by Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.
Note: This lesson was shared with a congregation in Quezon City,
REALM OF THE ABSTRACT
Arguing and persuading oneself on the existence and claims of God belongs to the realm of philosophy. One deals with the abstract. One deals with ideas, reason and logic.
Arguing and persuading oneself on the existence of spirits and ghosts is something similar to our topic. Maraming naniniwala na mayroong mga espiritu at multo. Marami ding hindi naniniwala.
Ideas, reasons, arguments, reflections derived from deep meditations to explain a belief in God are summed up in the following weird statement: “Reasons which reason can’t reasonably reason out.”
However, one who spends some time in spiritual matters, one who reflects on things beyond the physical, one who has some training in philosophy would have more appreciation of spiritual things than the ordinary mind.
Kagaya ng radio waves. Maraming radio waves sa isang kuwarto. Marami sa loob ng inyong kuwarto na hindi natin maririnig sa ating pangkaraniwang pandinig commentaries, songs and newscasts . But these sounds would become intelligible and understandable if one is trained in the field of electronics. When one is able to assemble radio or tv receivers, then the inaudible becomes audible and the silence becomes
Kaya kailangan natin ang magandang spiritual receiver sa ating puso at isipan upang mabuo ang paniniwala sa Dios.
DEFINITION/DESCRIPTION OF GOD
Strictly speaking, we should not define the true God because the word “definition” means to set limits or boundaries. Our impressions about God is that He is infinite, limitless, boundless. He is only limited when it comes to what is contrary to His nature. God is holy, so He cannot be unholy. God is all powerful, but he could not become powerless. God is eternal, so He could not will to cease His existence.
The following are good representatives of people’s impressions about the true God:
- Westminster Catechism: “A Spirit infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”
- Ebrard: “The eternal source of all that is temporal.”
- Fuller: “The first cause and last end of all things.”
- Howe: “An eternal, uncaused, independent, necessary Being, that hath active power, life, wisdom, goodness, and whatsoever other supposible excellency, in the highest perfection, in and of itself.”
- Calovius: “Essentially the Infinite Spirit.”
ARGUMENTS AND STATEMENTS OF FAITH
There are statements of belief in God that were formulated by philosophers and Christian apologists. These are not objection-free. But they express and support our intuition. declares the existence of God but does not seek to prove His existence. Even among
Christians, the Bible says this, “Whosoever comes to God must have faith that God exists.” Among Christians, belief in God is still largely maintained by faith. In our everyday life, we have to be careful less the Devil uses physical and sensual realities to drown our spiritual orientation.
Here are some of the major arguments and statements of beliefs in the existence of God. Take them together, string them one after the other to form a good view of the whole idea about God.
A. Argument from General Consent
Other apologists and authors call this as “Argument from Universality.” Still others call it “Argument from Intuition.” Based on observations of ancient literature, ancient arts, myths, contacts with tribes still having primitive ways of life, the majority of tribes and nations recognizes the existence of Beings/ being, a Great Spirit/spirits, a God/gods upon whom they depend on and worship.
The ancient Tagalogs had an idea of a Bathala; the ancient Ilocanos and Itnegs had their Kabunian; the Igorots had their Lumauig. The ancient Greeks and Romans had their gods likeor Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Athena, Diana, and others. The Apostle Paul observed this in Acts 17:16-29.
Filipino poet Cirilo Bautista wrote poetry on the Cave Paintings of Lascaux in. The cave dwellers of are believed to have done these cave paintings six thousand years ago.
Theof say: “There is but one Being–no second.” Charles Darwin, the evolutionist, says, “In my most extreme fluctuations, I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.”
The conclusion is that there is a widespread consent in the existence of a Great Spirit Being. There must be one who has planted this idea in the minds of tribes and nations. Man in ancient times, man in the present age has an innate or inborn feeling to recognize a Supreme Being.
It has been reported in newspapers that the USSR andunder the atheistic leaders tried to eliminate belief in God. But that idea of a God still comes out even under repressive regimes.
B. Arguments from Necessity
August Strong, a scholar, made this reflection: “In contemplating finite existence, there is inevitably the suggested idea of an infinite Being as its correlative… We could not recognize the finite as finite except by comparing it with an already existing standard — the Infinite.” (Systematic Theology, 58).
This argument also means that man has a capacity and yearning for religion or a relationship with a Supreme Being. When people grow old or become sick, instinctively they realize that there is a Great Power. The explanation for this is that there is a God or Creator that planted this feeling in our being.
C. The Cosmological Argument
Sometimes this belief is called “Argument from a First Cause. To the ordinary observer this is expressed in the this statement: “For every effect there is a cause.” Some state it this way: “Begun existence must have a sufficient cause of that beginning.”
D. The Teleological Argument
Some call this the “Argument from Design.” Modern science tells us that all things in the physical world have their uses, that order pervades the universe, that the methods of nature or natural laws are rational methods. There is correlation of the chemical elements to each other, there is fitness of the inanimate world to be the basis and support of life; there is unity of plan in the organic world; there is existence and cooperation of natural laws.
Another theory states that the material universe has no beginning,that it has always been existing, and the world is blindly developing and blossoming. But the combination of the cosmological argument and the teleological argument would come out for the existence of an Intelligent Power or Intelligent Cause.
E. The Anthropological Argument.
Sometimes this is called the Moral Argument or others call it Man’s Mental and Moral Nature. Elements of this argument follows:
- Man, as an intellectual and moral being, has had a beginning upon the planet;
- Material and unconscious forces do not afford a sufficient cause for man’s reason, conscience and free will;
- Man, as an effect, can be referred only to a cause possessing self-consciousness and a moral personality; and
- There’s in man a desire for an ultimate realization of happiness so he aspires to attain this good thing.
These elements could not reasonably be derived from non-living objects.
F. The Ontological Argument
Sometimes this is called the Philosopher’s Argument because it is difficult to understand and difficult to accept among young minds. This argument has the following elements:
- The idea of a God is necessary to our reasoning;
- If there is nothing in reality corresponding to this idea of God, then our reasoning is deceptive;
- And if the reality of the idea is null or non-existent, then there is no use reasoning and arguing further because then everything is nullity or non-existing.
Man is the image of God, therefore, man is an expression of God’s nature. Having this expression of God’s nature in us, we have that inborn longing for the parent of our spiritual persona.
This cause and effect relationship is found in Psalms 94:9,10: “God made our ears– can’t He hear? He made our eyes–won’t He see? He scolds the nations–won’t He punish them? He is the teacher of us all–hasn’t He any knowledge?”
Another passage is meaningful: “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7.