel: “The Case for Christ” (Zondervan, pub. 1998) 

13 Randall Price: “The Stones Cry Out” (Harvest House Publishers, copyright 1997 by Randall Price)  

14 Ibid

15 Ibid

16 “Antiquities” 18.117, as noted in Darrell L. Bock: “Who Is Jesus? (Howard Books, New YorkNY, copyright 2012 by Darrell Bock) pg 30.

TRYING NOT TO NOTICE GOD

There are some people around who would rather not know if God exists, even if there was evidence. I first realized this when I had been a Christian for a year, and I read two books: “God, Science and Evolution”, and “Christ and the Cosmos”, both by Prof. E.H. Andrews. Andrews was the Professor of Materials at the University of London, and formerly the Dean of Engineering at Queen Mary’s college. He had a long list of credentials. One day I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who challenged me to show him proof that God existed. I offered him my favorite answer “You’re looking at it right now!” That wasn’t good enough for him (although in God’s economy, it is enough). He insisted that all scientists believe in evolution. So I offered him one of Prof. Andrews’ books, telling my friend that Andrews was well qualified and a fascinating read. “No thanks”, he replied with a sneer.

Since that time, of course, more and more brilliant people who believe in God have been screened out of the educational system and the public eye in general. Why?

Years later I had a little debate with a Geology/ Geography school teacher along similar lines.  At that time I had in my personal library a book by Dr. A J Wilder-Smith, an English man with three earned science doctorates from Oxford. I offered to lend her my book which covered many subjects taught in school as “evidence” for evolution. I wanted to let her know that Creationism wasn’t just for semi – insane fundamentalist American preachers (which was her view). “No thank you”, she replied firmly, and declared that she didn’t want her world changed.

As time went on my book, video and then DVD collection grew. Not wanting to hoard the uplifting insights I had benefited from, I”ve offered them to family members, teachers, tutors, friends and strangers, who almost without exception have not been interested. One book, called “In Six Days”, containing the comments of fifty scientists all with Ph Ds and so on, and who believe in Biblical Creation, was rejected by one young man on the grounds that Richard Dawkins said that evolution was a proven fact, and that anyone who questioned it was ignorant. (Is Mr. Dawkins a god now? If he is the purveyor of all knowledge and absolute truth on life, the universe and everything, doesn’t that make him a god? Hasn’t he just disproved his own assertion that there is no god?)

It’s virtually law now that scientists are not to consider God in their studies, since “that’s religion”. Once the Eternal One is reduced to a dispensible object, He can be conveniently pushed into a box which is then slid under the shelves in the basement and forgotten. As scientists study the intricacies of our world and universe, constantly amazed and astounded by what they find, it doesn’t occur to most of them that they are looking at the very evidence for God’s existence, character and power that they have claimed is nowhere to be found. Oh, and by the way, He’s not in the box after all. Even”the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him” (1 Kings 8:27).

So what does this say about human nature? The most perplexing, soul-searching questions that people could and should ask themselves are not being asked or answered. When they are asked they are not being given the benefit of a two-sided inquiry or argument. Why?

Scripture sheds light on this. Peter, in his characteristically direct and no nonsense fashion, hits the proverbial nail right on the head. He said that they are “willingly ignorant” of God’s work of creation, and the subsequent world-wide judgment by a cataclysmic flood (2 Peter 3: 5-6 KJV). The NIV translates it “they deliberately forget”.

Paul puts this willing ignorance down to “the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1: 18 – 20). Paul’s contention is that it is man’s preference for sin that drives him to ignore the true God (verses 18 to 32).

Jesus Christ explained it this way:

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into it for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John3: 19– 20).

Ironically, the Bible says that it is the atheist who is the ignorant one:

“The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).

The problem is not one of lack of evidence. It’s a characteristic of the heart of man. At best we could say that the majority ignore God because they are convinced and persuaded that “all scientists” believe in evolution, so it must be true. But what about the fact that some of us come to the light despite all that’s pushed on us in the form of evolutionary brainwashing? People not only fail to search for God because they do not want to: they actively turn their backs on any light there is, in order not to have their worlds changed. An atheist can’t find God for the same reason that a thief can’t find a policeman.