LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR
June 8, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
Our Youth Pastor preached Sunday on the relation of faith and reason. On our way to lunch together my grandson raised the question of what you say to an acquaintance who challenges the existence of God. Can God be proved? My usual response to that question is, “How much time do you have?” However, Justin was looking for something less complex. I suggested the story of the Exodus.
It is totally irrational that a shepherd from the Sinai area who was 80 years old be asked to go to Egypt and confront the Pharaoh with the ultimatum of letting his entire work force go free. The miracle stories connected with Moses are weird to say the least. Any rational person would have to say someone made this story up. It never happened. The only problem with that conclusion is that Israel exists. How do we explain the existence of Israel which has existed for almost 3500 years? The Jewish people not only still exist they speak the same language Moses did. They worship the same God Moses did.
Babylon no longer exists. Assyria no longer exists. Persia no longer exists. The Roman Empire no longer exists. The Greek Empire no longer exists. But Israel exists.
The answer to the conundrum is not difficult; the burning bush. The God who said to Moses, “I am that I am,” makes sense of the facts of the story. Leave out the existence of God and you cannot explain the facts.
The same logic holds true of the Christian Church. It is totally illogical that a crucified man who has been in a sealed tomb for parts of three days could rise from the dead. The story must have been made up by some ingenious Jews who wanted to start a new religion. But, they would hardly have gone into the entire world to die for a lie. The problem with denying the resurrection is that the Church exists. It started in Jerusalem just a few blocks from the empty tomb at the center of Jewish worship, the Temple. It now involves one third of the world’s population who at least profess faith in the resurrection.
Peter offers the missing piece in his first sermon on Pentecost at the Jerusalem Temple. “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
Like the Exodus one can deny the resurrection on the basis of a fractured concept of reason. But, then there is no reasonable explanation for the Church. When God reveals himself he does so in such a way that all the pieces fall in line.
There are far more complex proofs for the existence of God. The anthropological principle in cosmology explores the meticulous fine tuning of our solar system that makes life possible. The probability that such fine tuning was accidental is astronomically negative.
The problem with most questions about the existence of God is that the questioner wants to start with his human reason, and the result is that ultimately nothing makes sense. If we start with God, and the Bible does, most things do make sense. There are always some problems. God’s ways are not our ways. But, we are not caught in irrational nihilism.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs