Isaiah 44:6-9 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me.
7 ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. 8 ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’”
The last few posts have been dedicated to unpacking the Biblical, theological and life-practical applications of God's necessary existence. God's necessary existence describes in what way God exists. To be a necessarily existing being means that it is impossible for such a being not to exist. The closest illustrations we may have of necessarily existing things are ententies such as numbers, laws of logic and moral standards. Such things might exist in God's mind as part of His Divine character. All other beings and things in our universe exist contingently, meaning that their existence is based upon something or someone outside of themselves. A contingent being or thing could had been different or could not had existed at all; whereas with God, He cannot be different than what He already is and as already noted, He must exist. For further reflection on these ideas, I invite the reader to review back through the last couple of postings.
In today's post I want to close out our series on God's necessary existence by seeing how this truth of God factors into how one does Christian apologetics and evangelism. Christian apologetics refers to the defense and communication of the Christian faith to opponents and curious questioners. With respect to evangelism, apologetics functions as a plow in turning-up the evangelistic soil so that the evangelistic endeavor can plant the seeds of the Gospel. God's necessary existence has factored into one of the most profound arguments for His existence ever devised.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Introducing the Theistic Argument from God's Necessity
The seventeenth century genius G.W. Leibnitz raised a question that represents one of the oldest question in the history of human thought: "why is there something rather than nothing?" In raising this question, Leibnitz crafted the following argument that serves to explain the type of cause behind the existence of the universe:
Premise #1: Anything that exists is an explanation for its existence whether by necessity of its nature or external cause.
Premise #2: The universe has an explanation for its existence, which is God
Premise #3: The universe exists
Premise #4: Therefore the universe has an explanation for its existence
Premise #5: Therefore, the explanation for the universe’s existence is God
Thankfully there is a video available online that visualizes and explains this argument here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPCzEP0oD7I&t=6s
Considering some questions about this argument and possible responses raised by critics
Now when we look over this argument, some questions might be raised which can in turn be given satisfactory responses.
1. Why is the first premise not susceptible to the objection that some truths may have no explanation for their truth?
To say that the universe is all there is begs the question: Why does the universe exist? As the first premise states, anything that exists has an explanation for its existence, whether it is necessary or contingent (that is, dependent on something or someone outside of itself).
2. Explain why the typical atheist is himself committed to the truth of the second premise.
Premise #2 is logically equivalent to the Atheistic assertion that: if the universe has an explanation for its existence, then atheism is not true, and thus theism is true.
3. Why is the second premise quite plausible in its own right?
The cause must be greater than the effect, and other than its effect. Hence, A timeless, spaceless, non-physical mind that is eternal and necessary chose to create a time-bound, space-time reality that is physical, non-animate and contingent.
4. What response can be made to someone who claims that perhaps the universe exists by a necessity of its own nature?
A necessarily existing object cannot be differently configured or exist otherwise than what it is. A contingent object could be otherwise than what it is. Our universe could be different, since the constants for instance operate regardless of the universe’s physical properties. Hence the universe cannot be necessarily existing.
Why is this argument important for Christian apologetics and evangelism?
The argument from God's necessary existence does something that no other theistic argument can do: provide an explanation for why the particular cause of the universe must be a necessarily existing, all-powerful, timeless, spaceless, un-embodied mind (i.e God). This argument also explains why the universe cannot be eternal or necessary, but instead finite and contingent or dependent upon God for its existence. The eternality of the universe or even other proposed scenarios for the cause of the universe, such as the so-called "multiverse" or the universe simply being its own cause are shown quite implausible, since none of those causes are "necessarily existing causes".
I know these notions can get us deep in the weeds, but they are worth considering, since in our apologetics and evangelism, we are proclaiming the One true living God worthy of worship who has been decisively revealed through Jesus Christ. Consequently, Jesus himself as God in human flesh is the One Person who both exists necessarily by virtue of His deity (Colossians 1:13-16; Hebrews 1:1-14; 13:8) and contingently by virtue of His humanity (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:35; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:18). As a final thought, I would encourage readers to visit the website: reasonablefaith.org and check out the apologetic resources that explain further what we have looked at this post.
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Friday, June 2, 2017
God's Necessary Existence And Christian Apologetics & Evangelism
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