DOES INTELLIGENT DESIGN POINT TO GOD?
There are many people who struggle with the idea of whether there is a God. I recognize that there are many who view belief in God as a delusion or superstition- not living in reality. Others state that belief in God is a crutch for the weak. And yet others are convinced belief in God is a non-intellectual thought pattern that has no way of being validated.
However, based on the evidence presented by scientists, there is strong evidence for intelligent design. I would now like to present a case that there is a God and that He interacts with the human race.
IS THERE A GOD?
I follow the reasoning of Dr. Don Bierle, a skeptic regarding the existence of God, as he explains in his book Surprised by Faith. He used the scrutiny and logic of his scientific background to test the foundation of faith. Dr. Bierle raised an important question; How would we know if an invisible, intangible God was not just a figment of our imagination? He believed that there was a testable strategy. If there were a real God, He would be visible and tangible, able to be seen, heard and touched on planet earth.
Dr. Bierle concluded with the assistance of writings from philosopher and theologian, Francis Schaeffer who argued that to solve the problem of purpose and meaning, God had to display two critical characteristics. 1. God had to be infinite and eternal. 2. God must be personal.
An eternal God by definition is complete and entirely perfect, lacking nothing. This God would operate outside of the finite. In fact, this God would be able to create the finite.
A personal God would be able to communicate, build relationships and is capable of love. Only a god who is “someone” rather than “something” could be seen, touched and understood.
Dr. Bierle observed that there are generally three lines of thinking regarding God, eastern thinking with Hinduism and Buddhism; western thinking with Greeks and Nordics; and the three exceptions Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Eastern thought emphasizes the infinite God with no personal connection. Western thought emphasizes a personal yet flawed God without the eternal attribute. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all emphasize an infinite and personal God. Judaism would say God revealed himself through Moses. Islam would say God revealed himself through Mohammed. Christianity would say God revealed himself through Jesus Christ. Christianity makes the unique claim that Jesus was God. This is a claim that can be objectively analyzed and studied.
Source: Bierle, D. (2003). Surprised by Faith. Chaska: FaithSearch International
FOUR FACTORS TO CONSIDER AS YOU EXPLORE FAITH IN GOD AND BIBLICAL AUTHORITY
In his book, Questioning Evangelism, Randy Newman introduces four factors that assist individuals in exploring the validity of a faith perspective in life and Biblical authority.
Factor #1– Plausibility- This principle poses the question, “Isn’t it reasonable to believe that a God who created us could, if He wanted to, communicate with us? And couldn’t He do so through inspired writings?”
You might say you are an agnostic or an atheist and don’t believe in a God.
Mr. Newman uses an illustration. He drew a circle labeling it All Knowledge, which represents all knowledge there is to know. He then asks us to put a mark the size of the knowledge that we possess. He then shades in the area not included in the mark of knowledge that we possess (which is 99% of the circle). Mr. Newman challenges us to consider that within the shaded area of knowledge we don’t know, there could be evidence of God’s existence. I find that to be a convincing argument.
Factor #2– Messiness– The Bible is messy. Newman stated, “At first glance it seems to be writings that would discourage acceptance.” The Bible is long, repetitious, and often confusing. The Bible seems to have a hodgepodge construction, miracles that are hard to believe, and controversy over many of its assertions. If it’s plausible that God is behind the Bible, why didn’t he make his point more clearly?
Could it be that the Bible’s messiness validates its claims of inspiration and sacredness? Is it possible that the complexity of the Bible matches our complexity as human beings? We are very complex beings: intellectual, emotional, volitional, social and physical. Maybe God inspired the Bible to suit our total being.
Newman quoted Brian McLaren with an enlightening view of the Bible, “If God wants the Bible to be a book that interests, and challenges people around the globe for their whole lives, that guides us into life’s deep mysteries, that trains us to see the world from diverse points of view and in so doing, stretches us to not be so limited by our own inherited point of view, then of course it can’t be like the phone book, a government code, or a high school biology textbook-easy reference, fully indexed, conveniently formatted for quick, easy use.
Nor can it be a one read book, after which we say, “The Bible? Oh yes, I read that years ago,” implying that we’ll never have to look at it or think about it again. If God wants the book to be an authentic medium of spiritual enlightenment and instruction, then how can it be a book that we feel we can fully grasp, have control over, take pride in our knowledge of, feel competent in regard to? Mustn’t it be an untamed book that humbles us, that entices us higher up and deeper in, that renders us children rather than experts, that will sooner master us than we will master it?”
Factor #3– Reality– When we think about all the books ever written, what one stands above all others and why? The Bible is the most read book of all time. Why? There are a number of factors that contribute to its popularity and its impact on people’s lives. Some of those factors are: archaeologically verified people & places; non-biblical historical verification; eyewitness accounts; the most extensive collection of manuscripts of any book of antiquity; internal evidence; external evidence and the personal testimonies of transformed lives of the readers.
Factor #4– Meeting our Deepest Need– Our lives are a story- a beginning (birth), a middle (our story) and end (death). Human beings like to know how we fit into a bigger story, the story that gives purpose and meaning to our existence. When we consider a Biblical worldview, we see that there is a story of the human race that runs through the Bible. The story starts with creation, then rebellion takes place which requires redemption and finally we become what we were intended to be- in consummation. Randy Newman gives us one way to think of the Bible’s story line.
THE BIBLE STORY LINE
“When everything began, there already existed an eternal God who created all that is. He created us -people -as the high point of his creation and fashioned us after Him. We were made to have an intimate relationship with this creative, communicative, loving, powerful, and sovereign God. Maintaining this intimacy was the most important thing for the first people – Adam and Eve. Today, it’s still the most important thing for us. Something within us cries out for this kind of intimacy.
It is unfortunate, however, that something within the first man and woman rebelled against this relationship. Just as we still do today, they sought to be their own bosses, thinking that, on their own, they can provide what was best. The results were disastrous -and eternal. God is eternal and created us as eternal beings, thus, the consequence of their rebellion was eternal– eternal separation from him and everything that is good and holy.
The recurring themes within the Bible’s stories reflect this created-for-God/rebelling against God tension. The lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the collective experience of the nation of Israel embody this tension. God’s choosing of Israel and His giving the law to them showed how a relationship between God and a group of people was supposed to be. It was to be a relationship characterized by holiness and graciousness on one side, obedience and worship on the other. The poetry of Psalms and other wisdom literature paints pictures of how it feels to be close to God (worship) and the results of turning away from Him (lamentation, concession, and alienation). The prophets and other dialectic parts of the Bible taught the Israelites ways to draw close to God and warned them of the consequences of not doing so.
Another theme intertwines with these stories -the scene of an Anointed One, a Person who would someday rectify the alienation and eliminate the tension. He was introduced in the Bible right after the first rebellion and was identified as a human being (Genesis 3: 15). As the best prophet ever, He would someday be our teacher (Deuteronomy 18:18).
Whenever this Anointed One was mentioned, an unusual language was employed that caused the reader to slow down. Like rumble strips on a highway slow you down as you approach a toll booth, messianic prophecies slowed readers down and made them wonder, Who will fulfill such things?
He was described as a King who will someday reign (2 Sam.7), a Servant who had been appointed and the One to whom the Bible says will someday suffer and die (Isa.53) and a Judge who will someday return (Zech. 12-14), and He was actually declared to be God Himself in human form (Isa. 9:6).
The dramatic high point of the Bible occurs when this Anointed One arrives- as a baby who is born precisely when, where, and how it was predicted. He taught the most amazing lessons ever proclaimed and pointed to Himself as the One in whom people could find their redemption. His death paid for sin, and His resurrection validated the completion of that payment. He was the One to whom the Bible had been pointing and the One for whom our restless hearts have been crying. His name is Jesus, a name meaning “salvation”.
The Bible ends with the consummation of the story- a picture of eternity when all of the redeemed people relate to their God with perfect intimacy. Fulfilling the very reason that they were created, they worship this God the way He deserves and without the hindrances of sin, sickness, sadness, and death. If we respond to this story in the way it says we should, we will experience an abundant, eternal life- in quality and quantity- united with our Creator-Redeemer God.”
Newman, R. (2004). Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did . Grand Rapids: Kregeel Publications.
IF THERE IS A GOD, WHY DOESN’T GOD STOP EVIL?
Sharon Dirckx shares thought about this question in a talk with the title of: If God exists, then why doesn’t He just stop evil.
We see the many terrible events in the world; plane crashes, car crashes, war, child abuse, kidnapping, cancer, suffering of those who don’t deserve it. And maybe the events are more personal to you: work pressure, stress, loneliness, grief, long-term illness, divorce, family breakdown or had your heart broken. We often ask the question “why”, when looking at suffering and evil. There is a mystery to this subject, yet, “just because we don’t have all the answers doesn’t mean we can’t say some things to make more sense of our messed-up world.”
WHY IS THERE EVIL?
Ms. Dirckx raises the question that when we ask “why, who are we asking the question of “why” to? If matter is all there is, there is no one to ask the question to. Then, you could honestly respond like Christopher Hitchens, an atheist who wrote God is Not Great. When asked if he ever thought, “Why me?” after being diagnosed with cancer, said, “You cannot avoid the question no matter how stoic you are. You must bat it away as an utterly silly one. Everybody’s got to go sometime.” If God does not exist, then there is no one to ask our “why” questions to. So, if there is no one to ask, why do so many people ask the question “why”.
IS THERE A PURPOSE FOR SUFFERING?
She concludes that the very asking of the question demonstrates that we believe that there is something wrong with the world and this is not the way things were meant to be. This leads us to another question, “How was it meant to be?” Apologist Ravi Zacharias states, “When we object to suffering, we invoke a moral law.” Suffering makes us aware that something is wrong and gives us a longing for something better. Right and wrong, good and evil are brought into better focus than at any other time.
WHERE DO GOOD & EVIL COME FROM?
Ms. Dirckx continues by asking the question; “Where do right and wrong, good and evil come from?” She gives illustrations of a popular belief that they come from within each person. Each person loves the freedom of being able to decide right and wrong for themselves. However, it becomes very evident that this is a problem, when an action one person thinks is good, ends up hurting us. Then, we want to invoke a higher moral standard. In fact, if everyone just decided to do what they thought was right for them in search of greater freedom, it would lead instead to moral anarchy and the breakdown of freedom.
She then points out that a Biblical or “a Christian perspective is that right and wrong, good and evil, originate in something or someone bigger than us. They are not internally derived – they are externally derived from outside of us.
She continues, “Good is defined by, who God is; a being who does not lie, who knows no darkness, no deceit, no malice, someone you can trust, a being who is the ultimate definition of good and who has imprinted these values onto the people that He has made.” Therefore, good is a fixed, unchanging standard, no matter what culture, background or time in which you live. Evil is anything contrary to who God is. And just as good is personified, evil is also personified in the person of Satan.
An atheist would say, the problem of suffering rules out the existence of God because if God existed, He would do something about it.
A Biblical worldview would say it is the very existence of God that helps us make most sense of that gut feeling that some things are absolutely wrong, and others are absolutely right. “The existence of God enables us in a world of shifting sands to call evil ‘evil’ and to say, this is wrong.”
IS GOD GOOD?
Ms. Dirckx reports another common question that is raised about God. The question is not about if he exists but challenges his goodness. How could a loving God allow all the suffering in the world? They think He is either not all powerful, unable to do anything about it, or not loving and randomly picks people to suffer. Some people even think He has favorites in which He chooses some people for a hard life and some an easy life or that He could do something about it but chooses not to. These views question the character of His morality. Is God good?
A God like that, is not a God that any person would want to follow.
She challenges her audience to think about; if they were to create a world that was the most loving and moral world, how would they do it?
Would you create water, without which life could not exist but there also is the potential for drowning?
Would you leave out bacteria to eliminate many diseases, but impede the digestion of every living creature?
How about the people? Would you create people with just low cognitive abilities or with high cognitive abilities which would allow them to create technology that could save lives but could also wipe out all of life?
Creating a perfect world is harder than it would appear to be on the surface.
LOVE GIVES FREEDOM
“The type of world God wanted to create is one in which love is right at the center, but for love to be genuinely expressed you have to have real freedom. Free choice has to allow the possibility of wrong choice.”
When God created his world, moral freedom was given to his creation which chose to say, “I don’t need you, I can do life on my own.” This created the disconnect in the relationship between Creator and creation. As a result, there is both a noble side to humans and a capacity for unspeakable evil.
When we ask why God doesn’t stop evil, it’s not only evil out in the world but also the evil in the human heart that needs to be addressed.
Ms. Dirckx questions if we should be placing the blame for all evil on God.
Should God be held responsible for a drunk driver who takes innocent life? Or the drunk driver?
Should God be held responsible for the abuse of an elderly person in a care home? Or the care staff?
Should God be held responsible for the kidnapping and sexual abuse of children? Or the kidnappers?
JESUS CONQUERS EVIL
The conclusion of Ms. Dirckx’s talk explains that the God who created his world also stepped into history in the person of Jesus Christ to mend the disconnect between Himself and humanity. Jesus fully identified with the suffering and brokenness of the humans on a very personal level. And He did something about it. He introduced the healing of the relationship with Him and the healing of the corrupted human heart. The greatest freedom we can experience is the freedom from the evil in our own hearts, when we accept the life that Jesus offers. The Christian faith says there will be a day when God will eliminate all evil. There is a bigger story and the final word is that good wins and evil loses. That is the hope that Jesus provides.
Next: Attributes of a Biblical Worldview.