Monday, September 6, 2010

What If ?

A common argument that is often referred to as a proof of God is Pascal's Wager. Actually, Pascal's Wager is not an argument at all for the existence of God, but more of a what if proposal. Pascal's Wager simply states, What if you believe in God and I don't. If God does not exist, then at death we both win or lose nothing. However, if God does exist, at death you gain everything and I lose everything. What if this logic is applied to what makes the most sense here on earth for a variety of subjects? In other words, in examining various "What If" questions, conclusions can be drawn to follow the most logical outcome. The "What If" questions will follow the logic of the law of the excluded middle (either A or non-A).

What if the universe had a beginning? Either the universe had a beginning or it did not. Almost all scientist believe that the universe began to exist in an event called the big bang. How did the universe come to exist? Stephen Hawkins recently stated that the laws of Physics spurned the universe, but Hawkins never mentions where the laws of Physics came from. According to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, whatever comes into existence has a cause. If the universe came into existence then it was caused to exist.

What if the universe was designed? Either the universe was designed or it happened by chance process alone. Prominent Evolutionary Biologist, Richard Dawkins states, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” [1] Dawkins, of course, discounts the universe is designed, but instead believes the universe happened by chance. One of the arguments that is commonly used to show the universe could have come into existence by chance is the multi-universe hypothesis. Simply stated the multi-universe hypothesis proposes that millions of universes have been spawned and ours happened to be the one where everything fell into place in order for life to exist. There are two main problems with this argument. First, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support this. Secondly, it never answers the question of where the original universe came from.

On the flip side of the chance argument is the idea that the universe was designed. There is powerful evidence that the universe did not occur by chance, but by way of fine-tuning. Astronomer, John O'Keefe, has commented, "We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in." [2] The universe appears to be designed as opposed to a chance happening.

What if a moral law exists? Either a moral law exists or it does not. Some say that morals simply cannot exist. They posit that the appearance of morals are just the result of Darwinian evolution. Philosopher, Michael Ruse says, "Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction... and any deeper meaning is illusory." [3]

Many recognize that a moral law does seem to exist. There are some things that we intuitively know are right and wrong or good and evil. For example, torturing the innocent for sport and the raping and murder of small children can easily be seen as immoral. Where does this sense of morality come from? It seems a moral law exists, and this would necessitate a moral Law-Giver or God.

What if Jesus is the only way to God? Either he is or he is not. Jesus claimed that he is the exclusive way (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). If he is the exclusive way then Christianity is the one and only religion that counts for anything. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 asks us to "Test everything." Testing everything includes the testing of Christianity.

What if Jesus rose from the dead? Either Jesus did rise from the dead or he didn't. If Jesus rose from the dead, it validates the religion of Christianity and the testimony of Jesus. Some have offered reasons against the resurrection such as the stolen body theory, the swoon theory, the wrong grave theory, the legendary Jesus theory, hallucination theory and the idea that the resurrection was not a material resurrection. All of these theories came about many years after the resurrection event and can be discounted with a lack of evidence.

There is great evidence to show that the resurrection actually took place. First, the resurrection story is early. 1 Corinthians 15 is an early creedal passage that goes back to the resurrection itself. Second, there are multiple independent attestations of the resurrection. Third, non-Christian sources support the resurrection story. Fourth, women are mentioned as discovers of the empty tomb and the first to see the resurrected Jesus. If a woman's testimony was considered invalid in the first century, then why would all the gospel writers mention this? The mentioning of the women as the discoverers of the empty tomb and the first to see Jesus points to the truthfulness of the resurrection story. Fifth, Christianity was birthed in Jerusalem, which is the central location of Judaism. If Christianity is an invented religion then why would anyone want to claim that Jesus was the resurrected Messiah of Judaism in the hostile environment of Jerusalem? Sixth, the changed lives of those who encountered the resurrected Jesus counts as evidence for the resurrection.

What if the universe had no beginning, happened by accident, and exists without a moral law? What if Jesus is not the exclusive way, because he did not rise from the dead? If all these "What Ifs" are true then life has no ultimate purpose, meaning, or hope - we are simply one big directionless accident.

What if, however, the universe began to exist? If it did - the universe had a cause, and a cause means there must be a Causer. What if the universe was designed? If the universe was designed, then a Designer exists. What if the universe has a moral law? If a moral law exists, a moral Law-Giver exists? What if Jesus is the only way? If Jesus is the only way, then all other religious beliefs, including atheism are false. What if Jesus rose from the dead? If Jesus rose from the dead, then he and he alone offers the only true purpose, meaning, and hope that can be obtained in one's lifetime.

The important "What If" questions of life are framed by the law of the excluded middle. These questions are in the form of an either - or question. The direction that one chooses can make all the difference in the world. When considering the "What If" question, evidence overwhelmingly tips in the favor of the Christian worldview. As Pascal proposed so many years ago, the "What If" question is one that cannot be avoided if Christianity is the one true worldview.

[1] Dawkins, Richard, The Blind Watchmaker, p. 1
[2] Heeren, F., Show Me God, p. 200
[3] Ruse, Michael, Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics, p. 262-269


Samuel said...

"Many recognize that a moral law does seem to exist. There are some things that we intuitively know are right and wrong or good and evil. For example, torturing the innocent for sport and the raping and murder of small children can easily be seen as immoral. Where does this sense of morality come from? It seems a moral law exists, and this would necessitate a moral Law-Giver or God."

Assuming this moral law exists, how do you get from there to Yahweh? If the murder of small children is immoral according to an objective moral law, and Yahweh commands the murder or small children.... does it not follow that Yahweh makes an immoral command/action whenever he commands the Isrealites to murder small children or does so Himself?

Shelby Cade said...

Hey Samuel,

Thanks for the comment. You make two points. First, if a moral law exists, then it certainly is not an accidental happening, therefore it is more likely to believe there is a Moral Law Giver or God. The blog was somewhat of an cumulative case for the existence of God.

Your second point is totally off topic, but you seem OK with accepting the existence of God, though your view of him seems very uninformed.

Samuel said...

I didn't make any points. I simply asked two questions.

Shelby Cade said...

Hi Samuel,

Finally have time to address your question, though I believe you will not understand or be open to my answers.

First, The blog was written to show that it is more likely to believe in God than not to. By your recognition of what you say is an "immoral command" by God, aren't you admitting there is a moral law out there? Secondly, anytime you recognize evil/good, you are essentially admitting the point I was making in the blog. A moral law requires a moral law-giver or God.

Now to your question(s). No where does the OT or NT have God commanding the murder of the innocent. That is one point you totally and completely missed. Now, I know you don't believe in God, but if God exists, and he is holy and cannot put up with constant rebellion, then he is justified in commanding the taking of life. Ultimately, all people are guilty (Rom. 3:23, 6:23) and deserve to be separated from the presence of God. This is sin, which I'm sure is a concept that is foreign to you. So, God is justified in the taking of life, since he is the giver of life. Besides the Canaanites were a very brutal and rebellious culture, who had ample time given to them to repent, which they did not. This is God's grace. Today, people are afforded that same grace and opportunity to turn to God by the gift of His Son Jesus.

So, in short to answer your question, God is completely justified in taking life as the author of life, and because no person is innocent in His sight. I for one and thankful for Jesus and His sacrifice. I know this might not make sense to you, but my prayer is that you try Christianity out to see if you can find that it does not fit the evidence for truth. Ultimately, I think, the honest person wants to align his/her life with the truth. I will give you the last word if you care to respond.