Resources / What Is God Like

What Is God Like


 

by David Chong

Apologetics Seminar conducted by L. T. Jeyachandran of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministry

Introduction

Saint Francis once said, "By all means, preach the gospel. Use words, if necessary."

It's powerful reminder that our actions speak louder than words. However, our friends at the coffee table may ask "Why do you believe in God?"

A reasonable witness is often necessary. Otherwise, people may wonder, "Christians are very nice folks but how can they believe in such weird stuffs?"

Therefore L.T. Jeyachandran's lecture on "What is God like?" was helpful to show how we can present a faith that is worth thinking about.

According to the Bible, "God's invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

Just as we can know something about the Artist by looking at his paintings, we can find out something about God through His creation. However, philosophy and scientific theories could only bring us so far. Our humble arguments are not fool-proof. In order to encounter the Trinitarian God, we must rely on His own Self-disclosure to us.

The Being of God

"Why is there something rather than nothing?"

Everywhere we look, we find things that can exist or not exist. For example, I do not always exist. I'm finite since my existence depends on my parents. I can go out of existence in the future. It's possible for me not to be.

Therefore, we could understand Shakespeare's dilemma – "To be or not to be?" We are contingent beings, owing our existence to something else.

If everything is contingent, then nothing ever existed once upon a time. And nothing would have existed now.

But if something does exist now, then there must be Absolute Being that has always existed. The Absolute Being cannot not exist. Its Being is necessary or self-existent.

Jesus once said, "Before Abraham was, I am". Before contingent beings were, the Absolute Being must be. Contingents beings are, therefore the Absolute Being is.

To know that there is no absolute Being, the atheist must first possess absolute knowledge. If so, he would have claimed to be Absolute Being even while denying that there is an Absolute Being. It's self-defeating.

The Power of God

"Out of nothing, nothing comes."

Everything that begins to exist must have a cause. The law of causality, upon which science stands or falls, states that every effect must have a cause.

The Big Bang theory has posited that our universe exploded into existence from a singular point. It has a beginning. The Second Law of Thermodynamics shows that the universe will run out of useful energy. It has a not-so-happy ending.

The universe is finite and dependent. It's not eternal as Hinduism taught.

Therefore, the universe has a First Cause beyond space-time dimension. The Creator of such a vast universe must also be very powerful indeed.

"For a scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries." (Robert Jastrow, agnostic astronomer)

The Wisdom of God


The possibility of life coming out of "matter plus time plus chance" is so astronomical that it requires more faith to believe in evolution than in creation. Every cell in our body carries a complex, coded blueprint that fills volumes of encyclopedia.

After 150 years of collecting fossil records, the `missing links' between living and extinct species remain as what Darwin called "the most obvious and gravest objection" against his theory. Even evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould admitted that most species appear "fully formed" in the same way they disappear with limited,
directionless change.

In his book On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin explained that, "If it could be shown that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

With the discovery of DNA, scientists today can study how biochemical systems actually work in ways unknown to Darwin. For example, biological systems like the eye is "irreducibly complex" at the molecular level. If any of its biochemical components should change slightly, the entire system would fail to perform completely.

Astronomers have also found that the universe was fine-tuned "just right" to sustain life on earth. For such scientific reasons, Intelligent Design as a hypothesis is making a comeback in the scientific establishment. A universe with irreducibly complex life-forms points to a Super-Intelligent Designer.


The Morality of God

Humans have an incurable sense of right and wrong. Even atheists may consider it their moral responsibility to free minds from superstitions.

Animals could fight, but only humans could quarrel by appealing to moral standards that other humans were expected to know about. For example, "This is my ring, I saw it first!", "How'd you feel if others say that to you?" or "Come on, you promised"!

If morality is just our personal taste, why should others be obligated to obey it? If there is no moral law, what's the difference between keeping and breaking a promise?

If moral values are created by our society, what right has the International Court of Justice pass judgment on crimes committed in Bosnia or Rwanda, which may apply different moral values?

If there is no Moral Lawgiver, why are we repulsed by evolutionary, "survival-of-the-fittest" morality offered by Hitler to exterminate Jews and gypsies?

There is a universal sense of "oughtness" that governs all human beings. But none of us could live up to our own standards. There is good reason to believe that God is morally just and that we have cause to be uneasy.

 

Conclusions

No matter how convincing the evidences, we must be humble about shortcomings of such classical approach. For example, all facts are interpreted through differing worldviews.

Our fallen, moral condition could "suppress the truth in wickedness" (Romans 1:18). We may risk presenting God as a set of cold facts, instead of a relational Person who acts and feels. Ultimately, apologetics cannot ignore such reasons of the heart also.

 


Recommended Reading:

The four main points above are also known as the argument from being, cosmos (world), design and morality. You may find out more details from the following books.

1. Scaling the Secular City (J. P. Moreland)
2. Darwin's Black Box (Michael Behe – Design)
3. Reasonable Faith (William Lane Craig)
4. Mere Christianity (C. S. Lewis – Moral Argument)
5. Reasons to Believe (R.C. Sproul)