“In the beginning God…” – Genesis 1:1
The Story of Reality begins with God. God is the main character, not us. We come later.
In fact, the flow of the actual events (and of Greg’s book) follow a simple five-point outline: God, Man, Jesus, Cross, and Resurrection. We begin Part 1: God, today.
(If you are new to this series, check out the first post and the intervening posts to put this in context.)
God is the “unmoved mover (of Aristotle)”, the “greatest conceivable being (of Anselm)”, the uncreated creator, the original originator, etc.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36
Objections and Misunderstandings
We can learn a lot by looking at common objections because most objections stem from a misunderstanding of the true nature of things.
Who Created God?
Many have smugly asked, “If God created everything, then who or what created God?”. It is shocking that this would stump a Christian. (Sadly, it does because we don’t teach our youth any apologetics. RC College Prep is trying to change that.)
Can you see the silliness in the question? Neither Christians, Jews, Muslims, nor ancient Greek polytheists like Aristotle conceive of God as a created being. The seemingly infinite regress of created things has an end, and that prior originator is what is meant philosophically and theologically by the word God. Watch these short videos of Leibniz’ Contingency Argument and Anselm’s Ontological Argument to understand what is meant by Christians when they speak of God.
The ramifications of this are HUGE. One can intuitively grasp the observation that “If you make it, it’s yours.”
This is the basis of our Intellectual Property laws. It is also what makes people uneasy about God’s existence. If God made us we are not our own.
“16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.”
And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
21 They said, “Caesar’s.”
Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:16-21, ESV
Here we see the ramifications of the teaching that we are made in the image of God.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27, ESV
If God made you, then YOU are God’s. You are not your own. Your body and your mind are not yours to abuse or destroy or fill with drugs.
The best way to know the purpose and meaning of some invention is to ask the inventor. God has something to say about life’s purpose, meaning, and function.
The ramifications of this are immense, and they are not lost on thinking atheists.
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.” ― Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means, 1937
The problem with reality is that it catches up to you, eventually. You can jump off a building and experience a thrill, but the reality of gravity will bring the thrill to an end. Denying any meaning to life will work exactly the same way.
The next objection discussed in Greg’s book relates to miracles.
Haven’t science and philosophy proven that miracles are impossible?
“no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle” – David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748
“When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.” – Ibid. (italics added)
Scientists and philosophers have attacked miracles, for sure, but they haven’t proven that they are impossible because this would entail proving a negative.
Also, philosophers like Hume making the claim that only quantitative and experimental reasoning yield truth is odd since the sum of their work is non-empirical. Hume’s volumes would go into the flames, too. That can’t be right.
Arguing over miracles misses an important point. And it is a point you should not miss.
How did The Story begin?
“In the beginning God…” – Genesis 1:1
If you disagree with the 4th word of the Bible, then it is fruitless to argue over a virgin birth, a man swallowed by a fish, adults and children rising from the dead, healings, prophecies, angels, and demons. It also fruitless to argue over creation, meaning, sin, holiness, judgement, heaven, and hell.
But if the 4th word is true, and the rest of the phrase “created the heavens and the earth” is true, then there is nothing impossible about any of the other miracles or non-physical realities.
You may be skeptical of miracles. Fine. I’m also skeptical because I think there are many more con artists than miracle workers. But IF there is an all-powerful creator, then there REALLY is a miracle worker. How often God intervenes is up for debate, but interventions are not impossible a priori.
So let us at least look at the largest miracle ever studied. We have LOTS of scientific evidence for it.
Let’s finish Hume’s earlier quote:
“no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish.”– David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748
Believing the universe came from nothing, or that there is a finely-tuned undetectable universe generator are both more miraculous than the simple exercise of an all-powerful non-contingent being, i.e. God.
The Point of Miracles
Lastly, if you look at the miracles of the Bible, they were not just magic tricks. They had a context and there was a point to be made or affirmed with the miracle. Here is the best example of a miracle with a point.
“2 Just then some men brought to Him a paralytic lying on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the scribes said among themselves, “He’s blaspheming! ”
4 But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts? 5 For which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — then He told the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”
7 And he got up and went home.” – Matthew 9:2-7, HCSB
THAT’s a mic-drop moment.
To participate in this discussion, comment below.
Or if you are on the SHSU campus this spring (2017), come discuss this book with our Ratio Christi at SHSU chapter that meets Fridays at Noon in LSC 307. Bring your lunch and feed your soul.