We Can Believe In God
Jim once asked an atheist if he had ever wrestled, even for a few moments, with the thought that maybe God does exist.
"Absolutely!" the atheist said, to Jim's surprise. "Years ago when our first child was born I almost became a believer in God.
"As I looked down at that miniature-but-perfect little human being in the crib, as I watched the flexing of those tiny fingers and saw the dawning of recognition in those little eyes, I went through a period of several months during which I almost ceased to be an atheist. Looking at that child almost convinced me there had to be a God."
1. Everything Designed Has A Designer
The design of the human body demands the existence of a designer.
Have you ever pondered all that's involved in the simple act of seeing? Scientists tell us that the delicate engineering of the eye's cornea and lens make the most advanced camera seem like a child's toy by comparison. The tiny rods and cones in the eye change light into electro-chemical impulses through processes the most sophisticated laboratory can't reproduce. And brain cells transform these electrical impulses into the miracle of perception-something no high-tech computer can come close to doing.
Engineering, chemistry, information processing-all are involved every time we open our eyes. Charles Darwin once stated that the thought of the eye, and how it could possibly be produced by natural selection, made him ill. Here's why.
The human eye could not have evolved over long periods of time, because it is absolutely useless unless complete. The lens, which focuses light, would be useless without the retina, which senses light. And all the light received would serve no purpose without the nerve fibers which carry signals to the brain.
Vision involves a complete system of organs-all interrelated, all thoroughly designed. That's the way it is with the whole human body. Lungs and heart, nerves and muscles, all perform incredibly complicated tasks that depend on other incredibly complicated tasks. No wonder the Psalmist concluded that the human body speaks loud and clear of a wonderful Creator:
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."-Psalm 139:14. (Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptural texts in the DISCOVER guides are from the New International Version of the Bible [NIV].)
We don't have to go far to find the "works" of God. The evidence right in our own bodies points to an infinitely skillful designer.
If you were to mark ten coins from one to ten, place them in your pocket, shake them around, and then pull each one out and put it back in your pocket one by one, what is the likelihood you could do so in exact numerical sequence? By mathematical law you have only one chance in ten billion of taking them out in order from one to ten.
Now consider the chances of a stomach, brain, heart, lungs, arteries, veins, kidneys, ears, eyes, and teeth all developing together and beginning to function at the same moment in time. What is the most reasonable explanation for the design of the human body?
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,' . . . SO GOD CREATED MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."-Genesis 1:26, 27.
The first man and woman could not just have happened. The Bible affirms that God designed us in His image. He is the great Engineering Intelligence who thought us up and brought us into being.
2. Everything Made Has A Maker
But evidence for God is not confined to the design of our bodies; it's also spread across the heavens.
Leave the lights of the city and go out into the country. Look up into the night sky. That milky cloud beyond the stars that we call the Milky Way is really a galaxy, or island universe, of billions of blazing suns similar to our sun. In fact our sun and its planets are a part of the Milky Way.
Now look at the Andromeda star group. See that hazy oval of light. Under a telescope it becomes another spiral galaxy, and like our Milky Way it is composed of billions of giant suns. Andromeda is but one of an estimated one hundred billion island universes that can be seen through giant telescopes. Astronomers tell us that some of these island universes are actually moving through each other at an incomprehensible speed, all perfectly balanced in space. Somehow all this motion is synchronized. All the orbits within orbits proceed on track, on time. No wonder the psalmist concluded that the stars speak of a glorious Maker:
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard."-Psalm 19:1-3.
What may we reasonably conclude by looking at the intricate design and vast size of the universe?
"[God] is before all things, and in him all things hold together."-Colossians 1:17.
The Weymouth translation is even clearer: "He is before all things, and in and through Him the universe is one harmonious whole."
All creation boldly testifies:
"God designed! God created!" From the perfect balance of proton and electron in the atom to the whirl of planets around the sun we find evidence of a master plan, a master thinker, of God the Master Designer and the Infinite Creator.
When an anthropologist, digging in the sands of New Mexico, comes across a triangular-shaped stone, he examines it carefully. If he sees markings on the stone that suggest it has been chiseled into shape, he immediately concludes that an American Indian created the object. He will even attempt to assign a date to the arrowhead, and determine which Indian tribe it belonged to.
No anthropologist worth his salt ever argues that arrowheads got there by chance. No one has attempted to explain that lightning or wind and water could have shaped these objects. It seems perfectly obvious to everyone that a human being made them.
Yet when many scientists dig up fossils, evidence of living things from the past, they make a very different assumption. They don't see the hand of a Creator; they assume these creatures must have been produced by the blind forces of nature, that they just naturally evolved. The animal fossils we discover, even those buried deepest in the geologic layers, represent creatures infinitely more complex than any arrowhead. So why not draw the obvious conclusion: someone had to create them? The Bible suggests a logical answer to the question of origins:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."-Genesis 1:1.
In these simple words, "in the beginning God," we find the answer to the mystery of life. The first doctrine recorded in the Bible is that there is a God; in fact, this first verse in the Bible tells us of His mighty act of creation. Dr. Arthur Compton, Nobel Prize-winning physicist, commenting on this verse of Scripture, once said:
"For myself, faith begins with a realization that a supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man. It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence-an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered-`In the beginning God.'"
Many great scientific minds today believe in God. The book Behind the Dim Unknown, edited by John Clover Monsma (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons), contains twenty-six chapters, each chapter written by a scientific researcher who is both a specialist in his field and also a Christian. Each author emphasizes the same fundamental truth-God exists.
In the words, "in the beginning God," we find the foundation of all existence. The Bible does not attempt to prove God-it declares His existence. That God exists is proved by our own existence and also by the existence of the things we see around us. Every effect must have an adequate cause. There is design in this world, hence there must be a designer. There is mathematical plan in the universe, so there must have been a planner. All things, then, must have been created by some being, and that being is God.
Dr. Arthur Conklin, once a biologist of Princeton University, wrote: "The probability of life originating from an accident is comparable to the probability of an unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a print shop."
We know that human beings can't create something from nothing. We may construct things, invent things, put things together, make things work, but with all our wisdom, we have never brought into being from scratch even the smallest spear of grass or the tiniest toad or the simplest flower.
Who, then, did make all things? Who created them in the beginning? Who started them? There is only one satisfactory answer-God.
The things about us cry out that God designed, God created, God sustains. Only life-or its ultimate Source-produces life. The only plausible answer to the origin of the universe, this world, and human beings-is God.
3. God Comes Into Personal Relationships With People
The God who designed the starry heavens, who created the universe, comes into personal relationships with people. Deep in the mind and heart of every individual, God has revealed a knowledge of His existence. He is "the true light that gives light to every man" (John 1:9).
The Bible asserts that our Creator seeks personal relationships with us. Abraham "was called God's friend" (James 2:23). "The Lord would speak to Moses . . . as a man speaks with his friend" (Exodus 33:11). And God will enter into a personal relationship with you and become your Friend. Jesus promised those who follow Him: "You are my friends" (John 15:14).
Human existence itself supports the idea of a personal God. We all know it to be a fact that personality exists here on this earth. We are persons, our friends are persons. Since there is personality, there must be a personal God as its cause. It is impossible for human beings to exist without a personal Creator back of them. Since there is individual personality, it is logical to conclude that a God who is also a Person is responsible for creating personalities.
About 2500 years ago a group of Greek philosophers discussed the question, "What is the briefest possible definition of man?"
Plato suggested: "Man is a two-legged animal."
Another philosopher, however, exposed this definition's limitations by fetching a rooster. He held it up and said, "Behold Plato's man!"
They pondered in silence a few moments until one of the thinkers exclaimed, "I have it! Man is a religious animal."
That's it in a nutshell. Humanity is incurably religious. We alone feel a sense of need for a Higher Power. All of us, whether atheistic or devout, have wrestled with the idea of God. We're distinguished from animals by our imagination and reason, and by our will to choose right or wrong. No animal ever builds an altar for worship. Yet everywhere you find men and women, you find them worshiping. Deep within every human heart is a desire to worship, "a consciousness of God."
God has placed within all of us a desire to come into companionship with Him. When we respond to our longing and find God, there is no longer a doubt about His existence and our need. During the 1990s millions of atheists in Russia renounced atheism and turned to God. A university professor in St. Petersburg whose field is astronomy made a statement that typifies the comments made by many transformed atheists in the former Soviet Union:
"I have searched for a meaning to life in my scientific research, but found nothing to have confidence in. The scientists around me feel the same vacuum. As I looked at the vastness of the universe in my study of astronomy, and the emptiness of my soul, I felt there must be some meaning. Then, when I received the Bible you gave me and began reading it, the vacuum in my life was filled. I have found the Bible to be the only source of confidence to my soul. I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour and have found true peace, comfort, and satisfaction in life."
A Christian believes in God because he or she has met Him and discovers that He satisfies the heart's deepest needs. The God whom Christians have joyfully found to exist, gives us a new perspective, new meaning, new motives, new purposes, and new joys.
God doesn't promise a life free from trouble and conflict, but He does assure us that He will guide and sustain us if we come into a personal relationship with Him. And millions of Christians will testify that they would give up everything rather than go back to life without God.
This is the greatest wonder of all-that the Almighty God who designed all creatures and created and sustains the galaxies also desires a personal relationship with every man and woman, boy and girl. David marvelled at this, when he wrote: "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?"-Psalm 8:3, 4.
Our Creator is "mindful" of each one of us. He takes as personal an interest in you as if you were the only being He had created.
So we can believe in God:
- Because of the intricate design in everything He created about us.
- Because of the longing for God within us that leaves us restless till we find our rest in Him.
- And because when we seek and find Him, God satisfies our every need and longing-to the full!
Now, it's only reasonable that a personal God would want to reveal Himself to His created beings just as a father desires that his children know him. And God reveals Himself to us in the Bible. (Guide 2 will give evidence that the Bible is a reliable Book given to us by the God who created us.)
4. What Kind Of God Is He?
In the Bible God tells us who He is and what He is like.
What pattern did God use for creating men and women?
"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.
According to Scripture, we are made in God's image. This is why we can have a personal relationship with Him. Our abilities to reflect and feel, to remember and hope, to ponder and analyze-all are derived from Him.
"God is love."-1 John 4:8.
God relates to human beings out of His own heart of love. There is nothing He has done or ever will do which is not motivated by a selfless, sacrificial love.
5. How Jesus Reveals What God Is Like
What family member gives us an idea of what God is like?
"Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us?"-Malachi 2:10.
In the Bible God repeatedly speaks of Himself as a father.
Some of the father images we see today are anything but desirable. There are neglectful dads, dead-beat dads, abusive dads. God is not like that. Rather, He is a caring, sensitive Father. He is the kind of Dad who loves to spend time with his son or daughter, the kind of Dad who charms his kids by telling wonderful bedtime stories.
God, our loving Father, wanted to do more than reveal Himself through the words of Scripture. He knew that a person we live with is much more real to us than someone we only hear about or read about in a book. So He decided to enter our world as a real, specific individual.
God came down on our level-He became like us-so He could teach us how to live and be happy, and so we could see what God is really like.
How did God visit the world as a person?
"[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God."-Colossians 1:15.
God came down to our world in the person of Jesus.
A small boy and his older brother, were standing before a large portrait of their father who had died when the younger boy was a mere babe.
"Tell me," the younger brother said, "just what was Father like?"
The older boy attempted to tell his little brother something about their father. He described his strength. He said he was a good man, kind and handsome. He was friendly, and people liked to be with him. He was always gentle with Mother. He made people happy.
In spite of all the older brother could say, the small boy could not form a satisfying picture of his father. He wanted so much to know what his father was like. At last he interrupted his brother with the question, "Tell me one thing, Henry, was Father anything like you?"
The older boy hesitated a moment, then said: "Well, friends of ours who knew Father best say that I'm the living image of him. And even Mother says the same."
With his heart all aglow, the small boy walked away, saying: "Now I know exactly what my dad was like. He was just like my brother Henry."
Jesus came to our world as God in human flesh. Jesus is "the Son of God" (Mark 15:39)- God made visible, the thought of God made audible. Jesus Himself said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). So if you have seen Jesus, you have seen God Himself. Whenever you want to know what God is like, then look at Jesus as the Bible reveals Him.
As you read the story of Jesus in the four gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, you will discover a fascinating portrait of our Heavenly Father. Rough,self-sufficient fishermen dropped their nets to follow Christ, and small children flocked to receive His blessing. He could comfort the most devastated sinners and disarm the most self-righteous hypocrites. He healed everything from blindness to leprosy with the quiet assurance of a doctor prescribing a couple of aspirin. His two-word command: "Be still!" forced a violent storm to calm down like a naughty child brought suddenly to its senses. In all His actions Jesus demonstrated that God is love! He met human need in a way no one had ever done before Him-or has since!
Jesus' final glorious revelation of what God is like happened at the cross. That's where He died for us so that we would not have to die forever ourselves.
How do we benefit from Christ's death?
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life"-John 3:16.
Jesus died not only to give us a happier life now, but also to give us eternal life. Jesus is God's "one and only Son"-He is unique, one of a kind. He is the one and only being who is both wholly God and wholly man.
For long ages people wondered, and hoped, and dreamed about God. They saw His handiwork in the sky and in the beauties of nature. Many thought to themselves, "If only God were like this!" or, "If only God were like that!" But the beautiful, self-sacrificing life of Jesus and His death on the cross revealed God more clearly than ever. People found themselves looking into the very face of God, seeing Him as He really is-love, eternal and immortal love!
You can discover God right now as Jesus reveals Him. That discovery will lead you to make a very personal affirmation: "Father, I love you!"
Answer Sheet 1
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