SUNDAY MORNING SERMON NOTES
Why I Believe There is a God
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Sunday, October 19, 2008 - 10:00 a.m.  Sermon #: 1214
Pastor Don Horban

Psalm 14:1 - “To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.”

The first verse of Psalm 14 says something more than is frequently noticed. The psalmist is not calling this man a fool for thinking there is no God in any evidence he can find. The psalmist calls this man a fool for telling himself there is no God when he really knows better - “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God....’”

In other words, the psalmist is critiquing self-deception. The atheist, at least in the first stages of disbelief, is only playing dumb. He’s only faking disbelief by inward rebellion. He is arguing with his own heart. We all do this in different areas. We pretend we don’t know what we really know deep down inside. It’s just that the atheist is doing this with the most important issue of life itself.

We know this is true, not only from psychological investigation, but from the clear teaching from Scripture. The Bible is absolutely clear that people do know the basic truth about the existence of God - all people:

Romans 1:18-20 - “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. [19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. [20] For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Notice the way Paul says this knowledge of God is “plain to them.” This is the argument the psalmist describes in the atheist’s own heart. There is something plain on the inside of the atheist that must be silenced if God is to be ignored. You can do this, but it’s not easy. At least at first, disbelief is not a natural condition when it comes to the human heart and God. Rebellion is natural, but not unbelief.

Atheism is like a body-builder’s physique. It can only be maintained through constant effort. And the apostle Paul tells us why this is so. He says God has constructed us and our world in such a way that He is manifested all around us and in us: Romans 1:20 - “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Again, read those words very carefully. Paul, exactly as the psalmist, is saying more than many people see at first glance. Paul is not criticizing disbelievers because they don’t know about God, but ought to. That’s not the point. He’s criticizing disbelievers because they do know about God, but pretend to themselves they don’t.

This is made very clear especially in verses 18-19 - “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. [19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”


This suppressed truth is never enough knowledge to save us. But it is enough knowledge to awaken and alert us to the reality of God and the need of Jesus Christ. Responding to this universal evidence can open the door for more grace to be manifested. While incomplete in itself, it can lead to more light. And it is enough knowledge to condemn us - to establish our guilt before the God we knew and rejected.

Let me quickly go through some of the basic arguments for the existence of God from the evidence of creation - both from our world, and from ourselves:

1) I BELIEVE GOD EXISTS BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE ALL AROUND ME

That word “material” is the money word. However one chooses to do it, you simply must have some explanation for why there is something instead of nothing. Matter is not eternal. Things have causes. No scientist alive has ever witnessed matter coming from non-matter. This is a material universe. How did it get here?

“Well, pastor Don, the universe came here because of the “Big Bang” billions and billions of years ago. So there is a cause for its existence.”

Supposing just for a minute that the Big Bang theory is true, there are still too many questions needing answers. What banged? I mean, let’s bring it all close to home just for a minute. None of us was around for the great cosmological big bang, but most of us have heard, at least occasionally, smaller bangs.

Imagine you heard, right while I’m preaching, a huge explosion. Most of you would immediately do the very same thing. You would look around. Your head would turn. Some might even get up, grab your children and leave the building. Then perhaps the fire department would come. They would investigate the different areas and zones of the building to make sure everything was safe.

Why would everybody react this way? Because we know bangs don’t just happen. Explosions have causes. In other words, what’s true of a little bang must be true of a big bang as well. There had to be something that “banged.” There had to be something that was before the bang - that caused the bang to happen.

And so the question remains: Where did that pre-existing cause of the big bang come from? This is what the secularist and the materialist have to explain. Never think for a moment that all the evolutionist has to demonstrate to make his case is the proposal of the construction of some long extinct creature from the discovery of the part of a broken tooth under a mountain in Tibet.

That’s not it at all. What the materialist has to explain is why there is something rather than nothing. This has never been explained and the greatest minds and most prolific authors expounding evolution - including Richard Dawkins - admit they have no explanation for the origin of either matter or life.

But there’s more. Let’s be gracious. Let’s just grant the existence of some form of matter. Let’s pretend our brains don’t even pause to ask where it “came from.” There’s still a problem. Because we don’t just live in a material world. We ourselves are a self-conscious part of that material world. We don’t just exist. We think. We’re self-aware creatures. And that presents a huge problem.

Consider these words from the book “There Is A God,” by the world’s most prolific, one time atheistic philosopher/author, Antony Flew - “In considering our immediate experience, let us perform a thought experiment. Think for a minute of a marble table in front of you. Do you think that, given a trillion years or infinite time, this table could suddenly or gradually become conscious, aware of its surroundings, aware of its identity the way you are?.....the atheist position is that, at some point in the history of the universe, the impossible and the inconceivable took place. Undifferentiated matter - here we include energy - at some point, became “alive,” then conscious, then conceptually proficient, then an ‘I.’ But returning to our table, we see why this is simply laughable. The table has none of the properties of being conscious and, given infinite time, it cannot ‘acquire’ such properties.”

So Christians aren’t the only ones claiming evolutionary theory has no explanation for matter, nor life - and especially self-conscious life.

2) I BELIEVE GOD EXISTS BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE WORLD ALL AROUND ME

Given that physical life exists, quite literally, on the knife edge of required conditions to sustain it, the odds of a chance world coming into existence that prohibited life are much greater than the odds of a chance world promoting life. Look at the rest of our own small solar system. Most of the planets could never even come close to sustaining life. There are simply millions of necessary conditions to make our existence on this earth possible.

Yet here we are. We live in world where life can exist and even flourish. We live in a world in which mathematical laws can be discovered and applied. We live in a world where teams of scientists (Christian and atheists alike) can work with observable “laws” and “equations,” and where repeatable, demonstratable conclusions are the foundations of research and study.

Yet the chances of this kind of world happening by pure, blind, random chance are extremely remote. True, that this all happened by chance is possible. But the fact is, in the situations of our daily living, we would never accept chance as an explanation for realities far less complex than the world around us.

For instance, imagine you wake up one sunny morning. You look out the window only to discover there is a new BMW in your driveway. It actually has your name on the licence plate. Naturally, you begin to ask around to find out how the car got there? Who gave it to you?

Now, it is, I suppose, in some very remote mathematical percentage, possible that the car just ended up in your driveway all by itself. Perhaps atoms and electrons just came together randomly. All the parts just landed in the right place. The molecules required for rubber formed tires. Those for glass formed windows. Those for metal formed the frame. And the engine came together with all the latest enhancements and advances - there’s a six speed automatic or manual transmission - it’s all turbo charged, etc.

But, while it may be technically possible in some remote sense for this to just happen, not many people would consider this the best explanation, nor the most likely. The finer the design of the effect, the greater the creativity and intelligence of the designer.

Or suppose one of these exploration vehicles landing on Mars sent back some incredible pictures that none of us could have expected. Suppose we saw a large biosphere - a large, plexiglass-like structure. And suppose, through ultra sensitive measuring instruments, we were able to determine that the temperature was maintained at 25 degrees centigrade. The humidity was kept at about 55%. Then suppose we saw modern buildings, and a mono-rail transportation system, with vehicles transporting cargo back and forth across the dome. And then there was a sprinkling system to produce growth for various plants and vegetation.

Would we draw the conclusion that all of this just happened by chance? Absolutely not. Of course, there would be no way from this distance to prove that it all hadn’t happened by chance. But who among us would consider the chance explanation the very best explanation?

One could, I suppose, speculate that, at some point long ago, there was a huge volcanic eruption on Mars. Molten glass and metal and material simply spewed into the air and, over time, formed this incredibly complex biosphere. It’s not absolutely impossible, but that scenario strikes most of us as highly unlikely.

In fact, physicist John Jefferson Davis, of Cambridge University, has pointed out that the chance of this kind of organized, life sustaining world just happening to form all on its own are about one in ten to the power of 60. Or, as he puts it, “....in layman’s terms this would be about comparable to firing a bullet at a one inch target on the far side of our visible universe, having the bullet travel the distance to the target 20 billion light years away, and hitting the dead center of the target.”

And all God’s people said, “Give me a lottery ticket!”

3) I BELIEVE GOD EXISTS BECAUSE WE FIND OURSELVES IN AN INESCAPABLY MORAL UNIVERSE

This too is something one would not expect if the material universe was a product of time and random chance. And it is, to my mind, one of the strongest arguments for the existence of a personal, moral Creator. In other words, the moral nature of the universe tells us more than the material nature of the universe. The material nature of the universe truly does point to a Creator/Designer. But the moral nature of the world in which we all participate tells me something about the nature of the God who made it and us.

Mankind is unique from the rest of creation in this one respect. He not only acts, he judges his actions. And he judges the actions of others. Every day, around the world, in multiplied billions of different situations, in every culture on earth, people make judgments - moral judgments.

We looked at this in last week’s teaching. We not only judge individuals, we judge whole cultures, ruling out culture itself as being the source of our moral sense. This is obvious when we remember that we frequently make moral judgements against the opinion of the majority. Martyrdom still exists in this world.

This is the story of the whole of human existence. We often wrestle with what we “ought” to do in given situations. The point isn’t that the right choice is always obvious. It isn’t. Nor is the point that we always do what we know we ought. We don’t. The important point is that we wrestle at all. We can’t seem to escape this sense of moral “oughtness.” We don’t invent it, or seek it out. On the contrary, as one would expect if we are created by a moral God, moral struggles seem to seek us out. It’s as though these moral realities were already present - waiting for us upon our arrival in this world.

Even when we make the wrong choice the sense that there was a moral judgment being made at some level is unavoidable. It’s what makes us think of some of our choices as “wrong.”

The other important point is that this sense of moral “oughtness” is incredibly strong. We all know what we mean whenever we say, “I ought to do so and so.” There is incredible power in that experience. Think about this carefully. When you say “I ought to do so and so....” you don’t just mean, “It seems to be to my advantage to do so and so.” Nor do we mean, “I think it simplest, or most convenient to do so and so.” We don’t even mean, “I prefer to do so and so.”

I know these things seem obvious, but we need to think deeply about them. Frequently what we know we ought to do is neither advantageous or pleasant, nor even preferable. But there seems to be a law - a moral magnet - an ethical imperative - churning deep inside our beings.

Where does this come from? It simply must be accounted for somehow. And we saw last week how we must rule out culture and evolution as adequate explanations. Yet it must be accounted for because it makes up such a huge and dominant part of what we are and where we came from. The Bible says it comes from being made in God’s image. We don’t just act. We measure and judge our actions, however faultily at times.

Actually, this last point brings us full circle to the text we looked at in the introduction of this message: Psalm 14:1 - “To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.”

Notice, these fools are committed to “abominable deeds.” And the existence of God and the existence of moral laws are so tightly woven together that, if you’re going to ignore morality, your only option is to try to explain God away as well.

That’s why this fool has to “play dumb” toward God. This is why he must argue with his own heart. He can’t afford to face the moral fingerprint of God in his own life. Unbelievers don’t just disbelieve. They reject.

Next week we’re going to continue this same subject by considering why these types of arguments we’re studying today, while they can promote deeper confidence in the Christian, will rarely turn the sinner to God. And we’ll also look at the proofs, not only for the existence of a God, or a supreme Being, but the God of the Scriptures and the Christian faith, who has spoken and revealed Himself finally in Jesus Christ.

But let me close with this. If all of this seems like poor material for Sunday morning teaching in God’s house, look back at our opening text for a clue to the contrary - Psalm 14:1 - “To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.”

David passes this subject about the existence of God on to the worship pastor. “Write a bunch of worship songs with this as your theme. I want to get this idea bubbling over in the heads of the worshipers as they kneed before God.”