Why should I believe in God?


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

My main reason for following the laws of the Bible is to give us a rational basis for giving human life the value it deserves, but I still struggle with having a rational warrant for believing in God. I did post a link to Joseph Hinman’s interview with Randal Rauser, but I have recently discovered this negative review:

So why should I believe in God?


(Dominik Kowalski) #2

So first of all I have no idea who Joe Hinman is and but is a terrible idea to look for supporting evidence for God in science, which only focuses on the material, (mostly) repetitive aspects of the world. I´m not a fan of this kind of apologetic. However that doesn´t mean that we can´t trace back to God through logic or here: Natural theology. It´s quite the opposite I´d say: Aristotle settled the debate 2300 years ago. Very simple and short:

If something has the potentiality to change it needs something already actualized to actualize that potential, so that change can occure. This can be traced back to a being that has no potential but is actual by nature. It has the divine attributes like immateriality, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, perfect. Note that this is not a temporal argument, but a hierarchical one. It argues for God to sustain the world at any time and doesn´t require a temporal beginning.

Of course this was just the core of the argument. I got this from Ed Fesers “Five proofs for the existence of God” (Jesus, I feel like I´m becoming his unpaid advertiser in this forum) and it is one of the best philosophy book I´ve read. Aquinas in his Summae theologicae relied heavily on Aristotles arguments and linked the Aristotlelian God with the Christian God from the bible, but I didn´t read it yet, so it shouldn´t be a part of my argument. But to answer your question why should you believe in God: Through rationality we can know that he exists.
Just to show you that the arguments are still powerful and have meaning today: Aristotle was the reason Antony Flew became a Deist. The fact that his arguments and natural theology are barely mentioned in todays philosophy teached in the academia is a testimony to the intellectual desert it has become.

So that´s just me, and I know, since the gist of the question has been asked by you for several times, that others have given their answers. The question that remains is: Why are YOU jumping around on this topic like a bouncy ball?


(Mitchell W McKain) #3

Maybe you shouldn’t.

It is not a given that you should believe in God. Besides the very valid reasons for skepticism, even if God does exist, as I believe He does, it doesn’t follow that a belief in God would be in your best interest. I will grant that few theists will say such a thing, but I don’t think they are thinking things through clearly. They simply assume (rather naively frankly) that seeing the world as they do is best for everyone. But if they really believed in a God who cares anything about us, they would know this simply doesn’t make any sense. It is not credible that God as understood by theism and Christianity could not convince us of His own existence, therefore it is only reasonable to conclude that making people believe in Him isn’t His highest priority. If you really trust in God then you trust His judgement about this.


(Tom Larkin) #4

Francis Collins gave the keynote at this year’s ASA conference discussing scientific rationale for God. This is a dangerous slope as if someone presents scientific evidence, and scientific theories along with the data behind them changes over time (they always do), then does this mean there is no rationale for God? I thought Dr. Collins gave an interesting and enlightening presentation.

The question you posed is “why should I believe in God?” This is very similar to the question “should I get married?” Both are about entering into a relationship where if you think “won’t my spouse be so lucky to be married to me”, either relationship will fall apart quickly. If you come to the relationship realizing you don’t have much to offer and do the best you can, the relationship has a chance to work.

The first important point is that God in no way need you to enter into the relationship with him. He does not need your donations, He does not need to get His numbers up before He OK’s the rapture to take place. His will will proceed according to His plan whether you believe or not.

What God offers is a life free of guilt and fear, an opportunity to love and support our fellow men and women, to better understand how to be happy and fulfilled according to His Word and reap the benefits of a relationship with Him. You will know what is important in this life, what is not important and why are we here. Eternal life worshiping Him also comes with the package.

The greatest obstacles to entering into a relationship with God (also with a spouse) are pride, selfishness and love of sin. (Pride should be mentioned twice per Psalm 78:17-19).

The choice is yours, you can take it or leave it.


(Mitchell W McKain) #5

My like is particularly in response to this part. I think there are similar sorts of attitudes which will make a relationship with God go south rather badly. And we know from studies/examples of psychopathology that ideas of God can get very twisted indeed. Though I do not mean to imply that atheists are in any way similar to such extremes.

I think responsibility is at least one of the decisive issues. Does it seem to you that a belief in God makes you feel more or less responsible in your life? Guilt and self image might be another important issue. Does the belief in God make guilt and negative self-image debilitating for you? You cannot always dispense with such things rationally, as if explaining God correctly will necessarily make such feelings go the way you think they should.


(Tom Larkin) #6

The same is true of marriage.

In one sense, I don’t believe we (I) truly understand how reprehensible our (my) sin is to God. Sin is horrific as the price paid for sin was horrific (reference the movie “The Passion of the Christ”). That being said, the price has been paid for our sin. 1John1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John is everything you need to know in only 5 chapters).

If the God who spoke the universe into existence can forgive our sins, why should we wallow in guilt? Jesus offers us freedom from guilt.

Paul says many times in his writings that we should not continue in sin even though we know that we will be forgiven. Sins separates us from God’s spiritual blessings. Are you having trouble knowing God’s will for your life? Do you not feel like you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you? Eliminate sin in your life, read and understand his Word and pray and it will be granted. (Even more benefits of the relationship)

Jesus did “If you love Me, keep my commandments”. We do what we do out of love for Him, not out of obligation in the same manner as you do things for your spouse.

Jesus commands us to not only love our brothers and sisters, but also our enemies. If someone asks for our shirt, give him your coat as well.

So yes, belief in Jesus Christ makes us more responsible to our brothers and sisters as well as more responsible for our behavior, but without the guilt.


(Mitchell W McKain) #7

Right! But atheists typically have the opposite answer to this question. For them a belief in God makes them feel less responsible and they often imagine that people believe in God as an escape from responsibility. And that is why the problem of evil suffering argument makes sense to them. They think that if God exists then He would be responsible for these things to the point that it would be inconsistent with being good. The very fact that they think this argument is valid suggests that they would blame God for the things that go wrong in their life and that makes me think it is probably better if they do not believe in God.


#8

I don’t think that belief in God is just about laws and morality. Its about what God is revealed to be like, and what God is like is related to Jesus and the revelation of God as Trinitarian communion, and that fact that we are also to be beings who are to share in the divine communion. Law is part of revelation about what some of that communion means, but the New Testament and Christian theism has emphasis on love and not law.

Reasons for God based on arguments for theism just don’t go far enough because its often not Trinitarian. We need arguments that start with person of Jesus and what was witnessed about Him that changed people’s lives, and committed His disciples to proclaim who He was. Its quite staggering that a state executed religious teacher should be proclaimed as one raised from the dead and the focal point of all history and in all things to come.


(Mitchell W McKain) #9

You make a good point. Making this a debate about whether God exists or not is misleading – as if there were just these two sides of theism and atheism. In reality it is atheism and hundreds if not thousands of beliefs in very different things. And each of these believers is an atheist respect to all the versions they don’t believe in.

So perhaps the question shouldn’t be, “why should I believe in God?”
But rather, “what reasons can people give for their belief in the God they believe in?”


(Robin) #10

Reggie…you always have a good topic to throw our way…

If you think following the “laws of the Bible” is a good thing, that is great. But the laws are only “good” if they came from something or Someone. Otherwise, they are pointless. You say you struggle with having “a rational warrant for believing in God” but it would seem that you have one – if the laws attributed to Him give you a rational basis for the value of human life. Rational laws came into being through a rational agency…not by chance or caprice…


(Dominik Kowalski) #12

Did BioLogos become so popular, that people start fake accounts to spam adverts in the forum?


(Laura) #13

It happens once in a while… Discourse does have some hurdles in place but somehow a few seem to think it’s worth their time to try. Thanks for flagging it!


(Paul Allen) #14

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Well, according to Romans 1:19–20 God is clearly revealed in the created world. So everybody knows that God exists, and they know quite a bit about him as well (“his eternal power and divine nature,” verse 20). And it’s not only that they know some things about God; they know him (verse 21, “for although they knew God …”).

So their knowledge of God is not only a knowledge of facts; it is knowledge of a person, as friends know friends and enemies know enemies.

So evidently it is not hard to believe in God, regardless of what people say. Certainly it is not difficult from God’s side. God can and does make himself clearly seen.

So the problem of unbelief is not ignorance, but rebellion, suppression of the truth (Rom 1:18). People don’t need reasons for believing in God, for at some level of their consciousness they already believe in him.

Unbelief is persistent and deep, often highly skilled at finding arguments to repress the knowledge of God.

But people do sometimes turn from unbelief to belief in God. Essentially this is a supernatural event, an intervention by the Holy Spirit (John 6:44; Acts 13:48; 16:14; Eph 2:8–10). But God is sometimes pleased to use human witness, and that witness, directed against unbelief, inevitably has argumentative force.

So although there is no human argument guaranteed to overcome unbelief in every case, God does sometimes make use of some arguments in bringing about conversion.


(Randy) #15

I would respectfully request that you consider this comment by Randal Rauser, https://randalrauser.com/2011/01/for-since-the-creation-of-the-world-on-the-wickedness-of-atheism/ on the Romans passage above.

as well as the post by Austin Fischer on the Biologos Website just placed–that rather than doubt making us disbelieve in God, it’s the command not to doubt that prevents us from believing. https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/innocence-and-evolution-you-dont-have-to-choose-between-christian-faith-and-evolutionary-biology

I think we misunderstand Paul"s point. Rather, Randal Rauser and Austin Fischer point out that God values our questions and our doubts. It’s worthwhile asking. And there may be times we can’t believe, based on the evidence. If God is true, then He values the use of our minds. And if He is just, we don’t have to be afraid of expressing questions and even observing we can’t believe with the available evidence.

I am a Christian; and I do think that the very fact that God is truth, and just, and is happy (as my own earthly parents were, when I doubted most) to listen to my doubts and accept them with love, is the best reason I want to believe in Him. Without the evidence of a God like that, I would have a hard time wanting to find Him!. I woudl be interested in your thoughts. It’s hard for us feel comfortable with questions like these. This is a good discourse to converse regarding these questions. Thanks.


(Phil) #16

Good discussion. Just curious, Paul, as to where that beautiful picture was taken?


(Mitchell W McKain) #17

I like that passage in Romans chapter 1 because my take-away is very different. My focus is on how it says the natural world is a source of knowledge about God. But it should be clear from my comments in the past that this use of the passage to attack atheists is not something I would support. I would point to the ambiguity in the use of a clause. Take the following sentence…

All children, who are naughty, ought to be punished.

Is this saying that all children are naughty and should therefore be punished, or is it saying that only naughty children should be punished. Romans 1:18-32 has the same sentence structure and this is what Randal Rauser is pointing to when he asks if the passage is talking about all non-believers or particular ones.

But there are greater flaws in the Paul Allen’s use of this passage than even that, because it doesn’t actually say atheists or non-believers and I would refute that the term “godlessness” is even referring to atheism or non-belief (for which I think Paul uses the word “Gentiles”). I would ask people to consider James 2:19 where it says even demons believe, and suggest that belief isn’t the crucial determiner of whether someone is godless. What it important is not what they believe but how they behave and frankly that seems to be the clear assumption of this passage in Romans chapter 1 also (underlined when you continue reading in chapter 2).

The passage in Romans chapter one reminds me of the conclusion of the book of Job, where in response to Job’s challenge, God points to the natural world and basically asks Job if he could do all of that? And thus I would suggest that Romans chapter one is not talking about atheists and non-believers but about those who truly are in rebellion against God and what is evident in the natural world is not God’s existence but rather somewhat like Job, the foolishness of rebellion. But most atheists wouldn’t see this applying them because rebellion against God has nothing to do with being an atheist in their case. Standing up to the tyranny of the intolerant religious is certainly NOT the same as rebelling against God!!!


(Paul Allen) #18

Thank you for the reference and I do agree with Randal - most city western atheists don’t worship the replacement of God reptiles - some cultures still do directly but indirectly idol worship takes many forms today.

Rebellion in Romans 1 is but one result of original sin - which has been debated on this forum with some very interesting views expressed. Thank you for your personal story


(Paul Allen) #19

God has clearly revealed Himself in nature and Scripture. So why do some people claim there is not enough evidence to believe in Him? The book of Romans, explains that ignorance is no excuse for unbelief.

It is generally agreed that verse 17 gives the theme of Romans: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

The grand theme of the Book of Romans is the gospel—with particular attention paid to how the gospel answers our need to be made right before a just and holy God. Theologically speaking, this theme is what we call the doctrine of justification by faith.

After stating this foundational truth Paul abruptly shifts his focus to the dilemma that makes justification necessary in the first place. Paul announces that a new kind of righteousness is available to us and quickly moves on to speak of the revelation of the wrath of God (v. 18).

Theologians label the central idea of this section general revelation, the disclosure that God makes of himself generally. The revelation has a general audience—every person everywhere receives it.

Second, it has a general content—it does not reveal all knowledge that comes to us through Scripture.

General revelation does not disclose knowledge concerning such matters as the atoning death of Christ, the sacrificial system of ancient Israel, the final resurrection, and many other particulars of the Christian faith.
God plainly reveals himself, but people choose to stifle that truth. They knowingly exchange truth for a lie and move from proper knowledge of God into idolatry. By doing so they put out the light of knowledge God has so freely revealed.

Every human being in this world knows, and knows clearly, that there is a God. Many modern thinkers would disagree with that statement, but Paul’s phrase, “what may be known about God,” leaves no room for doubt or probability. He is emphatic: “what may be known of God is plain to them.” God’s revelation of himself is not obscure. It is clear.

It is not as if God hid difficult, esoteric clues in various corners and crannies of the universe so that only astute theologians or intellectual geniuses who ruthlessly pursue truth would ever be able to uncover them. God has clearly manifested himself to humankind, and through his creation has displayed his existence and his power.

In Romans 1:21 - “their thinking becomes futile”.

Futile and its noun form futility are two of the ugliest words in the English language. To think that, in the final analysis, all our efforts are judged to be worthless, or of no value, is a sad commentary on the human race. Yet Paul said that, because humanity refuses to honor and bow to God in gratitude, human thought, however brilliant, ends in futility.

Have you ever wondered why very educated people can examine questions regarding the existence of God and come down on opposite sides? St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, was one of the intellectual titans of Western civilization. He devoted himself to defending the truthfulness of the existence of God and through all of his intellectual exercises was absolutely convinced of the reality of God’s being.

Yet, such intellectual giants as David Hume, Friedrich Nietzche, or in our own day, Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existentialist, sit on the other side of the table and argue against the existence of God. From God’s perspective the work of these powerful thinkers is futile.

If Paul was correct and God has revealed himself clearly so that knowledge about him is not obscure nor difficult to obtain, why do those with such brilliance come to different positions?

Paul’s answer to this question is profound. He sees the failure to acknowledge God’s existence, not so much as a problem of the intellect, but rather as a moral problem—a problem of the will. Men and women who refuse to acknowledge God’s existence do so, in the final analysis, because it is contrary to their manner of living.


(Shawn T Murphy) #20

Dear Paul,
Since I see you refer to scripture about God revealing Himself. I want to ask you if you believe in His recent Revelations? Jesus promised to send the Comforter, Teachers and the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17 15:26 16:13) to continue teaching the Word, explaining everything to us and keeping His Word alive. 1 John 4 tells us how to recognize the Spirit of Truth. Do you believe that His revelations ended with the books of the Bible?
Best Wishes, Shawn


(Mitchell W McKain) #21

Because there is no objective evidence. The Bible is a book of beliefs and opinions not evidence. There are millions of books like this claiming the existence of millions of different things from UFOs to faeries. None of that establishes that any of these things actually exist. If you assume that God exists and created the universe then it is evident from what He created that God is great, powerful, and clever beyond any human being. But it is not evident at all that God exists or that the universe was created by such a God.

I believe God exists and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I believe that now. But if you had told me before I believed this, that I must believe in God because the Bible says so, I would have said that is the silliest thing I ever heard. I don’t believe because the Bible says so and I don’t believe because the existence of God is evident from looking at the world. And I frankly don’t think this is why anybody else came to believe these things either.

The Bible speaks of the Earth being a table with corners, so should we believe the Earth is shaped like a table? The evidence is clear that this is not the shape of the Earth. So shall we think that the Bible is mistaken or should we just realize that it wasn’t talking about the shape of the Earth?

Likewise the Bible talks of God commanding things to exist about 6000 years ago according to the genealogies, so should we believe the universe, the earth, and all the species of plants and animals are only 6000 years old, all created in only six days? The evidence is clear that the universe is 13.8 billion years old, the earth is 4.543 billion years old, and all the species of plants and animals evolved from common ancestors over the last 3.5 to 4 billion years. So shall we think that the Bible was mistaken or just realize that the Bible wasn’t talking about the methods and timing according to which God created the universe, the Earth, and all the living things?

Just like these first two examples, we can look at the epistle of Romans and face the fact that there is no objective evidence for the existence of God to be found by looking at the universe and the earth, and instead of thinking that Paul was simply mistaken that perhaps he wasn’t talking about atheists or about God’s existence but something else entirely. Me… I choose to open my eyes to see the world instead of just blindly parroting what someone has decided some book means. That way when I read a book like the Bible I can look beneath the superficial literal words and see the meaning of the parables instead of being like those whom Jesus criticized in Matthew 13:10-15 as closing their eyes, ears, and hearts so that Jesus cannot heal them.

No. That sentence is nowhere in this epistle. You are rewriting the text to suit yourself.

  1. The word ignorance is not there.
  2. It talks of wickedness and suppressing the truth, not unbelief.
  3. What it says is evident in nature is God’s power and deity not His existence.

So who is it that is really suppressing the truth here? I don’t think it is the scientists who are studying the universe with open eyes and examining every piece of evidence. I think it far more likely to be various religious sects who are simply using both “God” and the Bible as tools of power and manipulation. When the evidence doesn’t agree with what they are doing then they suppress it – and this goes for both the discoveries of science and the things in the Bible that do not agree with what they are doing.