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Isn’t It Irrational To Believe In God?

by Andy Bannister on November 4, 2012

A charge that you’ll hear some people make is that religion in general and Christianity in particular is irrational. It’s ridiculous to believe in God, they say; there’s no evidence that he even exists! Richard Dawkins, in his best selling book The God Delusion makes this very claim, saying that faith in God is just like belief in Santa Claus!

But of course, there’s a major problem with comparing faith in God to belief in Santa Claus. I don’t know anybody who came to believe in Santa Claus in adulthood. Yet I know plenty of Christians — often former atheists — who discovered God as adults. This alone would tell you that Santa and God are utterly different. (If they weren’t, one wonders why Richard Dawkins didn’t write a follow up booked entitled “The Santa Delusion”). Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of great thinkers — now, and throughout history, have believed in God. That suggests that belief in God is hardly “irrational”.

But what about the other claim: “you can’t prove God exists!” What might we say to sceptical friends who say this? Well, we can start by gently pointing out that there are many good arguments that, whilst not proving God exists, certainly suggest that his existence is extremely likely. There are philosophical arguments, such as the cosmological argument: (i) everything that begins to exist had a cause; (ii) the universe began to exist; (iii) therefore the universe had a cause. Most philosophers would say that’s a powerful argument.

There are also arguments from design. The universe and the laws of nature look, as one physicist once put it, suspiciously like a put up job. Or we might talk about the purpose that seems to be inherent in life. Most of us intuitively know that life has meaning and purpose. Indeed, a question one might fire back at our atheist friend concerns this very point: how does the atheist avoid nihilism, that’s the view that life is meaningless, pointless and nothing that one does really matters. The question for the nihilist becomes “why not suicide”?

The Christian would also want to note, too, that the deepest things that matter to us as human are all things beyond the physical and the material: morality and meaning, love and friendship, beauty and truth. All of these don’t fit happily with atheism: “Darwinian mistakes”, Richard Dawkins once called them. That to me is tragic.

But perhaps the most powerful evidence for God is what the Bible points to consistently. The Bible doesn’t offer an argument for God, but rather points to his involvement in the world, especially how, in the person of Jesus Christ, the creator God took on flesh and stepped into our world to rescue and save it. That is not a distant, remote, theoretical God, but a God who is very much alive. If that God exists, that changes everything. As C. S. Lewis put it: “I believe in Christianity in the same way as I believe that the sun has risen. Not because I see it, but that by it, I see everything else.”



Author Biography:

Andy Bannister

Dr. Andy Bannister is the Canadian Director and Lead Apologist for RZIM Canada. He speaks throughout Canada and North America, as well as further afield. Andy is also a visiting lecturer for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, London School of Theology and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Andy has a BA (Hons) in Theology and a PhD in Islamic Studies from London School of Theology (Brunel University) where he taught as a visiting lecturer for several years before joining the RZIM team.

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