The first thing to say when trying to “prove that God exists” is that this is an impossible task. Humans can’t prove that God exists any more than Hamlet could prove that Shakespeare exists. The reason is that God is not contained to our universe – he is a transcendent being. So his existence can never be proven through mere observation of the world (see 1 Corinthians 1:21).
However, God has given us plenty of clues to his existence in the world we can observe. So much so that to reject the existence of a God is not only misguided, but demonstrates our inner desire to be independent of him and thus a suppression of the truth of his existence (see Romans 1:18-25). The approach however is more like a court case than a laboratory experiment. What we have is a collection of evidence, based on the careful testing of witnesses, and ultimately a judgment we have to make.
Not only has God given us clues in nature, but he has given us a definitive revelation of himself through human mediators. These revelations have been written down and preserved for us in the Bible over a number of centuries. His ultimate revelation was in the man Jesus Christ, who in his very nature was divine – thus the exact representation of God’s being (see Hebrews 1:3).
I don’t pretend that I will convince you without a doubt that God exists. My aim is that I will persuade you that the existence of a Creator is plausible, in fact more plausible than the lack of one. With this qualification, we can now move on to my top 10 proofs of the existence of God, starting with God’s general revelation in nature (1-4), and moving to his special revelation through the Scriptures (5-10).
Proof #1: Intelligent design
Everywhere you look there is evidence of an intelligent creator. The beauty of fractals and sunsets. The taste of sweet fruit and the sound of birdsong. Many people don’t need further proof than this – you ask if they believe in a creator, and they say, “yeah I know there is a higher power, the world is filled with too much beauty and meaning to be a cosmic accident”.
Proof #2: Irreducible complexity
Related very much to Proof #1, irreducible complexity is specifically about the existence of living beings. Having loved and studied biology and medicine all my adult life, this is my favourite. The current scientific theory for life existing is that the right chemicals, in the right environment, given enough time, will eventually become life, as various components of life develop one by one by a process of natural selection. However this fails to take into account that the simplest life forms (single cells) are still incredibly complex.
People think the probability of life occurring is minutely small, but given enough time it’s inevitable. But the probability isn’t like 1 grain of sand out of all the grains of sands in this universe, it’s more like billions of grains of sand forming a beautiful sandcastle, complete with turrets and a draw-bridge completely spontaneously. Life is a sandcastle that you stumble upon on a beach – the atheist says “over billions and billions of years, the wind and the waves formed in such a way to create this sandcastle”. The theist says “there must be another intelligent being on this island.” Which is the more plausible conclusion to make based on the evidence?
Proof #3: Humanity’s divine attributes
Have you ever considered what makes humans different to all other creatures? The answer of many people is “we’re just more evolved”. But is it really that simple? Don’t get me wrong, I can see that evolution is a plausible method of moving from one species to another, as mutations that enable better adaptation to the environment lead to natural selection through survival of the fittest. I agree that there is strong evidence for a clear ancestral relationship with the apes. But is there something more to humanity than just being more evolved?
I think one of the clearest distinctions is that we can contemplate the divine – we feel like there is something more to life than simply survival of the fittest. We long for eternity and fulfilment – like an emptiness. As Augustine puts it, addressing his maker – “you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” The existence of religion (some kind of effort to relate to the divine) present in every culture, even isolated groups is a testimony to this. It would make sense if God were to make humanity in his own image, he would create us with an innate desire to seek him out.
Proof #4: Humanity’s conscience and morality
Related to Proof #3, there is a sense of morality and innate sense of right and wrong which transcends evolutionary theory or social conditioning. Again, much of our biology and behaviour could be attributed to evolution. However, generally speaking, humans (other than psychopaths perhaps) have a reverence for life, a sense of guilty conscience at hurting other people that testifies to a divine creator. If we were to be only driven by the instinct of “survival of the fittest” then why would we not kill or harm those who are outside of our family, especially if they were to be a competitor for resources? Yet we feel tyrants are wrong to persecute the poor, and we have a desire to protect the weak and sick even though it might work against the survival of our genetic material.
If you to take atheism to its logical end point, then life really is about survival of the fittest. This kind of thinking from the likes of Nietzsche, Marx and Hitler led to the atrocities and genocide of the 20th century. If you are a true atheist, then you have no reason to be moral if it prevents you getting ahead. If you have an instinctive sense that being amoral is wrong – then your own conscience testifies to a divine creator who loves justice and truth who made you and loves you.
Proof #5: “Coincidences” and answered prayer
Many people know that there is someone watching over them because of their experiences. Certain things happen that just seem so coincidental that there must be a higher power at work. Some might call this wishful thinking. But the right set of events, at the right time often lead people from skepticism about God to belief. We know that God seeks after his lost people, and he uses people and events to bring individuals to know that he is there.
If you want to believe in God, but just aren’t sure if he’s there – why not ask him to show himself to you? He doesn’t promise that he’ll give people visions or dreams or miracles. Especially not to those who demand them. But he does promise that whoever seeks him with a genuine heart will find him (Jeremiah 29:13). He promises to never turn away someone who is contrite in heart (in other words someone who comes humbly not presumptuously – Psalm 51:17). So what have you got to lose? Much more if he’s there and you ignore him than if he’s not and you seek him without finding him.
Proof #6: Unlikely heroes
Moving to the authenticity of God’s revelation in Scripture, one of the striking things about the Bible is that the heroes are not really heroes at all. Most of the ancients who invent stories about their ancestors will gloss over the messy stuff and emphasise their best sides. Even though the Old Testament was written by Jews for Jews, it’s remarkably negative about them. Abraham, the Father of Israel passed off his wife as his sister and slept with his slave because he doubted God’s promises. Moses wasn’t even a real Israelite since he had been adopted by the Egyptians and he had speech problems, yet he reluctantly became God’s prophet and led his people out of Egypt. The Israelites did a terrible job of being God’s people and were eventually exiled from the land God had promised them.
But the hero of the Bible is God. Most people making up a religion use it to wield power and influence over people. But God is clearly shown to be the hero of the Bible, not the people. And the most unlikely hero is Jesus. He’s not an impressive king. He’s a humble carpenter from a backwater town who becomes a teacher and healer, who is hated by the powerful and ends up getting executed as a blasphemer. Who would / could make this stuff up?
Proof #7: Fulfilled prophecy
As you read Scripture, God asks time and time again for you to look back at whether he has been faithful to his promises. He gave prophecies to certain people which came true – in particular, he told Abraham that the Israelites would be captives in a foreign land, he predicted through Isaiah that they would be exiled to Babylon and return under a king Cyrus (this was written before Cyrus was even born), he predicted they would exiled to Babylon 70 for years.
The recurring prophecy in the Old Testament is about a great king, saviour, rescuer, called the Messiah. He would be born miraculously of a virgin, in the kingly line of David, there would be a prophet coming just before him to prepare people for his coming, he would heal people and proclaim good news, he would suffer and bear the punishment of sins to bring peace to his people, he would crush the Devil, he would rise again and he would establish a kingdom that would last forever. There are hundreds of such prophecies in the Old Testament. Written hundreds of years before Jesus came. And Jesus fulfilled them in ways that the people of the time were not expecting (i.e. political upheaval of the Romans and an earthly Jewish kingdom) – so it wasn’t even wishful thinking on their part – they had him killed because they thought he was a fake!
Proof #8: The Historical Jesus
The accounts we have of Jesus are amazing. When compared to any other historical document form this period they are off the charts in terms of reliability. We have eye witness testimony – details that could only have been known by people who were there. The books were written within the lifetime of these eye witnesses. We have a transmission of manuscripts that has been established that we know with 99% accuracy the exact words that were written down, in Greek, by the original authors. There are tens of thousands of manuscripts which contribute to this – hundreds times more than other historical texts from this time.
People say there is no evidence of Jesus outside of the gospels, as though we can assume the gospels were made up. But that is four key primary sources of the time. And not only is this so, but there is evidence of Jesus outside the gospels, from people (such as the Jews) who opposed him. Some examples include Josephus and Tacitus.
The biggest evidence that Jesus existed is the following events that ensued. This was not a myth that developed over centuries. By the turn of the first century, we have writings by Christian leaders, referring to the New Testament writings, and as well as Roman officials writing to each other about issues with this new Jewish sect.
Proof #9: The Resurrected Jesus
The proof of Jesus’ authority as God and Messiah is constantly linked to the resurrection in the New Testament. All four gospels give an account of Jesus rising from the dead. Included are details such as an empty tomb, Jesus having a new body that was not bound by time and space, and yet he could still eat in their presence, and still had the scars from his crucifixion. He gave many convincing proofs to the disciples, including those who could not believe without seeing him with their own eyes. He remained in the area of Galilee for 40 days and over 500 people saw him and recognised him.
There are many arguments pointing to the plausibility of the resurrection. I will mention only a few that have stuck with me:
1. The Romans knew how to execute people, and the testimonies refer to water and blood flowing from his side, a sign confirmed by modern medicine that his heart was no longer beating.
2. The Romans set a close guard over the tomb and when the body was gone, they tried to maintain that it was stolen. They could not produce a body to silence the claims of the first Christians.
3. Many of the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were still alive at the time of the New Testament, and the reader is told to go and ask them if they don’t believe.
4. The most compelling (in my view): Jesus disciples were scattered and in disarray when Jesus was tried and executed. Their leader, who was going to bring in this amazing kingdom had just been killed. Yet something happened to them shortly afterwards that led them to proclaim, under great opposition – to the point of being executed, that Jesus had come back from the dead. They had nothing to gain by making this story up – they did not have any political intent, they became social outcasts, and definitely had no monetary gain from this, as they gave up their jobs to teach others this news, becoming like beggars, dependent on the generosity of others to survive. Most of them ended up losing their lives for this testimony. Sure, some cults last a generation or two with people willing to die for what they are convinced is true. But we’re talking hundreds of initial witnesses, who convinced thousands across the world by the certainty of their testimony.
Proof #10: The Perseverance of the Church
If you are a Christian or want to engage with Christianity at all as a skeptic or whatever, and you haven’t read the book of Acts from start to finish, then stop reading this blog and go and do it. This is the account of the early church – what happens after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. We see throughout the book of Acts that Jesus is still at work, through his people, by his Spirit. He spiritually empowers his people to speak boldly in the face of opposition, perform miracles, guide them where he wants them to go, and work to bring people to belief in him. This work of the Holy Spirit has continued throughout the centuries and continues today in churches. People are turned from skepticism to belief through the bold proclamation of the message of Jesus. Some are given incredible gifts to serve the church. People are healed physically and spiritually – (although miraculous healings are not promised to everyone, especially not to those who demand signs). Throughout the ages, Christianity has faced great opposition – either from the authorities, or from within the so-called “church” – which has often and still is corrupted by many false teachers and unbelievers masquerading as Christians. But there is evidence that God has sustained the true church through all of these times, and has remained faithful to his people as he promised (see Proof #7).
Ok that’s my 10 proofs of the existence of God. None of them originate from my own thinking – they are what I’ve learnt from many other sources. Again, I want to remind you that this is not an open and shut case. I just want to give you some evidence to show Christianity is intellectually and logically plausible given the above arguments.
But if you’ve read this far and your not convinced, I want to leave you with one last thought. Most people who have intellectual objections to Christianity think the reason they can’t believe in God is because of their intellectual objections. But almost always the reality is that deep down, they are holding on to something that they know they will have to give up if they become a Christian. Maybe it’s their pride. Maybe it’s their desire to have autonomy and not have someone else tell them how to live their lives. Maybe it’s their relationships. Or their use of things like pornography, alcohol, sex or money that they know God wouldn’t approve of and don’t wanna give up. Whatever it is – it’s those things, things that their hearts secretly want to hold on to that make them not want to believe, even if it was true, that are stopping them. These people can hear all the arguments, but they will never accept them because they don’t want to. They might have convinced themselves that they are being open minded. But basically unless something dramatic happens, they aren’t going to change their minds.
So their intellectual objections aren’t the reason they don’t believe. They are simply a cover for getting what they really want. They use these objections to justify their position. They use them to convince people, themselves most of all, that their rejection of God is right. And any threat to this self-justification is dismissed quickly without actually approaching the evidence with an open mind.
So here’s my question for you: If you were to become a Christian, is there something that you would have to give up that you don’t want to? Have you tricked yourself into rejecting God because deep down, you don’t want it to be true.
This question changed my life. I realised that I was deluding myself if I thought I was being open minded. I didn’t want to be a Christian, because I didn’t want God telling me what to do. And I was willing to justify that position at any cost. Once I realised my deep personal bias against Christianity, I was able to have a far more objective approach (the approach that I was championing all along), which led me to belief in Christ.