QAHow can we know God exists?How can we know God exists?
If something exists, it has either 1) always existed, 2) been created by something that always existed, or 3) created itself. We know from evidence that the universe has not always existed. We also know that it is impossible for something finite to create itself. It would have to exist in order to create; but how can something be and not be at the same time? Therefore, the only option remaining is the universe was created by something that has always existed, has infinite might and eternal life.
The Bible tells us that "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom 1:20). When we see a tree, we realize that there was once a seed from which it grew. When we see a child, we recognize that there were parents that gave birth to the child. When we consider the universe, we know there must be a source for its being:
Existence is like a gift given from cause to effect. If there is no one who has the gift, the gift cannot be passed down the chain of receivers, however long or short the chain may be... If there is no God who has existence by His own eternal nature, then the gift of existence cannot be passed down the chain of creatures and we can never get it. But we do get it; we exist. Therefore there must exist a God: an Uncaused Being.¹
We are able to exist today because there are complex forces, systems and structures working in the universe, keeping it in order. The earth sustains life because it is located at just the right distance from the sun, between the thermally uninhabitable limits of the boiling and freezing points of water. We live because each cell of our bodies possesses about 80,000 genes that enable the trillions of cells we have to function and communicate with each other. From the macro world to the micro, we see both precision and complexity, but above all, purpose, in existence. Nudge the earth a little off its path of orbit, and the temperature would cause all of life to die; alter or remove a gene, and the whole body may be destroyed. Such explicit design declares the existence of an intelligent creator.
From His Word
God has revealed His existence and His plans for humankind through His own word. The existence of the Bible and its lasting influence over thousands of years attest to something greater than the invention of man. Indeed, how could over forty authors, from peasants to kings, statesmen to fishermen, and over a span of forty generations have presented such a consistent image of God and message of His divine plan unless His existence were real? Accumulated evidence has demonstrated the truth of the Word: not only through corroborating archaeological findings², but also through the fulfillment of over 600 specific, biblical prophecies through the ages³ and its ultimate materialization in Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1,14).
From Human Consciousness
God exists because we know and experience Him. The book of Romans tells us that humans "knew God" but "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom 1:21,18). And yet an underlying moral consciousness, a universal sense of right and wrong, persists within us, testifying to that ultimate source of justice. Though laws may vary across boundaries and "values" are subjective, there are universally accepted notions of how one ought (e.g. with honor, kindness) or ought not (e.g. murder, rape, lie) to behave that have prevailed through history and across cultural boundaries. Fundamentally, or at the very least, we recognize the obligation to obey our conscience—an obligation that neither arises from nature nor ourselves, nor society, for none of the three can fully "impose" that obligation on us. The only source for the absolute moral obligation to obey our conscience is God.
The universal desire, found among people in every age and culture, to seek out and worship God also affirms his existence. Why would the desire exist if there were no real object for it? We would not feel hunger or thirst unless food and water existed. As C.S. Lewis argued in Mere Christianity, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." A person might win a million dollars, achieve a certain level of fame, or gain the affection of others, but still seek something better that he knows exists "out there." The fulfillment, the perfect goodness, the complete love we long for truly exists; the delusion occurs when we fail to recognize we are really missing God.
Our knowledge of God, however, is not only based on inference. We can know he exists through experience. God does directly intervene in our lives, as testimony reveals. When we hear about a person healed from a fatal illness, or a baby found sleeping, cradled in the limb of a tree, after a tornado, we recognize that certain incidents cannot be rationally explained. There must be someone beyond our "ordinary," "rational" world who has control over it: there must be God.
When we practice God’s word, we will see the results. When we pray, as he instructed us, God listens and answers our prayers, even in miraculous ways. If we pray for the Holy Spirit, we will receive it, as many believers can testify—truly experiencing the power and joy in the spirit as the Bible describes. Moreover, when we receive the Holy Spirit, we experience the guiding presence of God daily (Ezek 36:27).
- Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 51.
- For a measured look at current archaeological evidence, see Jeffery L. Sheler, "Is the Bible true?" U.S. News and World Report (October 25, 1999).
- For a detailed discussion of biblical prophecy and fulfillment, see Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, vol.1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979) 265-323.