Last week we looked at two areas of argument in an attempt to prove the existence of God. The Ontological argument which seeks to prove the existence of God based wholly on logic or reason alone and the Cosmological argument is actually derived from the law of cause and effect that states: “every effect must have an adequate cause.” This week, we will look at two other arguments in this three-part series.
The third proof is the Teleological Argument or the Argument from Design, which focuses on the fact that the universe is ordered and fit for habitation.
Anything that is designed implies a designer behind the design. The world shows abundant evidences of design; and so it has to have an intelligent maker. A watch with all its complex mechanisms demands recognition of its design and of course, the maker. No rational person would ever think that it just happened to assemble itself by some fortunate accident. So it is with the world we live in. The delicate snowflake, the soaring flight of an eagle, the lovely sunset, and the magnificent canyons of the earth actually exposes an excellent and wonderful designer, God.
Let’s just assume that modern science is accurate in stating that the universe started with a big bang, an explosion that scattered primordial matter in all directions at a massive rate. Well, the big bang could have been other than it was. For example, it could have involved a bigger or a smaller explosion or it could have contained more or less matter.
If the rate at which pieces of matter scattered was greater than it was, gravity would not have had the chance to draw enough matter together to form planets, stars and gases; and there would be absolutely nothing for which life could emerge on. Had the expansion rate been too slow, gravity would have drawn everything back together in one enormous impact before life could have emerged. The rate of expansion following the big bang was just right to permit life to develop; otherwise we would not be here now.
If this was the case, was the big bang a stroke of luck or was it planned by the Creator? It is extremely doubtful that a random big bang would be such as to permit life to grow; and therefore extremely doubtful, according to the argument from design, that the big bang from which our universe was formed occurred randomly.
Since the vast majority of these possible universes would not have supported the existence of life, we are rather blessed to live in a universe that does. Not unexpectedly, the teleological argument has been rejected by some. To an atheist, there is simply no satisfactory explanation for our extremely good fortune; he must ascribe everything to chance. Evolutionists, particularly, argued that adaptation may be both accidental and designed. Just because the universe supports life, it does not automatically suggest that the universe was specially intended to provide subsistence for life. It could all be a fantastic celestial accident. Or could it?
But with the view that God exists, we can give an explanation as to the reason why the universe is the way it is; well, it is because God fashioned the universe with us in mind. This argument, if successful, strongly argues for the existence of a Creator that takes an interest in humanity.
Let’s carefully examine the universe we live in, every evidence makes it less likely that the universe was formed by accident and more likely that it was designed by a Creator. When all evidence is taken into consideration, the argument from design would conclude that there can be no question as to whether the universe just happens to be so or whether it was intentionally formed that way; because the universe unmistakably demonstrates intelligent design.
“The practical problem for those who object to the teleological argument is how to account for all the accidents in the universe and all the adaptations. To take just one fact, it is obvious that the eye was designed for sight and was no mere or even fortuitous accident. How is the eye to be explained if there is no designer? Too many denials invite a justified incredulity” (David Clark, Professor of Systematic Theology, Philadelphia School of Christian Workers).
The universe simply displays too much design, too much wisdom. Only God could have possessed such unfathomable wisdom, and He does. “To God only wise be glory, through Jesus Christ, for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:27). The 17th century theologian Stephen Charnock wrote: “Men acquire wisdom by the loss of their fairest years; but God’s wisdom is the perfection of the divine nature, not the birth of study, or the growth of experience, but as necessary, as eternal, as His essence. He goes not out of Himself to search wisdom: He needs no more the brains of creatures in the contrivances of His purposes, than He doeth their arm in the execution of them. He needs no counsel; He receives no counsel from
any (see Romans 11:34
and Isaiah 40:14). He is the only Fountain of wisdom to others.”
The fourth proof is the Moral Argument, which attempts to prove God’s existence from the fact that moral laws exist.
Facts show what the world really is. It is a fact that predator go after their prey and not the other way around. It is a fact that Beijing is the capital of China, because there is such a city that is the capital of China. And for the majority of the facts, the objects are there to render them factual.
But moral laws are not facts. They do not have physical characteristics that can be observed to make them true. It is because moral laws are not descriptive but prescriptive; they are made up of commands. And since moral laws have the form of commands, they tell us what ought to be done.
If they are commands, there has to be a commander. A command cannot exist without a commander. And since moral laws are commands, the question comes, “who is it that commands us to act morally?” or “who commands morality?” To respond to this question, the moral argument proposes that we evaluate the importance of morality.
Morality is of prime value in the world we live in. If we are morally obligated to do something, this would essentially take precedence over any other factors coming into play. If one is motivated to get a thing done but morally ought to get some other thing done, then he should be doing the other thing after all factors are taken into consideration. To cite an example: it might be in my interest not to aid someone in need, but morally I should when all things have been taken into account. Morality overrides everything else; it is essentially authoritative.
Commands are only as authoritative as the commanding person. If I
were to command everybody to pay additional tax for the purpose of building public roads and highways, nobody would be obligated to obey me. However, if the state imposed the tax, it would be a totally different story, since it does have the authority to do so. So it is with morality.
As morality has definitely more influence than any individual or institution over our actions, the moral argument argues, moral laws could not have been commanded by any individual or institution. As morality supersedes everything else, it must have been commanded by a being who exercises authority over all things. The existence of morality therefore directs us to someone far more superior than we are and who reigns over all creation.
Mankind has a virtuous nature. They seem to have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. There is a general belief that we will one day all be held accountable for who we are and what we do. The Creator of our moral nature must be a higher, moral Being who is aware of good and evil, and who rewards the good and penalizes evil. Of course, that Being is God who inspires holiness in those created in His image.
As the Holy Scripture states, “He is glorious in holiness” (Exodus 15:11). And according to the late reformed Baptist preacher Ferrell Griswold, “Holiness belongs to God originally. He is the source and fountain of all holiness. Any holiness seen in the creature is from Him. Holiness belongs to God underivatively. It being original with Him is derived from no one, or thing. Even when God dwelt alone He was the great Holy One. Holiness belongs unto God perfectly. All holiness that is within the creature has a flaw, but in God it is infinitely perfect, with nothing being added unto it. Holiness belongs to God immutably. He always has been, He ever will be the Holy One.”
Based on this argument, there could be no morality apart from God. A quotation ascribed to the famous 19th century Russian author
Feodor Dostoevsky states, “If there is no God, then all things are permissible.” And the fact that moral law exists, then not all things are permissible, attest to the existence of God.
Look out for Part III.