The Good News

Discussion of the Best News in the World, the Gospel of Jesus, and related topics

What to say when someone asks for proof of God’s existence

david-robertsonDavid Robertson is Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and a regular contributor to Christian Today.

“There isn’t enough evidence.”

It seems so reasonable. It’s what any sensible person would ask. Where is the evidence? Why should it be so difficult to believe in Christ?

Hard core atheism, the belief that there is no God (anti-theism), is difficult to defend, so the new softer, friendlier atheism defines itself as “we would believe in God if there was enough evidence”. Most of the atheists you will meet are in reality agnostics (no-knowledge). It seems reasonable and humble to admit that we do not know. This softer position says I do not know because there is not sufficient information. I can’t prove there is no God and you can’t prove there is. Provide me with the information and of course I would believe. This position is best summed up by Bertrand Russell’s statement that if he met God and was asked why he did not believe he would declare, “Because you did not provide enough evidence”.Perhaps apathy is the predominant thought here. Many of your friends do not lie on their beds at night pondering the meaning of life and suffering from existential angst. They are far more concerned about the game they just watched, the bills they have to pay, and their next visit to the doctor. Normal life for them does not involve God.

So just as in the film Jerry Maguire, when Cuba Gooding Jnr asks Tom Cruise to “show me the money”, so our atheist/agnostic friends make this seemingly innocuous demand: “show me the evidence”. Even today I came across an atheist writer in a local newspaper, proudly asserting that we should not have Christian schools because we should only teach children facts based on evidence and Christianity is not based upon evidence. So how do we respond to this? Let’s talk about pride and prejudice.

Pride. Behind this seemingly humble and reasonable request there is actually a vast amount of pride. The trouble is that the person making this claim assumes they are in the position of being able to judge the evidence. They assume they have the neutrality, intelligence and ability to assess whether there is a God or not. They have, in effect, positioned themselves as the judge of The Judge. “I will not believe in a God who does X, Y or Z”, is a common claim. So the first question I simply ask anyone who demands evidence, is why they think they have the capacity to judge any such evidence? You cannot see God without humility. It is only when we kneel at the cross, rather than flying over it at drone height, that we are able to see where love and mercy meet. That is why Bertrand Russell will not be standing on the Day of Judgement accusing God; he will be kneeling at the name of Jesus, astounded and ashamed that he was so blind.

Prejudice. Very often, the person who demands evidence has already made a pre-judgement that there can be no such evidence. It’s a bit like arguing with a conspiracy theorist. No matter what you say, it is automatically dismissed, because it is perceived as being part of the conspiracy! I have often found that if you answer a particular problem, or provide a particular piece of evidence, the person you are answering immediately turns to something else and just avoids the issue. In order to overcome this prejudice and to avoid wasting a vast amount of time arguing about such vital issues as whether Noah walked to Australia to get kangaroos, I would simply suggest the following: ask anyone who demands evidence, what evidence is it that they would accept for God? Honest atheists like Richard Dawkins admit that there is almost nothing that would convince them of God. If a giant finger was to write in the sky, “I exist”, they would find some alternative way of explaining it. Anything other than believing in an almighty personal Creator.

When the Big Bang was proven and it became clear that the universe did indeed have a beginning, as the Bible stated, some atheists were so desperate to avoid the obvious implications that they refused at first to accept it (and afterwards quickly ran off to place their faith in the unproven multiverse theory). Their philosophy is what I call ABGism (Anything But God). It is not so much that they believe there is no evidence for God, but they are emotionally driven by their desire that there should be no evidence for God.

I was blind but now I see. In reality the situation is even worse than that. When you ask people to believe and trust in God, it is like asking a blind person to admire the intricacies of the Mona Lisa. You are talking to dead stones and asking these stones to dance. You are calling out to those who are dead in sins and trespasses, to come to life. It’s enough to make any self-respecting evangelist, preacher, Christian give up in despair. Except for those who know their God and his Bible! Because the Bible itself tells us that the word of God will not return to him empty, and that the Holy Spirit takes the word and enables the blind to see and the dead to live. The word preached and lived in the Dunamis (power) of the Spirit is dynamite!

Does this mean that there is no room for evidence? Of course not! The Holy Spirit always uses means. He usually addresses the heart through the mind, not the other way round. Therefore we should patiently present all the evidence that he gives us with the prayerful desire that he will take this and work in the lives of those we deal with. For most people, coming to faith in Christ is not a Damascus road experience. It is not one gigantic leap up Mount Improbable, but rather an evolving faith over a period of time, with the Holy Spirit using a number of factors, including evidence, experience, the Bible, coincidence, friends, foes and family.

I often tell people that they should use the motto of The X-Files – ‘the truth is out there‘. An intelligent agnostic is someone who seeks that truth. A loving Christian is someone who seeks to present that truth. At the end of The Dawkins Letters I presented my 10 different reasons for believing that Christianity is true. The creation, the human mind and spirit, the moral law, beauty, religion, experience, history, the church, the Bible, and Jesus. Why not make your own list?

In today’s Christian world we are blessed with a significant number of books that intelligently, attractively and insightfully present the evidence for Jesus Christ. My recommended book this week is Josh McDowell’s New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. It’s lengthy, but it contains a wealth of information.

Christians who seek to present the good news of Jesus Christ will be prayerful, loving people who are saturated with the word of God and who know how to present it in the context of a culture which is deaf, dumb and blind to that word. If we do so, we will not just be presenting the evidence, we will be the evidence.

David Robertson is the moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and director of Solas CPC, Dundee.

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17 responses to “What to say when someone asks for proof of God’s existence

  1. danielwalldammit 06/21/2016 at 1:31 pm

    Your ad hominem-circumstantial is duly noted.

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    • papapound 06/21/2016 at 1:46 pm

      I don’t believe David nor I intended an attack in any way.

      Like

    • David K 06/30/2016 at 10:10 am

      After reading this blog, I came across another blog that referred to David Robertson, so I started reading a bit more of his blogs and the debates he has been in. I think the Ad Hominem comment is spot on. I didn’t see it so much in the article above but through his writings and debates.

      He reminds me of someone who used the handle “Midi” that I debated with for over a year on the internet. Midi would always accuse atheists of resorting to insults while systematically hurling insult after insult at me. I kept on topic because there was no reason for me to get into a war of insults. Eventually he accused me of insulting him and resorting to Ad Hominems. I asked him to point them out and then copied and pasted his insulting words back to him.

      I sometimes wonder if Midi was doing this to me in an attempt to get me angry, resulting in me calling names so Midi could say “See, Atheists always resort to name calling”

      Liked by 1 person

      • papapound 07/01/2016 at 6:38 pm

        David, sure…I don’t know Midi so I can’t even comment about Midi. Robinson seems pretty level headed to me but I am his flavor of course. Thanks for your interest. Have a wonderful day and life.

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  2. David K 06/21/2016 at 5:43 pm

    Ugh, it’s like some apologetic society send out a talking point memo, in the past month, I have seen this and similar arguments making it’s wordpress run.

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    • papapound 06/22/2016 at 7:40 pm

      No, there is no society, there is a church and will always be. This is a copy. I like David Robertson and his thoughts here. He is a good thinker.

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  3. David K 06/21/2016 at 5:58 pm

    First, there are many different religions who do not believe Christ/Jesus to be God or God’s son.

    Second, there are many atheistic religions/worldviews such as Buddhism that do not believe in the Abrahamic God.

    Third, why do Christians have such a difficult time with the definition of Atheist? and they try to spin the definition to suit their argument.

    Atheist comes from the ancient Greek word Atheos. It was used as a slang word to describe those who either had no belief in god or to those who had a belief in a god but not a specific god. Agnostic is a word coined by Thomas Henry Huxley.

    As an “Atheist” who studies world religions, I find articles like this insulting to ones intelligence. If there was proof of a god, they wouldn’t call it a belief, one would not claim faith in their belief. One can call burnt toast with an image of Jesus on it, evidence. Add up all that evidence and someone can BELIEVE it but it simply does not make it true.

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    • papapound 06/22/2016 at 7:38 pm

      On atheism, I don’t think David was trying to redefine or wrongly define it. Atheists are very different, just like Christians or members of a religion are different. Thus, his “some are this”, “some are that”.

      I might counter just a bit. In my world view faith and fact go together. There was a Jesus Christ and all that I take from history has to do with him–what he said/did and was recorded of him.

      Glad you are here. Have a great day.

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  4. nopew 06/22/2016 at 4:16 am

    I admire the intellect and gifts of Ravi Zacharias to answer these questions. My contact with neo-modern atheists has led me to believe that they often are not the intellectual giants they claim to be. I entered into a lengthy “discussion” with someone who claimed to be an atheist, but any point of fact and science I made was greeted, not with science or fact, but contempt and insult. So I just told my own story, and had to wean myself off of the debate, so-called. In the end we can only make some response, and when it hits a dead-end admit we have nothing new to add.
    Peace

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  5. papapound 06/23/2016 at 11:04 am

    I found some really good thoughts on David’s CT article and am posting them here:

    However this question of the OT genocidal God is one that I have really struggled with, until recently. And I have to thank Richard Dawkins for pushing me to wrestle with it even more. I knew when I read Dawkins that his description of God was a grotesque caricature, based upon ignorance and prejudice, but how could I answer the accusations for what is surely one of the ultimate defeater beliefs?

    Firstly I realised that this could only be a problem for Bible-believing Christians. For the consistent atheist it cannot be a problem; it just becomes an accusation. It was actually Dawkins who put me on to this when he was seeking to defend the writer HG Wells, a liberal social Darwinist, who had suggested that for the sake of humanity the Africans and the Chinese would have to be wiped out. Dawkins simply pointed out that we could not judge people from other ‘zeitgeist’ with the values of our own. And thus with one fell swoop he destroyed all his criticism of the portrayal of God by people from a vastly different zeitgeist. At various times human cultures have decided it is OK to kill infants, enslave adults, mass murder Jews and abort the handicapped. For the atheist each culture determines its own meanings and morals. Only if there is an absolute God can there be an absolute moral law which applies across all nations throughout all ages.

    For the consistent atheist there is ultimately nothing but chemicals, and chemicals don’t have morals. People being killed is really just a rearrangement of chemistry within the amoral universe. Morals and concepts of good and evil are just human social constructs. There is no absolute morality and therefore no one is in a position to judge whether what anyone else does is right or wrong. In other words, the atheist has no philosophical or logical basis on which to judge the God of the Old Testament, and so they have to resort to Christian ideology to do so – ultimately a self-defeating position.

    Which brings us on to the Christian position. There are of course those professing Christians for whom this is not a problem. They have their own personal ‘Jesus’ and they just know what their Jesus would or would not do. They don’t accept the whole Bible as the Word of God and so they chuck out anything that they don’t like, or that they think is not quite appropriate for today’s culture. Anything you don’t like in the Bible you can just remove and then claim Jesus/the Holy Spirit/scholarship told you to. No problem. No answer. But ultimately no Christ. As Augustine pointed out, if you believe in the Bible what you like, and leave out what you don’t like, it’s not the Bible you believe, but yourself.

    So how can I as a Bible-believing Christian be comfortable or live with my faith in a God who apparently commanded genocide? We have to be very careful how we answer this. Beware of shallow and superficial answers that do not seem to recognise the depths of the problem or the answer. I remember a young deacon who heard someone speaking on the destruction of the Amalekites and eventually turned away from the faith. The sermon lacked passion, compassion, logic and Christ. Far too often our answers come over as if they were the result of a computer generated logic machine, rather than something that involves the nature and justice of God, and the fate of our fellow human beings. If we in Milton’s words “seek to justify the ways of God to men”, we had better be sure that our answers are biblical and from the heart. This is very emotional and right on the edge of human understanding and comprehension.

    In my own struggles this is as far as I have reached. I apologise if this is not philosophical or evidenced enough for you, and if it does not provide all the answers you are looking for, but I hope it may help at least some.

    Firstly I start with the Old Testament picture of God. I live with the psalms. They are my spiritual lifeblood and they express every emotion I have. Immediately when I read Dawkins I thought of Psalm 86:15, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” or Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

    You will note that there is a common misunderstanding which is now deeply ingrained in the biblical illiteracy of Western culture. The God of the Old Testament is an ogre; the Jesus of the New is Love. Apart from the fact that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament and that he is the same yesterday, today and forever, what this meme fails to see is that the portrayal of God in the OT is primarily as a God of mercy. Watch this wonderful sermon jam that Solas produced with the inimitable Dick Lucas:

    For all of it: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/how.can.we.believe.in.the.god.of.the.old.testament/80194.htm

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bashir P 06/24/2016 at 7:29 am

    *Dear Director & Brothers & Sisters at The Good News,* Greetings to you in Jesus’ name! I would like to draw your kind attention to the following incident that happened last Monday’s afternoon time (20th June). Our dear Bro. Ajij & his wife Nasema both went to Sis. Khadija’s home in Rejinagar area nearly 40 KM away from their village to conduct home Church fellowship. They were having prayer fellowship along with few newly believers at Khadija’s home.

    In the mean time, approx. 300 people (men & women including Imam & Radical Muslim Leaders from local Mosque) entered at Khadija’s home and they disrupted the prayer meeting.They opposed them and The Gospel and asked them not to come again to his village. They threatened for their lives and wanted to beat them. Some people told to Ajij & Nasema that they will hang them, others told them they will peel their skin if they come to visit Khadija & Samad, even some people used vulgar words.

    The situation became very bad and danger for their lives. Therefore, Nasema went to the toilet and hided herself for few minutes and prayed to God for His strength & protection. Within a few minutes God opened the way to escape for them & dangerous situation. Few men from the crowd asked Ajij & Nasema to leave the village immediately as they thought that there would be more people and situation could be more danger for their lives and could go out of their controll. A man asked Nasema to handover her cell phone to him while she was trying to ring me. However, they both came back home safely by God’s help. I have talked to Khajija & Samad number of times after this incident happened with them. Samad was not there during the home Church fellowship. Khadija is in safe by His grace although several people threatened her if she continue to follow Jesus and arrange prayer meeting at her home. Please pray for this situation. Regards, Bashir

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