God Is

God’s existence has long been debated. Atheists and Christians alike argue forcefully for their position, but the argument I will give in this post is one of the arguments I find convincing. In fact, this argument has never been adequately answered. This post is my ‘spin’ on an argument put forth by both William Lane Craig and James Patrick Moreland, among others.

God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. This is foundational for a popular argument for God’s existence. Reason demonstrates that something in the past must have always existed.

It is not possible to count to the end of the series of real numbers. You can always count one more. It is an infinite series of discrete things. You can’t count to the end of a series like that. It has no end. There is always one more.

Let’s assume the common understanding of time as an example (please see the note at the bottom on time). It is just as impossible to reach the end of time as it is to count to the end of a series of real numbers. There’s always one more moment. If time has no end, we will never reach the end of it.

What if we move backwards through time? If time had no beginning, it would be like counting backwards to the end of the negative numbers. We would never reach the end. There would always be one more.

Time, in the common understanding, would have to begin at a certain moment. If it had not, the series of moments that had to expire in order for us to get to this moment would have been an infinite series. The end of an infinite series cannot be reached.

Similarly, we cannot expect that an infinite regress of finite causes exists either. That is, if we move backward from ourselves to the things that caused us, to the things that caused those things, to the things that caused those times, and so on, we must find something that did not have a beginning. Otherwise, the end of the infinite series of causes, namely us, would never have been reached. We would never have moved through the series of causes to get to ourselves.

Whatever the first cause was, it must have always been. If it had no beginning, it would be able to start the series of causes. The series would not extend infinitely into the past.

This first cause must also have the power and ability to bring about all we see in the universe. The universe came from something that has always existed. Something, or someone, has always been here. It was not caused to be by something that existed before it. It is self-existent; it has the power of being in itself.

As J. P. Morland points out, nothing outside this first cause can cause it to either act or not act. There was a “time” when there was nothing outside it, so there was nothing to cause its actions. It acted independently of anything else. This is how we define the power of choice. Only a person has the power of choice.

Now we have a being that has always existed, is super-powerful, and displays intention. This fits the Christian notion of God quite well, but not perfectly.

I expand more on what this being must be like in my next post.


To Digress - The Health Care Crisis and Individual Choices

I have followed with interest the news stories regarding the current ‘health care crisis.’ Some examples of the better articles are here, here, here, and here.

Efforts to blame some group or the other abound. But I blame us.

If we all lost some weight there would be a clear reduction in the health care costs currently experienced. The same is true for smoking, alcohol / drug abuse, high salt diets, not exercising, etc. One article makes it clear:

If people would just do four things -- engage in regular physical activity, eat a healthy diet, not smoke and avoid becoming obese -- they could slash their risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke or cancer by 80%, a new report has found.

But less than 10% of the 23,153 people in the multi-year study --
published in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine -- actually lived their lives this way.

Like it or not, our lifestyle choices are fueling the medical care crisis. It’s our fault. There must be some individual responsibility, or we will never get out of this mess.

The situation we face is largely brought on by a form of ‘welfare mentality.’ We want to make foolish choices and avoid the consequences by running to our doctors and having our health insurance foot the bill.

Grow up, America!

Now, off to Snap Fitness before my friends point out how hypocritical I am.


The Gospel, The Spiritual Gift of Hospitality, and Crime

Today’s BreakPoint commentary by Prison Fellowship Mark Early tells a story that speaks clearly to the best answer to our crime problem. Here’s the conclusion:

And as we go about doing what God commanded—visiting those in prison and sharing the good news—it won’t just make a difference in private attitudes, but in public safety. So that the next time [criminals and victims] meet, it can be across the pew instead of across the barrel of a pistol.

BreakPoint links to related news stories here and here.

It sounds trite, but we must share the gospel, or they may kill us.


Contextualization – A Dirty Word?

The Resurgence has an article on a church planted by a man who is quickly becoming one of my heroes: Tim Keller. He planted Redeemer Presbyterian Church, a body of believers in the heart of New York.

His address to the Desiring God conference on The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World is an good treatment of the controversial subject of contextualization. You can find a good summary of his approach here.

Some Tim Keller quotes to inspire discussion:

Contextualization is not giving people what they want. It is giving God’s answers (which they probably do not want) to the questions they are asking and in forms they can comprehend.

'Contextualization' is unavoidable. You yourself have 'incarnated' Christianity into a culture. As soon as you choose a language to preach in and illustrations and humor--you've contextualized. You are 'closer' to some people and 'farther' from others. And it is also right to have a heart for a certain people group and seek to serve and win them over others…It would be nice if non-Christian people would not care about cultural differences, but people cannot be sanctified before they are justified!

I see contextualization is adapting my communication of the gospel without changing its essential character.

So, what do you think?

(8/13/09 - I'm not getting any response on this one. Time to post on something else.)

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