Why Believe in God?
WHY BELIEVE? Series of 3 talks starting today with the existence of God.
Most of time, church talks are about WHAT we believe.
But step back and ask WHY do we believe this? Important: whoever you are
A. IF already Christian:
FOR YOU: may come to faith pragmatically: ‘it works!’ God has transformed your life!
Powerful experience answered doubts without need for persuasive explanation
Drive car cause it works – I never look under bonnet to see why it all works – I had to
take my car to garage to find out how to open the bonnet! Series to look under bonnet
Discover Christianity is not just powerful experience but persuasive explanation
FOR OTHERS: many haven’t had your experience. So yelling ‘just believe it! Doesn’t have
desired effect! Culture has Qs: ‘if God, suffering? Science?’ The way to respond is not like
Brits abroad: when not understood, shout louder! (Bible-bashing)
God is not coercive (persuasion not pressure):
1 Peter 3:15: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks... But do this
with gentleness and respect’
In world with reasonable questions, this series equips us to give reasoned answers
B. IF not a Christian
Thanks for coming. You’re in the right place!
To use Car analogy, you maybe in neutral: open to putting faith in to gear and following
Christ but want reasons and reassurance first
Q. WHY BELIEVE? Could move to response: ‘I BELIEVE’ through this series
Or might feel more in reverse gear – take some persuading!
Q. ‘Why believe?’ – Answer: “I don’t believe mate! I am not a believer!”
When it comes to God we are all believers – some believe God exists others not
BUT we can’t perform experiment to prove or disprove - God is not material object we
can capture and examine – not part of material world accessible to science or technology
Richard Dawkins (image) admits it: ‘The probability of a supernatural creator existing is
very low’
‘There is no God’; ‘We can’t know God’; ‘Science disproves God’ = all faith not facts.
Real Question: Why do I believe what I believe? Does it make most sense of evidence?
NOT a scientist conducting experiment BUT detective looking for clues.
Think Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch (image) – investigation 5 big clues
1. Cause (universe): why is there anything?
Science: wide consensus that universe began with big-bang 13 billion yrs ago.
This universe has not always existed but started from nothing…
We live in a Cause-effect world: everything that happens has a cause – nothing happens
without someone or something behind it… e.g. Parents: if you hear a BIG BANG upstairs
where your children are playing – you shout up ‘what was that?’ And a little voice
answers ‘Nothing!’ Don’t believe them! Why? Because big bangs don’t randomly occur –
someone just jumped on the bed and broke it or bounced your iPad down the stairs!
So apply same logic to universe Big-Bang: what caused that? Someone must be behind it!
“The universe just happened” – doesn’t make sense of basic logic – must be cause.
Q. Where God from? by definition eternal and infinite – different order to finite material
Bible makes most sense: ‘In the beginning God!’
Which equation is easier to believe?
Nothing made something out of nothing vs. Something made something out of nothing?
Neighbour’s complaint: ‘Rocks on our patio’. Daughter was out. So narrowed it down to
our 2 boys. The rocks were too large for smallest so called other resident to a ‘meeting’!
‘Have you thrown rocks over fence? “NO!” Picked him up to look over and see them – how
did these get here? (out of options) ‘Maybe it was God?’ Same with universe!
2. Creation (earth): Why is there life?
Have you noticed this one we are sitting on (3rd from sun) seems to have been carved,
crafted, positioned and balance for human life! Other planets not hospitable but the blue
planet is perfect for life and even fun!
Imagine you come back next Sunday and find the whole KG site transformed into a theme
park – perfect for family day out, different rides for ages, all working and mechanized –
waiting for you to enjoy! Who built this?
Steward’s explanation: ‘No one. There was an explosion, cars blew up and when they
came down they landed like this. It’s all an accident waiting for you to enjoy!
Ridiculous? Exactly! The life-sustaining beauty of this one planet from a cosmic explosion
is ridiculous – or many would say miraculous!
‘Life-sustaining’ planet is so unlikely as to be nothing short of a miracle!
Like a ‘The cosmic welcome mat’ – someone was expecting us to live here!
FINE-TUNING Constants & quantities: 50 dials all must align perfectly to each other
Our planet tilts at 23.5 degrees – if fraction different – planet would be too exposed to
sun and fried or not enough and frozen – perfect poise and balance for blue planet!
Galactic roulette – imagine 15 wheels each with 1 million numbers – spin each wheel and
everyone lands on the only right combination that is life-sustaining – 15x.
Do you have faith for that? I don’t – more reasonable to believe in creator!
‘I think to myself, what a wonderful world!’ – makes want to congratulate designer!
3. Conscience (humanity): Why is there morality and meaning?
MORALITY: ‘What is wrong with the world?’– great Q to ask – everyone has an answer
Ranging from taxes to terrorists BUT crucial: everyone agrees something is wrong!
If no God, all random, accidents and survival of fittest – no evil just forces of nature
E.g. Animal kingdom: lion kills zebra – survival not murder; Why different for us?
If bullying is the strong defeating the weak – why is it wrong?
BUT right and wrong is basic to humanity – even Old fashioned word ‘sin’ – watching
6 nations and thinking rugby is a Christian sport. Plus several ‘conversions’ per match!
Where does this sense of right/wrong come from? Those without it are psychopathic!
Humans are the only animals that blush – why? Moral compass hard-wired in all of us
Bible makes most sense: ‘image and likeness of God’ – sense of injustice is echo of God!
MEANING: Humans ponder and search for meaning, significance, purpose – if we can’t
find it, we suffer from emotional depression and emptiness, even suicide
BUT IF no God, there is no ultimate meaning or purpose
You come from no one, you are here for nothing and going nowhere. Happy with that?
Bottom line: can you look another human in eye and agree with Richard Dawkins:
‘There is at bottom no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference. We
are machines for propagating DNA’
NO! Sitting next to miracle not machine! Bible sense: ‘fearfully and wonderfully made!’
Our human desires are clues: innate desires correspond to real objects: hunger
sensation odd if no food; Sex-drive would be strange if no such thing as sex; tiredness
implies such a thing as sleep; spiritual yearning makes no sense unless God.
C.S Lewis: ‘I find in myself a desire which nothing in this world seems to satisfy. The most
likely explanation is that I was made for something beyond this world’ (MC)
There is a cause behind your life AND he loves you – and that’s why everything matters
and that’s why you feel so empty when life is just stuffed with stuff!
St. Augustine: ‘You made us for yourself O God, and our hearts will always be restless until
they find their rest in Thee’.
4. Christ – who was he?
3 clues (Cause, creation, conscience) point to one conclusion: IN THE BEGINNING, GOD
Majority of the world agree – pure atheists (no God) are in the minority even in UK
BUT many replace with practical atheism (no way to know God) so live as if none
E.g. Australia: down-under location I believe in but no relevance to how I live…
BUT what if God came down under and entered our world to make himself known?
We are downstairs (on earth) guessing about who is upstairs (in heaven) – no one has
been upstairs and come back downstairs with reliable information – but what if the Boss
upstairs came downstairs as a human and made himself known?
John’s Gospel Chapter 14
v.1 ‘Believe in God, believe in me’
v.7 ‘From now on you know God… if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God!’
We sometimes say of someone distant: ‘I’ve heard of him but never met him in the flesh’
Would be true of God (practical atheism) but he has taken on flesh and blood
‘The word became flesh’ - In-carnation (in meat, like Chilli-con-carne).
JC: God the author has written himself into script and walked onto stage of history!
What’s the evidence for this?
Overwhelming from multiple Christian and non-Christian – no serious academic denies
Jesus existed BUT was he anything more than a good teacher and influential leader?
If think Jesus was just a good man – clearly never reads the Gospels!
His miracles controlled nature – like God would – calming storms and forming eyes
And these are miracles not myths – dates & details E.g. Blind Bartimaeus in Jericho
His teaching promised forgiveness, eternal life, heaven – like God would
Reading Lk. 21 ‘Heaven and earth may pass away but my words never will’
Bono (U2): ‘So what you are left with is either Christ was who he said he was – the
Messiah – or a complete nutcase. The idea that the entire course of civilization has been
turned upside down by a nutcase, now for me that’s too far fetched’
Conclusion of closest: Not initially but gradually realised this apparently ordinary man
was someone special.
Rugby against Jonny: ‘you’re really good!’ – later realized who it was all along!
JC asked: ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter: ‘Messiah! Son of God’
JC’s closest friends were most convinced they had met with living God in Jesus!
We can know God for the boss upstairs has come downstairs and shown himself to us!
5. Christianity
The fact that we are still talking about Jesus 2000yrs later, that our whole calendar is set
by him (BC/AD) requires some explanation – why?
He died at young age in brutal defeat to imperial powers – another failed Messiah!
Judas of Galilee (JCs turf) – failed uprising in 6 AD, killed by Romans
Christianity was killed with Christ and was dead and buried with him
MAGNET SWITCHED OFF: Followers scatter: 2 walking home to Emmaus – others gone
back to fishing (old career) = IT IS FINISHED! Christianity was as dead as its Christ!
CAUSE-EFFECT logic – Christianity reduced to nothing –motionless corpse in tomb
So what happened?
Nothing comes from nothing! How does Christianity come from corpse?
Suddenly, things slam into reverse. Magnet switched back on! Those going away start
coming back to Jerusalem; eyewitnesses start proclaiming ‘he’s alive’!
Defeated disciples start preaching there is hope for the whole world in Jesus! And
martyred for it – not a myth but world changing truth worth living and dying for!
Their message: (Gospel/good news) IT IS FINISHED! (not I am finished) was a victory
cry for this whole world – all our sin and guilt is paid for and we can start over! HOPE!
This message has and is changing the world!
Followers of Judas of Galillee? No! He’s dead! Followers of JC Galilee? He’s alive!
2.4 billion Christians! Time magazine: most influence, biggest-footprint in history!
Reasonable explanation of the facts is that Jesus Christ must be alive!
NT Wright concludes: ‘As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless
Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him!’
Richard Swinburne (Prof Emeritus in Philosophy at Oxford): In his book The
Resurrection of God Incarnate: ‘…it is 97% certain that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead!’
You may be in 3% who think he is still dead, but I haven’t got enough faith for that!
My life: fear of others like chains held me back and made me half-hearted and
compromised – a coward - Jesus gave me new confidence and set me free!
Last weekend: 47 people baptized (image) to say JC has changed my life forever!
Christianity is alive because Christ is alive – it makes the most sense of clues!
Sherlock Holmes: "How often have I said to you, Watson, that when you have eliminated
the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
Where does this leave us?
Still unsure: Still got Questions? Keep coming, keep asking, keep exploring
Ready to trust: Clues lead you to conclusion – its true NOW need to trust!
Christianity is not watertight argument but person – trust is in Jesus
E.g. Joel: abseiling in Lake District – test of trust – ‘I don’t want to! I’m only 5!’ but showed
him belay points and solid rock – gained confidence and ready to lean back
Guess what he said half-way down: ‘I love it! Can I have another go?’
Today: shown you some rock solid arguments – built confidence. But everyone still has to
lean back and trust – then discover ‘I love it! Can I have another go?’
Listen to JC: ‘Believe in God, believe also in me!’
Time to move from WHY BELIEVE to I BELIEVE