Monday, September 29, 2014

Can We Know God Exists Apart from the Bible?

Gen. 1:1 (a) - "In the beginning ...... God."

It's natural for the Bible to start here.  (declaration of God - Who He is, etc.)
BUT, many reject Bible's witness.

So, can we know God exists apart from the Bible?

Will explore 3 answers:
1)  Yes
2)  No
3)  Possibly - Probably - beyond a reasonable doubt.  "Yeah, I think so."

#1.  Possibly - Probably

Early Christians developed natural theology, rational approach to knowledge of God - apart from Scriptures

Examples = the Argument from...
1) stuff -  things/ being/ existence  (Cosmological argument)

Only 2 possibilities - 1) stuff = eternal   or 2) stuff created by an eternal

2)  Design - (teleological argument) - examples:  watchmaker, smartphone.
(Smartphone requires intelligence.   AND 2- includes intelligence!!)

3)  Movement - change, causality - examples:  Big Bang - Law of Inertia.  (an object at rest stays at rest until acted upon by some external force)

4)  Morality - conscience, right, wrong, oughtness - if is a moral law, then must be moral lawgiver

5)  desire - a desire that can't be satisfied in this world

6)  Common consent - ie.  belief in God = universal
on one hand, doesn't prove that God exists, BUT, must be factored in.

Summary:  These arguments cannot PROVE God, BUT taken together provide beyond Reasonable Doubt.

Enter:  Immanuel Kant (an agnostic) - 18th. century German philosopher (in wake of David Hume -  "roused from my dogmatic slumbers" of rationalism)

in "The Critique of Pure Reason", he concludes:

#2.  NO - we cannot know God exists.  Because--
A)  although rational arguments are valued here, don't know if they would work in a metaphysical world.
(ie:  laws of causation inertia, etc. don't necessarily work in metaphysical world.)

B)  IF God exists -- He's so "wholly other" (transcendent) that our best reasoning wouldn't necessarily apply to Him, describe Him, reveal Him

C)  All our speculations and conclusions of he metaphysical world are clouded by our experiences here.  (physical world tinted glasses)

THEREFORE:  we Cannot know God exists (even if He does)!
Also said... 1) "can't deny starry host above or moral law within"
                  2)  should keep looking and asking (but recognize  limits of reasoning)
                  3)  should ACT like there's a God ... even if there's not!!! - because what would it mean to society if we say there's no meaning to this life!

So, we have - fideism - I just believe and that's it.

Can we know??  Who should we believe???

Enter one more philosopher - one you know and have read - who says:
#3.  Yes, we can know God exists .... even apart from Scripture   ie:  The Apostle Paul -
Rom. 1:18-22

His conclusion??
1)  God has revealed Himself - contrasted to Kant's gulf
not fully - but sufficiently

2)  You can know Him
not fully ... but enough to make the next steps

3)  You DO Know Him!!!
The knowledge is not just available (around you) BUT - is within you!!!

4)  You are responsible and accountable - "without excuse"
doesn't mean you know everything about God, but know enough to live right life

Application: -- for non-believer = pretty clear!!
BUT, application for the believer??? - Rom. 2:1

1)  God has revealed Himself and some of His Will for you!!

2) You know it  (without excuse)

3.  You are responsible -- to respond to, act on it


Again, doesn't mean always know everything, but is a whole bunch we do know.

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