Apologetics and evidence for God’s existence

“If God exists why doesn’t he prove it?” It’s one of the big apologetic questions and we’ve touched on it a little as we’ve looked at the question “Who is God?”

I wanted to share a few more jotted thoughts on the question here and particularly on the question of evidence.Christians believe in an infinite, personal, creator God.  We believe that God is known through revelation.  We sometimes refer to these foundational beliefs as presuppositions.  Everyone starts with presuppositions and those foundational beliefs will shape our world view and will affect how we assess and understand the evidence put in front of us.

What sort of evidence would you expect for an infinite, personal, creator God?

Some assumptions

–          If God is real – He himself will produce the evidence -that’s one of the reasons why we say that we need revelation

–          We would expect evidence that reflects his character -that he is infinite, good, a person

Creation as evidence

The Bible says that creation itself is one way that God speaks, shows up, provides evidence

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”[1]

“18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.[i] 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”[2]

The evidence is presented -a vast, ordered, beautiful Universe.  Note, it is vast and seemingly unmeasurable but not infinite, it stretches back in time but is not eternal. It points us outwards to the one who is eternal and infinite.

The debate/dispute over this evidence

Challenge

There are other explanations for the existence of the Universe – most notably that it has evolved without God’s involvement.

Response 1

All presuppositions/foundational beliefs have to give an account for infinity and eternity. There are a few people who suggest that the Universe itself is infinite and eternal -but generally speaking it is accepted that there was some form of start point.

Nb this is a response that all Christians are likely to agree with

There are two other responses

Response 2 – Old Earth Creationists

  1. That bearing in mind the initial response above, an evolutionary account does not necessarily contradict the Biblical account of Creation -God can work through evolutionary process but actually the existence of a personal God best explains evolutionary processes

You can find out more about this approach in

God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, John C. Lennox, Lion UK, Updated edition (September 2009)

God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?, John C. Lennox, Lion UK, 1st edition (1 September 2011)

Science and Religion, Unnatural Enemies, Kirsten Birkett, Matthias Media (1997)

Response 3 – Young Earth Creationism

Argues that a young dating of the earth with creation having taken place over 7 24 hour days provides the best explanation for why we are here.

NB – This is my personal view

To investigate this position and review how Young Earth Creationists understand and interpret the evidence start with https://answersingenesis.org/

God’s Providence as evidence

Under God’s providence we include God acting and speaking in history in order to sustain his creation, have a relationship with people, protect and care for his people, judge sin.

So primarily the evidence is concerned with the Bible as a reliable historical record of God’s acts. This will include things like supporting data including the histories stories and beliefs of other peoples around the world independent of the Bible

For example the vast number of ancient “Flood myths” from all around the World. Now some of them may have a common source -e.g. the Mesopotamian stories may have spread around the Middlea and Near East and into India and some flood stories are possible derivations of the Biblical account brought by missionaries. However there are other flood accounts that appear to have developed quite independently such as the South American ones.  Such accounts suggest a common historical memory across humanity.

Then there are a variety of tablets and murals with inscriptions and pictures describing and depicting people and events also described in the Bible.

This includes

The Tel Dan Stele -an inscription referencing the House of David

-The Memeptah Stele -Egyptian with the first known reference to Israel (circa 1209 BC)

– The Mesha Stele – Moabite describing battles with the house of Omri (Circa 850 BC)

– The Lachish  Relief (C 700 BC) -portrays the Assyrian siege of Lachish in Judea

There are also the overall discoveries of large scale archaeological excavations such as that at Jericho where the discoveries match the description of the City’s fall found in Joshua – see e.g. http://www.biblearchaeology.org/search.aspx?q=jericho&comment=true for a variety of articles

To find out more about the archaeological evidence relating to the Old Testament check out http://www.biblearchaeology.org/

See also On the Reliability of the Old Testament, KA Kitchen, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (2003)

Jesus as evidence

In the New Testament, Jesus himself is presented as the one who reveals God.

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God… So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”[3]

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”[4]

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.   He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation”[5]

The answer to the question “If God exists why doesn’t he show up and prove it” is seen most fully in Jesus. In Jesus, God shows up. He heals the sick, raises the dead, casts out demons. Ultimately it is seen in his death and resurrection. The ultimate evidence not just for god’s existence but his character – The God who is Love is seen at Calvary.

There are external references to Jesus and Christianity in other external works such as Tacitus and Josephus but the primary source of information is the New Testamenr.

Can the New Testament be trusted as reliable? Does it provide us with eye witness accounts of what Jesus did and said?

JAT Robinson, Redating the New Testament provides a helpful and insightful argument for why the books of the NT would have been written and in circulation prior to AD 70 (or within the lifetime of Jesus and his contemporaries).

NT Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, SPCK – provides a helpful discussion of why the resurrection accounts are trustworthy

FF Bruce, The New Testament Documents, Are the reliable? And Craig Blomberg, The historical Reliability of the New Testament are books which look at the historical credibility of the Gospels, Epistles and Revelation.

Conclusion

When discussing the existence of God, the truth claims of Christianity and whether Jesus really lived, died and rose again, we have a sizeable body of evidence that has been examined, scrutinised and challenged over the years. I have personally found that the evidence holds good.  I have found that the God of the bible is real, trustworthy and worthy of worship.

[1] Psalm 19:1-2

[2] Romans 1: 18-20.

[3] John 1:1-14

[4] John 14:6-7

[5] Colossians 1:15

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4 thoughts on “Apologetics and evidence for God’s existence

  1. Christians, Jews, and Muslims believing in an infinite personal creator god. They all believe that each religion has been given the truth through revelation, and their truths don’t agree. Those are indeed presuppositions and they are not supported by evidence. Dave, you make the claim that “everyone starts with presuppositions”, which can be true (in science it’s called a hypothesis) but then requires evidence to support the assumption, which means the evidence must support the claim and its details. This is where religion fails. Christians can’t agree on what of their essential events have happened or how they happened, so their original presuppositions are nothing but vague claims. Theists also continually change their claims to match reality, leaving their original claims in the dust since they don’t work any more. This is called apologetics.

    As has already been noted in other comments, other religions make the same claim as Christians do, that one can just look at creation and know that their god was the creator. Unfortunately for Christians, and every other theist, they cannot show this to be true. Nothing showing “eternal power” or “divine nature”. No evidence of any god showing his anger either. This god is evidently impotent, if not imaginary.

    Dave, you have made the claim that the universe is not eternal. Evidence for this please and please show how this evidence supports that your god, and no other god, exists. There may have been a beginning to this iteration of the universe, but that does not say that there weren’t universes before. As usual, this appears to be an attempt to create a god of the gaps argument. The fact is we simply don’t know. Still no evidence for your god. Also, the facts we do have is that the universe may not be infinite, and certainly not infinite as we know it now. The laws of physics indicate that the universe will age and change, not what your bible claims at all.

    No, not all presuppositions have to give an account for infinity and eternity. That is a baseless claim made in order to protect your presupposition that they “must” exist. No, it is not accepted that there was some “form” of a start point (nice wiggle words there). An infinite regression is not impossible. Theists, Christians especially, love to make the claim that nothing can exist without cause. They of course claim that their god is the exception to this. This claim can also be applied to the laws of physics.

    It is interesting for you to show that Christians indeed don’t agree when you attack Old Earth Creationists in order to claim the nonsense of Young Earth Creationism is true. Neither of you have any evidence for your claims at all but you are quite sure that you are right and everyone else is wrong. As has been noted before, Christians don’t agree on what happened and when, and can’t show that their myths are true, simply claiming that their god told them that their interpretation is the “right” one.

    The way that YEC folks interpret facts is to assume that their assumptions are right and then ignore anything that disagrees with them. It is also interesting to note that there are varieties of YEC believers, who do not agree how the supposed biblical events happened; they have evolved their claims to keep up with scientific research, making up new interpretations when their prior ones are simply impossible to support (AiG has a whole page that demonstrates how creationist claims change and insist that creationists not use them https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/arguments-to-avoid/ creation. com does the same thing). For people who claim to get the truth from a magical god and that their religion is true based on facts, it is most curious that they disagree.

    There is no evidence that God acted or spoke at any time. We have a claim, called the bible (and other holy books). The bible is not the evidence. Evidence would be something that supports the claim. Where is this evidence, Dave? What we have are contradicting sects of single religions, contradicting religions, and evidence that shows that, rather than what myths claim, other events happened that preclude them.
    In that all humans suffer catastrophe, enjoy gain, win and lose wars, etc there is no evidence that any particular god is caring for his people any more than the next.

    Again, the bible is not an accurate historical record. There are indeed flood myths in many cultures but not all, most importantly not in Ancient Egypt. Theists also cannot agree on when this supposedly mountain covering world wide flood happened or how it happened. When did it happen, Dave? Once we know, we can look for the evidence. But I’m going to guess you’ll refuse to answer my question. The reason that there are flood stories around the globe is that floods happen often and they are an easy selection if you want to make up a just so story on how gods handle people that don’t worship them. It’s easy for a Christian to pick and choose out of other mythos, try to claim that part true and then insist that the rest is false.

    Now, why would one of the closest cultures to the Israelites have no myth that a god got angry and flooded them? Because the Nile floods and benefits the people of Egypt. Hapi, the god of the flood is a benevolent god, taking care of the people. So, we have no support for your claim of a “common historical memory across humanity”. We also have no worldwide flood deposit, which would be one massive layer, hydraulically sorted. What we do have is many many many separate layers that were each laid down individually. You can do your own experiment on this: take a clear container, put in sand, top soil, silt, gravel, and water. Give it a good shake. Now observe what you get. Are there many different layers or one big one? The laws of physics don’t change.

    Let’s take a look at your supposed tablets and murals. The tel dan stele mentions a house of David, though there is considerable disagreement on what this means since what is transalated as David can have other meanings, including beloved. You might want to look at the wiki entry about the stele and David since they do not make such flat claims as you do and shows that there is disagreement on what the stele means and the known archaeology of Judah and the lack of historical fact about David. This attempt at ignoring problems and making a claim that is not supported is unforatunately common with theists. If this is to be considered evidence, then an issue of Spider-man or a modern adventure movie should be considered evidence that Spidey exists and that there was a treasure with clues about it hidden in the White House

    The Merneptah stele does mention Canaan, and Israel (and the images of the Israelites are in Canaan costume in related iconography in Egypt, further supporting the theory that Israelites were always Canaanites and there was no invasion of Moses et al). This has the same problem as above: not evidence of your god or that your bible is an accurate portrayal of history. It is evidence that two sources occasionally have similar characters/sites.

    The Mesha stele also mentions cultures and people known to have existed. It also mentions two gods, the Israelite one and the Moabite one and treats both as real. So, if this is to be considered evidence for the Christian god, then it is evidence that other gods exist too.

    The Lachish Relief again mentions cultures and people known to have existed. Still no evidence that the Christian god exists or that the essential events in the bible happened.

    The description of the fall of Jericho in the bible has people walking around the city blowing horns. This does not match with the evidence of an earthquake and fire causing the destruction. Archaeologists have identified at least 20 successive settlements at the site, each destroyed in some manner and rebuilt again. The layer with the collapsed walls does not date to the claimed biblical date of around 1400 BC, and has been shown have happen during an Egyptian invasion of that time period. The wiki article about the battle of Jericho goes into detail on how the bible is not historically accurate with its claims for this event. Bryant Wood, the fellow behind Associates in Biblical Research, is amusing when he ignores radiocarbon dates when convenient. It is also notable that Christian archaeologists do not agree, and Wood has been shown wrong repeatedly even by them (for an example see biblicalchronologist.org )

    In that there is no evidence to show that Jesus Christ existed, relying on his existence to show God exists is fraught with problems. The claim that love requires someone be tortured to death is also a bit strange.
    The references in Tacitus are only about Christians, not Jesus Christ. If this is to be counted as evidence, then any mention of any believer of any god means that god exists. I suspect that you would not agree, Dave. Tacitus also writes that the Roman emperor Vespasian could heal people. Shall we believe that too? The mentions in Josephus are either considered a forgery (the testamonium flavianum) or mentions of people who may have been associated with a historical man who claimed to be the messiah, but again, no evidence that this was some divine being. Josephus also claims that Abraham taught science to the Egyptians, which has nothing to support it at all and plenty of evidence to the contrary, considering no one can agree on when Abraham existed or if he existed at all.

    The NT provides four versions of one story. There is no evidence to support that the events in the story happened. The stories also differ in their accounts. The encounter between John the Baptist and Jesus differs. The stories about the birth and events around it differs. The events around the crucifixion differ. Did Jesus weep in Gesthemane or not? One precludes the other What did the “thieves” say? They cannot both mock JC and believe in him, one precludes the other. What did the disciples do after the cruxifixtion?
    The stories may have been in circulation prior to 70 AD but again, there is no evidence to support those stories.

    There is no “sizable” body of evidence to support the existence of your god or of Jesus Christ. There may have been a historical man who claimed to be the messiah; we know that to be a common thing at that time. We certainly know that there were Christians. Other theists also find that their claims hold up and for the same reason: they want to believe. Any reason we shouldn’t believe them and doubt you?

    If you do reply to this post, Dave, I do ask you to actually reply and not make another comment separate. I’m not sure why anyone would do what you are doing, other than trying to be passive-aggressive or trying to drive up visits to your website. I’m going to guess you’ll not let the post out of moderation.

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      • Links are great. You have chosen to misrepresent what they actually say, and that seems to be with the hope that no one actually checks your links. Since you have claimed the various stelae and mentions of believers as evidence, and have not replied to my questions, it does seem that you agree that your religion has no more evidence for it than other religions that make the same claims.

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      • Seems you’ve already decided my motive, opinions and answers for me! But no. 1. I include references and links and specifically produced this article so people can follow up for themselves. Something I encourage people to do. 2. I think I’ve explained enough times now why I don’t give continuous detailed replies in the comments section. Nothing to read in. I simply hsve finite time. It’s probably best not to try and second guess someone’s motives and opinions but to stick with what they say – as per our comments policy

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