In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth

I realize that the question was directed at Nate, but I’ll bite.

Consider the contents of the Bible. Collected works which offer an explanation of reality. It’s a complete explanation, offering everything from beginnings and motivations to ends and the means thereof. It’s the manual for a worldview.

The Bible’s worldview is the only one that makes sense to me. Humanists, Muslims, Hindu and many others have their own explanations for why we’re here at what we’re doing. Some are willing to swallow those explantions, but they just don’t hold water, considering the facts that we know, just from observing life and the world around us.

Consider the world (and universe) that we live in. Where did it come from? Logically, we have four choices (two sets of two choices, really). Only one can be right. Consider:

1) It has no beginning.
-1A) It has always existed.
-1B) It has never existed.
2) It has a beginning (it was made).
-2A) Someone/something made it.
-2B) Nothing made it.

Let me answer each possibility individually. 1A: The world and universe have always existed. Of course not, you say. The world began, at some point. Of course it did. Thermodynamics are understood well enough by laymen to know that all things are ‘wearing out’; that energy is dissapating into less usable forms. If the world has always been here, it would not be here now. It would have become a cold block of rock long ago. The same argument can be made for the universe. I don’t know of any worldview which holds that the universe is eternal. Everyone says it started somewhere. If it had not started, it would long ago have run out and stopped.

1B is of course a very ludicrous choice. It has to be considered since it is the logical opposite of 1A, but if anyone really believes this, I will shoot them in the leg and then we can continue the discussion of the non-existance of myself, that person and the bullet I just shot them with.

2A and 2B are where it gets interesting. Consider 2B first: Everyone is familiar with cause and effect. If I shoot the non-rational person in the previous example, he’ll have a hole in his leg, the police will come for me, etc. Cause leads to effect. In fact, each cause is in itself an effect of previous causes. My parents loved one another and were married. They caused my birth. Their parents caused the birth of my parents, etc. Causality chains can be traced back nearly ad infinitum. Eventually, there has to be a first cause though, right? In order for 2B to be truth, there can’t be a first cause. Nothing would have had to have caused something. We can observe from the world around us that this is not the case, ever. There is always a cause. Always. So there must have been a first cause, which leads to all the other causes and effects which we observe in the universe today.

This leaves us with 2A. Someone or something caused the universe we observe around us to come into being. This leaves some possibilities open, you might be tempted to say. After all, isn’t the Big Bang a first cause? No. Where did all that matter and energy come from? Please refer back to 1A if you think it was just always there. That aside though, there must have been some first cause that began all this.

That’s where the Bible comes back into the discussion. It gives answers to the question of beginnings that satisfy my curiosity. It answers the other questions I have about life as well. Usually not in black and white the way I’d like, but answers nonetheless. It gives answers that are consistent with observable facts about the universe around me. That’s one reason why the Bible is the worldview that I subscribe to, and more pointedly, is the Word of God. I’ve found it to be truthful in each aspect that I’ve considered it in. It claims to be the Word of God. I believe that it is. You’re never going to take away that faith aspect. You have to believe it for yourself. As humans we’re thinkers. Muddy as that thinking may be at times, we still like to have good solid answers for what we do. The Bible is my good solid answer. I trust what it says.

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14 Comments.

  1. So you’re certainly explained the motivation for suspicion of the existence of Something outside this universe.

    However, what you haven’t well explained is how they tied into the Bible and Christianity.

    The way people tend to explain things, it always looks as though it goes something like this: “I decided that God existed, and since I grew up in the US, I kind of stumbled upon one of the two or three different brands of Christianity that are predominant here.”

    A man who grew up in Israel and concluded God Exists would likely follow the Jewish faith, and one from Iraq would find Islam.

    Each of these men – you, Jew, and Muslim – are quite convinced that his scriptures are the true scriptures and justifies his choice with the argument that by principle of First Cause, God must exist.

    The trick is to explain why the Bible – including the Old Testament, but not including the Mormon scripture (what about the Deuterocanonical books (Apocrypha)?) – is the true inspired word of God. And why the Qu’ran, Bhagavad Ghida (or whatever it’s called), etc etc etc aren’t.

    And I skipped over the trickiest part with the parentheses. How do you know that Joseph Smith wasn’t a true prophet? The Bible contains some who seem just as unlikely (Jonah comes to mind).

    And once everyone agrees on the text, we can still argue about free will and gifts of the Spirit and method and time of baptism and iconography and the interpretation of John’s Revelation.

    Surely you can see the big mess this looks like from the outside. How to choose a path? Which path is the correct path? How do I choose when people in each camp occaisionally justify things by what “feels” right or “speaks” to them? It’s a certainty that you can find two people with different creeds and they will each believe with their lives that they’ve got it right.

    Logic may be able to bring people to believe in God, but I don’t think it is up to the task of helping them choose which path leads to Him.

  2. Hurm. To begin, “The Bible” means the 66 book canon commonly identified as “The Bible” by Protestant religions (although Lutherans weren’t cool with James for a while, it seems :).

    The reasons for the inclusion of those texts but not the others (which lay claim to rights of inclusion, but are not included) are littered across the last 500 years of protestant rhetoric. The gist of the argument is that some of those other works (such as the Apocrypha) are not consistent with the rest of the canon. Other texts, such as Joseph Smith’s writings from are entirely antithetical to the rest of the canon, and exclude themselves.

    I wasn’t really addressing the issues of what is Canon and what is not at all. I chose one issue that reasonably backed up my faith in the God described in the Bible. Just one, because even that one was more than long enough, textwise.

    Funny that you should mention the idea of unity in belief. I was actually planning on posting on that, since my personal reading was in 1 Cor. 1 last night, in which Paul is calling the early church to step away from “I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos” and change to an attitude of “We follow Christ.

    In the end, logic can’t save you at all. It can’t help you make the choice between Islam and Christianity. All it did in this case is give a piece of the answer to the original question. In the comments on Nate’s blog, William Shunn said:

    Nate, you’re right to suppose that it would be difficult to convince me utterly that the Bible is the Word of God — or even that there is a God. I’m disappointed, however, that you’ve chosen to avoid the question by turning it back on me.

    Let me restate it: How do *you* know that the Bible is the Word of God? If we can’t really know anything, then we each believe what we choose to believe. So then why *choose* to believe in the Bible?

    That’s why I chose to answer the way I did. The question is more “is there a God”, and “how do I personally know that the Bible is his Word”. I suppose my answer fell far more to the “is there a God” question than to the other half, why the Bible.

    Why? Because it’s a far deeper issue to ask why the God of the Bible than to ask is there a God. Instead of being able to answer it with common sense and logical progression, it becomes a matter of faith. That’s really what it boils down to, I think. Faith.

  3. So pretend you’re an athiest. Just for a second.

    By the principle of first cause, you find yourself convinced that God Exists.

    You’re presented with a smorgasboard of religions, all of which have devout followers that ensure you that their faith is the one true faith. Then there are people on the sidelines talking about how they’re all equivalent and it doesn’t matter anyway.

    How do you choose which God to believe in?

    Granted, you’re going to have faith. But how do you choose?

    If the answer is that you don’t choose – that God chooses you – then what’s the point of telling anybody the Gospel, anyway?

  4. How are the chosen going to hear the Gospel if it’s not proclaimed?

  5. Nathan ~

    Yeah, I see, but I really like to lash out at predestination every chance I get. Sorry.

    So to the athiest, we can only say, “Well, I told you about the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to have moved you, so I can only assume you have been chosen, so I you might as well go out and sin willy nilly since you’re destined for hell no matter what anyway.”

    I hope not.

  6. Err. That would be not been chosen.

  7. We preach the gospel because it is powerful. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word, we’re told. What’s that mean? It means you come to faith in the Lord by hearing His word. There is no logical reason for doing so. It’s because upon hearing, you’re called to have faith and believe.

    Consider first Corinthians chapter one, verse eighteen through thirty-one:

    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

    Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

    Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

    From those verses, you can see that Paul is outlining how absolutely ludicrous the message of the cross is to an unregenerate man. We have to be called in order for it to have any meaning to us or any power in our lives.

    If it were as you say Ryan, and there was some overriding reason to believe Christ over the other option, some reason that came from within ourselves, some choice that we had made, wouldn’t you have a reason to boast? Wouldn’t you be able to say “Look here, *I* made the right choice, what was wrong with you?”.

  8. Wrong direction, Dave. That’s the, ‘Hey, you, non-Christians. You’re all going to hell and I’m not. Neener neener neener.’ Rather, the position is one of compassion. We all have a very good friend who is willing to posit the existence of God, but certainly has no particular leaning toward the Bible or Chistianity. The problem isn’t that he hasn’t heard. He couldn’t have the friends that he has and have escaped the message. What, then, is our next step? Abandon him as Unchosen and move on?

  9. I think you’re misreading Dave’s post. He’s not saying the reality of the universe logically and necessarily implies the Christian God. He’s saying that Christianity has the best answers for the questions necessarily raised by the reality of the universe, which I think is a fair and much more defendable assertion.

  10. The best answers for the questions? Wouldn’t that be “some overriding reason to believe Christ over the other option”?

    Don’t get me wrong, but what Dave’s saying sounds an awful lot like, “I determined that God exists, then arbitrarily chose Christianity (because there’s no particular reason that Christianity seems more right from the outside than the inside).”

    Please correct me, because I hope that’s not what’s being said.

  11. What’s all this talk about abandoning someone as “unchosen”? Do you honestly think that we know the mind of God and can determine whether a person to whom we proclaim the Gospel is chosen or not?

  12. What sets Christianity apart is the Gospel, pure and simple. That is, that Christ died for our sins, not of our merit, but because of God’s grace. Nothing we can ever do will earn that salvation. Nothing we can ever do will negate Christ’s saving work. No other religion offers grace — every single one is built on some type of legalistic system to attain some level of transcendance or some good standing before whatever deity happens to be all-important in that religion. Only Christianity offers salvation free of charge, and that’s why I choose Christianity over Islam and Judaism, as well as all the far-eastern religions and their offshoots that are sprouting up all across our country.

    The Gospel, then the Gospel, and finally the Gospel. Don’t waste time bandying words about anything else with non-Christians.

  13. Maybe the kind of explanation I’m looking for isn’t the kind of explanation anybody in these discussions can really provide. Froyd points out that he grew up Christian. So did I. So did Dave. The Godhood of Christ is bred in our bones and our souls and our minds. The view from the inside doesn’t satisfy my curiosity, because I’ve already got the view from the inside. I want to know what the view from the outside is like, and why people who are on the outside come inside.

  14. yeah, you’ve a point ryan. None of us are likely to be able to give that sort of description… It would be an interesting question to have answered though.

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