How can we know if God exists?
Is it possible for a finite mind to know if God exists? There are three main arguments that theists (those who believe in God) use to demonstrate the existence of God. They are the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, and the moral argument.
The Cosmological Argument
This is an argument from creation to a Creator. The term comes from the Greek word, cosmos, meaning “universe.” The argument itself is dependent on the law of causality that says every finite thing is caused by something other than itself. The cosmological argument can be summarized as follows:
There is a wealth of scientific evidence supporting the first premise. The second law of thermodynamics states that in a closed, isolated system the amount of usable energy is continually decreasing. As a closed system, the universe started with a finite amount of usable energy, and it is running from order toward disorder. Since the universe still has usable energy remaining, it cannot be eternal, or it would have ran out of usable energy long ago.
The universe had a beginning.
Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else.
Therefore the universe was caused by something else (a Creator).
Astronomy has given much evidence that the universe had a beginning. The Big Bang Theory posits that the universe exploded into existence and is now expanding. This idea is supported by the Doppler “red shift” observed in light throughout the universe as galaxies move away from one another. A radiation echo that produced the exact pattern of wavelengths expected from a great explosion was also discovered. Additionally, astronomers have found a great mass of energy that would be expected from the initial explosion.
As science continues to provide evidence that the universe had a beginning, we are left with two possibilities. Either no one created something out of nothing, or someone created something out of nothing. Which option is more reasonable?
The Teleological Argument
The term “teleological” comes from the Greek word, telos, meaning “purpose.” This argument reasons from design to an intelligent Designer. It can be stated as follows:
From our experience, we know that natural causes never produce specified complex systems, such as books, symphonies, or cars. We know that natural causes of wind and water produced the Grand Canyon, but we would never say that wind and water naturally produced Mount Rushmore. Watches imply a watchmaker, buildings imply an architect, and books imply an author. The design in these things is obvious, and we conclude a designer.
All designs imply a designer.
There is great design in the universe.
Therefore there must be a Great Designer of the universe.
Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote that the amount of information in the human brain expressed by the total number of neuron connections would be equivalent to 20 million books. He stated that “the neurochemistry of the brain is astonishingly busy, the circuitry of a machine more wonderful than any devised by humans.” If even computers require a human designer, then does the human brain not need an even more intelligent designer?
The Moral Argument
The moral argument reasons from a moral law to a Moral Law Giver. The argument can be outlined:
The second premise is the keystone in the argument, without which it falls apart. How do we know there is an objective moral law? Terms like “injustice” or “wrong” imply that there is some objective standard of comparison to which the terms refer. Without a moral standard, there would be no moral difference between Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa. To say Hitler was wrong would merely be an opinion that has no real basis for others to agree with it. If Hitler was wrong by an objective standard, then there must be a standard beyond all of us. If there is such an objective moral law then there must be a Moral Law Giver (God).
Moral laws imply a Moral Law Giver.
There is an objective moral law.
Therefore there is a Moral Law Giver.
How Can We Really Know?
Ultimately, these arguments will only convince someone who is willing to accept the possibility of God’s existence. To come to that place you have to examine your presuppositions, or what assumptions you have. When you are intellectually honest with yourself then you are ready to consider the evidence.
See More Evidence - Does God Exist?
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