Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There is a reason for the season

This piece will be published on Saturday in the Salt Lake Tribune. It is in response to an article printed by Robert Hammer and can be found at By 8 p.m. MST, there were 300 comments on the Tribune's site, which apparently made the editorial leadership realize more on the topic was needed.

            In a Dec. 29 column, Robert Hammer claims that he is “99.9 repetend percent convinced that [God] does not exist.” While I won’t take any particular side with the Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims or any other religious group that acknowledges a Supreme Being,  just because it is impossible to empirically prove God’s existence does not mean faith in a Higher Being is a losing proposition.
As Norman Geisler and Frank Turek write in their aptly-titled I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist (Crossway, 2004): “It’s virtually impossible to know everything about a particular topic, and it’s certainly impossible when that topic is an infinite God. So there has to come a point where you realize you have enough information to come to a conclusion, even if unanswered questions remain” (p. 25).
I believe there are good reasons why God’s existence makes more sense than no God at all. For one, Hammer admits that he might be wrong “but I strongly doubt that, too.” By not being so skeptical of his own skepticism, perhaps this mindset deceives him.  
He also complains that, if he’s wrong, he will confidently question God in the end with, “O Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?” Yet how did the Almighty forsake him? Psalm 19 proclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” “General revelation” makes God’s existence abundantly clear.
Imagine if someone made a claim that a particular ballpoint pen had no designer. Do the insides of the pen—including the spring, the reservoir, and the clicker—just magically appear in exact order to form a functional instrument? Obviously, somebody designed each intricate piece. In the same way, the universe’s cosmological design screams for a Designer.
Another reason for the existence of God is time. Those who claim that time is infinite must consider the “Kalam Cosmological argument,” a complex tool constructed by Muslim philosophers in the Middle Ages. How, they asked, could we ever have arrived at “today” if time consists of an infinite past?
If the universe did begin 12 billion years ago from nothing, then how did “something” (the first cell) get created if “out of nothing, nothing comes”? And the idea that things progress rather than digress when left in their natural state defeats the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
I believe the very existence of moral values is one more dilemma for nontheists. After all, from where do morals come? Do they emanate from Mother Nature (the conscience)? What right does something lesser than I have to bind me absolutely?
Some would argue that others can determine morals through governmental laws, but is society always right? I think not, especially in light of Nazi Germany, the slavery and “back-of-the-bus” South, and Kim Jong-il’s North Korea.  Maybe I can determine morals. But what if my name is Jeffrey Dahmer or Brian David Mitchell? If moral relativism is correct, then who really has the right to tell these men that they were immoral?  Only something above us—a Moral Lawgiver—can determine right from wrong.  
Notice that I’m not arguing for a particular God or saying that all theists (representing any number of religions) necessarily know or practice what is moral. I’m merely stating that there must be some set of objective moral laws that exist.   
Finally, while Robert Hammer says he has tried but apparently never experienced the Almighty, I have. By itself, I agree that this is not a good reason for him (or anyone else) to become a believer. Yet this very fact (which is real to me) is just as strong as Hammer’s perspective that God doesn’t exist because he never experienced Him.  One of us is wrong. The consequences could be immense.

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