But can you prove it?

Christians believe in God, but can we prove that God exists? Christians believe that God is known only through Jesus Christ, but can we prove that our religion is right and that all other religions are wrong? Christians believe that the Bible is God’s Word, the only reliable source of information about God, but can we prove that the Bible is true and dependable, without any human errors?

One problem with proof is that it is difficult to judge. No one is impartial on these questions. People either believe these things or they do not believe them. Much evidence can be offered to show that God exists, that he is known only through Jesus Christ, and that the Bible is God’s Word. Christians find great comfort in this evidence. Unbelievers seem always able to counter with evidence against Christianity which they find more persuasive. Frequently, conversations involving God and proof degenerate into two clear lines of battle, each side convinced that it is armed with the stronger and better evidence for its position.

A second problem with proof is that God is above such matters. Proof relies on reason and logic, and reason and logic themselves have their origin in God. God is not less than reasonable, but he is more than reasonable. Therefore, reason cannot fully grasp the truth about God. The existence of God cannot be detected in a laboratory. He is the Almighty Being, not the subject of some experiment. If some people are unable to detect God in the universe, the problem is not with God. The problem is with the method they are using to search for God.

The third problem with proof is that believers do not need proof. We already know from experience that God exists, that he is known through Jesus Christ, and that the Bible is God’s Word. We take these things for granted, because their truth is a familiar part of our lives every day. You need no proof that your best friend exists, or that the members of your family who you see every day exist. You encounter them and interact with them. In a similar way, Christians encounter God and interact with God, making proof of his existence entirely unnecessary.

If believers do not need proof, and unbelievers do not acknowledge proof, then why even discuss the existence of God or the other beliefs that Christians regard as important? Two reasons can be given to look at the proof. First, it reinforces and strengthens faith to consider the proof of what is true. Second, it makes conversation possible between believers and unbelievers. Those who have firmly decided not to believe will not be swayed by the most convincing evidence. Others, however, are willing to maintain an open mind. As they consider the proof, they might meet God himself and find themselves in a relationship with him.

Of the many ways of demonstrating the existence of God, four classic proofs are seen by Christians as fully convincing. First, the existence of creation requires that there be a Creator. No one can build a watch by dropping the pieces of a watch into a bag and then shaking the bag until chance brings the pieces together to form a working watch. Likewise, believing that the sun, the moon, the earth, and all the living beings on the earth are merely the results of a string of random events requires far more faith than belief in a Creator. The very order in the universe is a second proof for the existence of a Creator. Creation attests to the intelligence and wisdom of God, to his creativity and sense of beauty, and even to his sense of humor. Third, the existence of personality in some created beings reveals that the Creator also must have personality. As a stream does not rise above its source, so personality cannot randomly appear in the universe. It must have its origin in something similar. Fourth, the distinction between good and evil, between right and wrong, is proof of the existence of God. People do not make their own rules—or, when they do, other people point out that those rules are wrong. For anything to be wrong in the universe, there must first be a Source of what is right. Wrong is then identified as anything that contradicts that Source or rebels against him.

Granted that a God exists, how is one to know which of the many religions in the world are correct? Are they each right about some things and wrong about others? Are they merely stating the same truths with different cultural forms? Or is one religion clearly right, making all the other religions wrong? Those who study religion often distinguish between beliefs, practices, and ethics. While beliefs and practices vary greatly among religions, ethics seem to be roughly the same in all religions. All religious people believe that what is holy should be honored. All religious people believe that they should be kind and helpful to one another. The “Golden Rule”—that each person should treat others the way he or she wants to be treated—is stated by nearly every great religious teacher throughout history. Religious people know that they should do what is right. They know they should not do what is wrong. Most religions, however, teach that if someone has done something wrong, they must try again to do what is right. The uniqueness of Christianity is the message of redemption. Only Christians believe in a God who sacrifices himself to rescue his people from all that is wrong. Other religions tell stories about gods visiting their people. Many religions tell stories about the death and resurrection of a god. Only Christianity proclaims that God won a victory over evil and shares that victory with undeserving sinners. For this reason, when discussing religious teachings with unbelievers, it is helpful to skip over the proofs of God’s existence and start with Jesus of Nazareth: the proof that he existed (which few historians doubt), the proof that he began the movement which is known as Christianity, and especially the proof that Jesus died and was buried, but on the third day he rose again from the dead.

What proves that the Bible is God’s message to his people, a book to be treated differently from all other books, a book to be used to evaluate all other books? Only the Bible and the Quran claim to be God’s true messages. (They contradict each other. The Christian Bible identifies Jesus as the Son of God, but the Quran quotes God as saying that he has no sin. Both books cannot be right.) Buddhists and Confucians and Daoists and Hindus have spiritual writings, but they are not considered to be truth in written form. Of course anyone can write a book that claims to be a message from God. The fact that the Bible says it is God’s Word should not, by itself, convince anyone that it truly is God’s Word. As a historical document, though, the New Testament reliably reports what early Christians believed. The four Gospels began to be circulated at a time when some people could still remember seeing Jesus and hearing him speak. Even if the New Testament had no authority as God’s Word, the New Testament still describes the respect Jesus had for Moses and the prophets. He regarded them as authoritative, to be trusted and obeyed and followed. He used them as the source for all reliable information about God. In the same way, Jesus himself authorized apostles to be his messengers. He gave them authority to share his message as Moses and the prophets had earlier been given authority. The attitude of Jesus toward Moses, the prophets, and the apostles shapes the attitude of Christians today toward the words and the message of the Bible.

Many more things can be written on all three of these topics. In fact, long books cover these and other religious issues. This, though, is intended just as an introduction of one way to discuss proof as it relates to Christian beliefs. When discussing such truth, many unbelievers will try to lead the conversation away from Jesus. They would rather talk about ethics, or about science, or about different cultures and their different beliefs. For the Christian, the Key is Jesus. When talking about religion, we want always to be talking about Him. J.

 

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24 thoughts on “But can you prove it?

  1. “Who says that Jesus of Nazareth is a superstar?” Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber–concept album, 1970; stage musical, 1971; movie musical, 1973.
    “Your faith is based largely on Pauline doctrine.” That’s not surprising, since roughly half the books of the New Testament are credited to his name. But labels such as Pauline, Petrine, Johannine–or for that matter, Augustinian, Lutheran, Kierkegaardian–don’t matter much to me. I read what they said about Jesus of Nazareth, I agree with them, so what? For Paul, Peter, John, and the others, Jesus remains the central figure.
    “What movements are you talking about?” and “What evidence do you have to claim that Christianity exceeded all other such movements?” You spoke of other Jewish/Galilean messiahs mentioned by Josephus. Then there were Theudas and Judas the Galilean, mentioned in Acts 5:36-37. Among the Romans, there were groups faithful to Magna Mater, Hermes Trismegistos, Julian the Chaldean, Sol Invictus, and Simon the Magician, as well as neo-Egyptian cults of Isis and Osiris and a neo-Persian cult of Mithras. All these are long forgotten except among scholars of religion and history. The movement started by Jesus of Nazareth is somehow different. Why?
    Paraphrasing, here, are you afraid to talk about scientific evidence such as archaeology? Not at all. As a postmodern thinker, though, I realize that two equally intelligent, educated, and sincere people can look at the same evidence and reach different conclusions. Facts are objective, but reports based on facts will always be shaped by presuppositions. I postulate a God; you postulate no god. I am skeptical of the ability of reason and logic to lead me or anyone else to ultimate truth; you appear to trust them to be the path to ultimate truth. We can converse, but we can’t very well communicate without respect for one another’s postulates and presuppositions.
    I hope that makes sense. I regret the inability to carry the conversation back and forth without restarting threads every other exchange. J.

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  2. I find it interesting that you consider the bible to be ”the word of god”, yet we know more about the bible today – its history, composition authors etc than ever before.
    Science and archaeology have made tremendous strides over the past 50 – 100 years and these fields of endeavor have rendered much of the bible as nothing but myth and the Pentateuch is already regarded as historical fiction by every serious scholar and scientist.

    We know, for example, that the story of Adam and Eve is nothing but a story – the Genome Project headed by Francis Collins has demonstrated this.
    Noah’s flood is, of course, sheer nonsense and we have records of a local Mesopotamian flood from where the Epic of Gilgamesh derived and later the biblical tale of Noah.
    Archaeology has demonstrated that the take of Moses( the Egyptian Captivity, Exodus and Conquest of Canaan is also a work of fiction and now, thanks to the work of peoole like Israel Finkelstein William Dever and Ze’ev Herzog to name only three we have evidence of how Canaan was settled – virtually no Rabbi considers the tale of Moses an historical event and i doubt even the most fundamental would dare go on record and state this event actually happened.

    So how do you square away your faith – and continue to use the word ”proof” when the science completely refutes these foundational tenets?

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    • It sounds authoritative to say “science completely refutes,” but those words are as much a statement of faith as is trust in the Bible. If, for the sake of discussion, I were willing to concede that much of the Bible is figurative language and not literal, its message is still true–our Source is a good and intelligent Being who has told us right from wrong, we have done wrong, and He has entered what he made to fix what we broke and make things right. As to whether or not the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is “narrative fiction,” are you suggesting that the man Jesus did not exist, that he did not die as described in the Bible, or that he did not return to life on the third day? If you grant the first two and question the third, then where is the chief piece of evidence–a tomb containing his body? J. By the way, for what it’s worth, happy new year. J.

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      • First, faith as you mean has nothing t d with evidence. The evidence has revealed that the Pentateuch is simply historical fiction. The Genome Project has revealed that there was no Original Couple – Adam and Eve, thus, no Original Sin.
        And this rather puts the kibosh on all fundamental christianity. Sorry and all that. This is not some attempt at oneupmanship merely a statement of fact. So, please, don’t shoot me, talk to Collins and his team.

        I didn’t make this up; it’s not an ”atheist plot” by a bunch of god haters (lol) as fundies have a habit of crying. Sigh… so passe.
        The discovery is fairly recent. It’s not my fault if you wish to hold on to unsupportable nonsense.
        But this is the way it is, I’m afraid.

        A similar scenario is revealed with Moses. And the archaeology is there for all to see. Yes, there is controversy – where is there not controversy in the Middle East? lol…
        But the Egyptian Captivity, Exodus Mount Horeb Moses etc etc.
        This is a foundational myth and pretty much most Jewish scholars will tell you this.

        And there is no evidence of divinely infused morality …your ‘Source’.
        You should actually investigate the history and development of Yahweh. It will be an eye opener for you. ( You are aware of course that he was originally a Canaanite god I presume?)

        No, I am not suggesting there was no person named Yeshua. There were a number of similar smelly little eschatological rabbi types running around 1st century Palestine – Josephus names a couple, if memory serves? So does Tacitus, of course – although there is an element of doubt over the passage in Annals.

        However, the character featured in the anonymous gospels – the supposed divine Lake Tiberius Pedestrian who came back from the dead…. no, this is simply an exercise in credulity.
        Oh, and what tomb … never mind a body!

        End of story.

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      • OK–if by Genome Project you are referring to the Human Genome Project, conducted from 1990 to 2003, I am aware of it. I am not aware of any study based upon it that refutes the single origin of humanity. I’ve read several articles recently that said the opposite–that humanity did not derive from several distinct primate communities, but that all humans are descended from community (that developed in Africa).
        Aside from that, I am not prepared to discuss science and archaeology and what they prove. I am prepared to discuss the origins and consequences of Christianity and the place of Jesus of Nazareth in that topic. To begin again: what makes Jesus of Nazareth the Superstar, whose movement vastly exceeds all the others that existed in the Roman Empire between AD 1 and AD 318? J.

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      • I’ve read several articles recently that said the opposite–that humanity did not derive from several distinct primate communities, but that all humans are descended from community (that developed in Africa).

        I would like you to site the articles that say ‘the opposite”, please.

        Well of course, humans developed in Africa. That’s a given. I live here, so one would expect I was aware of this, and I am.

        But where on earth does this suggest an original couple as per the bible? It doesn’t . And thus , the Human Genome project has kicked into touch the nonsense of Genesis.
        And of course, the silly notion of Original Sin.

        Aside from that, I am not prepared to discuss science and archaeology and what they prove. I am prepared to discuss the origins and consequences of Christianity and the place of Jesus of Nazareth in that topic. To begin again: what makes Jesus of Nazareth the Superstar, whose movement vastly exceeds all the others that existed in the Roman Empire between AD 1 and AD 318? J.

        i do not understand your reluctance to discuss these crucial aspects and how they relate to your faith? Are you simply ignorant of the evidence or afraid they will present a challenge to your presuppositional point of view that you will have answer for?

        Who says Jesus of Nazareth is a superstar?

        You faith is based largely n Pauline doctrine.

        And what evidence do you have to make such a claim that Christianity exceeded all other movements. And more importantly, exactly what movements are you talking about?

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    • Arkenaten, I should have chosen a Theme that allows more layers of replies. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
      I am well-educated in source criticism, JEDP and all that. I honestly believe that those theories about the origin of the Bible rely as much upon faith as upon scientific research–no less than the traditional theories about Mosaic authorship, apostolic authority, and divine inspiration. If I believe traditional theories about the origin of the Bible and you believe recent scholarship about the origin of the Bible, we are still basing our beliefs as much on faith in someone else’s authority as on evidence and facts.
      Don’t worry–I am not the kind of person to accuse you of participating in any atheistic plot. I hope you will also give me credit for personal belief based on evidence I have considered rather than any fundamentalist group think. I don’t know much about the Genome Project; I will look it up before trying to comment upon it.
      I have read several works about the “history of Yahweh,” reducing the God of Israel to a blend of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Canaanite sources, with some Zoroastrianism blended in as well. It would be difficult to prove from facts alone that the God of Israel was invented from those sources, rather than those religions being corruptions of the original Hebrew religion, or perhaps there is a common source for all of them.
      “What tomb?” you ask. If no tomb in or near Jerusalem contains the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, it is entirely reasonable for me–and a billion other people–to conclude that he is no longer dead and buried. Since you beg to differ, please tell me: what makes this Jesus of Nazareth the Superstar? Why did his story become a major religion of the world when so many similar movements are known only among small academic circles?
      All the best to you. J.

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      • If I believe traditional theories about the origin of the Bible and you believe recent scholarship about the origin of the Bible, we are still basing our beliefs as much on faith in someone else’s authority as on evidence and facts.

        Wrong. This is not about absence of evidence etc, for there is evidence of how Canaan was settled and it was relatively without incident and it was internal. This is what the evidence reveals.
        Archaeologists are already aware of this -even if there are differences of opinion about how it happened exactly.
        However, only fundamentalists such as Kitchen believe it happened exactly as the bible states, which is of course utter nonsense and only an indoctrinated willfully ignorant individual holds on to this. Even those Jewish scholars who still believe that Moses existed in some form do not believe the biblical tale.
        However, if you are aware of an archaeologist or Egyptologist that has evidence to show the veracity of the biblical tale then I am more than willing to look at it and if it pans put I will nominate you for a Nobel Prize… as surely you , and the archaeologist who has this evidence will deserve it.

        Re : Yahweh. YAHWEH was a Canaanite god. He originally had a wife/consort and was part of a pantheon. The Israelites adopted him, ditched the spouse, and elevated him above all the others.
        Where do you get Egyptian and Mesopotamian gods from this? I am not talking about the similarities between the character Yeshua and similar deified individuals, solely Yahweh.

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/YHWH

        And of course there are plenty of other sites that explain as well.

        I don’t know much about the Genome Project; I will look it up before trying to comment upon it.

        I am sorry but to admit you are unaware of this is simply atrocious. It is as bad as saying Ken Ham and the Discovery Institute have merit and arguments worth considering.

        Re: the Tomb. You have not identified the tomb that the character Jesus of Nazareth was supposedly buried in. Oh,and before you ask ”Am I aware of such and such?” The answer will likely be ”Yes, I am aware”.

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  3. First, the existence of creation requires that there be a Creator.

    Even if this were true, how do you get from a first century, likely illiterate, eschatological Jewish rabbi, crucified by the Romans for sedition to an omnipotent deity responsible for the creation of the universe?

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    • Short of writing a book (and it’s been done), the key link is the resurrection following the crucifixion. If there is no supernatural intelligent being, how do you explain the miracle of the resurrection? If there is an omnipotent deity and Jesus is not connected to him/her/it, how do you explain the resurrection? J.

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  4. […] Christians believe in God, but can we prove that God exists? Christians believe that God is known only through Jesus Christ, but can we prove that our religion is right and that all other religions are wrong? Christians believe that the Bible is God’s Word, the only reliable source of information about God, but can we prove that the Bible is true and dependable, without any human errors? One problem with proof is that it is difficult to judge. No one is impartial on these questions. People either believe these things or they do not believe them. Much evidence can be offered to show that God exists, that he is known only through Jesus Christ, and that the Bible is God’s Word. Christians find great comfort in this evidence. Unbelievers seem always able to counter with evidence against Christianity which they find more persuasive. Frequently, conversations involving God and proof degenerate into two clear lines of battle, each side convinced that it is armed with the stronger and better evidence for its position……Read the rest of the post here: But can you prove it? | Salvageable […]

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  5. New follow here. I love apologetics, and as one author once observed, it is basically “pre-evangelism”, ie, moving some of the obstacles away for, as you said, further consideration. And honestly, in a world that continually buffets our beliefs, (I mean, c’mon, I believe in a guy who rose from the dead…), I keep coming back to the proof of the Resurrection. Now I’m off to see your bio as to why you chose this title for your blog–great title!! Nice to meet you.

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    • Thank you, dawnlizjones! Yes, the Resurrection is the final word about the existence of God and the identity of Jesus. I love apologetics too, when they occur in sincere conversations and not confrontational debates. By the way, the title is explained in “about this blog.” Have a Merry Christmas. J.

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      • Thank you so much for writing, “I love apologetics too, when they occur in sincere conversations and not confrontational debates.” I too love apologetics but get really peeved by those who create arguments merely for the sake of going to battle. All the Apologists of the New Testament were led by the Holy Spirit and not a desire for “One-upmanship.”

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