It is impossible to prove absolutely the existence of God. If such proof were available there would be no atheists, because God could be shown to be a demonstrable fact in the same way, for example, that science can establish that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, or that the earth orbits the Sun
But although we have no absolute proof, we do have evidence for His existence. Evidence differs from proof in that from evidence a reasonable deduction can be made on the basis of the information given. Let me use a simple example to explain what I mean.
You unlock a gate to go into an enclosed orchard, and find an apple on the ground beneath an apple tree. Unless you saw it fall there is no actual proof that the apple came from the tree under which it lies. But on investigation you find several lines of evidence that indicate that it had in fact fallen from the branches of that particular tree. You look at the other trees in the vicinity and find that not one of them is an apple tree. You look at the fallen apple and find that it is the identical variety to those still hanging on the branches above it. In addition you notice that the apple on the ground and those on the tree are all equally ripe, and some are ready to drop at the slightest touch. Picking up the fallen apple you find that it has a single bruise consistent with its having dropped from some height, but otherwise is unmarked. Finally you recall that as the orchard had been locked, you are the first person to have visited it for several days.
Though, I repeat, you have no proof, there is little doubt that the evidence will compel you to accept that the apple fell from the tree above it, and did not come from somewhere else.
We can apply the same principle to reasoning about the existence of God. We have no proof, but there is plenty of evidence for His reality-evidence that is very wide ranging. Some of this evidence is to be found in the design apparent in natural things, ranging from the Universe with all its vastness, complexity and precision, to the amazing minute structure and function of the substances that make up living things. Both these extremes, let alone a fascinating world in between, offer evidence that they were produced by an intelligent designer rather than by the action of chance. Very strong evidence is also contained in the Bible itself, as I hope to show. By combining such evidence, belief can be built up into a personal conviction that God really does exist.
The evidence from nature, though extremely strong, is outside the scope of this book, and I will only mention one example. But as you continue reading these pages I hope that the strength of the Biblical evidence will impress itself upon you. We will see that the details of the beautiful plan for man's redemption, the fruition of which was described in the last chapter, were revealed over a period of about 1500 years by about 40 different writers. The fact that in these circumstances the Bible preserved and developed a theme is very strong evidence that control was imposed on those men of old by a higher power. We have also already considered one example of accurate prophecy-a gift not possessed by unaided people- and the Bible has many more. But I must leave a detailed look at such predictions for the next chapter when we will examine more closely the Bible's claims to be inspired by God. Demonstrate this inspiration and you demonstrate God's existence.
WHAT IS GOD LIKE?
We know only what He has chosen to tell us, and in this section we will examine what God says about Himself in the Bible. It is vital that we go only to this source for our information. There are a lot of views about God, held even in the Christian Church, which are little more than human speculation on the subject. Very many people build up their own picture of God, deciding what they think He ought to be like, and then when God does not conform to this self-drawn image lose faith in Him and even deny that He exists. For example, to see God only as a God of love presents great problems in the light of human suffering and catastrophe, and many have lost their faith as a result. As distinct from man's view of God we have in the Bible God's own account of Himself, and what He plans to do with the earth.
What then does the Bible tell us about God?
Not everything, of course, but it gives information suited to our needs and our limited understanding. The emphasis is not on God's physical shape or form, but on His attributes and character. Various facets of His qualities and accomplishments are portrayed and all must be combined if we are to get the right picture. But once we know this blend of characteristics we see a God that human beings can trust, indeed love.
GOD THE SUPREME SOVEREIGN
The first thing the Bible tells us about God is His absolute sovereignty. He admits no equal in His rule over heaven and earth:
am the Lord, and there is none else(Isaiah
there a God beside me? yea, there is no God: I know
not any(Isaiah 44:8).
therefore this day, and consider it in thy heart,
that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon
the earth beneath: there is none else(Deuteronomy
This view of the Almighty God was endorsed by Jesus himself. His prayer on one occasion was addressed to his Father as:
of heaven and earth(Matthew 11:25).
On other occasions he said to his listeners:
Father is greater than I(John 14:28).
Father .... is greater than all(John 10:29).
This is the unanimous testimony of the whole of the Scriptures.
God is there revealed as the ultimate power and authority
in the Universe: its King in every sense. There are
no exceptions to this: even Jesus implicitly recognised
that he was included among those over whom God exercised
The Son can do nothing
of himselfhe once said (John 5:19).
The effect on man of God's primacy is that any challenge to Him is unavailing:
man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall
the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast
thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over
the clay ...?(Romans 9:20-21).
Not only is God all-powerful but, as we will see shortly, His supremacy is accompanied by moral perfection that makes it impossible for Him to do anything wrong.
THE ETERNAL GOD
For us it is difficult to conceive of a situation where time effectively does not exist. The concept of a Being that has always existed and will always continue to do so without change or decay is almost impossible for finite minds to consider. But such limited understanding does not rule out the possibility.
To a gnat larva swimming in a pond the world must seem to consist only of water, mud, and the stones and water plants of its immediate environment. A substance called air would normally be completely outside its experience, let alone trees and animals. Yet after pupating it leaves the water and enters the hitherto unimagined environment where these things are commonplace, indeed are essential for its new existence.
Our experience of things outside our world is similarly limited, and it is unwise of us to pass judgment on what is possible or impossible beyond our restricted sphere of knowledge and observation. God's revelation of Himself states that there is no time when He did not exist, nor will He cease to exist:
the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst
formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting
to everlasting, thou art God(Psalm 90:2).
GOD THE WISE AND POWERFUL
Another attribute of God is inferred from the intricate design and balance in Nature and clearly taught in the Bible. God is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He knows and understands everything. He has devised the structure of all matter, and modern science has shown some of His infinite skill in design.
Have you ever thought about the immense variety among the things that make up the world? Every day we see such things as rocks and minerals, different metals, many varieties of liquids, animals and plants that grow and breed; not to speak of the things we can't see yet know are there, such as the various gases that are in the air we breathe. Certainly all these seem to have little in common: the heavy lump of iron and the soaring bird, or the appetising aroma of eggs and bacon and the planet Saturn.
(atomic structure diagram)
Viewing all this diversity who would think that the stuff in the visible Universe is composed of different arrangements of just three kinds of ultra-small particles? Yet scientists believe that this is the case, although it must be said that the exact nature of these particles is still the subject of much discussion and research.
If you were asked what are the very minute building blocks
of matter you would probably say
and in a general sense you would be right. There are
about 92 naturally occurring varieties of atoms and
they give rise to the substances we see around us. Iron
atoms all join up together to make a heavy iron bar,
carbon atoms do the same to form a diamond, and a particular
combination of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms forms
But the major difference between the various atoms is only in that they have different amounts of the three even smaller particles to which I have alluded: called by scientists protons, neutrons and electrons. Thus the gas hydrogen is hydrogen because it contains one proton and one electron. Oxygen is oxygen because it has different numbers of these same particles: 8 protons, 8 electrons and 8 neutrons. Iron-clearly a completely different material from the previous two-is formed from the same particles, but this time there are 26 each of protons, electrons and neutrons. So the diversity between the 92 kinds of atoms depends on the varying numbers of the three basic particles they possess.
These different atoms then join up in a specially ordered way to produce the infinite variety of the things around us. Who would think that this variety is caused by combinations of only three little particles? This is just one example of the wisdom and skill of the God of heaven. By means of science man can begin to understand such wonders, but how infinitely greater must be the One who planned and produced it all?
Such an insight into divine wisdom gives us confidence that the purpose of His work is equally good. An intellect that could design atoms must have done so for a reason that is also wise, logical and satisfying.
But wisdom of itself is not enough. There must be ability to carry out the intentions of the mind. So God is also revealed as a God of supreme power as well as wisdom; and when allusion is made to these particular attributes often both are mentioned together to reveal a God whose wise purposes will be achieved by reason of His supreme power:
him is wisdom and strength(Job 12:13).
Wisdom and might are his(Daniel 2:20).
Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom thou hast
made them all(Psalm 104:24).
THE SPIRIT OF GOD
The agency by which God performs His will is called in the Bible the 'spirit of God'. It is simply another term for God's power, and we are first introduced to it in the opening verses of Genesis. Referring to the original waters that covered the earth, we are told that:
Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters
In other parts of the Bible we learn that it was by means of the spirit or power of God that everything was created and is now kept in being:
his spirit he hath garnished the heavens(Job
sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and thou
renewest the face of the earth(Psalm 104:30).
Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the
Almighty hath given me life(Job 33:4).
By means of this spirit, which is everywhere present, God is aware of and controls everything in the Universe. David beautifully expressed this when he said in one of the Psalms:
shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee
from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou
art there:if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art
there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell
in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall
thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me
And God Himself reminded Jeremiah of the same fact:
any hide himself in secret places that I shall not
see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and
THE HOLY SPIRIT
If you have ever on a sunny day used a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a piece of paper, you will be readily able to use this as an analogy of the relationship between the spirit of God and the Holy Spirit. The sun's rays are focussed by the lens into a small spot of intense heat that is much more powerful than when the same energy was spread over a larger area. So the Holy Spirit of God can be regarded as the power of God concentrated on a particular objective. The Holy Spirit is used by God to perform so-called supernatural acts such as the miracles recorded in the Bible.
The most notable miracle was the conception of Jesus in the absence of a human father. This was specifically mentioned as a work of the Holy Spirit when the angel said to Mary:
Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of
the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also
that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall
be called the Son of God(Luke 1:35, 'Holy Ghost'
is a now almost obsolete term for the Holy Spirit).
Another important work of the Holy Spirit was the guidance of the writers of the Bible, and we will look at this in the next chapter.
Incidentally, there is nothing mysterious about the word 'Holy'. In the original languages in which the Bible was written it was an everyday word meaning 'to be separate' or 'set apart', and is always used this way in Scripture. The Holy Spirit therefore is the general spirit of God 'set apart' for His special purposes.
GOD THE CREATOR OF EARTH AND LIFE
To see one of the most obvious examples of God's wisdom and power at work we only have to look at the earth and the myriad forms of life that it sustains. He is:
" .... The living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that are therein(Acts 14:15).
This is not the place to counter the teaching and arguments of the protagonists of the theory of Evolution. I would refer you to recent books that have successfully met the scientists on their own ground and exposed the dubious evidence for the theory (e.g. N.J.Mitchell Evolution and the Emperor's New Clothes Roydon Publications; and R. Milton The Facts of Life, Corgi Books). But I would just like to make two observations: one to Christians and the other primarily to scientists.
CHRISTIANS AND EVOLUTION
To Christians I would say that your Leader, the one you claim to follow, believed in specific creation as recorded in the Old Testament. In answer to a query by the Pharisees Jesus said of the first human pair:
ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning,
made them male and female(Matthew 19:4).
Also, in explaining the principles of Christian redemption the New Testament writers treat the events described in the early chapters of Genesis as actual happenings. Thus, in a reference to Adam's fall, we read:
one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin
But this death can be removed by the work of Jesus:
as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners,
so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous
as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be
made alive(1 Corinthians 15:22).
Thus the clear teaching of the Bible is that sin entered the world at a specific time as a direct result of one man's offence. A Christian evolutionist must therefore have a different theology from that of Christ or the Apostle Paul.
THE ORIGIN OF LIFE
To scientists and to those who all too frequently follow them unquestioningly-I would say that some of your scientific fraternity have demonstrated the impossibility of a chance evolution of life on earth. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy at University College, Cardiff, describing his scientific upbringing said:
my earliest training as a scientist I was very strongly
brainwashed to believe that science cannot be consistent
with any kind of deliberate creation.
But this view was shattered when he and another astronomer,
Professor Sir Fred Hoyle independently calculated the
chances of life starting spontaneously. Both of them
found that the odds against life arising on earth from
non-living matter were 1040,000 (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe
Evolution From Space 1981.). Similar results
have been deduced by other scientists. To those not
used to this method of writing numbers I would explain
powerof a number indicates the
number of times it should be multiplied by itself. Thus
103 is 10 x 10 x 10 or 1000; 106 is 1,000,000; and 1050
is 1 with 50 noughts after it, as follows:
So 1040,000 is an inconceivably great number. It would require about 20 pages of this book to print out all the noughts! If you were quoted odds of 1000 to 1 against an event occurring (i.e.1 in 103) you would regard it as a remote chance. In common parlance a 'million to one chance' is something very unlikely indeed. Statisticians say that if there is less than 1 in 1050 chance of something happening it can be regarded as an impossibility.
What then of 1 in 1040,000? Prof. Wickramasinghe answers in a comment on his book quoted by the Daily Express of 14th August 1981:
life to have been a chemical accident on earth is
like looking for a particular grain of sand on all
the beaches in all the planets in the universe-and
Or in more staid terms:
probability of life originating at random on earth
is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd
And he, an atheistic Buddhist, concludes:
the moment I can't find any rational argument to knock
down the view which argues for a conversion to God
.... We used to have open minds: now we realise that
the only logical answer to life is creation.
The Bible has been saying this for over 3000 years:
thee is the fountain of life(Psalm 36:9).
A JUST GOD
From considering God's wisdom and power we turn to His moral qualities. Pre-eminent among these is His sense of rightness and fairness. God is as incapable of error in any moral issue as He is supreme in knowledge and power. Throughout Scripture truth, righteousness and justice are ascribed to Him:
God of truth and without iniquity, just and right
is he(Deuteronomy 32:4).
God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King
of saints(Revelation 15:3).
am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment,
and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things
I delight, saith the Lord(Jeremiah 9:24).
There is something deeply reassuring about this. The world is not under the control of a whimsical or capricious God, or worse still ruled by an evil or malevolent one. Here is a great contrast between the God of the Bible and the gods worshipped by the nations contemporary with the Bible writers. Those supposed deities were often malignant, unpredictable beings whose anger regularly burst forth against their fellow gods in imprecations, spells and warfare, and whose agents had similar designs on humans, causing them illness and suffering. As an authority on ancient Middle East civilisations has said:
ancient myths mostly appeared to teach that the life
of man was decided not by righteous gods bounded by
their own moral laws, but by the arbitrary interplay
of the uncertain tempers of the leaders of the pantheon
(H.W.F. Saggs Everyday Life in Babylonia and
It is worth reflecting that for all we knew, and for all the control we had over the event, we might have been born into an earth ruled by such monsters as these. How satisfying to know that the King of the universe is a God of righteousness, who simply cannot fail to act correctly. Incidentally, this lofty teaching about God is one of the strands of evidence for the truth of His revelation. Left to themselves the Bible writers would have described God in the terms used by their heathen contemporaries of 3-4000 years ago.
We should always remember God's righteousness in our attempts to understand the world about us. Sometimes it is difficult to see the reason for many of the problems and the catastrophes that the world experiences, but we should not pit our puny understanding against His infinite wisdom and goodness. As Paul exclaims:
there unrighteousness with God? God forbid(Romans
A GOD OF LOVE AND MERCY
Here the Bible rises far above any human concept of God. The alleged deities of the heathen nations of old were hard masters, cruel in their demands upon their deluded devotees, and reputedly ruling them with a ferocious, almost vindictive, sway. The worshippers demonstrated awe and respect, sometimes terror in the supposed presence of the god whose absolute slaves they were. The possibility of any affection existing between the worshipped and the worshipper was never even considered.
How different is the Bible's revelation! God is revealed as a Being that cares for mankind, even for those who do not acknowledge Him:
maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust
But the relationship can go further to become as that between father and children:
as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth
them that fear him(Psalm 103:13).
That pity causes Him to extend His mercy to their weakness and failings:
am the Lord thy God, .... showing mercy unto thousands
of them that love me(Exodus 20:2,6).
Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy(Numbers
But above all is God's love shown in the scheme for man's salvation and reunion with Him in the future:
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life(John 3:16).
A JUST GOD AND A SAVIOUR
In concluding our consideration of God's attributes there is one important point that arises from a consideration of His justice and His love. From a human standpoint these two appear to be in conflict. On the one hand God's unfailing justice demands that man's evil ways be punished. For Him to ignore human sin would be to negate the principles of His righteousness, supremacy and intolerance of evil. On the other hand His love desires to forgive mankind and to welcome him into His presence and fellowship. Humanly speaking, these apparently conflicting aspects of God, His love and His justice, cannot be reconciled; but the Heavenly Father has achieved this in a wonderful way by the work of His Son. As we will consider in Chapter 9, through Jesus He has been shown to be
A just God and a Saviour (Isaiah 45:21).