Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Wallet, A Dollar and the Existence of God

Three Steps Toward Christian Theism

A Visual Case for Christian Theism

The following visual presentation and argument for Christian Theism evolved out of a series of informal discussions about the nature of our universe, and the nature of the force that caused this universe to exist. Along the way, an object lesson (of sorts) developed, utilizing a wallet and a dollar to make the points in a three step process from theism to personal theism to Christian theism. We are now making this object lesson available to you as a web page, a series of videos and printed training materials. We hope that you can also use the illustration as you dialog with your friends and family about the existence and nature of the 'first cause' of the universe:

Introduction: Stepping Toward God
“Sometimes I am asked why I am a Christian. People often want a simple answer to this question, although I’m not sure the answer is really all that simple. But when push comes to shove, I can tell you that I am a Christian not because I was raised as a Christian, not because it works for me, and not because I had some deep need that Christianity met. I am a Christian because it is TRUE. Christianity is reasonable; it makes sense. It explains what I see in my own nature and in the world around me. That’s all there is to it. Let me share something with you that I hope will at least make it possible for you to see the reasonable nature Christian Theism…”

Part One: What Reason is There to Believe God Exists?
“Let me pull out my wallet and tell you why I believe what I believe. Let me open the money section. See this dollar bill? It’s alone in my wallet. Now let me ask you a simple question: ‘How did the dollar bill get in the wallet?’ I realize that this sounds like a ridiculously simple question, but let me make it a little more interesting. I want you to answer that question without going OUTSIDE the wallet for an answer.”

“Now before you contemplate a response here, let’s take a better look at the dollar. Clearly, the dollar bill is an amazing object. It contains so much detail! Specific numbers and drawings and words are inked on the paper. The dollar contains MORE than simple markings and symbols; these markings and symbols convey INFORMATION. And information is evidence that INTELLIGENCE is involved in the creation of the dollar. Information requires an intelligent mind to place the markings and symbols in a meaningful way, then an intelligent mind to interpret and understand what is meant by these markings. So, the dollar is clearly the product of intelligence. You and I would hardly disagree on this simple issue. We know that the dollar has been designed by humans.”

“So now, let’s talk about how the dollar got in my wallet. What are the possibilities? I know you are inclined to say the obvious: ‘Someone put that dollar in there!’ but that answer is not allowed; remember that I said that you have to answer the question without going outside the wallet for the answer, and you and I are on the outside. Yes, you could reasonably and logically presume that I (or someone else) put the dollar in the wallet, and yes I know that is without a doubt the very best and most reasonable conclusion. But our rules here simply won’t allow this answer. You’re going to have to stay INSIDE the wallet for the answer; whatever process you decide was involved in the appearance of this dollar, it must come from inside the wallet.”

“OK, so what are the possibilities that are left to us? How could the dollar get in the wallet if it wasn’t placed in there by someone or something OUTSIDE the wallet? Well, if you really think about it, there are only two options left to us. First, it might simply be that the dollar was ALWAYS in the wallet. It’s as old as the wallet and it has always been in the wallet. The other possibility is that the dollar formed over time from much more primitive materials that were in the wallet to begin with. Two options: the dollar is as old as the wallet, or the dollar has somehow evolved from other materials that have always been in the wallet. But let’s face it, neither of these answers really makes any sense. You and I know that wallets don’t come from the store with money in them, and we also know that small pieces of paper and ink didn’t just happen to come together with all the detail and complexity of the dollar.”

“OK, so what does all this have to do with the existence of God? With this simple illustration we are describing the problem that atheists, philosophical naturalists and materialists have when they try to explain how life began in the universe. How does matter come from non-matter? How does life come from non-life? How does INFORMATION appear in the DNA code if there is no INTELLIGENCE behind the code? It’s just like trying to explain how the dollar got in the wallet! If we limit ourselves to only natural, physical materialistic explanations, we simply cannot go outside the natural, physical materialistic realm for an answer. In essence, we cannot go outside the wallet. And if we force ourselves to stay inside the natural realm, we have to conclude that the matter and life we see in this universe has either always been here, or it has evolved over time from lesser base elements. It’s just like the dollar. If we have to stay inside the wallet for an answer, there are only a couple of possibilities”

“But the possibilities we’ve talked about are pretty lame, aren’t they? They don’t really satisfy us. Science has given us a ton of evidence to show that matter and the universe itself have NOT always been here! We now know that the universe had a beginning. Science has come to call this beginning the ‘Big Bang’. Starting with Einstein and continuing to today, science tells us that all space, time and matter had a beginning. We know that matter in the universe is NOT infinitely old, and life in the universe appears even more recently. Our first answer, (that matter and life are as old as the universe) simply doesn’t explain how the universe ITSELF got here! If the universe had a beginning, then it makes sense that the universe had a beginner, and this beginner simply MUST have come from someplace other than the universe it began!”

“And if life evolved from other base materials, how did these base materials come to exist in the first place? How did something come from nothing, even if this something is very basic and primitive in nature? How did matter (regardless of how ‘basic’ this matter may be) suddenly appear within the natural realm? Can any satisfactory explanation be offered?”

“Clearly the most satisfying answer for how a highly designed object appears within the wallet is to conclude that someone or something PLACED that object in the wallet. It’s crazy to limit our answers to sources that are INSIDE the wallet. When we do that we get a biased answer! The most UNBIASED approach would be for us to at least allow ourselves the POSSIBILITY that the answer may be OUTSIDE the wallet. In a similar way, it seems to me that the most unbiased science would also respect the possibility that the supernatural realm (OUTSIDE the natural order) might be a source for all the matter and life we see in the universe.”

“I believe that THEISM is true because the existence of an all-powerful first cause OUTSIDE the natural realm is the best and most reasonable inference from the evidence.”

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