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Brother Stafford

Arguing for the Existence of God

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I have yet to come across any scripture that provides an example, of which we are to follow, of giving arguments for the existence of God.  Apologetics played an enormous part in my becoming a Christian and I dove headfirst into apologetics and enjoyed engaging in discussions that involved apologetics.  Since most of the people I knew were atheists, the conversations rarely got beyond being given the burden of proving the existence of God.  Since I never believed in the non-existence of God, I couldn't (and still can't) relate to the concept of naturalistic evolution and of the concept of existence creating itself.  I always thought that my reasoning for the logical existence of God was more than sufficient for people who needed more proof than what I thought was natural common sense.  However, I have never been witness to someone being convinced of the existence of God through apologetic conversation, though I'm sure it happens.

The Bible seems to just assert the fact that God exists and calls people foolish who don't see that, but it doesn't seem to spend time trying to make arguments to convince people of that fact of His existence in the first place: Genesis 1:1, Romans 1:18-23, Psalm 53:1-3.

In my experience, in the conversations mentioned above, people seem disinterested in discussing the subjects of sin and salvation seriously, when they don't even believe in God in the first place.  They are interested, however, in attempting to discuss how foolish they believe the Bible to be and never need a nudge to begin giving examples of where they believe the Bible to be in error, but such discussions are always futile since it's all foolishness to them anyway, without a belief in the existence of God from which to start.

(Proverbs 26:4-5) "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. {5} Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit."

I understand the above verses to mean that we are not to spend our time answering all of the foolish questions presented to us by the fool, but we should briefly show him his own foolishness with his own reasoning, but then to move on.

With this in mind, how much time, if any, should be spent trying to convince people that God exists?

 

 

Edited by Brother Stafford

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Good question and one with which I sometimes ponder. The Bible says that the heavens and firmament are "proofs" of God; hence, that's my belief as to why Satan has used the lie of evolution so strongly. It gives man an alternative reason for how things came into being.

I've personally never swayed anyone through apologetics. We so often get so caught up in trying to prove our point and win the debate, that there's little room for the Holy Spirit to deal with, convict, and convince the person...and that's his job...not mine. This one thing that you said reminds me of an incident that I experienced a few years ago...

34 minutes ago, Brother Stafford said:

I understand the above verses to mean that we are not to spend our time answering all of the foolish questions presented to us by the fool, but we should briefly show him his own foolishness with his own reasoning

When I was on Facebook, I found a "page" that was used to argue against evolution. Of course, evolutionists and atheists would constantly barrage the page. I would often get into "discussions" with some of them. One of their favorite "proofs" against the Bible is the figurative language that it sometimes uses. They would give figurative examples of scripture and use it as proof that the Bible isn't true, because...after all, we take the Bible literally. So...things like "the corners of the earth", the "pillars of the earth", etc. were some of their favorite portions of scripture that they used to "prove" the Bible couldn't be trusted.

One time, I was talking to one person in particular, and none of my "reasoning" would satisfy him. He eventually brought up a debate between an atheist and a Christian that he had seen. After extolling the atheist, he then said something to the effect of how much he liked watching that particular atheist's debate, because he really kicked "Mr. Christian's" you-know-what. I don't know if he was trying to shock me with his language or what, but I wasn't surprised or offended. He's lost after all. So...when he said that, I saw an opportunity to "use his own reasoning against him"...

I replied, "Really? Oh dear. Did "Mr. Christian" press charges?

He replied, "What do you mean?" (or something to that effect).

I replied, "Well, you inferred that the debate turned physical and that "Mr. Atheist" assaulted "Mr. Christian". I'm just wondering if "Mr. Christian" pressed charges against "Mr. Atheist" for assaulting him like that.

He replied, "YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!"

I replied, "Oh...you were just using figurative language. So it's okay for you to use figurative language, but the Bible can't?"

He said, "No, you Christians say you take the Bible literally. He then proceeded to curse me out. LOL!

Anyway, that doesn't answer your question. I can't answer it. My personal belief is that everyone is born with a measure of faith (that's what the Bible says). I no longer debate atheists/evolutionists. I may answer a few questions or give a biblical point of view, but I don't engage them, because all they want to do is debate, prove a point, and try to make Christians look foolish. So...UNLESS they are obviously open to actually hearing from a Christian, I won't engage. In either case, I always try to give the gospel or at least plant gospel seeds when doing so. That way, they've at least heard, and the Holy Spirit can take over from there and do his work. I'm not saying that's the right way to do it either...but that's what I do.

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Sorry...that got me thinking about other "debates" I was in on that Facebook page.

Once, something was posted about Methuselah living 969 years. The atheists/evolutionists tore into that like nobody's business. I told them that if any one of them could prove that Methuselah didn't actually live 969 years, I would renounce my Christianity. Later that day, someone posted a chart from Wikipedia showing the life expectancy of people 6000 years ago.

By the way...one thing I learned while on that Facebook page...Wikipedia is proof of evolution. That's where 99.9% of their "proof" came from. LOL!

I said, "So you trust this chart?"

He said, "Yes!"

I said, "But it was written by a man."

He said, "So? It shows the life-expectancy back then." (or something like that).

I said, "How do you know it's true? Did the man who wrote it live back then?"

He said, "nothing"....

So I said, "You claim you can't trust the Bible, because it's just a book written by men...but you trust a chart written by men?"

...more cursing...

LOL!

____________________

Okay...back to the topic. Sorry!

 

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I am sure that none of us are short of stories of willfully ignorant people attempting to poke holes in scripture, but I am looking for scripture references or thoughts about engaging in discussion about proving God's existence and whether or not we should engage in it.  I always feel that I have to attempt to prove God's existence and then the validity of the Bible before an atheist would be willing to hear what is contained within the Bible about God; however, I don't find this example in scripture.  

There must be an "a priori" starting point, for which we needn't make an argument, before sharing the Gospel.  I don't think that we are expected to prove that we actually exist and that reality is not just an illusion.  To people like that, I just say, "If we can't at least agree that we rally exist, then I don't know what to tell you."  Can it be argued that scripture makes the same assumption about the existence of God?  Can we just say, "If we can't at least start by agreeing that a Divine Creator exists and that matter cannot create itself, then I don't know what to tell you?"

I think about (Romans 10:17) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." It makes me want to not spend any time on making an argument for God's existence and just sticking to answering from scripture and letting the power of His word take over.

 

Edited by Brother Stafford

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There was a book that had a similar idea - starting with the statement that the Bible didn't have a lick'o-truth in it, the hero in the tale grabbed the man in a headlock slamming him to the ground, grabbing his nose and twisting it til blood squirted out, then sitting the man up, turned in his Bible to this verse -

Proverbs 30:33

"Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife."

He added belief to the fellas thinking - and lead him to the Lord Jesus!

Edited by Genevanpreacher

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41 minutes ago, Brother Stafford said:

I think about (Romans 10:17) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." It makes me want to not spend any time on making an argument for God's existence and just sticking to answering from scripture and letting the power of His word take over.

That was the point I was trying to make in my first response. We can get so caught up in trying to prove a point, win a debate, or whatever...that we lose focus on the poor lost soul with whom we're dealing with. The two examples that I gave weren't meant for entertainment; they were given to show where such dialogues tend to digress to. You gouge me, and I'll gouge you back. It's a contest to see who gets the last gouge in.

Our supreme command is this...

Go ye into all the world and preach...

the gospel...

to every creature.

Delivering the gospel is what we're to do. I'm not opposed to having a dialogue with an atheist/evolutionist about the existence of God. However, I can no more prove that God exists than they can prove that evolution happened. If the dialogue is sincere and it affords me to either give the gospel or plant seeds, I'll gladly dialogue. However, like I said, I can't prove anything...but the Holy Spirit can.

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Apologetics deals with the mind and logic.  Sharing the gospel and taking one down the Roman's Road bypasses man's brain and goes right to his heart.  If his heart is ready, he'll receive Christ Jesus right away, if not, the seed has been planted and the sinner will think about his fallen condition even if he never admits it.  Remember, the Ten Commandments are written on their hearts, everyone knows God exists, even the tribesmen in the Amazon jungle who has never met a missionary.

In the political realm, I debated leftists for years and won every time as their pursuit is an emotional one devoid of logic and strong on feelings.  Waste of time.  I could have spent that time better by serving the Lord.  

Apologetics can be used to chip away the ice of a cold heart but really that is the job of the Holy Spirit.  Stick to scripture, it never returns void.

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Hmmm...here's the closest biblical example that I've found so far. Granted, it's not dealing with atheists as such, but it does deal with false religion; of which, a false religion is certainly a category in which evolutionists and atheists belong. Please note verse 17. Paul disputed with them daily, but the Bible says nothing as to whether anything was accomplished through or by this disputing, but I do notice that they considered him a "babbler" in verse 18! Then in verses 19 and 20, they wanted to know more. So, apparently he had sown some seeds that the Holy Spirit used to stir interest. THEN, it gives the climax and does record his sermon on Mars Hill; in which, several believed afterward.

Acts 17:15-34
15   And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
16   Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17   Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18   Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19   And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20   For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21   (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
22   Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23   For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24   God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25   Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26   And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27   That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28   For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29   Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
30   And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31   Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32   And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33   So Paul departed from among them.
34   Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

 

Edited by No Nicolaitans

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Yes, Paul had the opportunity to be speaking with people that at least believed in some form of gods.  I wonder if atheism was almost non-existent back then.   Maybe even the most pagan of heathens back then would have looked at an atheist and said, "What, are you an idiot or something?"

I did find two verses in the book of Psalms seem to say that there wee at least some atheists back then: Psalms 14:1 and Psalms 53:1.  They are described as being corrupt fools who have done abominable things.  1 Kings 18:33-35 and Isiah 36:19 seem to be an example of an atheist as well.  So, even though we don't seem to be told to address their foolishness, we at least know that they must have existed.

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Even when debating evolutionists...there was the "big bang"...however, a great question is..."what caused the big bang"? Something or someone started everything into motion. Was it random chance or was there an outside force? Everything is so finely tuned that blind chance just doesn't make sense. That usually gets 'em thinking!

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On 1/12/2017 at 0:10 AM, Brother Stafford said:

Yes, Paul had the opportunity to be speaking with people that at least believed in some form of gods.  I wonder if atheism was almost non-existent back then.   Maybe even the most pagan of heathens back then would have looked at an atheist and said, "What, are you an idiot or something?"

I did find two verses in the book of Psalms seem to say that there wee at least some atheists back then: Psalms 14:1 and Psalms 53:1.  They are described as being corrupt fools who have done abominable things.  1 Kings 18:33-35 and Isiah 36:19 seem to be an example of an atheist as well.  So, even though we don't seem to be told to address their foolishness, we at least know that they must have existed.

There were people and are some today, that even though they claim atheism, they disprove that line of thought by making themselves "God".

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man..."

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