SHOULD WE TRY TO PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD?
There have been many attempts over the centuries to prove the existence of God apart from faith. It is supposed that by using reason and evidence it is possible to prove the existence of God. It is believed by some that if God cannot be proven to the natural mind of man without the help of faith, then there must not be a God.
As you consider the fact that a belief in some form of deity is universal, whether in civilized or uncivilized communities, it seems the burden to disprove the existence of God would be greater than to prove Him. Nevertheless, there seems to be increasing boldness in our generation to openly deny, or at least question, the existence of God. Should those who are believers in the existence of God seek to prove to the unbeliever that He indeed does exist?
God has certainly not left us with a blank space that requires guessing on the part of man as to whether or not He exists. The testimony of His existence is really quite clear to those who have eyes to see. In fact, it seems that one of the reasons for placing into existence all that is so that reasonable beings in this existence might be aware that there is an eternal, sovereign, and glorious Being behind it all. As we turn to the source document in which God speaks for Himself, we find these words: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork (Ps. 19:1). And again in Romans 1:20, For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse… It seems that God is interested in declaring Himself by way of that which man may naturally see.
But the question still remains, should we try to prove the existence of God? The proof exists. The problem is not a lack of evidence. The problem is the interpretation of the evidence. It is not possible for man to look at the evidence around him and conclude of his own natural reasoning that the true and living God exists. Reason would tell us that there cannot, in truth, be many gods. Whoever is God is God alone! Only one is capable of being the Supreme One who possesses all power and knowledge and wisdom, who is perfect in His being, eternal in his existence. While all that we see around us points to something of a very intelligent and powerful existence, it does not tell us conclusively who this being is. For this we are dependent upon the record that God has given, namely, the Bible.
It is at this point that some will dismiss me, and I can understand why. For the true and living God can only be known by revelation, which requires the eye of faith to see and understand. While we might be successful through reasoning to create the possibility of a god, we will never convince the unbelieving mind conclusively that this god is the God of the Bible. For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1Cor. 1:21). God must reveal Himself. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:10,11). It is when God makes Himself known by His Spirit that man is able to make proper sense of that which he sees in nature and reads in the Bible. There is no conflict between faith and reason. The problem is with man’s ability to reason and interpret what he sees.
We can look further at the problem of man from Romans chapter 1. From this passage it will become even more clear why it is futile to attempt to prove the existence of God to an unbeliever. The knowledge of God’s existence is planted into the consciousness of every man. Romans 1:19 says, Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. Paul is not saying that all that is possible to be known about God is made known to man’s mind. He is saying that there is sufficient manifestation in man for man to not be ignorant of God. Man is without excuse when he denies the existence of God. Romans 2:15, speaks of God’s law written in the hearts of Gentiles. The Jews had the oracles of God. God’s law was written to them and for them. Gentiles did not have this record, yet they had sufficient writing of God within them, as His creatures, made in His image, that their conscience bore witness of right and wrong. There is an inward witness in every man to the reality of God’s existence. Man is without excuse!
The problem is not with the lack of clarity of God’s witness to His existence (1:20), but with the mind of the observer (man). The fact is, man knows God exists (1:21)! Those who deny the existence of God, either intellectually or practically (i.e., live as if God doesn’t exist), do so against their conscience and the evidence. There is a darkness that comes over their thinking that rules God out. They do not accept the evidence that is clearly before them. The unbelieving person does not see the glory of God and are not thankful to Him in light of all that He has made. They see beauty and glory, but it is not His and does not lead them to exalt Him. Their minds are not lifted to extol the eternal power and Godhead that lies behind the marvelous creation all around them. At the least we can say they simply ignore the conclusions that ought to be obvious from the evidence that surrounds them.
There is a progression that often takes place in such an one who ignores the evidence of God’s creation. As Paul continues to describe the God denier he identifies them as ones that pride themselves in their intellect. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools (vs. 22). These are individuals who do not like what they see and therefore try to change the glory of God into that which is more manageable. These are those who worship and serve the creature more than the Creator (vs. 25). These will explain what they see in any way possible to avoid the conclusion there is a God who made it all. They want to reduce the eternal power and Godhead to a finite, explainable phenomenon. The thought of someone being God that doesn’t fit their imagination incenses them. So, they create their own explanations which they say fit the evidence before them, rejecting the true and living God of the Bible.
Those whose reasonings have lifted them above God, or to the exclusion of God, and have placed themselves into the arbiter’s chair to declare the non-existence of God, are functioning with darkened hearts, vain imaginations and are fools. They are not fools in the sense that they are academically ignorant or unable to reason. But fools in the sense that they are not dealing properly with the evidence before them and are discounting the very One before Whom they will one day stand in judgment (vs. 32).
Denying God doesn’t get rid of Him! But it does lead to Him letting such individuals go to exercise themselves in the most unnatural of behavior (vs. 24,26,27). Those who do not like to hold the existence of God in their minds are given over by Him to do many things that are very contrary to what is reasonable as human beings (vs. 28). The denial of God, both intellectually and practically, lies behind the great moral failures of any generation.
Thankfully, there are those who experience the power of God through faith in Jesus Christ (vs. 16). This power of God opens the previously blind eyes and rebellious heart to see and worship the true and living God. These believers are those who come to see that God is the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). These do not believe and worship because God has been proven to them, but because they have seen His glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
God will never be worshipped as He ought by those who have simply sought to figure Him out by natural reasoning. He will be worshipped in truth by those who have been given faith to believe all that He says about Himself, and are able to see His glory in all that is created. The Apostle Paul once stood before men of great intellect. They held to a concept of many gods. Spotting an icon that had the inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD , Paul began to declare that God to these intellectuals. He didn’t seek to prove Him. He simply declared Him. You can read about it in Acts 17:22-31. Some said they wanted to hear more and discuss the matter further. Some simply believed. Those who believe are those who experience the power of God in their lives. These are those who take God at His word. The record that God has given of Himself and of His Son is believable to those who have been given the faith of Jesus Christ. This faith then becomes sufficient evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).
We have not been given the mandate to prove the existence of God to the unbelieving world. God has given sufficient evidence for all who have eyes to see. If the unbeliever will not believe the evidence God has placed before him, what will further reasoning accomplish? Our responsibility is to declare the truth and then trust the Spirit of God to give light so that the one’s to whom we speak may see and believe, and then experience the same power of God in the gospel that every believing sinner has experienced.
The evidence of God is all around us. But He can only truly be known as He reveals Himself to us by His Spirit in His Son, through the Bible. It is in the face of Jesus Christ that the believer sees the glory of God. So, we assume the existence of God when we preach His glorious gospel. Some will mock. Some will desire to hear more. Some will believe.
Kyle White, Pastor