Theology: God (NATURALISTIC THEISTIC ARGUMENTS SHOWING GOD)

Naturalistic would be something to do with nature. Theistic would have to do with God. Naturalistic theistic arguments then, would be arguments for God from nature.

 

The term theism is used in different ways: In the most general sense it is any belief in god as a concept or idea. In the specific sense as we use it, it relates to the belief in Almighty God the Creator.

 

Atheism is the thought there is no god. The atheist is up front, automatically a fool according to the Psalmist (Psalm 14:1). The atheist should assume there is no god and force the theist to prove there is a god. Instead the atheist attempts to prove there is no god. If something is not there then how do you prove that it is not there? Especially when that thing that is not there is invisible. That is at best, a foolish thing to attempt.

 

The theist is left with the job of proving that his god is there even though that god is not visible and scientifically observable.

 

Our discussion in this section will be concerned with some of these proofs that have been set forth to prove that God exists. To be more specific, they are proofs that our God the creator of the universe exists.

 

Natural Theism: This is the information available from nature and through man’s reasoning about God.

 

Biblical Theism: This is all information available to man from nature and from the Word of God that is not only complete, but true.

 

I. NATURAL THEISM

 

Knowledge of God comes from three sources in the natural realm. These three sources are intuition, tradition and reason.

 

 

A. INTUITiON: Due to the sin in man this knowledge is distorted, however it is a knowledge that all of mankind has shared through the centuries. This is an inborn knowledge of God. Romans 1:19 mentions, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them.”

 

All civilizations have had some sort of afterlife and belief in some sort of god or higher power. This knowledge is that which does not need to be taught. It is knowledge that does not come from his environmental training or upbringing. The thought of right and wrong is a good example. Every society has rights and wrongs. Some of them are much more primitive than others, yet we find some concept of right and wrong in any society that we care to study.

 

Man has this type of knowledge of God. He may not know much, and his knowledge may be warped, but that knowledge is built in.

 

Strauss quotes Zwemer, The Origin Of Religion: “On two great conceptions modern scientists are agreed: namely, on the unity of the race and on the essential religious nature of man….Man is very much alike everywhere from China to Peru….He always has been and is [,] incurably religious….Humanity itself finds its roots in God….” (Strauss, Lehman; “The First Person”; Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1967, p 32)

 

In all societies man has the concept of God and there is also along with that concept the concept that if the man does wrong there will be displeasure on the part of God, and punishment for the man. On the other hand — good actions bring lack of punishment, or reward.

 

B. Tradition: The information we have in our Bible may have been tradition before it was set down by Moses. The men that followed God during this period operated on what had been handed down to them from previous generations.

 

To a point much of what we can know of God today came from past generations that have committed their findings about God and His Word to the printed page for us to consider and ponder.

 

C. Reason: There are several arguments for the existence of God from reason. Walvoord says these arguments are inductive and proceed from facts to a conclusion. If I grab the two wires in a light socket, I feel something. That is fact. From the fact of pain, I Should draw some conclusions that I should not touch two wires in a light socket.

 

1. Argumentum A Posteriori: This is the argument from effect to cause. If you see or observe an effect you know there was a cause. If you come up to a car that is upside down in the ditch you know there has been an unexpected occurrence. That is the effect — the cause may be a number of things, but you can be sure there was some cause.

 

We lived in an apartment in Salem, OR located on a curve at the edge of town. We had numerous accidents every year on the curve. One morning early we heard a crash and I went to see if I could help. Another car was just pulling off in a hurry. The driver of the wrecked car said he had taken the corner at 30 miles per hour and he didn’t know what happened. I was told by one of our sons before going to the scene that the two cars had been drag racing. He knew the cause of the effect just as well as I did, even though the driver just couldn’t figure out what happened.

 

This argument for the existence of God is quite effective with people that don’t know if God exists. These arguments are very logical in their approach, and thus conducive to acceptance by both the intellectual mind and the mind of a less educated person.

 

This line of argumentation moves from the end product that we are, and in which we live (creation), backward to what was in the past — only One that had intelligence, desire and power enough to create what we see today could have created it all. There must have been a being that had intelligence, desire and power enough to create, to have done so.

 

A well-built car, if examined, will demand there be a designer that had the desire to design and build such a device, as well as the power to build.

 

a. Cosmological: Cosmological comes from the term, “kosmos” meaning orderly. Simply stated this tells us that we can observe the great and vast creation thus we must assume there was a great and vast power that was powerful enough to have created that creation.

 

There are four arguments concerning the creation that have been presented in the past.

 

 

1). Nature is eternal so there is no need for a cause.

 

2). Matter is eternal and therefore is self-developing. It can do as it wants — man has no direction or purpose — only the matter that is developing has purpose.

 

3). Matter is eternal however it’s present arrangement is due to the influence of God. Plato, Aristotle, and others held this thought. Man then may have some purpose else wise why would God influence matter.

 

4). Matter was created for the express purposes of Almighty God. Only this final argument is consistent with the Revelation of God.

 

Pardington quotes Strong: “Everything begun, whether substance or phenomenon, owes its existence to some producing cause. The universe, at least so far as its present form is concerned, is a thing begun, and owes its existence to a cause equal to its production. This cause must be indefinitely great.” (Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D.; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 65)

 

This system of argumentation is based on three presuppositions:

 

1). If there is an effect there was a cause. If you enter a room and a thief is standing over me with his fist raised and I am laying on the floor, there must have been a cause for my reclining position.

 

2). The effect depends on the cause for its being. My reclining position is not because the price of eggs is higher today than yesterday in Chicago, but it may be because I said something about the way the thief was acting.

 

3). Nature cannot in and of itself produce itself. There had to have been a cause for the effect of nature.

 

Cause and effect. Everything begun owes it’s existence to some producing cause. Let us consider a room for example; something caused it; it didn’t just come into existence. This book — a cause somewhere caused it to come into existence.

 

Lockyer ends his study in this way:

 

 

“There is a power somewhere because there are effects everywhere.

 

“There is wisdom somewhere because wise deeds are accomplished everywhere.

 

“There is intelligence somewhere for there are order and arrangement everywhere.

 

“There is goodness somewhere for there are beneficent agents and resultant gladness everywhere.” (Taken from the book, ALL THE DOCTRINES OF THE BIBLE by Herbert Lockyer. Copyright 1964 by Zondervan Publishing House. Used by permission. p 21)

 

b. Teleological: Simply stated is the fact that we can see design in the creation thus we must assume that creation was designed and created by a being that has design and order.

The term comes from the Greek word “telos” which means design or end. If there is design then it is logical to assume there was a designer.

Pardington quoting Strong states, “Order and useful collation [means bringing together] pervading a system respectively imply intelligence and purpose as the cause of that order and collocation [means arranging together]. Since order and collocation pervade the universe, there must exist an intelligence adequate to the production of this order, and a will adequate to direct this collocation to useful ends” (Pardington, pp 66, 67)

 

I once took apart a Norelco razor — there had to have been a designer — it was too well engineered to just have come into existence in some junk yard somewhere. The universe is full of examples of the great design to be found in the creation in which we live.

 

Cambron mentions the design whereby ice floats to the top of water thereby allowing fish life to live through cold weather. If ice sank to the bottom then all above would also freeze killing the fish.

 

Reason for the design is indicative of intelligent thought processes of a being that designed due to a reason and created. Intelligent thought processes also indicates the personality of the designer.

 

 

The human eye and it’s intricacies. The seed that can be planted and spring forth to life as a plant and later as fruit.

 

It should be noted that the skeptics must admit that the world is ordered. They are left with the problem of explaining how the order came into being if there was no order. They must rely on disordered primordial gluck moving from itself to a finely ordered world of today. This idea is not only illogical but it lacks reason.

 

Some might state that the order and design came from the natural working of the laws of nature. If this is true where then did the orderly laws of nature come from if not from an orderly God.

 

c. Anthropological: Simply stated this point says that man has a spiritual side that did not happen by chance — we must assume there is a spiritual being that created him.

 

Pardington states, “The argument may be represented in three parts:

 

a. “Man’s intellectual and moral nature requires for its author an intellectual and moral Being. The mind cannot evolve from matter, neither can spirit evolve from flesh. Consequently, a Being having both mind and spirit must have created man.

 

b. “Man’s moral nature proves the existence of a holy Lawgiver and Judge. Otherwise, conscience cannot be satisfactorily explained.

 

c. “Man’s emotional and volitional nature requires for its author a Being, who, as Dr. Strong says, “can furnish in Himself a satisfying object of human affection and an end which will call forth man’s highest activities and ensure his highest progress.” (Pardington, p 68)

 

Ryrie states, “Inasmuch as God has created man with unusual qualities not found in any other created being, it is possible for man, on the basis of what he is, to have some concept of what God is. Man is composed of both material and immaterial elements.” (Taken from: “A Survey Of Bible Doctrine”; Ryrie, Charles C.; Copyright 1972, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.)

 

In using this argument you must be careful to not use “God” in your proof of God’s existence. I think that Ryrie needs to reconsider his argument. It would be better to say that because man has qualities that animals do not have there is some reason for that difference. We can assume that due to our makeup that a creator would probably have some of those same characteristics, which He gave to us.

 

Ryrie goes on to say that a being creating man with “Life, intellect, sensibility, will, conscience, and inherent belief in God” must also have those attributes. (Taken from: “A Survey Of Bible Doctrine”; Ryrie, Charles C.; Copyright 1972, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.)

 

Some submit man’s moral nature as indicative of a moral God as well. Indeed, some call this whole thought the Moral argument.

In concluding the three arguments Walvoord states the following: “(1) In the cosmological argument, the existence of the cosmos, originating in time, constitutes proof of a First Cause who is self-existent and eternal and who possesses intelligence, power, and will.

 

(2) In the teleological argument the evidence of design extends the proof of the intelligence of the First Cause into details of telescopic grandeur and microscopic perfection far beyond the feeble ability of man to discover or comprehend.

 

(3) In the anthropological argument, though confirming the proofs advanced in the two preceding arguments, an added indication is secured which suggests the elements in the First Cause of intellect, sensibility, and will, which are the essentials of personality; the moral feature of conscience in man indicates that his Creator is the One who actuates holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” (Reprinted by permission: Walvoord, John F. editor; “Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, Vol. I & II, 1988, p 122)

 

d. Christological: Simply stated this argument shows that if we can observe so many things related to Christ that cannot be humanly produced, we must assume there was a supernatural being that produced the effects.

 

 

This point is closely related to Scriptural proofs of God’s existence yet the unsaved philosophical mind must cope with it if he is to be honest.

 

If there is no God then how do you account for:

 

1). The Bible and its longevity. 2). Fulfillment of prophecy. 3). The miracles.

4). Supernatural character and divine mission of Christ.

 

5). Christianity’s influence on the world.

 

6). The fact of conversion and the change in people’s lives.

 

If there is no God then you must account in some way for all of the above.

 

e. Congruity: Congruity simply stated says, if you have a system of thought that fits the facts of the effect then you must assume the system of thought contains facts that are correct about the cause. This comes from the state of being “harmoniously related or united.” (Bancroft, Emery H./Ed. Mayers, Ronald B.; “Christian Theology”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976, p 66)

 

The following is an argument that follows this line of thinking. If a key fits the lock of the door and it unlocks the lock then it is the correct key to the door. If an infinite God fits all the facts that we perceive, then He is the answer that we seek.

 

2. Argumentum A Priori: This argument by definition works from the minute to the enlarged. It moves from a bone to a suggested full size recreation of the bone’s original owner. Pardington states, “a priori argument, that is, from cause to effect.” (Pardington p 69)

 

a. Ontological: Ontological comes from the Greek word “ontos” or being. Simply stated, man has a concept of an infinite perfect being thus we must assume that the infinite perfect being made us aware of Himself.

 

Walvoord describes this argument: “The argument is that man could not have this idea unless something exists that corresponds to it. According to this argument, the existence of God is certified by the fact that the human mind believes that God exists.” He also states that most do not use this argument due to the fact there are questions that can arise from it. (Reprinted by permission: Walvoord, John F. editor; “Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, Vol. I & II, 1988, p 123)

 

Pardington likens it to “the Scotchman’s definition of metaphysics: “one man talking about something of which he knows nothing to another man who does not understand him.”” (Pardington, p 69)

 

Pardington lists three forms of this argument:

 

1. Samuel Clarke of the 18th century. “Space and time are attributes of substance or being. But space and time are respectively infinite and eternal. There must therefore be an infinite and eternal substance or Being to whom these attributes belong.

 

“Gillespie mentions: “Space and time are modes of existence. But space and time are respectively infinite and eternal. There must therefore be an infinite and eternal Being who subsists in these modes.” (Pardington P 70)

 

Space and time are infinite, therefore there must be an infinite and eternal substance or being to whom these attributes belong. Some thing or being had to be operating in infinity to create these things to enjoy.

 

We have an idea of an infinite and perfect being. This idea cannot be derived from imperfect, finite things. Thus there must be an infinite being who is the cause.

 

2. Descartes a Frenchman from the 16th century: “We have the idea of an infinite and perfect Being. this idea cannot be derived from the imperfect and finite things. There must, therefore, be an infinite and perfect Being who is the cause.” (Pardington p 70)

 

We have an idea of an absolutely perfect being. But existence is an attribute of perfection. Thus, an absolutely perfect being must exist.

 

Strong argues that the finite mind cannot come to the infinite idea.

 

 

3. Anselm of the middle ages: “We have the idea of an absolutely perfect Being. But existence is an attribute of perfection. An absolutely perfect Being must, therefore, exist.” (Pardington p 70)

 

Q. Is this truly a naturalistic argument? As Ryrie and Walvoord state it, I’m not so sure. If as the other writers define it — not using God but the idea of a being, then you might see it as naturalistic. To put God into it is to say that we are arguing from a knowledge of God.

 

In witnessing you can use these arguments to jog people’s minds as to the possibility of God’s existence. Missionaries in foreign countries oft times have to use these arguments to help the people to the place where they can believe that there is a God and then the missionary can witness to them of the Gospel.

 

In The Daily Bread a story by Mark Ralph Norton of the Belgian Gospel Mission, illustrates the truth that we need to remember even when using these arguments.

 

“What do you do Mark Norton, in a case where an unsaved man does not accept the Bible as having any authority?” He replied, “Well, if I were in a fight and had a sword with a keen double-edged blade, I wouldn’t keep it in its sheath just because the other fellow said he didn’t believe it would cut.” (Used by permission of Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan.)

 

We need to use the Word at any and every opportunity even though the person may or may reject the Word’s validity. (“For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Hebrews 4:12)

 

I would encourage you to be familiar with these arguments in coming days. You will be running into more and more people that will not believe there is a God and these will give you an opening to talk to them of God anyway.

 

Someone has suggested that when Paul preached on Mars’ Hill he approached the people via an unknown god they worshiped, but that he went immediately into the Gospel, not using any rational arguments, thus we must assume that we should not use rational arguments with people in witnessing. NO. This is wrong logic.

 

Paul was talking to people that had belief in gods. They had many but they believed in gods. “…I perceive that in all things ye are very religious.” (Acts 17:22b It should be noted that Paul began at Genesis 1 to explain his thought to the Athenians.) It should also be noted that though Paul did not use the arguments of reason that we are discussing, he did use reason with them. This is seen in his presentation in vss. 22ff. (Vs. 29 especially)

 

He did not have opportunity to share the Gospel with these people by the way. He did have some that followed and evidently accepted the Gospel later. Vs. 34.

 

There are people that do not believe in any god or gods. These are the people that we can confront with rational arguments. They may accept the possibility of a god and then begin to listen to the Word.

 

I spent an afternoon talking with a man that was irate with a Christian that had spent the noon hour telling him that he needed to be saved. When I entered the truck, He challenged me. “You aren’t a religious nut are you?” As the afternoon went along, I talked with him of the possibilities of God existing. He was very open to the logic of the arguments. Ultimately I was able to share the Gospel with him. His final comment that day was, “Stan, thank you for telling me that. At home I have stacks of religious literature, and I have never heard what you told me today.” He promised to seriously consider the Lord’s claims — because he was open to logical arguments for the Father’s existence.[1]

 


[1] by Stanley L. Derickson. DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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