See a Hopeless Future
There are three questions every human being must consider. Of all the creatures on earth, man alone must inevitably wrestle with “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I going?” Your answers determine your moral standards, your life goals, and your approach to the future, including its inevitable end. Your world view will determine how you answer these questions.
Man once answered these questions based on his understanding of a Creator. That all changed with the Enlightenment. A new world view engulfed western culture where science and human reason became the chief measure of truth. Many influential thinkers discarded religion like an old garment and replaced it with the finer garments of Enlightenment thinking. As a result, man sought answers without reference to God. However, as he studied and refined his conclusions, he discovered them to be dark and terrifying.
Who Am I?
How does an atheist answer the question, “Who am I?” Atheists will often attribute great value to humanity, but they don’t have a logical reason for that intrinsic meaning. Most atheists believe the universe is the result of an accident. It is a product of an accidental atomic explosion, the “Big Bang.” The ultimate source of the universe is the result of a mindless collision of atoms.
Cosmologist Victor Stenger states, “. . . physicists are now claiming that the hundreds of billions of stars and galaxies, including the earth and humanity, are not conscious creations but an accident. There is no creator, because there was no creation.”1 The universe exists with no real purpose because it is the result of a chance-driven process. Its existence is a fluke, not a planned outcome with any intelligent design behind it.
From a random combination of atoms colliding and combining a solar system, a sun and planet earth were formed. After millions of years and the “luck of the draw”, electricity and gases produced water. From this primordial soup, life accidentally arose. This theory is stated in the National Association of Biology Teachers 1995 Official Position Statement:
The diversity of life is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.2
Accepting this origin explanation, we must conclude that since the universe was an accident, then man must be one as well. Indeed, many would admit it. Even evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson states, “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.”3
Let us bring this down to a personal level in order to answer the question “Who am I?”. You and I are here merely by chance. We are the result of a mindless and purposeless process. We are really an insignificant object in a vast universe. We arrived accidentally for no ultimate reason, we exist for a fleeting moment in the expanse of time, and soon become extinct and forgotten forever in the dark expanse of space. This premise leads to some important ideas about the meaning of life for each individual.
Why Am I Here?
For the atheists who reject the existence of God, the final reality is that the universe has no purpose, mankind has no ultimate purpose. Therefore if the universe has no purpose, then man cannot have intrinsic purpose; the bottom line is an empty life.
The universe exists with no ultimate purpose because it is the result of random chance; it was an accident. Another way of looking at the issue is to suppose the Big Bang never occurred. What ultimate difference would it have made if the universe existed or not? Scientists now know that the universe is still expanding and will one day cease. When that happens, what difference will it make that our universe was even here?
So if the universe is an accident, then what about mankind? Man becomes merely the result of a mindless evolutionary process. We are an accident composed of matter produced by chance. There is no more meaning to our existence than that of a fly. As the universe will one day cease to exist, mankind will cease to exist. What difference will there be for his existence in a dying universe?
Some will reject this tenet arguing, “My life makes a difference to my family or the legacy I leave for those who come after me.” This perspective may bring temporal meaning to life, but it still does not bring ultimate meaning. If the universe will one day vanish away, what is the ultimate meaning behind anyone’s existence?
Following these premises, we arrive at the dreadful conclusion that many great thinkers have already come to: life without God is meaningless; it is absurd. Renowned atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell summarized this conclusion:
… man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins … 4
The legendary writer Ernest Hemingway portrayed this reality in several of his novels. I remember vividly the picture given to us in The Old Man and the Sea. In this story Santiago, a seasoned fisherman had fished for days in the gulf with no results. As a result, he lost the respect of the villagers. Finally, he went out farther than usual and, at noon, hooked a huge marlin. For three days Santiago struggled with the huge fish until he finally captured it. However, the fish was too big for the boat and he had to tie the fifteen hundred-pound beauty to the side of the boat.
Finally he would receive respect as a master fisherman and earn a decent wage for his labor. But as he rowed back to shore, sharks came and ate away at his fish. As the sharks attacked, he courageously fought to keep his prize. However, there were too many attackers and his strength ran out. By the time Santiago returned to shore, there was nothing left of his marlin but a skeleton. After his valiant struggle, Santiago had nothing to show.
As in life, man rows out to pursue the catch of a meaningful life through work, family, relationships, or whatever he chooses as his fishing ground. One day he seems to catch the big fish, the prize that will bring him purpose, the job he wants, the promotion, the girl of his dreams, financial security, etc. However as he rides with his catch to shore, he realizes that key prize will not survive the sharks of reality. Slowly they eat away at his worth. As Santiago fought to protect his fish, so man fights to protect his dream. But in the end, there are too many sharks and eventually they win. Just as the old man returned to the docks with nothing, so man, after all the efforts of his life, ends up with nothing but a skeleton. He realizes he must live out his existence in a meaningless and hopeless universe doomed for extinction.
Where Am I Going?
As the atheist gazes into the telescope of his future, he sees despair and hopelessness. All that awaits the naturalist is death, extinction for eternity for his universe, for mankind and especially for himself.
As the universe continues to expand, the planets and galaxies will drift farther apart which will cause the universe to use energy and get colder. At some time, the stars will die while matter will collapse, creating black holes. Thus the universe with each passing moment marches toward the arms of death. With this being the inevitable future, we face the reality that we exist in a universe void of hope.
Mankind faces the same outlook. As the universe expands, the planets will be pulled farther away from one another and the earth will no longer be able to sustain life. As the universe faces future extinction, so does mankind. Mankind faces a hopeless future in which our ultimate unavoidable future end is death.
Think of it … with each minute that passes, each one of us moves one step closer to our own death. According to the atheists, one day, we will cease to exist. Compared to all of time, our life is a spark that flickers for a few moments and disappears forever. What hope can one have when the only sure and permanent reality the future holds for each of us is death?
Thousands of years earlier, King Solomon, the wealthiest king recorded in Bible history, came to the same realization. After turning from God and living for his own pleasure, he realized what life without God looked like.
I also thought, ‘As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust all return. (Ecclesiastes 3:18)
When an atheist wrestles with these three questions, “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I going?”, he realizes he faces a conclusion that gives no significance to his being, no meaning to his life, and no hope for the future.
The Christian World View
Faith in the existence of an all powerful, all loving God provides radically different conclusions to the three questions all humans must answer. In contrast to the atheist, the Christian can look forward to a life full of significance, meaning and hope. Man is significant because a personal Creator created him. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God designed a grand and beautiful universe filled with mystery and majesty. He put the stars in place, set the planets in motion, drew every detail on each creature, and sustains the universe in its present order. Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The crown jewel of His creation was man and woman. Being created in His image means that we possess an eternal soul, emotions, a will, mental capabilities, and a conscience. A loving God designed us, fashioned our inmost being, and breathed His life-giving spirit into us. He designed us to rule over the rest of creation and to enjoy His love forever. This brings dignity, value, and identity to every human being. All this we receive not because of anything we have done, but simply because of His love for us.
Genesis 1:28 reads, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ ” God created the universe to glorify Himself and for man to enjoy the wonder of His power. God made us to explore, enjoy, and take care of all that He has created but mostly to experience a meaningful relationship with Him for all eternity. God created the universe with a purpose, and man at the center of that plan.
Revelation 22:3 states, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.”
According to the Bible, all of creation and history is moving toward a climax when Christ returns to restore creation and rule as king over all. When He rules, He will destroy sin and death and establish an everlasting rule of peace and justice. He has already conquered sin and death through His death on the cross. Those who have received God’s gift of forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ, know God personally and await a glorious eternal future in His presence. Whether physical death takes them into His presence or He returns while they are still here on earth, Christians face a future of eternal hope. Christian song writer, Don Wyrtzen summarizes that hope:
When surrounded by the blackness of the darkest night O how lonely death can be! At the end of this long tunnel is a shining light for death is swallowed up in victory! But just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God’s, of breathing new air, and finding it celestial, of waking up in glory––and finding it home.
Since man is created by God for an intended reason, he has significance, purpose, and hope. But is this simply wishful thinking or is there proof for the Christian faith? The answer is yes, there is proof! Let’s see why there are good reasons for us to believe.
Can We Prove No God Exists?
I remember one encounter I had with a young man on a university campus who stated emphatically, “I am certain a God does not exist.” I responded asking, “Are you absolutely certain of that?” To which he responded in the affirmative. I then stated, “Then you must know all there is to know of the universe. That is incredible!” He looked at me puzzled and said, “Of course not! No one can know all there is to know of the universe.” I then stated, “Your statement tells me you know all there is to know of the universe. If you do not have all knowledge of the universe, you cannot make that statement with finality because, in essence, you are stating, ‘I have infinite knowledge that no being with infinite knowledge exists.’ In other words, ‘I know all there is to know about the universe and therefore, I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt, God does not exist.’ Allow me to illustrate this point. Suppose I said, ‘I am absolutely certain that there are no nails in my house.’ To be completely sure of this fact, I would have to search every corner of my house: every room, every floorboard, and every hollow space. Then and only then could I say, ‘I am certain there exist no nails in my house.’ To say, ‘I know for sure God does not exist,’ means I have to know all there is to know of the universe to be able to know God does not exist anywhere in the universe. However, how much does man know about the universe? Most cosmologists would tell you man knows less than one percent of all that there is to know. Since man cannot possibly know all there is to know about the universe, he cannot conclusively prove that God does not exist anywhere in the universe. One must entertain the possibility that a God exists. It is impossible to conclusively prove the atheist position.”
It is at this point his countenance changed and I was able to show him that all world views, even the atheist position, require a step of faith. The key is to put our faith in what is true. Looking at the evidence, which position is the most reasonably true? Is there a case for theism, or belief in a God? Where Did the Universe Come From?
The first evidence that there is a God is the existence of the cosmos itself. This is called the cosmological argument. Simply stated, this argument says that if something now exists, it must have (1) come from something else, (2) come from nothing, or (3) have always existed. If it came from something else, that something else must have come from something else, from nothing, or always existed. Ultimately we conclude that if something exists, its origin can be traced to an eternal source, or it originated from nothing.
So what about the universe? We must come to one of three conclusions; either it always existed, it came from nothing, or it came from something else greater than it.
Consider the first conclusion that the universe has always existed. This is the view of pantheist religions (“Pan” from the Greek meaning all, and “theism” meaning God. Eastern religions teach that all that exists in the universe is a part of God.) Scientific evidence reveals the universe is not eternal but that it had a beginning, the Big Bang. Therefore, the universe itself is not eternal. What then, is the eternal first cause?
The second conclusion is that the universe came from nothing. Little needs to be said since this would be an absurd conclusion. The law of cause and effect––that every cause has an effect and every effect has a cause and no effect is greater than its cause––goes against this possibility. Reason and observation shows nothing produces nothing.
That leads us to consider the third conclusion, that the universe came from a cause greater than itself. That greater cause is an intelligent designer or God. Some ask, where did God come from? God is the uncaused first cause. He is eternal. The Bible states, He is from “Everlasting to everlasting.” So what about the Big Bang? God could have used a cataclysmic event in creating the universe. The point here is that it is reasonable to conclude an intelligent designer as a first cause.
It would be most reasonable to conclude that of the three, the most rational explanation is that it came from a cause greater than it. That cause is God. How Do We Explain the Order and Complexity in Creation?
The second argument for the existence of God is the argument of design or the teleological argument. It is evident that there is complexity and order in the universe. This also suggests the hand of an intelligent designer. If we were walking along the beach and discovered a watch, what would we immediately assume? We would assume someone lost his watch, which was made by a watchmaker. Although all the parts of a watch are found here on this earth, no one in their right mind upon finding the watch would assume, “Wow, what a great feat of evolution! I am amazed at how Mother Nature created this watch over millions of years.” We could even disassemble the watch and leave it on the beach for millions of years but it would never become a watch again. In order to create a watch, an intelligent being must come and assemble the parts into a watch. Order and complexity in the world point to a designer who brings order out of disorder.
If we would not assume the watch evolved by chance, how much more the human body which is a thousand times more complex? The human body is a well-designed machine made up of hundreds of complex systems working in perfect complementary fashion. In a single human chromosome, there is enough information that if printed in book form, it would fill an entire set of encyclopedias. Information from all the DNA in our body could fill multiple libraries. With each movement of my hands, hundreds of neurons and electrical impulses are going back and forth from my brain, down my spine, and to my fingers at thousandths of seconds in perfectly timed sequences. We have yet to create a computer that can do what the human body can do. Could all this be an accident? Let’s look at the planet we live on. The earth has the exact components needed to sustain the delicate balance for life. If the four coupling constants––gravity, strong nuclear, weak nuclear, and electromagnetic––were slightly larger or smaller, the particles, atoms, and molecules necessary for life would not exist, and there would be no sun our size that could support life. If the speed of light were faster or slower, all the fine structure constants would be altered, making life impossible. The earth is the perfect distance from the sun. Any closer and the excess heat would prevent a water cycle. If we were farther away, the cold would do the same. The sun is the right size. Any larger and it would burn too rapidly. If the mass were smaller, the earth would need to be closer, disrupting its rotation. The earth’s size allows the right gravitational force needed to create an atmosphere at the right thickness. Water has unique properties to be able to sustain life. While every other liquid freezes and sinks to the bottom, water molecules freeze and expand thus floating to the surface allowing life below the oceans and lakes to survive. More can be said about the exact thickness of the earth’s crust, its rotational period, distance from the moon, etc. All these components make the probability of all this happening in such precise order by chance a remote possibility.
To say that such precise order could have come from numerous accidents would be like saying a tornado came through a junkyard and after it blew over, a 747 jumbo jet was created.
As scientists begin to unravel the mysteries of the universe, they find themselves face-to-face with the realization of the apparent design and order of the universe. British astrophysicist Dr. Fred Hoyle states, “A superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology.”5 The more we discover in those and other fields of science, the more we realize the near impossibility of life evolving by mere chance. Physicist Dr. Robert Griffiths who won the Heinemann prize in mathematical physics states, “If we need an atheist to debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.”6
Order and design of the universe points us to the haunting probability of a designer. Astronomer Dr. George Greenstein wrote, “As we survey the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency––or rather, Agency––must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being?”7
The quest of science appears to lead us back to Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” NASA scientist and a self-proclaimed agnostic, Dr. Robert Jastrow summed up the circular journey of science. “For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”8
When you ask an atheist, “How do you explain the apparent order and design in the universe? How did it come to be?” The most common answer I find is, “It just happened. As immense as the odds are, it just happened.” To believe that requires a leap of faith. Now let me ask this question, which position requires greater faith? The theist who believes that the cause of the universe is a divine creator or the atheist who proposes that a collision of hydrogen atoms created the universe by accident? The latter requires more faith. I often tell my atheist friends that I admire them for their great faith.
The Moral Argument
Everyone has an innate sense of right and wrong. Even the worst criminals in jail can suffer a sense of guilt for their crime. In fact, we consider those who commit heinous crimes with no sense of guilt functionally insane. All cultures recognize the four universal virtues of honesty, wisdom, courage, and justice. Although they may be expressed in different ways, these four virtues persist in societies around the world. No culture honors a coward who flees from battle. No culture honors a fool.
Whenever a suspect with overwhelming evidence of his guilt gets off free from a trial, people respond with zeal over the sense of injustice they just witnessed. The human soul cannot rest until justice is served. Even little children will argue over issues defending their sense of justice. We often hear them saying, “That’s not fair!”
From where do we acquire this sense of right and wrong? The thought of hydrogen evolving into thinking beings with a conscience, will, and ability to reason is inconsistent with scientific observation and philosophical reasoning. A purposeful and moral being cannot arise from impersonal, lifeless matter.
A moral being must come from a creator who is honest, just, courageous, and wise. It is His image we now reflect. Romans 2:14–15 states that our creator instilled within us a conscience that is universal to all men. Being created in the image of God means we reflect the moral qualities of our creator.
I hope that you are willing to entertain the possibility of the existence of an intelligent designer. So far we have shown evidence for the existence of God. We have yet to show what kind of God He is. Has this God communicated to us in any way? Is there proof that He loves His creation and has established a way to have a relationship with Him? The answer is a resounding Yes!