Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.
When it comes to attempting to have fruitful conversations about whether God exists, I used to just jump to an argument for God. As someone that has talked to hundreds of agnostics and atheists on a large college campus, I used to sit down and try to explain it in detail to the individual. I have now decided to take a different approach and back up. Thus I am convinced more than ever that the first question in the discussion is “How should we approach the existence of God?” or we can ask, “If God exists, how should God show people he is real?” In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. People are intellectual, emotional, and volitional creatures. So here is a chart on some of the different ways people approach the existence of God.
A Generic God/ A Deistic God/A God of Nature (general revelation) explains:
Note: These points are compatible with Judaism and Islam.
A Intelligent Designer/God is more likely to explain:
| God as an Explanatory Hypothesis/Which Explains Reality Better? God or No God (Nature is all there is)
Revelatory Arguments: A Theistic God: God’s disclosure of Himself to humanity(Historical Revelation)
|C.S. Lewis said that “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” (see The Weight of Glory). To apply what Lewis says, we might utilize what is called inference to the best explanation. The inference to the best explanation model takes into account the best available explanation in our whole range of experience and reflection. For example, when we look at these features of reality, which provides a more satisfactory explanation:
Why the need for a revelation?
We also need to know the following:
“Why won’t God give me a sign?” See our post called The Most Common Objection on College Campuses
· Response: The skeptic constantly assumes that if they could just see God directly or if God would give them an unmistakable sign that He is there, they would bow their knee and follow Him. Sadly, this is misguided on several levels. God declares, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). However, there seems to be other texts that indicate people did see God. Even in Exodus 33:11 Moses speaks to God “face to face.” Obviously, “face to face” is a figure of speech which means they were in close communion or conversation.
Also, in Genesis 32:30, Jacob saw God appearing as an angel. But he did not truly see God. In Genesis 18:1, it says the Lord appeared to Abraham. Obviously, there are other cases where God appears in various forms. But this is not the same thing as seeing God directly with all His glory and holiness. It is evident that people can’t see God in all His fullness (Exodus 33:20). If they did, they would be destroyed. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God and he shows the world who God is (Heb. 1:1).
|Problems with Conflicting Revelations
We must admit that all the Holy Books contain contradictory revelations: To assert that the God of the Bible would give a clear revelation in the person of Jesus (33 A.D.) and then give another revelation 600-650 years later (Islam), which contradicts the one in 33 A.D is odd. Furthermore, what about the two other so-called revelations in the 1800′s (Mormonism and the Watchtower Society) that both contradict the Christian and Muslim claim. If anything, that would make the God of the Bible a very contradictory Being.
· We have to weigh the evidence for each claim.
The Old Testament explains:
The New Testament explains:
(1) The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate/the Jewish Messiah. God authenticated Jesus’ teaching/ claim to divinity by His miracles/His messianic speaking authority, His messianic actions, and His resurrection. (2) Hence, Jesus is God incarnate. (3) Jesus (i.e., God incarnate) taught that the Old Testament is divinely inspired, and he promised the inspiration of the New Testament through his apostles.(4) Therefore, the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is divinely inspired.
Challenge to Pragmatic Argument
Challenge to Religious Experience Argument
|· “I don’t understand what difference Christianity would make in my life?”
· People say their religious beliefs have been tried and tested out in the reality of life.
· “Jesus works in my life. Thus, it is true!”
· If Mormonism or Islam makes someone a more moral person or makes them more responsible, does that mean Mormonism or Islam is true?
· Can’t people from other religious backgrounds feed the poor and do good things?
· Pragmatic arguments have to be tied to evidence as well.
People have had a personal encounter with Jesus: Disciples of Jesus are blessed to receive the assurance of the truthfulness of our faith through the work of The Holy Spirit (Rom 8: 16-17; 2 Cor. 2:2).
· Other people of other faiths claim to have personal revelations/experiences. Mormons claims that the Holy Spirit confirms their faith as well.
· Christians can’t rely on experience alone. There is a difference between “being certain” and “feeling certain.” Our feelings/emotions can be up and down.
· All experience must be grounded by truth/objective truth. Truth wins over experience!
All religious experiences must have an external test.
Christians often lack the assurance of the work of the Spirit because of:
1.Unconfessed Sin/Unrepentant sin
2. Weak prayer life/devotional life
3. We aren’t rooted in community
4. We don’t know God/faulty views of God
5. Internet Information
6. Little or no apologetic/critical thinking skills
7. Poor discernment