Lecture 11: Theism; Proof of God's Existence
Course: Systematic Theology I
Lecture: Theism; Proof of God's Existence
This is my favorite area. It is an area that I have been so drawn to ever since I was a freshman in college. I went through what a lot of Christian kids go through. I grew up in a good Christian home; my folks are still living, and they are wonderful Christian parents. I never did rebel or anything like that. But still, I went away to college, and that freshman year of college was a crisis of faith for me in deciding whether or not the Christian faith I grew up in was my own and whether the God I had learned about was the true God. So at the end of that freshman year, I was desperate, the most desperate I have ever been spiritually, and I had to know whether my parents' God was the true God, so I fasted for a week. I have never done it since, so this will show you that it was not me; it was the Lord's work in me. I drank water only for seven days, and for those days I sought the Lord with fervor. I can remember going out into the neighborhood where I lived and out into the woods for these long prayer walks, just pleading with the Lord to meet with me and help me to know if he was real. Six days went by and nothing happened. I was scared at what was going to happen when seven days ended and it was like this. I honestly didn't want to think of what I might do. I was so desperate for I had pleaded with God and to hear nothing, wow. The seventh day came. I went to my brother-in-law's house; he was a student at that time at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and they didn't know I was doing this but they could tell something was different because I lost all this weight. I said to Wayne, "Do you have any recommendations on something I could read on God, just to know who God is." He said, "Funny you should ask that because we just read a book in our class that may be helpful to you. He handed me a copy of A. W. Tozer's ''The Knowledge of the Holy'' (which if you have never read, you ought to read). It is such a great book; it is only 120 pages long but contains profound, deeply worshipful, short meditations on attributes of God. I took that book home with me, started reading it about three o'clock in the afternoon and finished reading it about nine o'clock at night. I was riveted to this book. The Lord used this book in a remarkable way to open my eyes to behold (this going to sound funny) a God that I had never learned growing up. I had, but hadn't. It is hard to describe what this is, but obviously the God of my parents is the same God, but I had no clue he was so big, so mighty, so majestic, so self-sufficient, I just had no idea that God was so majestic and glorious. This book opened my eyes and began for me in this end of my freshman year of college what has been for me ever since a life-long quest. My number one greatest desire and passion is to know God. From a human vantage point I give my thanks to A. W. Tozer; I had never met him, but I have heard tapes by him. He is a Christian Missionary Alliance pastor in Chicago. Someday in heaven I want to thank him for that little book and its ministry in my life. I went to bed that night, and it was the most unusual night I have ever had in my life. I honesty don't know what happened. I feel like Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, almost. I don't know if I slept; I don't know if I was in a trance; I don't know. I have no idea what happened. I do know that through the night the Lord communed with me. It was precious and wondrous, and I woke up a changed young man. I drank my tomato juice, and my, did that taste good. From that point on I have wanted to focus my main energies on God. I suppose that is why open theism has bothered me as deeply as it does. It is so belittling, so dishonoring, so wrong; it is so wrong to talk about God in the way they do. May God help us to know him.
I. Introduction: Need to Know God
I want to show you in this introduction the need to know God, just briefly. I could preach for two hours, but I won't; it will be briefer than I would like. I want to show you from Scripture that, in fact, this is not just another thing in the Bible, one of the lineup of things that we ought to focus on in the Christian life. This is it. This is the end for which we are made. This is the summation of the meaning of life. This is what everything else is pointing to: that we be a people who know God.
Jer 9:23 Thus says the Lord, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; Jer 9:24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the Lord.
Boasting is the NASB translation of it; some of you may have a different word, it is the word ''halal'' meaning "to be boastful," or, "to praise." What would it mean to not let the wise man boast or glory in his wisdom, the rich man boast, or glory in his riches? Find your purpose in this. Don't look at riches as my purpose in living or that which gives me meaning and significance in life. Don't look to riches for that which fills me and satisfies me. Don't look to wisdom for that; don't look to power for that.
Can you see how contemporary these three items are that the prophet Jeremiah picked out thousands of years ago? And here we are in 2002; let not a wise man, rich man, powerful man (wisdom, riches, power) boast. That is us; this is contemporary. It is human. Whether you are ancient human or contemporary human. So instead of finding in those things what matters most to you in life, find in this what matters most to you life, namely that you know God. Boast in this: that you understand and know me. Think about it; this is the number one, the top, the supreme purpose for your life and mine. This is what we ought to find our greatest significance in, that we know the Lord. So with everything else in our lives we have to ask the question. What role does this play in what matters most? You have to think this way. How will this fit; how does this accord with what matters most, namely knowing the Lord.
He says, "Boast in this, that you understand and know me." "Understand" and "know" are two different Hebrew words. "Understand" emphasizes more factual knowledge; you get understanding of me factually correct. "Know" (''yada'') is intimate relational knowledge. He uses both of those terms and in that order; I find that interesting because obviously we can't have intimate relational knowledge with someone of whom we either have no knowledge or incorrect knowledge.
I have a great illustration of that latter point. What happens to intimate relational knowledge based on fraudulent information? There was a time in my life when I sat up through the night with a man who was threatening to commit suicide, and I was quite confident that he would if I left him. This was when I was teaching at Western Seminary in Portland, and there was a young man there, a very zealous young man with military background, who was disciplined and by the book. He had a very strong sense of duty, of right and wrong. He had come to Christ, and he was whole heartedly committed to pursuing the ministry and training. He married this wonderful woman who was zealous for the Lord and was involved in ministries to all kinds of needy women, Crisis Pregnancy type ministry. They married, and it was a wonderful thing. About a year into their marriage, he was going through a box of their files because it was coming close to tax time, and he wanted to pull some stuff together. He was going through the box of his wife's stuff, and he came across a document with her first name and a last name that he doesn't recognize. She was married previously, but her husband had passed away. So he knew she had another name beside her maiden name, that she had two names, her maiden name and her married name to her deceased husband, but here was a third name that he didn't recognize. So he asks her. She hedges and doesn't want to talk about this. Well come to find out she was married another time and divorced, and she never told him. He holds the view that if you marry a divorced woman, you are ineligible for ministry. So his life fell apart; it just unbelievably shattered. What do you suppose happens to the ''yada'' kind of relational knowledge with someone when what it is founded on is a falsehood? How many Christian people are there who think they have this wonderful, relational experience with God, but what is it founded on? What God is this really, whom they are in love with or worship? We have got to work hard to understand and know, understand and know. We must get the factual knowledge right and know him and relate to him.
Jeremiah 31:31 is another indicator of the fact that knowing God is the sum and substance of life. He says to Israel,
Jer 31:31 "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, Jer 31:32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. Jer 31:33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord, "I will put my law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jer 31:34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the Lord, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
So if you ask God, "Summarize for us, what does it look like when you are done with your restoration project you call salvation; what does the goal line look like? How do we know when you have finished?" Answer: My people will know the LORD. Doesn't it make sense that if that is God's end goal for us, then that needs to be our end goal? That is it.
In Philippians 3 Paul talks about his own experiences in life before he was saved.
Php 3:5 ... as to the Law, a Pharisee; Php 3:6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. Php 3:7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Php 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, Php 3:9 and may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
When compared with the surpassing value of knowing him, everything else pales; everything else is paltry in comparison to this one thing.
Let me encourage you to think of your own life. Think of your ministry. Some of you will be involved in counseling ministry; some of you will be involved in missions; some of you will be involved in pasturing, and you have ask the question, how does what I do serve God's ultimate purpose that people know him. That is what life is about.
II. Theism: Whether There Is a God
Before I dive into these three arguments, let me give you a little bit of background to them. In the history of the Church there have really been two sorts of major methods employed for arguing for the existence of God.
One of them was made famous by Anselm of Canterbury, who lived from 1033-1109. Anselm proposed a type of argumentation that worked from reason alone; you don't have to appeal to anything in our experience; it is an ''a priori'' (prior to) argument. There is ''a priori'' and ''a presori''. The way you can remember ''a priori'' is to just think of the word "prior." Prior to what? Prior to a sense experience, prior to observation, prior to gathering data. You don't have to gather data to do this. All you have to do is sit in your easy chair and think. Anselm proposed an ontological argument for the existence of God. He didn't call it that; I think it was called that by Immanuel Kant.
Anselm proposed this notion that you can just think of the being of which none greater can be conceived, and if you think about this correctly, then you see there must be a God. If you can think of a being which is greater than none can be conceived as just an object in your mind verses a real being that exists in reality then which is greater? Remember this is the being which none greater can be conceived. Which is greater, the real being or the one in your mind? Obviously the real being is the greater one, greater than just the ''idea'' of a real being.
And then he took it one step further. Suppose there are two kinds of real beings, one that could fail to exist and one that must exist. Which is the greater one? Obviously the one that must exist. The one that cannot fail to exist is the greatest possible being. So just thinking the thought of a being of which none can be greater than can be conceived shows you that such a being exists and exists necessarily.
I have just told you the ontological argument in two minutes. How many pages have been written on this argument? Thousands, it is just incredible, an amazing thing. I am not going to go over this argument with you any more than just what I have told you because I don't think it works. I don't think it is of any value apart from its intellectual interest because ultimately what I think Anselm proved is that if God exists, he exists necessarily, and if he doesn't exist, he can't exist. I think that is what the argument proves. I don't think it proves that God exists. If it did, I would spend time with you on it. There are only been a few people in the history of the church who thought Anselm got it right. Charles Hartshorne did, and Alvin Plantinga has his own form of the ontological argument that is very complicated. I have taught courses on this where we take two weeks going through Plantinga's argument. It is very interesting, but I don't think it works either, and it would take way too long to explain to you why I don't think so. The vast majority of opinion in philosophy and theology is that the argument doesn't work. So one approach is the ''a priori'' approach developed by Anselm.
A. Cosmological Argument
This argument has been far more widely used, and, in my judgment, has legitimacy to a point at least, though not as a proof. (Sometimes these are called proofs. It depends on what you mean by that. If you mean that you can prove God exists in the way you can prove mathematical equation's answers to be correct, then no it is not like that. If, by proof, you mean that it provides strong evidence, strong support for believing God exists then, yes, I believe that they do.)
In this other approach, the one person it is most often associated with is Thomas Aquinas who lived from 1224 to 1274. Aquinas proposed that we can work from sense experience in this world and go from that to prove that God exists. His type of argumentation is ''a posteriori''. Here again, you can remember this by thinking of "post," ''a posteriori'' is post sense experience, post observation, post gathering of evidence. So on the basis of evidence we gather, we can show that God exists, he argued. He developed his "five ways" which actually appeared in his ''Summa Theologica'' in maybe four pages; it is not all that long. It is a very brief little part of the ''Summa'', and yet again huge amounts have been written on it, and it has been very stimulating to people all through the years. To be honest with you, Aquinas didn't think this up originally; it goes back to the early church. Augustine has embedded in his ''City of God'' and some of the other writings of his basically something like an ''a posteriori'' argument for God's existence based on an appeal to nature. So it wasn't something that Aquinas invented, but it is something that he really brought to bare in theology.
Aristotle had been rediscovered because of the interaction between Christians and Muslims in the Crusades and after that. So here Christian and Muslims are interacting. Islam had most of the philosophical writings of Aristotle. Before that the church had the writings of Plato as being the primary person who sort of gave them a philosophical world view. Neoplatonism was huge in the early church. Now here comes Aristotle. Aristotle's method is not like Plato's at all. Plato's method was to work from forms, these abstract ideas that account for specific things in this world. So Anselm proposes you think of an idea, a general idea, and from that we deduce this particular conclusion. Aristotle says, no. You work from specific things to draw general conclusions. So the reason I know that an object I am holding up is a pen (in Plato's mind) is that somehow I connected in my previous life, where I existed before with the concept "pen." I know the ideal pen, so when I see this, I recognize it as one of what I know in principle.
No it not that all, Aristotle says, you see this, you see another one like it and you see another one like it, and they have these common features, and you give it a name "pen." You see a table and it has four legs and a flat surface, so you say, things with four legs and a flat surface are tables. We work from specifics to general in Aristotle. So Aquinas wanted to use that Aristotelian approach and said, lets look at the specifics in this world and then draw a general conclusion. We are given this, this, and this, therefore God. That is the way Aquinas works.
Of his "five ways," they can be really reduced. Three of them are versions of the same thing, so three of Aquinas' "five ways" can be reduced to one basic way. It is called the cosmological argument. What I am going to talk to you about are these three which really are a summation in a different form of Aquinas' "five ways."
Cosmological comes from ''cosmos'' meaning universe. Basically this argument works very much in the same way, evoking the same methodology that the other two will use as well. What is that methodology? It appeals to some feature of the universe, something that is observable, and given that, the best way to account for it is that God made it. God exists to account for this. What is the feature of the universe that the cosmological argument points to? There is a world. The advantage of the cosmological argument is that it appeals to an indisputable fact. Who is going to deny that there is a world, that there is a cosmos? To put in the most basic way possible, that something exists rather than nothing. Who is going to dispute that? The minute someone objects to it, you say, and who are you that is objecting to this? Do I sense existence here? Something exists rather than nothing. The Cosmos exists; how do we account for this?
Aquinas argued that it makes no sense at all to say that we can account for the present universe merely by appeal to a series of previously existing universes in a kind of succession. For example, here we are now; here is the universe at this moment; take a snapshot of it, freeze it, there we have it. How do we account for this? Because the universe the moment before brought it into being; that is how it happened. How did the universe the moment before come into being? The universe a moment before it brought it into being. The problem with this is that it ends up an infinite regress reasoning. Catch the point. His point is not the problem; he doesn't complain in the way that another form of this argument does, that an infinite regress is logically impossible. That is not what Aquinas said. Aquinas said that if you have an infinite regress then you never have an answer to the question, why is there a universe rather than none? All you do, if go on in this form, is explain the universe at this moment by appealing to the one before. But you never answer the question of why there is a universe at all. Why is there something rather than nothing. The whole series has to be grounded, otherwise all you are left with is the universe just is; you can't explain why there is a universe. All I can tell you is why this one is here, or this one is here, or this one is here. I can't tell you why there is a universe; it has to be a brut fact.
So Aquinas says that if we are going to explain why there is a universe at all, then there must be a divine creator, even if the universe has internal recurrence or existence. Even if that is true, it still doesn't explain why there is one. So God has to ground it. There has to be something that is uncaused to explain what is caused. Something that is necessary to explain what is contingent in Aquinas' way of thinking.
'''The Kalam Argument'''
There is another version of this from William Lane Craig, who teaches now at Talbot Seminary, which is connected with Biola University. He had been with Campus Crusade for years and has been involved in campus debates all over the country. When I taught at Trinity up in Deerfield, one of the big events during my years there was Bill Craig's debate at Willow Creek with an atheist. They had about 8,000 people who came out to this debate. Bill Craig does a lot of these debates. He has written a number of things on the Cosmological Argument, and he advocated what is called the Kalam version of the Cosmological Argument, which evidently comes from some Muslim sources in terms of defending their view, also, that there is one God who created the heavens and earth.
According to the Kalam Argument, an infinite regress is logically impossible. It is logically impossible to have an infinite number of cause and effect relationships. It is impossible to transverse, or pass through, an infinite number of points. Think about it for a moment. Think of time that has passed in the history of the universe as a series of points and here we are right here at this point, this present moment. In order to get here we had to pass through that point, and to get to that one we had to pass through that one, so we go back all of these seconds, as it were. Ask yourself the question, how did we get here if to get here we had to pass through, remember the universe has existed eternally, we are taking that as a hypothesis, if we had to pass through an infinite number of moments to get to this moment. How could we do this? How could we pass through infinite number of moments? How about if I said to you I will give you a million dollars the moment you finish counting to the highest possible integer? As soon as you are done, a million dollars. You can't do it. You could never finish, there is no highest possible number; you can't have accomplished that so how can you ever have gotten to this point?
That is the Kalam Argument. I think it is a weighty argument, and in fact it is one of the reasons theologians who argue for the temporality of God are misguided. If God is a temporal being, he exists this moment having passed through an infinite number of previous moments, and that is impossible. The Kalam argument argues against a sort of eternal temporality for God just as it argues against the eternal temporality of the world. So this argument says there has to be not only a God needed to ground that there is a universe (that is Aquinas), but also God is needed to start the universe. There has to be a first moment of the universe, so God is needed to be the creator, the one who brings that into being.
Just one more comment, though this out of my field; looking back, the development over the 20th century in physics seems to confirm this sort of notion that, in fact, there is a first moment for the universe. This was a conclusion that, as I understand the history of 20th century physics, scientists tried to avoid. They tried to say the universe can be accounted for in one of two ways. The first is a steady state theory of the universe. It is just kind of always the same, all the way through. What blew that apart was the observation that the universe was expanding. When they saw, this they realized that it isn't a steady state. It sure looks as though it all had a definite beginning. It is more like we are here, and who knows where everything is going to go from here? At least we know it is here, and it had a definite beginning. So if the universe is expanding, we can't say that it is a steady state.
The other proposal was an oscillating universe. Here is the big bang and then a big crunch; this happened in the past, and then we had another big bang, and big crunch, and now here is our universe. Here we are, and presumably we are going to have another big crunch, and it just going to keep going. So, yes, there was a beginning to this particular expression of the universe, but the universe has always existed. To my understanding this theory is completely debunked now for a number of reasons. One of which I have read several places is that the mass of the universe is far too insufficient to provide the gravitational pull necessary for the big crunch, or the so-called big crunch. Like a black hole sucks everything back together, well the universe does not have anywhere close to enough mass to do this. So rather than a big crunch, it going to be a big sizzle, according to physicists, as I read it. Here we are now and we are just going to keep expanding until everything burns up and it is over, according to physicists. The point is, the two leading hopeful theories of explaining the universe, the steady state and this oscillating model, have both been debunked.
Right now we have a model of the universe that says it had a definite beginning. Now I know we have Christian people who are concerned in terms of ages of the universe but don't miss the fact, no matter what view you hold on the six days of creation etc., that contemporary physics holds a view that the universe had a beginning. That is an enormously amazing conclusion. Hugh Ross has written a lot on these things; he is one of the people I read. He is a physicist who became a believer in his discipline after he was an adult. He has written quite a few things that help show the biblical understanding of what is happening in physics.
My main point in talking about that is to say that you can think about it when you look at Aquinas' argument, namely there has got to be a God to found the fact that there is a universe, that there is something rather than nothing, and the Kalam argument that says you got to have God to begin the universe because you can't transverse an infinite number of moments. It seems that these two arguments are confirmed by what appears to be a contemporary scientific understanding of the universe.
One more comment on this. Lets learn from the fact that scientific theories change, maybe not as fast as we change our underwear, but just wait for another 30 years. So don't ever, I urge you and beg you, don't ever pin the truthfulness of the Bible on a leading scientific theory. It's a huge mistake. Let science do its things, and we will stay with Scripture regardless of what they do. But at this time it appears that this is the case: contemporary physics is actually affirming something that is in accord with something that we hold as Christian people. There is a definite beginning to the universe; God spoke and there it is.
B. Teleological Argument
''Teleos'' in Greek means, "end, goal," so the teleological argument is an argument for the existence of God from the fact that things work toward an end or a goal. Think about simple things like planting seeds; you put a corn seed in the ground, and how does it know what to do? Look at the seed; does it have inherent intelligence? Is it able to chart out its own destiny to be self actualized? It doesn't have a mind. It can't will anything. It can't do anything, except it has something built into it that when the right conditions are there it grows and produces a corn stock with more corn seeds to grow more corn stocks. How does it know how to do that? Obviously it can't know that from itself because it doesn't have a mind; it doesn't have any capacity for having that in itself, so it must be from outside. That is the point.
The person who made this argument famous is William Paley who used the analogy of a watch and a watchmaker to make his point. He says if you are walking along and you pick up a stone, you might not think much about it in terms of where it came from or why it looks the way it does or whatever. Actually, if you knew what was in that stone, you would think of its atomic structure, and you would marvel. But you are walking along, and your foot kicks up a watch and you look at it (think of a Swiss watch, the old fashion kind with cogs and wheels and springs). You take the back off it and you look at how intricately placed these little wheels and cogs and springs are. Everything is in the right tension and all of that for the purpose of keeping correct time, and it works. You realize that this watch cannot have done this by itself. You can't account for it by appeal to the watch you have to appeal to a watchmaker. That is the only thing that makes sense. So the Teleological Argument looks at evidence of design, at the fact that things work toward an end, toward a goal and yet those things in themselves cannot be accounting of it. You cannot appeal to those things in themselves to account for why they work toward an end, why they work toward this goal, but they do.
As you probably know, this particular argument, more than either of the other two, has come into something of a renaissance today. There is a huge movement afoot out there and I am sure you know about it. It is called the Intelligent Design Movement, with people like Steven Myer at The Discovery Institute, and William Dembski down a Baylor. I don't know if you know the story of William Dembski at Baylor; his Baylor Biology Department is not with him at all; they wanted to boot him out of there, but he is still there at the Center for Research on Intelligent Design. Phillip E. Johnson is kind of the leading guru behind this. We had him at Trinity when I taught there, and he gave his testimony there. He was at a very tough point in his life, going through a divorce from his wife, and he took one of his children to a children's Bible club during the summer. He went to pick her up and sat in the back of the church (here is Phillip Johnson who is the head of the Law Department at the University of California at Berkley, has degrees from Harvard and the University of Chicago), and he hears this pastor give a Gospel presentation and is riveted as he hears it. He goes home; his life is a wreck; he is looking for hope, looking for answers and starts reading his Bible, and about two weeks later he became a Christian. As a Christian he started reading a whole lot of things, and now he has a whole different worldview. On a sabbatical one year (this goes back about 15 years ago) he was reading some evolutionist literature, and he said, as I was reading it I was constantly laughing because I thought, this great material for my legal students to show them faulty argumentation. There are so many examples here of logical fallacies. All of a sudden he realized, this really isn't very humorous because they mean it, they are really trying to convince people of this. So he started reading more intently and noticed all of these faulty arguments that were being given by evolutionists to support their case and realized it is systemic; it's the whole field; they are all deceiving people. It must be a conspiracy, or else they just can't think or something. That led him ultimately to write the first book that he became famous for, ''Darwin on Trial'', which is a very fine first book to read if you are interested in problems with Darwinian Evolution. That began this movement of a bunch of young bright, gifted energetic conservative Christian (for the most part) scholars who are working in this Intelligent Design Movement. An enormous amount of profitable work is being done to give evidence to show that there is a hand-print of design stamped on the universe.
Another book that came out a few years ago was Michael Behe's book called ''Darwin's Black Box'' has made a big impact in this movement. Michael Behe, a microbiologist said, for years in my discipline we never could get down to the smallest unit of life in the cell. We just didn't have the technology to do it. So there was always this black box, the deepest level of life. The most basic level of life was beyond us; we couldn't get to it. It was in this black box, and it was concealed. He said, well finally the technology has been advanced, so we opened the black box. We have seen the most elemental basic forms that life has in the cell and it is incredibly complex. So much so, that you cannot account for it by saying these pieces came together over time because unless all of those pieces are there, you don't have anything. You have to have all of it to have the basis for life to be. There is nothing living for things to come together. So he wrote this book called ''Darwin's Black Box'' to make a case for this.
This is a very exciting movement, and I would encourage you to dip into some of the literature. J. P. Moreland is another name; he teaches philosophy at Talbot and has written this book called ''The Creation Hypothesis''. Bill Dembski has a book called ''Intelligent Design'', and he had written another called, ''Mere Creation''. These are some very fine books out there that any of you involved in Campus ministries or ministries where there might be intellectual questions would do well to become familiar with.
So Teleological is an argument for the existence of God from the fact that things work toward an end or for a purpose or toward a goal. There is evident design in what they do. There are two kinds of spheres of design that the Teleological Argument focuses on. One of them is temporal succession, like the seasons of the year. Why is it that we have a planet that works the way it does? We have fall, when things kind of go into dormancy through winter and then spring, new life, summer growth, productivity and harvest in fall again. Why is it that we have this temporal succession? How did that happen? That has to be answered somehow. Is it just chance; it is just that the universe happened to develop that way? The other one is the spatial arrangement. Paley's rational works better for the spatial rather than the temporal, with cogs that line up just the right way. An appeal to the human body is really a structural form rather than temporal of the Teleological Argument. Look at the design of the way the different organs in the body work together. Look at a cell. I read a chapter in another book on apologetics defining a cell as like a large city functioning. With its waste disposal systems and its communication systems and its enforcement systems, it is incredibly complex. That's just a cell. How do you have all of these things working together this way? So whether it is temporal succession, whether it is location, things are working toward an end for beneficial results. How is this? How do we account for this? What is the best explanation?
C. Moral Argument
Remember, what all three of these have in common is that they point to some feature of the universe, and because of that we argue that God must exist. This one is an argument for the existence of God from the fact of moral sensibility. We human beings have moral consciences, and we act in morally significant ways, and we judge right and wrong on moral grounds. It asks the question, how did we come up with this that we think in these terms of moral right and wrong. I'm not referring to the pragmatic; of course we think in pragmatic right and wrong; which is the best way to get somewhere. But we also think in moral right and wrong; am I not going this way because I am avoiding seeing somebody? Am I going this way because I want to pass those shops that allure me? We make moral decisions all the time about things, so where does this come from. One of the champions of this line of argumentation is C. S. Lewis in his little book ''Mere Christianity'' and even more so in ''The Abolition of Man'' (this is a great book, really insightful, one of his more profound books I think). In ''Mere Christianity'', the beginning of it starts out with this theme on a bus (maybe it was a train), where two people are arguing about who should have the seat, who got there first. Lewis talks about this argument that is going on and says, the one thing that is interesting about this is that both agree that whoever got there first deserves to have the seat. Where did this come from? How is it that we have this sense of right and wrong, and if we can just settle the question of who got there first, they both know that person deserved to have the seat? He goes on from there and starts this discussion of failed ways to account for it. Behaviorism says this happened just because they were trained this way; their parents trained them to think this way; that is all it is, just a matter of behavior modification. That is what moral sensibility is. Lewis talked about that and showed how deficient that is because the fact of the matter is that we constantly evaluate our training and what we grew up with as to whether it is right or wrong. So how does this happen? Where does that come from then? On what basis do we say, even though I was trained this way, this is what we should do instead?
Then he talks about another explanation, this sort of genetic model; it is really survival of the fittest; that's all it is. So we have a group of human beings that evolved, and they just grew up with notion that to survive you've got to have certain rules if you are going to make it. How does that account for the guy who dives on a grenade? Survival of the fittest? Yet here is this guy said it is my duty to save these sixteen comrades of mine, my life for theirs.
Then he uses this analogy; there is a beautiful analogy in ''Mere Christianity'' of how there is this composition that accounts for why we play the notes we do on a piano. It is the composition he called it and how we know in our hearts and our heads that there is this composition. Think of a piano; there is no right or wrong note; it is not that playing a "C" is right but playing a "C" shape is an evil note. No, there are no right or wrong notes, but according to the composition notes are right and wrong. So the composition is what informs us whether to play the "C" or the "C" sharp, what note to play at a particular time. Where does this come from? This is where he goes into his argument of the universality of this, the kind of ''Tao'' he calls it in the ''Abolition of Man''. We all have this sense of right and wrong; it is wrong to murder, wrong to commit adultery. That we realize this must be from a common moral law giver. The only way to account for it is that there is a common moral law that is, in fact, pervasive in humanity; it is not genetic or behavioral; it is, by virtue of creation, the Creator inventing it.
The value in all three of them, especially all three of them together, gives good reason for thinking the best explanation for the fact that we have a world and there is design and this moral sense we have is a God. Do they prove it? No, I don't think these arguments can prove to anybody. What they can do is be used by the Spirit to overcome obstacles that people might have, to say that there really is good reason for belief in God. It isn't unreasonable to do so. I think that is a good first step; it certainly doesn't make a Christian necessarily, but it is a good first step in helping people to see the reasonableness of the Christian faith and looking to more beyond that.
Blessings on you all.