Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3 NIV)
The last thing we do when we put the kids to bed at night is say nighttime prayers with them. Our oldest son, Sawyer (age 3.5), has just gotten to the point where he is starting to ask questions. One of the things he likes to ask is, “Is God here?” It’s an interesting thing trying to explain to a three-year-old the concept that God is everywhere, but invisible. He likes to ask things like, “Can we go look for Him?” When Sawyer asks the questions about where God is, and why he can’t see Him, it makes me pause and reflect on how I know that God exists. I have never seen God, so why do I believe that God exists, and especially why do I believe in the God of the Bible and that Jesus Christ was His son?
First, I believe he exists because I believe scientific principles assert the necessity of a creator. Volumes have been written about this by people far smarter than I, but I will say in short we’re all familiar with the basic premise that something does not come from nothing, and that something that is not moving doesn’t start moving unless a force acts upon it (if you throw your dirty clothes on the floor, they unfortunately stay there until someone picks them up). To believe that the universe simply happened without a creator, you have to be willing to accept on faith either that the matter of the universe always existed and that without an external force acting on it, it suddenly exploded in a big bang setting the whole thing into motion (i.e., something at rest began to move on its own), or that at some point there was nothing and it suddenly came into being and the act of something coming from nothing also set it into motion without an external influence. In either case, this is blind faith, because it violates two of the most intuitive principles even children understand about the laws of physics.
So the next question is, how do I get from “a deity” to the God of the Bible? I believe that the Bible stands alone among religious texts that claim to contain inspired revelation, as it has been shown to be historically reliable. It was written over a period of about 1,500 years by roughly 40 different people, who all somehow managed to produce a book that contains a coherent message (if you have ever had to work on any sort of group project, even with the ability to talk to each other, you realize how hard it is to be consistent). Finally, and to me this is the clincher, it contains an incredible number of prophetic predictions that came to true with such accuracy that critics try to claim the texts must have been written after the events. (For example, Genesis 49 predicts that descendants of Judah would rule Israel until the coming of the Messiah, who would also be from Judah—David was from the tribe of Judah, and Jesus descended from the line of David. You have to get pretty creative to read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 as anything other than being about Jesus, and Zechariah 11:12-13 even predicts the price that Judas receives for Jesus and what would happen to the money.)
Finally, why Jesus? His coming was foretold starting in Genesis and repeated throughout the Old Testament. The ability for anyone to coincidentally fulfill even a fraction of the number of prophecies about Him is humanly impossible. Second, the empty tomb. I believe this is one of the most glossed-over facts by critics because there simply is not any reasonable explanation other than the fact that he rose from the dead, nor any other logical explanation for how the disciples went from running away at his arrest and denying that they knew him at his trial (Peter), to refusing to shut up even on threat of death about how they had seen the risen Jesus and must preach the good news.
While the list above isn’t something that I am going to go into with a 3.5-year-old, I think it’s always important to self-reflect on why I believe what I do. Otherwise it can have an odd sound when trying to explain that there really is an all-powerful God, but we can’t see him.
Andrew can be reached via email here.