Desiring God: 10 Quick Points About Our Need for God

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1) Various features of the universe constitute the evidence and the question is whether God’s existence would help us make more sense of this evidence than alternative viewpoints. In particular, in comparing Christian theism with atheism, does the existence of God provide a better explanation of the evidence than the view that physical reality is all there is?

2)  The case for the existence of God does not depend on any one  feature of the universe providing a convincing case for God on its own. Perhaps no single piece of evidence, considered in isolation, shows that Jones is guilty, but when the cumulative weight of all the evidence is taken into account, the verdict becomes clear.

3)  On Christian theism there are no limits on what God knows and what God can do, other than the limits of what is logically possible. God has beliefs, is free to choose and to make plans, and he can bring some of his desires about. A simpler way of putting this is to say that God is limitless, loving, free power. Or to put it differently again, God is Holy and Sovereign. The Holiness of God is something that we at once desire and reject. We need God, yet cannot draw near to him until someone makes us holy as he is Holy.

4) Consider our universal desires:  those which are felt cross-culturally and reoccur in literature, art and religion.  Look for enduring needs that can last for a lifetime and are not momentary whims. Leave out desires and impulses which would satisfy some at the cost of others: blood-lust, revenge and greed will rob some individuals of their quest for joy. We discover a logically coherent set of fundamental needs: a vision for life that would let us all exist in harmony, and that every human could live out and find satisfying.

5)   Sooner or later, we all have to face the problem of significance: we all try to find deeper meaning in our lives. Our lives do not matter in any ultimate sense if they are the accidental outcome of impersonal forces working on impersonal particles. We have absurdly short amount of time to live under the Sun and the human species will not outlive the Galaxy; we cannot create the value we desire. So humanity craves a deeper significance than physics can offer or that we can invent. Why is that?

6)  We need to escape the terror of death – to know that our value does not disappear when we die. We need a sense of providence to feel assurance that everything really will be okay in the end. We need to know that life is fair, that the moral chaos of the world will be vanquished, that justice will prevail and that everyone will get what they deserve.

7) We also need a life full of goodness, kindness, patience and love. We need to love and be loved fully and unconditionally; we need to be known and accepted by someone who truly knows us. We desire redemption, for we have all fallen short of the moral ideals we acknowledge.

8) When we encounter a new-born child, the vastness of the galaxies, or the complexity of the cell we are reminded of our limitations, and we feel awe. We need awe because we need to know there is something greater than ourselves.

9) We should acknowledge that our fundamental needs can teach us something about the nature of the universe and our place in it if we believe that there is  accord between the human mind and reality. Such needs have been felt by many people across time and culture; they are not superficial whims because they can endure throughout a life-time. Each need is connected to at least some of the others they form a constellation of connected desires. Finally, this is not an exercise in wish-fulfilment. Each of these needs is morally and existentially challenging – having our needs for love and goodness met would lead to a painful transformation of character.

10)  The order of our universe allows humans to grow in compassion and love, to learn deep truths about the universe, to create community, to appreciate the beauty of the cosmos and to look for transcendental meaning. Humans are morally and spiritually significant beings living in an ordered universe; we are embodied, enduring agents with the power to choose and the capacity for intellectual discovery. It is unlikely that this is the result of an accidental, unguided process. When considered alongside other evidence, the best explanation for such a spiritually and morally significant order is that the world has been created by God.

See also:

Reason, Meaning and the Cross

Job, Faith and Suffering

The Argument from Providence

How to Assess the Evidence for God 

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