Despite claims that belief in God is nothing more than archaic superstition not fit for the scientific age, the vast majority of the world still believes in God. Ask people, however, why they think God exists and many can say little more than, “It’s just something you have to faith in.” I am all for faith, but only if there are some solid reasons behind it. Ask me to have faith in a bridge that has been built by seasoned engineers and I am good with that, but ask me to cross a rickety creation put together by a couple of 8-year-olds, and I might just leave the faith to you. In other words, I want to believe in God, but only if there are good reasons to do so.
So then what kind of reasons do I have for my belief in God? I’ll go ahead and offer five. Like in a trial, one strand of evidence might not be enough to tilt the scales, but when combined the evidence for God can make a rather compelling case. At least I think so.
I believe in God because we are here. That might not sound like a very strong reason, but when you ponder the nature of the universe it carries a bit more weight. Consider first that there was a time when there was no universe (that was the big discovery of the Big Bang Theory). Then consider that the universe is made up of time, space, and matter. What caused the universe? Well, it’s got to be something that is timeless, non-spatial, and immaterial since those things didn’t exist before the universe came into being. For centuries on end, and well before anything was seen through the Hubble telescope, God has been described as timeless, non-spatial, and immaterial, and beyond that a powerful, creative agent of change. In other words, God certainly fits the description of the “criminal” who could commit the crime of causing the universe.
I believe in God because I believe in intellect over luck. I am guessing you’ve seen a sound board at the back of a big theatre. There are hundreds of dials and sliders that need to be put in just the right place so that sound from the stage is perfect. Suppose a new top-end sound board is placed at the back of Houston’s grandest theater just before Broadway’s Hamilton hits town. Then imagine that when the sound engineers plug in the new board, every control is set just right for every element of the incoming musical. I am guessing they wouldn’t think they just got lucky. Rather, they would conclude that someone who already knew the venue and the Hamilton production pre-programmed it to perfection. This is the same kind of conclusion I have come to relative to the universe. The scientific community has long recognized that the dozens of cosmological constants that make the universe the universe (such as gravity, or the strong nuclear force, or the expansion rate) are remarkably fine-tuned for life to the zillionth degree. That means that if any one of them was different by just a smidgen, no sentient life would exist anywhere in the universe. Famed British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle once wrote: “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” From what I’ve read, Hoyle didn’t have a lot of sympathy for God, but his “superintellect” sure seems to fit an omniscient Creator.
I believe in God because love and justice and beauty are on shaky ground without him. Suppose the world we live in just came about by chance. No God involved anywhere. We are just how the Scrabble pieces fell out of the box. If that’s the case, the love you say you have for your children, the awe you experience when you see a beautiful mountain lake, and the justice that rises within you when a friend is wronged, are nothing but chemical reactions that have evolved from millions of rolls of the cosmic dice. They are feelings or sensations and nothing more. Vocal atheist Richard Dawkins describes it this way: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” I, for one, refuse to believe that. If I trust my sense of smell and sight and touch to tell me what is real, even though they have often failed me, I certainly can trust my sense of love and justice and beauty to tell me what is real, even if at times they are misguided. But if my sense of love and justice and beauty are to be trusted, then there must be someone who made things objectively lovable and right and beautiful and gave me the ability to experience them for what they are. And maybe that someone (I’ll say God) made things that way because they are true of himself.
I believe in God because of the record of history. Fake news. We get it all the time. But once in a while we are convinced we are getting the real thing. But how long would it take for that news to be distrusted? Would people in a hundred years start to distrust what was recorded a century earlier? Would they doubt it after 500 years? And on what basis would it be doubted other than to say it was old? Typically, modern historians take what historians of old wrote at face value unless there is evidence to the contrary. If that’s the case, then it seems to me we ought to take the history recorded in the Bible at face value until we see evidence to the contrary. And I as I have done my search, that kind of evidence is scant, while the evidence that the people, places, and events described in its pages keeps filling up books. That said, I believe in God because of his repeated acts in history as recorded in the Bible. Of course, some say, “But human ambition accounts for what we read. The Bible’s claims, especially that stuff about miracles, is fake news propagated to get a following.” Believe that if you will, but I think it is an odd kind of ambition considering that so many of the biblical writers were ignored, persecuted, and martyred. As Chuck Colson, the convicted mastermind behind Watergate, once wrote. “I know the resurrection [of Jesus] is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world, and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
I believe in God because I have experienced him. Let’s suppose a neighbor enters my home and kills my friend. Before the police arrive, he leaves the house. There is no doubt who killed my friend—all my senses would not lie. When the police arrive, they immediately begin gathering evidence. They look for hair follicles and blood and for the deadly weapon. They interview me, take pictures of the scene, and then leave to find the culprit and build their case. Their case will not be based on personal experience, at least not my kind of experience; it will be based on the testimony of others and evidence at the scene. I need none of that, because I know what I saw and heard and touched and smelled. Above I have mentioned four kinds of evidence that have helped persuade me that God is not a mythical creation. But while those strands of evidence are compelling, at this point in my life I am more swayed to believe in God because I have experienced him. Others might still need evidence for God (and that’s all well and good), but now that I have experienced God firsthand, it is experience not evidence that speaks most loudly to me. You might ask, and rightly so, “What do you mean you have experienced God?” Jesus once told the crowds that followed him, “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” I taught tennis for many years. I could give people reasons for why they should hit the ball with a different kind of swing. But it wasn’t until they put what I said into action, and personally experienced the results, that they were convinced in the value of what I said. In the last many years, it has been my aim to do the will of God as Jesus taught it. And what I have found? Only that Jesus’ words were true, for as I have walked in his way I have increasingly experienced a joy and peace and love that I can attribute to nothing other than God himself. In other words, his life at work in mine is simply evidence I cannot dismiss.
John likes to help people wrestle with the big questions of life in his work with Search Ministries. He served as a pastor in Houston for 16 years, earned his doctorate at Biola University, and is a contributing author of Reasons to Believe: Thoughtful Responses to Life’s Toughest Questions.