Apologetics: Traditional arguments for God: Part 1

Introduction:

I would like us now to begin to look at some of the traditional arguments put forward as proof for the existence of God. These are the ontological, the cosmological and teleological arguments for God. Let me say a few things about how we view them before we lay them out.

Firstly, we are in no doubt whether God exists or not. We believe as Romans 1:19-20 explains it that all human beings have a knowledge of God from nature, ‘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.’ The reason for unbelief is not a lack of data but sin and an unwillingness to believe. There is a suppression of the truth that is evidently clear. So as we look at these traditional arguments for God we are following the traditional approach of ‘we believe in order to understand.’ We do not see ourselves in a neutral position who with superior intellectual skills can penetrate all mysteries and subject God to our scrutiny. We confess our humble dependence upon God to reveal Himself to us. We are not looking to these arguments to ground our beliefs, but we they do still have a use for us. Firstly, the help confirm the faith we already have. Secondly, they demonstrate the reasonability of faith, and show by careful reasoning the reasonableness of faith. They show the agreement between what the Bible says and what reason can deduce. Reason is limited in what it can deduce, but in what it can attain it agrees with the Bible. The Bible is superior and is necessary to fill up what reason is unable to discover.

We must also add the limitations of these arguments. All truths are rationally avoidable if wrong assumptions are assumed, these are not irresistible truths, and many have raised objections to them. The raising of objections does not automatically disqualify an argument. All objections must proceed on certain philosophical commitments and those committed to worldviews contrary to Scripture will find arguments sufficient with their own starting point to deny what these arguments offer. Secondly, they are better view as probabilistic in nature not as undeniable. Thirdly, they can only demonstrate the reasonableness of theism in general and not Christianity and the gospel. Fourthly, humble faith in God does not come by overturning logical arguments but exposing our need for a Saviour and so these arguments must be part of a larger conversation about how we need Christ.

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