Its too easy to profess our faith and then live our lives as if we don't have faith. Therefore, I think it is important that every once in a while we go back to the beginning to re-examine the foundation of our faith.
Yesterday, in Encounter at FBS we began a sermon series in which we are exploring the "big" questions of the faith, aka the existential questions of life. These are questions that all of us ask at some point. We began by looking at perhaps the foundational question of these, "Is there a God." Answering this question will guide the answer to the remaining question, so its importance cannot be overstated. Thomas Oden, in his powerhouse of a book, Classic Christianity argues for the importance of the question in stating, "when we fail to use our best intelligence around such pivotal questions as the existence of God, we diminish the power of faith by the dullness of our minds."
Today begins the first in a series in which we will examine some of the more influential arguments for the existence of God. There are perhaps five main categories to consider when thinking of the various arguments: Arguments from 1. Order and Design, 2. Humanity, 3. How the World Works, 4. Moral Understanding, and 5. Ontological Views.
The Argument from Order and Design
We can begin by looking at the first category, Arguments from Order and Design. These 2 different arguments are perhaps the oldest in the dating back to the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras, and then made distinctly Christian through the works of Augustine and perhaps most intricately, Thomas Aquinas. The latter used the term Teleological Argument in describing them. For our purposes, we are going to explore them as one argument together.
The argument, in its simplest form, can be summarized by saying that IF there is any order in the world (vs. Chaos), then we must accept that there is an orderer. Perhaps in its elementary understanding, we have all heard, "If someone found a watch in the forest by itself, then one could assume that there was a watchmaker- an intelligent mind behind the construction and operation of the watch."
In a more complex understanding, Aquinas argues that the argument has three main facets (from Summa Theologica. Thomas Aquinas. Edited by English Dominican Fathers. 3 vols. New York: Benziger, 1947.):
1. The visible world is a cosmos, an orderly unity whose order is constant, uniform, complex, and intrinsic to the universe itself.
2. Such an order cannot be explained, unless it is admitted that the universe has a cause that displays intelligence capable of bringing it into being.
3. Therefore, such a cause of the universe exists, which is to say, God exists as the intelligent cause of the universe.
*Admittedly, this does not do justice to either argument (from Order or Design) but is a combined summary of the two).
Why is this important?
The reason each of us needs to answer the question, "Does God exist?" is because all of the questions that come up in our lives, such as "Why do good people suffer?" and "Why is there so much hate in the world?" we must first decide if there is a God.
Secondly, its important to understand that if there is a God, and you profess belief in that God, specifically God revealed in Jesus Christ, then arguments like this might help solidify doubt that you may have and challenge you to actually live your life as if God really does exist. Again, Its too easy to profess our faith and then live our lives as if we don't have faith.
Now go forth knowing that God is living and breathing. That you were made on purpose for a purpose!