Is God real? Why should I or anyone believe in God at all? I will answer these questions by looking at three aspects:
- rational “arguments” (reasons) for believing in God
- personal reasons for believing in God, based on my own experiences
- confirmations of the reality of God in my own life
A. Why should anyone believe in the existence of God?
This is a fundamental question that almost everyone asks at some point in their life’s journey. It has been written on extensively by many excellent philosophers, scholars and theologians. I have studied some of their writings and found their reasons for belief in God compelling. Here are a few of the best “arguments” for the existence of God:
- DESIGN – The incredible design that is found in nature testifies to the existence of a Master Designer. Intelligent design can be seen in the macro sense when exploring the stars, the solar system and the earth, as well as in the micro sense when considering how the various systems in our body function so well, and interdependently, or studying the amazing function of cells, for example. How would it be possible for anything with such intricate design detail to exist without a Designer? That Master Designer is God.
- LAWS – The fact that there are laws in nature that regulate things and cause them to work in predictable or necessary ways also testifies to the existence of a Master Lawmaker. These laws are not random, but also show incredible intelligence in the way that they work. For example, things usually expand when they get hotter and contract when they get colder; but why does water expand when it cools past the freezing point, thereby becoming less dense than water, and causing ice to float on the surface of water? This is a critical anomaly in the expected pattern of natural laws, and it appears to have an important purpose, as it enables water creatures to continue to live below the insulating layer of ice. The Master Lawmaker is God.
- MORALITY – Humans have a conscience within themselves and hold moral values of right and wrong. It would be illogical for people to have moral values unless there is a God who placed that conscience inside of mankind and who gave humans that sense of right and wrong. Without God, there would be no reason for people to have moral values and a conscience.
There are many other reasons why believing in God is the most logical and rational thing a person can do. I will not attempt to write in detail about these things when others have already done a very thorough job of it. Check the links at the end of this post if you would like to explore these aspects further.
B. Why do “I” believe in the existence of God?
Besides approaching this question in a rational, academic way, I would like to write about the reality of God from the viewpoint of my own personal experience.
I was brought up in a God-fearing home, but as I got older, I questioned whether the idea of God was even true. I also took note of the fact that most people end up following whatever religious beliefs or traditions they grew up with, so that one had to wonder about the validity of their beliefs. There were also many widely-varying claims to be the truth, but many had diametrically opposed messages. People searching for the truth about God were arriving at many different conclusions. That was disturbing to me. They could not all be right. What should I believe?
I was familiar with the basic concepts of many of the world’s religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Baha’ism, Christianity in its various branches and a number of sects that label themselves as Christian (e.g. Mormonism). Each claimed to have the truth, and each had intelligent people who had studied their faith and concluded that it was right. I recognized that rational study alone would not guarantee a right conclusion, as such study by sharp minds resulted in different and contradictory results. I felt a need for a better approach.
It occurred to me that the path to God in virtually every religion was through prayer. If God was real, then I should pray. Perhaps an answer would come to me, to show me what was true and what I should believe! So it was that I began to pray and waited to see what answer would come. After a few weeks had passed, I came into contact with a Christian businessman who invited me to his home to talk about his faith. We had many discussions over a period of several weeks in which we talked about the Bible and what was in it. I was familiar with the Bible’s content, but I was reminded about a number of things that testified to its truthfulness; some things are unexplainable aside from God’s involvement. Here are just a few of many things that vindicate the Biblical record:
- HISTORY – There is a vast amount of historical data that confirms the truth of the Biblical accounts, concerning both the Old Testament and also the New Testament accounts of Jesus. Critics of the Bible have made many claims about discrepancies between the Bible and history, but time and again later archaeological discoveries have proven that the Biblical account was correct.
- FULFILLED PROPHECY – The Bible contains many prophecies, mostly about Israel and about the coming Messiah, which came true just as predicted. For example, Daniel recorded dreams which detailed the rise and fall of a series of empires that would come after the Babylonian Empire which existed at the time. The precision with which these predictions were fulfilled would be impossible outside of them being given by divine revelation. There are hundreds of other prophecies that were similarly fulfilled.
- THE APOSTLES – The disciples of Jesus (later called “apostles”) spent three and a half years with Him, and all of them (except Judas Iscariot who betrayed him and died) were witnesses of His post-resurrection appearances. They then spent the rest of their lives leading the early church, amidst terrible persecution, and many of them died because they would not recant their beliefs or refrain from spreading the gospel message. Why would they live their lives and even give their lives for a cause if they knew that it was not true? They did it because they absolutely knew that it was true!
The Christian businessman and I discussed these and many other similar points. As time went on, I was convinced that the Bible was a unique spiritual book, authored by God, and that I had received an answer to my prayers. It was then that I was invited to place my trust in the God of the Bible, and I did that, just as the Scriptures say we must do: “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
C. How God Has Confirmed The Truth of His Reality
Placing my trust in God for salvation was a step of faith, but it was a response to a spiritual work that God had done in me. The Scriptures talk about how we are enlightened to believe spiritual truth by the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11-14; John 16:13). I came to see that I had not just convinced myself to believe that the Bible was God’s word, but that the Holy Spirit had brought about a conviction in me that the Bible was true (John 16:8). The presence and work of the Holy Spirit in my life since have confirmed the reality of God in a very real and personal way. Here are a few examples of how this has happened:
- ANSWERED PRAYER – The Bible talks about how God will hear those who call on him and will answer their prayers. When this happens to a person in real time in specific instances, it becomes an undeniable confirmation of the reality of a prayer-answering God. I have experienced many answers to prayer like that. For example, one time I had a financial need, where I needed a specific amount to pay a bill, and a virtual stranger gave me the exact amount I needed! The donor said they didn’t know why they felt compelled to do this, and had no knowledge of my need. I had done nothing to bring it about, other than to pray.
- DIVINE DIRECTION – We continually need to make decisions about things in life, about small things and about larger, more crucial things. The Bible talks about trusting God in everything, looking to Him for direction rather than relying on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). There have been many instances where I have done that, making decisions based on a conviction that God was leading a certain way, even though logic or circumstances would have suggested otherwise. It has been so interesting to see how God has blessed me in those instances, working them out in ways I could not have expected! In retrospect, I could only say that God had led and provided. God confirmed His reality and His personal involvement in my life through these experiences as well.
- ORDAINED CIRCUMSTANCES AND RELATIONSHIPS – Genesis 24 tells the story of how Abraham’s servant was led by God to a precise place to meet a precise person, as he went out in search of a bride for Isaac. When this happened, the servant said “As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me…” (Gen. 24:27). This was not just an isolated event that happened in another era; God still orchestrates the details of our lives on a regular basis, and this is something I have also seen happening in my life since I made my commitment to trust in God. He has brought special people into my life (as well as specific events and circumstances), and used them to fulfill specific purposes, with blessings. As these things have occurred, it became clear that I did not bring them about, and indeed could not have done so if I had tried, but that God had led and orchestrated it all.
It is one thing to BELIEVE in God because rational and logical arguments tell us that we should. It is another thing to make a commitment to TRUST in God because we have been convicted of the truth of His existence and of His desire for a relationship with us. But it is another thing to EXPERIENCE God’s working in our lives in a very personal and direct way. That is when we truly and personally KNOW that God is real.
My story is not unique. God is revealing Himself everyday to people who sincerely seek Him. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” May I encourage you to to do just that? Seek God with all of your heart! It will change your life, and coming to know God will be the beginning of the greatest adventure you could have!
Links for further reading on :