Hello, and welcome to Unapologetic. A podcast about defending not apologizing for your Christian convictions. I received an email this week where a guy was asking about this list that's been posted on the internet of supposedly unanswerable questions by Christians. So these are questions he doesn't think Christians and Christianity can answer. And he was asking for some feedback, "How should I be prepared to address these when I'm sharing the Gospel?" I love that question. The reason we do apologetics is to serve the furtherance of the sharing of the Gospel. So yes, let's look at these questions.
And so we're going to spend a few weeks looking at these. I think they'll benefit all of us. But the first thing I just want to point out is when someone says that you can't answer a question, often what's happening is perhaps even an unintentional sleight of hand. What's often being said is, "Actually, you don't give me an answer I like or agree with." It's not that you're not giving an answer, it's that they might not evaluate or weigh our answer appropriately because they're evaluating it inside of their worldview. And perhaps we'll talk about that more later. But that's just an important thing to start with. Is that there's a difference in not being able to give an answer and not giving an answer that's compelling to the specific person you're speaking with.
So here's the question we're going to look at this week. I'm going to let the author of this article lay it out for us. He quotes Genesis 1 by saying,
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
And then he says,
”As far as I know, this claim is never substantiated anywhere in the Bible. We're only encouraged to assume that God created the universe and then let things go on from there. But if the Bible is supposed to be the go-to source on how existence came to be, bold assertions need to be substantiated. Can any of my theist readers point to where evidence is presented in the Bible that supports the assertion that a celestial being, maybe God, created the universe? I'm having no luck chasing down this evidence. Thanks for your help."
So let's look at this.
1. "What Kind of Evidence Would You consider?”
I have several ways and lines of evidence for us to think about today. And the first is, if this were actually a conversation and dialogue with this guy, I would say, "What kind of evidence would you consider? What kind of evidence would be compelling and sufficient for you?" Because if you just simply say you have to present evidence that's compelling or prove it to me, and you don't say what counts as proof, well, I could be shooting for a different target than you're actually going to count as a hit. So I need to know what kind of evidence is likely to be considered.
I think we've done a podcast on this sort of issue before and I'll try and link to it if we have. But often the non-Christian, the atheist, may want materialistic evidence for a supernatural event. They may want things that exist only in the physical world that can be measured with physical tools that then can point to the existence of the supernatural. And that's not something that's reasonable. Because if the claim is true, it's a supernatural kind of claim, not all of the evidence would be physical. And so we need to ask the question, what type of evidence? And often when you ask non-Christians this, they don't have a good answer. They might say, "Well, you know, if God wrote in the sky, I exist... God." But then they'll say, "Well, I might just think he was a sky writer." Or, "I might think I was hallucinating." So we've got to ask them and get them to be consistent on what type of evidence they would accept.
2. A Written Record Is Evidence
But the second thing is the Bible actually does present evidence. Let's not give ground to this person in saying it doesn't. A written record is evidence. If you're going to court and you're having a trial, one of the things that may be presented as evidence in that trial is a written record of what people have said who were there when the event took place. So if there's a car accident and a police officer interviews that person and says what happened, and they tell what happened, and the police officer writes that down or videotapes it. That written record is evidence. And it's the same way with the Bible. And that's just talking about the Bible, like it's people writing about God. But we know from the Bible that it's so much more than that. It's God's words to us, not just our words as humans about God. But nonetheless, a written record is evidence. The question is, is it true? Is it compelling? How do we think about it? But we shouldn't just let people write it off like it's not evidence.
3. The Bible Does Present Evidence
But the third thing we can say is... This guy asks, "Well, how does the Bible substantiate this claim?" Well, the rest of the Bible actually supports the claim by showing that God is the kind of being who could create the world, and by showing that the world is fundamentally supernatural. Because the first verse of the Bible does so many things. It says that,
"Everything came into nothing when God spoke it into being."
So everything that began to exist had a cause. That's what Genesis 1 tells us. But more than that, it tells us the type of world we're living in. It's a supernatural world because there is God who was not natural. He is not material, sitting outside of... Well, there was nothing, but when he spoke, everything came into being.
So by definition, the very first verse of the Bible tells us that supernatural, in other words non material things, exist. But then we see all throughout the Scriptures the unveiling of who this creator God is, his power, the fact that he has always existed. There was never a god before him. There will not be a god after him. We see in Colossians 1, that Jesus is this God. That
"he is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn."
In other words, kind of the preeminent one overall creation. It goes on to say in verse 16 that,
"All things in heaven and on earth were created in him. All things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers, all things were created through him and for him. He himself is before all things..." And this is key, "All things are held together in him."
Literally, you could translate by saying all things subsist in him.
And the whole Bible is showing us and assuming with almost every word and chapter, that this is the type of God that exists and created the world. And in fact it's not just that he created the world and left it alone. No, if he did not continue to sustain it, if the world did not continue to subsist in him and be held together by him, it would not exist. So all of the Scriptures actually support this by showing time and time again that this is the type of world we live in. And that's the type of God that created everything.
4. The Bible Isn’t a Science Textbook
But fourth, the guy says actually, "if the Bible is supposed to be the go-to source on our existence and how it came to be, then it's not doing a good job." But who says that's what the Bible is supposed to be? I don't pick up a cookbook and say, "You know, you don't teach me about farming." Food's related to farming, but food is not farming and cooking is not farming. So I don't pick up the Bible and think, "Oh, this must be a theoretical scientific textbook." Why would anyone do that? Once again, this was another example of how I think this guy, whether intentionally or not, is framing the issue that's not actually in favor of truth. It's not in favor of truth-seeking. He's already told us that we have to present evidence, but the Bible actually is evidence. He hasn't told us what type of evidence he would accept. So we're shooting for a target we can't see. And then here he is saying, well if the Bible is supposed to answer all of these big questions about where we came from and how, (how's the big one there) then it's not doing a good job. But that's not what it's supposed to do. Nowhere even in Genesis 1 does it say it's what it's supposed to do.
I think Christians are confused on this point too because they often think that Genesis 1 is about science and how the earth came to be. Genesis 1 is fundamentally about theology. We've talked about this on the podcast before. I'll try to [link to the episodes], but Genesis 1 is remarkably similar to ancient Egyptian cosmological beliefs about the beginning of the world, so similar that if two students turned in one, the Egyptian version, and two the Christian version, or I should say the Genesis 1 version, the teacher would accuse them of plagiarism and cheating. But the differences are incredibly key because the differences show that the biblical God is nothing like the Egyptian gods. And whereas in Egyptian cosmology, there was a struggle every night the sun went down as the earth was recreated, God says there was evening, there was morning a second day. In other words, no struggle. He's in control.
In Egyptian theology and cosmology, they worshiped the sun. And in the Scriptures we see that the sun isn't even given a name. It's just a light in the sky. God alone is worshiped. And so when we look at the context of why Genesis 1 was written, we also understand that it's theological, not scientific because Israel had just come out from under hundreds of years of Egyptian bondage and slavery. They didn't even know the name of their God. They had taken Egyptian gods as their gods. And so Genesis 1 is the first thing that Moses gives them and does it really make sense to say the first thing they needed was a physics and science lesson? No. They needed a theology lesson. They needed to know that Yahweh is the true God. He created them in his image from nothing. That this is a radically different type of God than they worshiped in Egypt and brought out of Egypt with them.
So on the one hand, the Bible is not intended to answer the scientific questions of how God created everything. It tells us that he created, and that is key, but let's not expect the Bible to be something that it's not.
5. Scripture, Philosophy, and Science all Support God Creating
The fifth thing we can say though, is that there is a very persuasive argument from what the Scriptures say and what science shows that God did create the heavens and the earth. And it's called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. And it's very simple. It says that
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
I'll [link to previous episodes] on this. But, the first premise is very straightforward. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. There is nothing in our experience that can disconfirm that. There is no evidence that this is false. Everything we know points to this being true. Things do not pop into existence from nothing with no cause.
And the second premise, the universe began to exist. The whole idea of the Big Bang is that the universe had a beginning, there was nothing, and then there was everything, and it was hot and dense and expanding. So scientific evidence points to this. The fact that the universe hasn't suffered heat death points to this. The fact that we're here, points of the past not being infinite. So the conclusion follows that the universe had a cause. And if that's true, you have to ask what kind of cause could account for the beginning of the universe? What kind of cause could account for everything that came into existence? Well, it would need to be nonphysical. It would need to be spiritual or immaterial because if all material came into existence, the material was not around to cause the material to come into existence. You can't be your own dad in other words.
So, that's the first thing. And that fits with Genesis 1, right? God who is a spiritual being created the heavens and the earth, so a non-material being. But more than that, this cause we need to be powerful because he created everything that came into existence. He would need to be intelligent because this universe is extremely well tuned for life. This cause would at least initially have needed to be timeless because time came into existence with all matter. And this cause would need to be personal because a decision would've needed to be made to make the universe. We can't just say that it was a random occurrence because there were no physical materials around that would randomly interact to cause the universe, because the physical materials came into existence at the beginning of time and the universe. So the Kalam Cosmological Argument makes sense of what we see in Scripture and also make sense of what we see in the natural world.
6. What Evidence Do You Have For Your Account Of Our Origins?
But the sixth thing we can say is actually where we go a little bit on the offensive. And that's where we say, "What's your evidence that God did not create the world? What's your evidence that everything can come from nothing with no cause?" Because if they say the universe had a cause, there are only two options. Is it physical or is it nonphysical? And if it's physical, that doesn't make sense because where'd that stuff come from? So if everything in came into existence at the Big Bang, it could not have been caused by something physical. So that leaves a nonphysical cause. So what type of nonphysical cause do you believe in? I would ask the person and what's your evidence for that? And they might say they don't know. Or they might just simply say everything can come into existence without a cause.
Well, that sounds worse than the biblical view. I don't think the biblical view sounds bad, but there is trust involved in believing what the Scripture say even when supported by evidence. But the claim that everything can come from nothing with no cause makes no sense. Like there's nothing in our experience that would cause us to believe that. There's no evidence that that can be the case. So while this person may not like the evidence that's in the Bible and the Christians supply, at least it is evidence. There's no evidence that everything can come from nothing with no cause.
The other thing sometimes that people will bring up is this idea of the multiverse. That there are actually an infinite number of possible worlds. What's your evidence for that? Besides that someone made it up and wrote it on a whiteboard somewhere and maybe wrote a book about it. There's no evidence for a multiverse. And you're actually left with a big problem there. What was the source of all of those worlds? So now instead of needing to explain one universe, we're left needing to explain an infinite number of them. Well, what's the explanation for that? And what's the evidence for it?
Well, there isn't anything. So the biblical explanation is actually the most compelling. There are more reasons we could give. For instance, Jesus rose from the dead. The evidence for that is excellent, and Jesus affirmed the legitimacy of the Old Testament. There's another argument, but all of that to say, Christians have a very compelling answer for this, so let's not get caught flat footed. Well, I hope this has been helpful and I'll talk with you next week on Unapologetic.