On the Logic of God’s Existence

How can the Christian address the objection that the existence of God is not logical? Our intellectual foes insist that we are befuddled, misguided, and generally illogical to believe in a supernatural being who guides and controls the course of history. Our faith is belittled as an excuse for our failing to truly understand the nature of the universe. In fact, if we were truly in command of our senses, we would abandon this God nonsense and the faith we hold on to. We could then boldly move forward into a brave new world where we are the ultimate masters, limited only by the immutable laws of reality.

In other words, we should be ashamed of the Gospel. But…

16 … I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;… (Romans 1:16, NASB)

What do our intellectual foes believe? The most well developed and consistent approach is that of the Objectivists, a philosophy first popularized by novelist Ayn Rand. They claim to believe that all principles necessary for all human interaction can be derived from observation of nature. In that, they seem to agree with Paul in Romans 1:20

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Unfortunately, even though they believe in the “invisible attributes”, which they call the laws of nature, they regard God as being in conflict with them. The core of their belief is as follows:

  • We exist. This was first stated conclusively by Rene’ Descartes as “cogito, ergo sum”. “I think, therefore I am”.
  • The nature of our existence is a fact of our existence, and can be discovered, but cannot be changed.
  • All facts of our existence can be determined by observation of the universe.
  • Since we are unable to directly verify the existence of God (look at Him, shake His hand, etc), belief in God is irrational, and, by extension, contrary to the known facts of the universe. Belief in God is derogatorily called “Mysticism”.

All this sounds good. It gives its believers a sense of security to be firmly anchored in reality. It seems to lead to a set of morals which are good for society, and with which most Christians would be quite comfortable. Unfortunately, since it provides no purpose for life, it leaves its followers empty. We know that there is a better future, but how do we break through? The sword of the spirit seems to be blunted by the wall of “reality”.

We must approach these misguided souls in love. But, at the same time, we must meet them on their own ground. 1 Corinthians 9:22

22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. (NASB)

Let us begin by accepting the first two premises of the Objectivist: We exist, and the nature of our existence is immutable. While we dispute the idea that all truth may be determined by direct observation, we will leave that and Hebrews 11:1 for later.

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)

The Objectivist will reject faith outright as mysticism. What we must show is that his position depends just as much on faith as ours.

Our second step is to admit again a rule of the Objectivist: Nature operates by laws. This means that every time a natural system is disturbed, the system operates according to its immutable rules to produce a predictable result. In simple language, if I drop a ball, it will fall to the ground. The law of gravity cannot be repealed. Neither can any other natural law. As we will soon see, this fact is crucial.

It is now time to begin our careful assault on the fortress of human knowledge. Colossians 2:1-4,8

1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (NASB)

The knowledge of God surpasses all human knowledge. But it carries with it the knowledge that we are not the ultimate authority in the universe. Romans 14:12

12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (NASB)

This is the problem. We are trying to show that man’s conceit is not acceptable, and this causes strong resistance. But this is the same problem we have in witnessing to anyone who loves sin. Until the need for repentance becomes clear to that sinner, the apparent personal loss stemming from belief in God overshadows the bounty of His grace. Let us proceed with the proof.

We have established that we exist in nature. This means that our brains are part of nature. And since our brains are part of nature, they must operate strictly according to natural laws. This requires that whatever stimulus is presented to our brains, the result is both fixed and predictable.

I can hear the screaming now. Wait a minute! That means that no matter what happens, our brain is operating as a simple system and the outcome is fixed! That can’t be true. The brain is much more complex than that.

The brain truly is complex. It is the most complex system of which we have any knowledge. It has billions of nerve cells, connected in untold myriads of ways. Can we really insist that the result of a given stimulus will be absolutely the same each time?

The answer is: Absolutely YES. But the question demands a more formal answer. Each connection between nerve cells operates under given rules, so that, under identical conditions, an identical input to that nerve cell will give an identical result. That is the definition of natural LAWS, so carefully protected by Objectivists. Multiplying by a few billion rules makes no difference. As long as natural laws govern each interaction, the fix is in. The number of laws makes no difference. The complexity of the system is irrelevant. We can put this in formal terms.

For any given system, if a fixed perturbation of that system is introduced, the resulting change will be of unchanging nature and quantity.

Now that we have determined that the natural laws governing the brain require an unchanging response to any input, we have a real problem. Humans exhibit a phenomenon known as choice. When presented with a problem (stimulus) we do NOT have predictable responses. We have variable responses to fixed inputs. This is clearly contrary to natural law.

There are only two possible explanations for choice: either it is an illusion, or natural law is somehow suspended in the human brain. If choice is an illusion, then all human concerns based on choices become illusory. Good and evil cease to exist, since they depend on choice. Obviously, God, with all His claims on us, would also cease to exist. Determinism would rule. Nothing would matter.

If choice exists, then natural law is suspended to some degree within the human brain. How can this be? There must be a mechanism for this. However, it cannot come from within the natural universe. If it had its origin within nature, whatever this source might be would be subject to natural law, and would therefore be unable to suspend natural law. In other words, the source must be supernatural.

We have presented the Objectivist with his first logical difficulty. His ability to choose to be an Objectivist depends on the existence of a supernatural force, directly contradicting his assertion that everything operates according to natural laws. Now we must examine the nature of this force.

The source of our ability to choose has been identified as coming from outside the natural universe. But does it come “naturally”, or as a result of a volitional act? If this force simply operates into the natural universe because it “must”, then we are stating that it operates as a result of a law. But a supernatural force operating according to a law is a contradiction in terms. The only possible conclusion is that the force is projected into man’s mind by a volitional act in a supernatural realm. And the only possible source for volition is a mind! Choice comes as a result of the conscious choice of a supernatural mind.

When we see that the opportunity for man to make choices which can lead to good has come from a supernatural being, we begin to see a small part of that being. This being is benevolent. He has taken creatures who were unable to choose to be good, and gave them that choice. Automatons were given the opportunity to become good. Not all of them have chosen to act rightly, but without the choice, goodness cannot exist.

The establishment of free choice brings with it the possibility of morals. Without choice, they do not exist. Therefore this being has also given us moral laws. Who else can this moral law-giver be but God?

As a final note, what possible purpose could this being have in giving us choice and moral laws? There would need to be some personal gain for God. He would like our company! John 14:3

3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (NASB)

What a trip! In a few short paragraphs we have gone from a belief in the absolute superiority of man in a fully natural word to the inescapable truth of God. And we have even gotten a slight glimpse of His nature! This presents the Objectivist with a second problem. The only way he can wish God away is to deny the fact of choice, but then he gives up all of his moral structures, because morals only have meaning if there is free choice. But, if he asserts that choice exists, he is forced to admit that God is real. He must have faith in the existence of choice in order to deny faith in the existence of God. He must have faith in order to deny faith! Hebrews 11:1

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)

We have not exhausted this fountain. Let us suppose that somehow we were to scientifically investigate choice and discover how it works. This would mean that we would have discovered the laws by which choice works. That, in turn, would mean that we have discovered how a given input would produce a fixed output. In other words, we would have abolished choice! Since this is impossible, we must conclude that it is fundamentally impossible to understand how choice operates. And this presents the Objectivist with another problem. He holds that all things are fundamentally understandable. But this is now only possible if choice does not exist. In other things, the fundamental mystery of God MUST remain a mystery. Colossians 2:2-3

2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (NASB)

Allow me to summarize what we have covered.

  • We live in a natural universe, governed my natural laws.
  • Our ability to choose is not natural, and has to come from a supernatural, benevolent act of a supernatural, benevolent being: God.
  • The supernatural nature of choice makes it impossible to understand it.
  • The only logical way to deny the existence of God is to deny the existence of choice, and therefore to deny the existence of good and evil.

Finally, since God is supernatural, there is logically no way within the natural realm to compel Him to show Himself for direct confirmation of His existence. God can only be seen as He chooses, not as we choose.

1 Corinthians 13:9-12

9 Now we know so little, even with our special gifts, and the preaching of those most gifted is still so poor.
10 But when we have been made perfect and complete, then the need for these inadequate special gifts will come to an end, and they will disappear.
11 It’s like this: when I was a child I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I became a man my thoughts grew far beyond those of my childhood, and now I have put away the childish things.
12 In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face to face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now. (The Living Bible)

What a wonderful thought! We know that God has given us free will. We know that He has given us His son as a sacrifice in our place, to be the guarantee of eternal life. We have no need to try to be self-sufficient in figuring out the way we should act. The pattern has been laid down for us. All we need to do is follow it.

God is so much larger than any human thought or idea. His power is greater than anything we can imagine. We are limited by finite natural laws. He is able to take those laws and suspend them for our benefit. 1 Corinthians 2:9

9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (NIV)