Is there such a thing as a “neutral” starting point for evaluating God's existence? Should we try to prove the Bible, or let it speak for itself?
I used to be a devout Christian, attending church regularly and have even been confirmed. however, since doing exams i have questioned my beliefs resulting in my denouncement of God.
my main reason for this is that i cannot find any proof to verify his existance. when i ask people, they always refer me to the Bible as a be all and end all. however, i have no evidence that the bible is true. As with all documents written a long time ago, you can never be sure who wrote them originally, and the bible has undergone so many re-writings and translations much meaning has been lost, mis-transcribed. how then can i be sure what it says is true? especially when there are other religions with other holy books proclaiming a different way of things, which they hold as truth with equal fervour. Yes, it is the 'word of god', but how do i know it truly is?
basically - discarding the bible, what evidence is there to make claim for our (the christian) God's existance over any other religious god?
Before I respond to the rest of this email, the last statement actually needs to be dealt with first.
basically - discarding the bible, what evidence is there to make claim for our (the christian) God's existence . . .
What J.C. is trying to do here, like many non-Christians, is set the ground rules for debate. Many non-Christians will say “leave the Bible out of it” when discussing God, creation, absolute truth, morality, or the Bible itself. They will usually claim that by leaving the Bible out of it, all participants will be starting on neutral ground. However, this is not neutral ground. Christians stand on the Word of God—it is our foundation (Luke 6:47–49)—and everything we believe and how we live is based on what it says. So, to leave out our very foundation, our building of defense will come crashing down.
I could easily turn this around and ask J.C. to disprove the existence of God, but only after discarding his own ideas and using nothing but the Bible. (Note, though, that I am in no way implying that Christians give up thinking when they believe the Bible; in fact, the opposite is true.) We use the Bible because it is God’s Word and is our foundation. However, the non-Christian’s foundation is autonomous man’s reasoning (i.e., reasoning based solely on one’s intellect and not God’s Word). In essence we are pitting the non-believer against God and His reasoning rather than our own (Isaiah 55:8–9).
Now I want to talk about the notion of neutrality: there is no such thing. An atheist is not neutral when arguing against the existence of God, nor is a Christian when arguing for the existence of God. Each must presuppose a belief about God before establishing the logic that allows arguments “for” or “against” Him. We see from Scripture that all true knowledge comes, ultimately, from Christ:
Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (Colossians 2:2–4)
Christ also made clear the myth of neutrality when He said, “He who is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23). If we agree with the skeptic when he says to “leave the Bible out of it” for the sake of “intellectual neutrality,” then the moment we do, we are no longer with Christ but have instead joined the skeptic and are actually posing ourselves against Christ and His Word. So, when speaking of God and the fact that He is the only true God, we cannot discard His Word.
I used to be a devout Christian, attending church regularly and have even been confirmed.
Attending church and being confirmed does not define what a Christian is, though it may define a “religious” person. The Bible tells us plainly what defines a Christian:
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9–10)
By their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:16)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22–24)
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3–6)
I could have quoted much more from the New Testament. God alone is who defines a Christian, and He does so in His Word. Christians are not defined by rituals or traditions.
however, since doing exams i have questioned my beliefs resulting in my denouncement of God.
Since you have denounced a belief in God, it is clear you never truly believed His Word nor stood on it as your foundation. This is another example of how when we stop using God’s Word as our foundation and then use man’s autonomous reasoning as a foundation, we crumble, spiritually.
my main reason for this is that i cannot find any proof to verify his existance. when i ask people, they always refer me to the Bible as a be all and end all.
That’s because it is the “be all and end all.” God reveals Himself to us in His Word, and we must accept His words by faith or reject them by having faith instead in man’s fallible ideas. Why will you not accept the Bible as proof of His existence?
i have no evidence that the bible is true.
It isn’t so much the evidence for the Bible you do not accept; you don’t accept the fact—as your starting point—that the Bible is true. When you presuppose that the Bible must be “proven,” any sort of evidence you see can be interpreted against the Bible. But Christians, who start with the presupposition that the Bible is true, can explain the evidence—logically, consistently, and correctly.
If the universe were just a random cosmic accident, there is no reason for it to follow certain laws.
But perhaps the best evidence that the Bible is true is that if it were not, the laws of logic and morality—and even our own existence—would not be possible. Without a logical God, who created everything including us in His own image (which is why we are able to use the laws of logic), there is no reason to believe there is any order, causality, or logic in the universe. For example, the physical and chemical laws of nature (Jeremiah 33:25) are orderly and logical. It makes sense that an orderly and logical God would create a universe that displays some of His characteristics (Romans 1:20).
But if the universe were just a random cosmic accident, there is no reason for it to follow certain laws, nor should there be any reason we could understand any of it. There is no way for a naturalist to explain why these laws exist or where they came from. And to just say, “That’s just how it happened” is to take a great leap of blind faith. Thus, both the Christian and the non-Christian must place their faith somewhere as a starting point; we choose to put our faith in God’s revealed, perfect Word. For more information on this topic, see “Atheism: An Irrational Worldview,” “God & Natural Law,” and “A Reader Challenges Our Claim of a Logical, God-Created Universe.”
As with all documents written a long time ago, you can never be sure who wrote them originally, and the bible has undergone so many re-writings and translations much meaning has been lost, mis-transcribed.
If you can never be sure who originally wrote the Bible then how do you know it has changed so much? What evidence are you basing this belief on? As a matter of fact, the Bible has remained the most accurate ancient work ever. This can be seen from the tens of thousands of copies and fragments that have been found. Words have obviously been translated from the original language, but there is no evidence that the meaning of the texts has changed. That much of the Bible’s meaning has been lost remains a baseless and unsubstantiated claim. To read more, see Ron Rhodes’s “Manuscript Support for the Bible’s Reliability.”
how then can i be sure what it says is true?
Because, as pointed out above, if it were not true, then the natural and logical laws we observe would not be possible, nor would life exist. Random, non-directional genetic “accidents” have never been observed to create order, nor has non-life been observed to give rise to life. The only explanation that makes sense of the laws of nature, laws of logic, and existence of life is the transcendent God.
especially when there are other religions with other holy books proclaiming a different way of things, which they hold as truth with equal fervour. Yes, it is the 'word of god', but how do i know it truly is?
Yes, but those “holy books” can’t explain everything around us in a logical, consistent, correct manner. The Bible explains why bad things happen (Genesis 3), why there are so many people groups (Genesis 10–11), why there are rock layers (Genesis 7–8), why dogs always produce dogs (Genesis 1), and why we’re here. No other “holy book” can explain all these things because none of them tell the true history of the world. To read more about this, please see “Other Religious Writings.”
. . . what evidence is there to make claim for our (the christian) God's existance over any other religious god?
The best evidence that the one true God is Jesus Christ is the Bible. No other book even comes close.
In His name and for His glory,
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.