Here is a small outline for a case for Christian theism. I have left a lot of supplemental reading. Obviously much more can be said. But for now, I hope this helps.
Which God Shall I Pick?
- God is not personal and knowable
- The universe is eternal and unchanging, without an end or a beginning (this contradicts the evidence for the beginning of the universe)
- If divinity and matter are mystically “one” (so you can’t have god without matter), how is the pantheistic god capable of producing the effect in question such as the origin of space?
- Says the universe is a necessary being. But this makes no sense because we know the universe is contingent.
- To bring a universe into existence means the cause would have a volitional will- they made a choice. This is a personal cause (i.e., Agent Causation). Will is one attribute that characterizes personhood.
- Says there are more than one god.
- Gods either came from nature or where at one time men and women who became gods.
- Gods are thus finite and contingent.
- The Universe has always existed. This contradicts Big Bang cosmology.
- They don’t account for the creation of the universe. All things come from the universe, even Gods. Gods don’t exist apart from the universe, and the beings that do exist all have limited power which causes polytheism to not meet all the requirements.
- Polytheism fails the Ockham’s razor test: “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.”
3. Other common internet objections: (i.e., Thor, Zeus, etc, Flying Spaghetti Monster)
- These are created gods/they are part of the universe
- They are contingent gods
- The God of the Bible is necessary, not contingent, and he transcends the universe- he is not part of the universe! To compare the God of the Bible with Thor, Zeus, etc. is a category mistake.
- There is 0.0 evidence for Thor, Zeus or FSM. Perhaps someone may find the evidence for the God of the Bible to not be sufficient, but that is not the same as having zero evidence. Those who say there is “no evidence,” or “zero evidence” have a very naïve view of epistemology and classical theism.
4. Theistic God (i.e., Judaism/Islam/Christianity)
A Theistic God is more likely to explain:(note: Thanks to Wintery Knight for some of these resources).
- The origin of the universe from nothing; Why the universe exists/the existence of nature/natural laws; Cause must be personal, immaterial, outside time, space, etc verses the universe was produced by a mindless, nonconscious processes.
- Why the universe is rational (i.e., rational Being creates a rational universe that is observable and orderly verses a completely impersonal, non rational cause that allows for a rational universe).
- The fine-tuning of the cosmological constants to permit life
- The fine-tuning of the galaxy, solar system, and planet to permit life:
- Mathematical theories correspond with physical reality
- Origin of the building blocks in the simplest replicating cell
- Origin of biological information in the simplest replicating cell; Biological Information content of organisms (i.e. information comes from an intelligent source). The info content of DNA is fundamental to life; but DNA is not itself alive. It contains a database of information and the programme to produce a specified product. Each of the 10-100 trillion cells in the human body contains a database larger than the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
- The limits on what natural selection and random mutation can do
- Laws of logic: are abstract entities and are universal, and independent of human conventions. Logic was not invented, but discovered.
- The argument from reason
- The argument from contingency
- Humans can develop propositions, formulate arguments, draw inferences, recognize universal principals, value logical validity, coherence and truth. While animals can be taught and use vocabulary words, they lack the ability to work with abstractions and ask philosophical questions.
Because of these three theistic possibilities, we need to look at Historical Revelation:
- Revelation: a disclosure of something that has been hidden– an “uncovering,” or “unveiling.”
- There are three things are needed for a revelation to take place: God, a medium, and a being able to receive the revelation.
- Communication : God does want to communicate with humans.
Why the need for revelation?
- Man’s lack of knowledge: Aquinas offered a good case for the need for revelation. He set forth five reasons why we must first believe what we may later be able to provide good evidence for (Maimonides, 1.34):
1. The object of spiritual understanding is deep and subtle, far removed from sense perception.
2. Human understanding is weak as it fights through these issues.
3. A number of things are needed for conclusive spiritual proof. It takes time to discern them.
4. Some people are disinclined to rigorous philosophical investigation.
5. It is necessary to engage in other occupations besides philosophy and science to provide the necessities of life (On Truth, 14.10, reply).
Aquinas said it is clear that, “if it were necessary to use a strict demonstration as the only way to reach a knowledge of the things which we must know about God, very few could ever construct such a demonstration and even these could do it only after a long time.”
Elsewhere, Aquinas lists three basic reasons why divine revelation is needed.
1. Few possess the knowledge of God, some do not have the disposition for philosophical study, and others do not have the time or are indolent.
2. Time is required to find the truth. This truth is very profound, and there are many things that must be presupposed. During youth the soul is distracted by “the various movements of the passions.”
3. It is difficult to sort out what is false in the intellect. Our judgment is weak in sorting true from false concepts.
We also need to know the following:
- Character of God: we need a concrete communication to establish the exact nature of God’s character. Who is God and what is He Like?
- The Origin of Evil/The Fall: Man needs to be educated concerning the reasons for our situation.
- Man’s Origin: Without a clear revelation, people might think they are the result of a blind, naturalistic process instead of being created in the image of God.
- Mankind’s Destiny: In the absence of a revelation, we might think that this life is all there is.
How would we defend the Bible is a true revelation of the true God?
- We must admit that all the Holy Books contain contradictory revelations: To assert that the God of the Bible would give a clear revelation in the person of Jesus (33 A.D.) and then give another revelation 600-650 years later (Islam), which contradicts the one in 33 A.D is odd. Furthermore, what about the two other so-called revelations in the 1800′s (Mormonism and the Watchtower Society) that both contradict the Christian and Muslim claim. If anything, that would make the God of the Bible a very contradictory Being.
- Wrong approach: The Bible is the Word of God because it says it is the Word of God (we quote 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 3:15-16). This is circular.
We would have to establish there is a God who can give a revelation to mankind: Theistic God (see above)
- Once we show nature is not all there is, we can show miracles are actual and possible. Note: See John Earman. Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles.
The Old Testament explains:
- The reality of original sin: it is seen in the reality of life and all around the world.
- The emergence and present existence of Israel
- Predictive prophecy: (i.e., timing of coming of Messiah (Gen. 49:8-12; Deut. 18:15-18; Dan. 9; Haggai 2); Gen 12:1-3: Forming of Israel will lead to Jewish Messiah who will enable millions of non-Jews to come to know the one true God; manner of Messiah’s death and rejection: (Isa. 52:13-53:2; Psalm 22); divinity of Messiah (Gen. 49:8-12: Dan 7:13-14; Isa. 9:1-9).
- Objection: Killing of Cannanites, etc. slavery issue, need to employ hermeneutics.
The New Testament explains:
- Messiah’s first coming
- We can detect God’s work in human history and apply historical tests to the Bible or any other religious book .
- The late Anthony Flew said the resurrection of Jesus was the best attested miracle claim that he had seen. Perhaps the most reasonable expectation is to ask where God has broken through in human history.
- Miracles performed in connection with a truth claim are acts of God to confirm the truth of God through a messenger of God
The structure of the argument may be formalized as follows: Read a fuller form from the book In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture here:
(1) The New Testament documents are historically reliable evidence
(2) The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate/the Jewish Messiah. God authenticated Jesus’ teaching/ claim to divinity by His miracles/His messianic speaking authority, His messianic actions, and His resurrection .
(3) Hence, Jesus is God incarnate.
(4) Jesus (i.e., God incarnate) taught that the Old Testament is divinely inspired, and he promised the inspiration of the New Testament through his apostles.
(5) Therefore, the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is divinely inspired.
Contradictions: Remember genre issue; Ancient vs modern historical methodological considerations.
Remember: Avoid anachronisms! See the book The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority