Saturday, March 12, 2005

Letter on the existence of God

Note to S_______ on Existence of God

Note: This is another letter to a friend seeking clear answers to some theological issues. Again, it seemed that this might be beneficial to others, so here it is. If it helps you, send me an email or comment!


I think any discussion of the existence of God must take into account where most teens are today, in their spiritual search.

Teens today are saturated with ‘supernatural’ shows [many which glorify dark spirituality] such as Buffy, Bewitched, Angel, Joan of Arcadia, Touched by An Angel, plus numerous cable shows of psychics and their supposed ‘healing powers,’ etc. Most teens now don’t need so much proof of God or ‘supernatural’ as they need shown why Jesus is the right way in a world of spiritual choices. Or, why should I serve Jesus whenever I can serve the ‘god within myself’ [New Age spirituality], or channel energies [such as quantum holograms] to get what I want?

Also, teens today are not so much into ‘proof’ as into experience. Non-Christian teens I’ve found often get bored by technical proofs…it’s a mixture of not being able to think or follow an argument, plus being raised in an electronic culture, where all real thinking is done for the viewer.

So, a great place to start when talking about God is using a variation of some ‘arguments from within.’

Argument from Desire, Longing

For instance, you can talk in general terms of the heart’s desire, or the search for happiness, belonging and truth. This is an incredibly powerful argument because it starts where people are. It doesn’t convince them of a need for hearing, it just grabs them exactly where they are: You can ask them: “If you were made for this world, then why does your heart long for something more than what this physical world can give you?” “Why aren’t you happy with just the material?” [1]

This is a variation of the technical argument that C. S. Lewis put forward in very understandable terms. Lewis says something to this effect:

Ø Do fish complain of being wet?

Ø Why not? They are in water aren’t they?

Ø Yes, they are in water, but they were made for water! They are content in their natural medium; in fact, they would die out of water.

Ø Ok, so if we were made just for this physical world, why do we long for something more? If there is no such thing as beyond material, why do we spend our lives searching for that something more?

Ø Conclusion: We were made for something more than just this world! [2]

And here is where the Christian can say: “We are made in the Image of God, and only in that restored Image are we truly ourselves.” “And, only Jesus Christ can restore us to God!

Viola! Right there, right to the Gospel, jumping over many barriers just by starting where they are!

Now, I think the second prong of this is getting them into Jesus, and here is where Pascal comes in handy.

Argument from Experience with Christ

Once we can show the seeker that this longing inside has a purpose, and is met with God, we can say: “Seek God on His own terms, and then experience what you were made for!”

In other words, here we get a person praying to Jesus, praying for light and revelation, even when they don’t know Jesus.

Blaise Pascal addressed searching unbelievers in his day like this:

First, Pascal establishes the fact of human wretchedness:

Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things. [3]

We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it. [4]

Secondly he recognizes the fact of partial light and darkness:

If there were no obscurity, man would not feel his corruption: if there were no light, man could not hope for a cure. [5]

Thirdly, he highlights the limitation of reason:

Reason’s last step is recognition that there are an infinite number of things beyond it... [6] There are but two excesses: To exclude reason, [and] to admit nothing but reason. [7]

Giving the facts of human condition, human reason is patently compatible with a vector of faith. Reason admits that life is choice; all must choose:

Since you must necessarily choose, your reason is no more affronted by choosing one rather than the other. That is one point cleared up. But your happiness? Let us weigh up the gain and the loss in wagering that God exists. Let us assess the two cases: if you win you win everything, if you lose you lose nothing. Do not hesitate then; wager that he does exist. [8]

Since we must choose, why not choose light instead of darkness?

Breaking this argument down in youth terms, we can say:

1. We cannot cure death and wretchedness, and life becomes a game to try and forget such things. But can we really forget them when we lay our head down to sleep at night? Isn’t this why drugs and parties and sex and money addictions and suicide plague teens?

2. We recognize evil around us. We also see moments of good.

3. Obviously, figuring this out in our minds is beyond us. This war between Good and evil has been going on a long time. To think that we can figure it all out is ludicrous.

4. So, at some point we have to choose the side of good and God if we want to be on the side of light.

And here Pascal says:

You want to find faith and you do not know the road. You want to be cured of unbelief and you ask for the remedy: learn from those who were once bound like you and now wager all they have...They behaved just as if they did believe... [9]

In other words, here we say: Pray to God, change your actions, and let God change your attitudes, your beliefs and your very reality. Humble yourself to God, and God will reveal Himself to you.

Here is where a very, very powerful existential argument for Christ comes in. People can say, “There are lots of gods.”

To which we answer: Yes, but if Jesus isn’t the true Son of God, then why is He the One whose name conquers the demons?” “Why is He the One whose name stops ‘alien’ abductions? Why is He the One that the dark forces concentrate their hate on? Those controlled by darkness don’t hate Buddha, or Mohammad, or ‘spirituality.’ But they hate Jesus and fear Him. “Shouldn’t this speak volumes about who is the true God, the true good, true Savior, and Son of God?” we say.

Right here, you’ve got 90 percent of unbelieving youth hearing and listening with all their heart…because they live in a world of darkness that they can no longer deny…

This is an existential and intuitive [two-pronged] argument, S_______, but it is probably the quickest and most powerful to use today.

Does this help?


Have a good one,



[1] S_______, please note there are two possible objections to this, which Kreeft refutes in his book, pp. 80-81. People can say, ‘although I am not happy now, I would be if I had X girlfriend or boyfriend, or had X amount of possessions.’ To which we reply: that has been tried by millions, and does not satisfy. Or, they can say, ‘I am perfectly satisfied right now.’ To which we reply, ‘Don’t be delusional!’ “It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.”
[2] Cf. C. S. Lewis, Letters to Sheldon Van Aucken and Mere Christianity Bk. III, ch. 10, “Hope,” referenced by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), p. 79.
[3] Pensees, 133 in Blaise Pascal, Pensees, translated by A. J. Krailsheimer, (London: Penguin Books), 1966.
[4] Pensees, 166.
[5] Pensees, 446.
[6] Pensees, 188.
[7] Pensees, 183.
[8] Pensees, 418.
[9] Pensees, 418.

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