Following The Evidence

In Articles, Faith Journey, Spiritual Growth by Mark Clark

The Problem of the Existence of God

We have moral instincts, and the best explanation is that these exist because the One who designed us is righteous. We can look at the universe and the world around us and see that it is littered with evidence of design. The evidence itself is what forces us to rethink our presuppositions about the world. Our desire in life is to follow evidence, not run from it. So where is the evidence leading us when it comes to the nature of humankind and the universe itself? It’s leading us to the conclusion that there is a noncontingent, uncaused reality that created all things. Mind had to exist before matter, which is the opposite of what atheism teaches (matter led to mind and consciousness, it says) but on point with exactly what Jesus taught us about God: “God is spirit,” he said (John 4:24). This is part of the reason no one has to prove that someone “created God,” as is the challenge on the playground (“Then who created God?!”). We have no evidence that God ever began to exist. The best we can prove is that the universe began to exist.

If you don’t want to believe the evidence, the onus is on you for proving God’s nonexistence, which is not as easy as it seems. When we reject the existence of God, we create more problems than we solve — moral and philosophical problems, yes, but even scientific ones. A short time ago, I was studying in a Catholic monastery. I spent the morning in my room and then left for lunch. When I left my room, the window was closed and locked; when I came back, it was open. I had all the evidence in the world that someone had opened my window while I was out. But imagine you were with me, and you said, “I don’t believe your theory that someone opened the window. I don’t know why, I just don’t.” Is that enough? Where is your evidence and what is your argument? “I just don’t believe your evidence” is not an acceptable answer. To believe something, one must present counterevidence.

So what are our options if we don’t want to believe in God in the face of evidence to the contrary?

The first option is the “Lucky Us” hypothesis. It says, “Yes, admittedly, the chances were extremely low that our universe would ever come into existence, but lucky us, here we are! Just celebrate it!”

Proponents of this theory suggest ideas similar to a poker analogy. Imagine that you are dealt a poker hand that turns out to be a royal flush. Although it is highly unlikely and improbable statistically that you would be dealt that hand, you received it, so you celebrate. Lucky you! The problem with this analogy is that it does not compare apples to apples, because the statistics are not even close to comparable.

For the analogy to work and the situations to be comparable, you would have to be dealt that perfect royal flush every hand forever. But if that were to happen, nobody would chalk it up to chance circumstance to be celebrated. It would take three hands before someone else at the table would accuse you of cheating. Because everyone knows that chance isn’t a rational explanation at all. And that’s what we are all after, aren’t we? The most rational explanation.

A second option, extremely popular among skeptics, is what is called the “multiverse” theory: while it is highly improbable that our one universe would ever come into existence given the number of variables, the odds change if there are an infinite number of universes.

Dawkins says that the anthropic principle can be answered “by the suggestion… that there are many universes, co-existing like bubbles of foam, in a ‘multiverse.’” In other words, what if instead of not just one set of 122 dials, there are an infinite number of sets? The chances therefore increase that one of those sets would actually line up to give birth to our universe:
“Our time and space did indeed begin in our big bang, but this was just the latest in a long series of big bangs… If bang-expansion-contraction-crunch cycles have been going on forever like a cosmic accordion, we have a serial, rather than a parallel, version of the multiverse… of all the universes in the series, only a minority has their “dials” turned to biogenic conditions. And, of course, the present universe has to be one of that minority because we are in it.”

This is a creative solution to the question of the origin of the universe, but unconvincing for three reasons. First, the multiverse and big crunch theories do not hold up under philosophical scrutiny. In his lecture, “Darwin, Mind and Meaning,” Alvin Plantinga points out the bankruptcy of the multiverse logic saying that rejecting the anthropic principle based on the theory of a multiverse is tantamount to rejecting “the evidence for the earth’s being round by pointing out that there are possible worlds in which we have all the evidence we do have for the earth’s being round, but in fact, the earth is flat. Whatever the worth of this argument from design, [multiverse] really fails to address it.”

Second, modern science is pretty certain that there will never be a “big crunch” because of what it is learning about the universe. Ironically, Dawkins recognizes this very point: “As it turns out, this serial version of the multiverse must now be judged less likely than it once was, because recent evidence is starting to steer us away from the big crunch model. It now looks as though our own universe is destined to expand forever.”

Third, and most importantly, there is not one shred of evidence for either of these explanations — an infinite number of universes or a twenty-billion-year cycle. These belong to the realm of pure conjecture.

These are faith positions with no evidence at all. And thus, ironically, in the end, atheism asks us to believe in an infinite number of metaphysical realities, for which we have no evidence, while Christianity asks us to believe in one (God), for which we do actually have evidence. These are just a few of the reasons why more and more people, including myself, find it more rational to believe in the existence of God than not to.

About
Mark Clark
Mark Clark is a skeptic who became a Christian and then a pastor, all while exploring answers to the most difficult questions raised against Christianity. Mark grew up in an atheistic home, and after his father's death, began a skeptical search for truth through exploring science, philosophy, and history, asking the big questions of life, and eventually finding answers in Christianity. His book, The Problem of God responds to the top ten questions people raise against God, and Christianity, including, the Problem of God’s Existence.
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Mark Clark
Mark Clark is a skeptic who became a Christian and then a pastor, all while exploring answers to the most difficult questions raised against Christianity. Mark grew up in an atheistic home, and after his father's death, began a skeptical search for truth through exploring science, philosophy, and history, asking the big questions of life, and eventually finding answers in Christianity. His book, The Problem of God responds to the top ten questions people raise against God, and Christianity, including, the Problem of God’s Existence.