Apologetics 101: Having an Argument for the Existence of God

By Melissa Cain Travis

The Scene: Monday morning, your cubicle at work. You’re enjoying the last of your Starbucks joy-in-a-cup while reading your emailed daily devotion. You’re the first one in to the office, so all is quiet.

<Sound of door opening and closing. Footsteps somewhere behind.>

Coworker Joe: Hey, how’s it going?

You: Oh, morning Joe. I’m well, how about you?

Joe: Hating that it’s already Monday. Ugh.

<Joe throws down his briefcase and car keys in the next cubicle over, wheels his desk chair over to yours, and slurps his coffee noisily>

Joe: You’re not working already, are you? It’s not 9 yet.

You: No, I was just having some quiet time, reading a little devotional before it gets crazy in here.

Joe: What’s a devotional?

You: Oh…well…it’s like a mini Bible study type of thing. It has a few verses of scripture with a short commentary.

Joe: Hum. Here’s the only “devotional” you really need: Life is short. Party a lot, ’cause eventually you die. That’s it. I don’t buy into the whole God-business.

You: Oh. Why is that, Joe?

Joe: I’m a realist. If modern science ever proves there’s a God, I’ll rethink things. I don’t trust an old book that’s been re-copied and changed over thousands of years. Don’t get me wrong; if it makes you feel better to believe it, I say good for you. But it’s not for me.

You: Uh…okay…well…hmmm… So, how about those Cowboys yesterday?

<Fade to black.>

Apologetics 101

Ever found yourself in a scenario similar to this one? I have, multiple times over the course of my adult life. Like the character in the above dialogue, I failed. Miserably. I can still recall the names and faces of all the “Coworker Joes” that came and went in my life before I left my career to be home with my children during their preschool years. It is the haunting memory of my failures to give a reasoned response to those who sneered at my faith that eventually led me into what I believe to be my calling in apologetics education. At this point, I can only pray for those that crossed my path in years past, but my mission in life now is to make sure I’m better equipped and to encourage and empower others to equip themselves.

What I didn’t know way back when, and what you may not know now, is that there are excellent answers we can give to skeptics who don’t believe the Bible to be true (much less divinely inspired) about the existence of God. In this post, I’d like to focus specifically on one easy-to-learn argument that you can use in most any circumstance. (In a future post, I’ll present another stand-alone yet supplementary argument.)

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The overwhelming scientific consensus about the origin of our universe is that it is not eternal. In other words, it came into existence at some time in the past and is moving towards an ultimate end at some point in the future. There are several lines of evidence from astrophysics that make an excellent case for this. For example, we know from Edwin Hubble’s work that our universe is in a state of continual expansion, with the galaxies moving away from one another at a high rate of speed. In efforts to explain how our universe was first born, the event popularly known as the Big Bang, scientist have extrapolated backwards to estimate what triggered this Bang and what exactly went “bang.” The predominant view is that prior to the Bang there existed a tiny point of infinite heat and density known as the Singularity. Outside of this Singularity, there was no matter,  no space and no time. Nothing. Then, the Singularity exploded (for some reason) and expanded into our universe.

Basically, it is important to know that scientific consensus says that the universe had a beginning in the finite past. There have been multiple attempts to construct a theory that circumvents the idea of an ultimate beginning of the universe. Suffice it to say that those theories are problematic, highly speculative, and not often (if ever) endorsed by leading astrophysicists. For further reading on this, see Paul Copan and William Lane Craig’s book, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration.

Okay, so the universe (therefore all matter, space, and time) had a definite beginning. How, you may ask, does this get me anywhere with atheist Coworker Joe?

Enter: the Kalam Cosmological Argument:

1. Whatever comes into existence has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

The big problem for a naturalistic explanation of the primordial singularity and the Big Bang is that the known laws of physical science don’t apply in a realm devoid of matter, space, or time. What we do know from experience is that nothing comes into existence out of nothing. William Lane Craig says, “To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is to quit doing serious metaphysics and to resort to magic” (Reasonable Faith, p. 111).

From this, it is reasonable to deduce that there was, by necessity, a Creator of the Singularity and a Cause of the universe’s expansion out of that point. This Cause has to have existed eternally (without need for its own creator), outside of space and time, and have the power to choose to act with creative, causal intention. The only type of cause that meets these requirements is Mind; an omniscient, omnipotent, disembodied Mind; what we refer to as…

GOD.

Visit Melissa’s blog at www.hcchristian.wordpress.com


Resources for Greater Impact

IDHEFTBAA book standing w SHadow

I Don’t Have Enough to Be an Atheist (Book)

SFG angled book

Stealing from GOD (Book)


Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

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6 replies
  1. Pamela Worden says:

    I’m struggling to make headway with my nephew who is an atheist. He is so much smarter than I am and he knows it. I just want to share my trust and faith in Jesus in a way that that will give him reason to reconsider his beliefs.

    Reply
    • Shirle says:

      I also nephew that is an atheist. He gave me a book that said “what the Bible says about homosexuality”. It was so twisted by some very intelligent professor and priest that it made me ill. I now want to find a book that I can give him about the true existence of God. As you can see he is also homosexual.

      Reply
  2. Ben says:

    Pamela,

    I’m an atheist, and believe me: being “smart” is neither necessary nor sufficient for defending your position on God. This is true whether you’re an atheist or a Christian.

    Let me give you some examples: In *The God Delusion* and *The Grand Design*, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking each make fools of themselves in their inept attempts to defend atheism. These are two incredibly intelligent people, and yet they are embarrassments to atheism.

    On the other hand, to be a good apologist or counter-apologist, you do need to be INFORMED about philosophy, and EXPERIENCED in interpreting and responding to philosophical arguments. This happens slowly over time, as you read more about the issues and interact more with people who are investigating the same issues.

    Contrary to what Melissa Cain Travis implies above, you don’t need to respond to Coworker Joe by a full-on presentation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Instead, it is perfectly acceptable to humbly ask questions. For example, you could ask Coworker Joe, “So why do you think the Bible has changed over time?” That takes the pressure off you to defend Christianity, and puts the pressure on him to defend his claims. Or you could say, “I’m going to look into that. Let me get back to you tomorrow.” And then you could go home search Google—a wonderful resource—to learn more. You would quickly find that the Bible has remained pretty much the same over the past 2000 years, and that it is preserved in its original languages Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Then, the next day, you could tell Joe what you learned and ask him what he thinks.

    So, there are all kinds of things you can do to become better-informed about Christianity, while still engaging the skeptics you meet. Eventually, you will become experienced enough to take a more assertive approach in presenting complicated arguments like the Kalam.

    Reply
      • Tiny Ford says:

        Haha good job in already starting to ask questions instead of refuting.

        That said, nobody is a “true atheist” as atheism requires faith in the secure absolute knowledge that they claim to possess. Even an atheist knows that no human being can possess absolute knowledge and therefore have to accept the fact that atheism requires just as much faith as Christianity or any other faith. The word “Theist” means to have faith or believe in a god or God. While “atheist” means to disbelieve or lack believe in a god.
        It all boils down to the fact that they have to believe in their disbelief which makes atheism a religion in itself.

        Ben is in all likelyhood an Agnostic who is unconvinced of the existence of a supreme being. But he does sound like an intellectual (and a nice one with that which is amazing) and I believe he knows this, but if someone states that they are agnostic Christians automatically try to convince them, but when they claim to be atheist then Christians should know “don’t even try to convince me”.

        I hope this helps. Good luck with your nephew. I recommend buying the book “reason for God” by Tim Keller to start convincing him that he is agnostic and not atheist. That opens up worlds because then you already got them to leave their first religion and enter into a realm of uncertainty where they will more easily listen to reason

        Reply
        • kim says:

          “atheism requires faith in the secure absolute knowledge that they claim to possess”
          “It all boils down to the fact that they have to believe in their disbelief which makes atheism a religion in itself.”

          Are you serious ?
          How am i claiming absolute knowledge when i don’t believe a claim until there is sufficient evidence ?

          Reply

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