God’s Existence And Goodness

westcoast sunsetNearly four years ago apologist William Lane Craig debated the late atheist Christoper Hitchens at Biola University here in SoCal. Mr. Hitchens said at one point that even if God did exist, there is no evidence that He cares about His creation, that He isn’t indifferent to humanity.

It’s hard for me to entertain such thoughts because I believe the special revelation God gave, namely the Bible. Simply put, I find it to be consistent with what I see in the world. It fills in the gaps and makes sense of the confusing.

There is lots of evidence to support the claims of the Bible. While its veracity needs to be considered at some point, there are other, extra-Biblical indicators which point to the fact that God is good, that He cares, that He isn’t indifferent.

One is Beauty. A sunset, the glint of light captured in a drop of dew, a horse galloping across the plains, a gnarled tree atop a mountain crag, an icy-green lake at the bottom of a glacier, white-capped waves crashing onto a beach, and on and on and on.

But not only is Beauty in this world, apparently humans, and humans alone, have this appreciation of Beauty.

Then there is pleasure. The joy and pride a new father expresses as he holds his infant son for the first time. The taste of apple pie that floods the senses and reminds one of visits with Grandma, now long gone. The swelling music that pierces the heart simultaneously with longing and elation. Again, these emotional pleasures seem to be for Mankind alone.

How about love or hope or truth or courage or generosity? The very existence of these traits indicates a Creator who embodied them.

Another evidence that God cares is the existence of objective morality. Yes, this is an evidence of God’s existence but also of His goodness. An amoral first cause would not have the capacity to instill in Mankind that which it does not possess.

But, you might say, what about the evil? What about the atrocities Man commits against Man. Do these then indicate a cruel creator?

No. They indicate contradiction. Because there is hate in the world doesn’t mean there isn’t love. Because there is death in nature doesn’t mean there isn’t life.

So either God is a contradiction or there is another cause for the evil and cruelty around us.

To understand the contradiction, I think Special Revelation is necessary.

Cultures throughout time have feared God or gods because of the destructive power in nature they saw and couldn’t explain. Today, scientists explain this destructive power, so many people no longer fear God or gods. They dismiss the notion of the supernatural by way of solving the contradiction.

But of course that opens up another set of unanswered questions. Why don’t animals hate? Why do humans worship?

The “most evolved species” seems capable of both greater evil and greater good than any evolutionist ought to expect. And apart from God, there is no reasonable explanation.

But God is not indifferent, and He does care, so He didn’t leave Mankind in this quagmire of confusion. From the beginning of time on earth, He communicated with humans one way or another–first, person to person, then through messengers, including His Son. In addition, He provided spirit-breathed written revelation. And He gave the incredible gift of His Spirit’s presence in the life of every person who confesses with his mouth and believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord.

Finally, God shows He cares by His plan to restore our communion with Him through Jesus’s death and resurrection. He understood that the saving we need is the saving of our relationship with Him. Without Him we are undone.

So is He good? In truth He is the definition of the word.

The article is an edited version of “God Exists, But Is He Good?” posted April 10, 2009.

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7 Comments

  1. Becky, Excellent answers to the tag team of atheists who are visiting your posts this week. Without a basis for morality, a reason for life, and hope of eternity, atheists are a sad lot. They are blind to the transcendence and beauty of God. Their only hope is that God doesn’t exist. How many in their last breaths fear that He does.

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    • Bob, thanks for your comments and affirmation. I tend to think a number of Progressives and atheists–perhaps the majority–think there are no answers to the accusations they make against God. Perhaps if they learn that there are, they will realize at least, that they are not believing in a position that is irrefutable. Rather, they are choosing to believe what they believe, not because it’s the only possible answer, but because it’s the answer they want to believe.

      That’s essentially what Christopher Hitchens said in that debate–that he was glad he didn’t believe in God because he wouldn’t want there to be a God to rule him.

      Becky

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  2. I think atheists have good enough explanations for pleasure and emotion, in purely scientific terms. (Not that I think purely scientific terms are good enough to explain anything ultimately; I do not.) However, I think atheists are wrong to suppose that faith, joy, and hope are merely emotional. They often coincide with emotion, but maybe even more often, religious people mistake those virtues for the transient, felt emotions. Joy is not happiness, and hope does not require emotional longing.

    Faith, joy, and hope are related to creativity — seeing and finding meaning and order. When we make art of any kind, we create greater meaning than the sum of the components. However, we cannot create our own meaning, because we did not make ourselves. Therefore, any admission that there is any objective truth or meaning in life — such as claims that violence and genocide are really evil — necessitate the existence of a Creator who is goodness.

    I don’t really believe this because the Bible says so. I believe the Bible because I am a Christian, I think, or maybe I really believe the Bible because I was taught to believe it. But I know for absolute certain that I did not and cannot create my own meaning, and I also know that I can never crush the part of myself that longs to find ultimate meaning. That’s why I need to be a Christian.

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    • I was taught to believe the Bible, too, but there came a point in my life where I tested it, where I searched for “how do we know”? I was pleasantly surprised at all the answers I discovered. That my own personal experience verifies it, seals the deal. That I continue to meet people from all over the world, with different backgrounds, who also love God and love His Word, is icing on the cake!

      Interesting points about faith, hope, and joy, Bainespal. I had in mind what C. S. Lewis said in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy when he identified that acute longing that is beauty itself–joy and desire rolled into one. He said it so eloquently–when we realize we long for something other-worldly, we realize we most likely weren’t made for this world. Or something like that! 😆 The quote is one of those in the header at Spec Faith.

      Becky

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      • Thanks for hosting these discussions. I can’t say I enjoy this kind of discussion, but I feel drawn to participate in discussions like this anyways, and I think that is a wholesome thing to do.

        I also believe that there are is much historical, scientific, and archaeological evidence to support the Bible. I am somewhat interested in that kind of apologetics, but I don’t think that evidence is really the central issue. Like you say, it’s worldview, willfulness, what people want or need to believe.

        I haven’t read Surprised by Joy, but some of Lewis’s other books have framed and defined my understanding. Mere Christianity, mainly, and also Faith and Reason by Nells Ferre, a book that I had never heard about before finding it in my community college’s library.

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  3. I take it as a good sign when atheists/agnostics take notice of a Christian writer. Their protests and attacks seem to be proportionate to the writer’s grasp of the truth and her skill in telling it. May your protestors always be adamant!
    Rebecca L. Miller, apologist! If and when I “grow up”, I want to be like you!

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    • May your protestors always be adamant!

      Ha! Thanks, Len . . . I think. 😉

      Seriously, I appreciate your support and encouragement!

      Becky

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