â€œDoes God exist?â€ This question was the theme of the day Tuesday at Senior High 2 camp at Glen Lake last week. I was the preacher at worship that evening, and was to preach on the theme. I confess I have some difficulty using the standard proofs of Godâ€™s existence. It isnâ€™t that I donâ€™t believe them or canâ€™t follow their logic.
There are two reasons I have some difficulty with the standard proofs of Godâ€™s existence. The first I will deal with here, the second next. My first problem is I donâ€™t think strict logic and clear reasoning will convince all unbelievers.
For example, one argument that seems flawless to many Christians is the argument from creation. Paul expresses this argument in Romans 1, and it appears elsewhere in scripture as well. A simplified form of the argument is that a look around at the beauty, intricacy, and variety in the world would require a Maker to have brought it into being.
This is closely related to the argument from causation; every effect has a cause, and there must have been some ultimate First Cause that began the chain reaction of effects and causes that gave us the world we have today.
The difficulty of using these â€œproofsâ€ to conclusively convince unbelievers is simple. These proofs work for us because we believe in a Creator or First Cause. In other words, before we articulate these arguments for Godâ€™s existence, we already believe.
There are many unbelievers who look at the same beautiful sunsets I do, who are as in awe of the splendor of nature as I am, yet who do not attribute such beauty and splendor to God.
If we truly want to convert others to our perspective, to believe in the God in whom we believe, we must first be able to understand things from their perspective. When we have done so, we earn the right with them to be heard from our own perspective.
What we do is enter the other person’s world and do two things at the same time:
1. Demonstrate the attractiveness of following Jesus. Though following Jesus presupposes the existence of God, offering proofs of existence are not a major part of the demonstration. I also use the word “attractiveness” rather than “rationality” or “truth.” Quite likely Jesus will appear irrational form the point of view of a non-Christian. Once they are attracted to Jesus, however, and start spending time with the Christian community, they can begin to learn a new rationality. (yes, I reject the idea that rationality is only one thing.)
2. Demonstrate the inadequacy of their current position. I do not mean insulting them or telling them their position/lifestyle/beliefs is or are of the devil. Though they may be, this is rarely a helpful rhetorical strategy.