The first half of this book discussed arguments many people use to say God can’t or doesn’t truly exist. In the second half, Keller begins by talking about reasons we can believe. Keller doesn’t come out and say he has the ultimate proof for God but he does present some arguments I found intriguing. In this chapter he discussed several “clues” for God.
He talks about the Big Bang theory, which theorizes that at some point in time the universe started with a big flash of energy, matter was created and expanded outward from an infinitesimally small point. He talked about why there is something rather than nothing.
He talked about the 15 constants we have in physics (speed of light, gravitational constant, strong and weak nuclear forces, etc) and how these are precisely balanced. Without these parameters being tuned perfectly our universe would not be anything like we know today. “Matter would not have been able to coalesce, there would have been no galaxy, stars, planets or people.”
Keller also talked about the fact that we have a mind that sees beauty in the world around us. And that we have a deep longing for something greater than ourselves.
Granted each one of arguments can rationally be explained away without God if you try hard enough. Throw in enough time or a few random chances and processes and yes, we can create a theory that explains how the world became the way it is today. As a result, we can’t call any of these reasons “proof” for God, however, if we look at them all collectively as clues, we may start to form some new conclusions.
One thing that is important to do (and yet very difficult to do) is take a look at our own preconceived notions about the world and acknowledge that we see everything in the world through this filter. Two completely rationale people can easily look at the same evidence and draw completely different conclusions from it. Take for example some research that my wife, Michele, did during graduate school. She spent several summers setting up and testing how two species of beetles were attracted to a particular pheromone. The goal was to use this pheromone to collect a sample of the beetle population and analyzed the data in hopes of improving an existing program that used these beetles to control an invasive plant species in the upper Midwest.
Michele collected the data, then analyzed it, and concluded that the pheromone attracted both species of beetles the same, but had a tendency to attract female beetles more than males. Michele’s colleague, who developed the pheromone, used the same data Michele had collected, analyzed it using a different method and concluded that the pheromone attracted both beetle species the same and the both male and females at the same rate. This was essentially the result the pheromone developer needed to prove the pheromone he developed was a success: a pheromone that attracted these beetles equally.
Both Michele and her colleague started from the same data, but they both reached very different conclusions. As a result, the data was never compiled into a research paper and the study was not published.
The bottom line is that we all need to be careful that our preconceived ideas of the world don’t hinder our ability to objectively look at an argument for or against God. This applies to those of us on both sides of the debate.
At the end of chapter Keller closes with this statement, “Of course none of the clues we have been looking for actually proves God. Every one of them is rationally avoidable. However, their cumulative effect is, I think, provocative and potent. Though the secular view of the world is rationally possible, it doesn’t make as much sense of all these things as the view that God exists. That’s why we call them clues. The theory that there is a God who made the world accounts for the evidence we see better than the theory that there is no God.”
“If we believe in God, then the Big Bang is not mysterious, nor the fine-tuning of the universe, nor the regularities of nature. All the things that we see make perfect sense. Also, if God exists, our intuitions about the meaningfulness of beauty and love are to be expected. If you don’t believe in God, not only are all these things profoundly inexplicable, but your view—that there is no God—would lead you not to expect them.”
In this chapter Keller focused on the physical world around us, and did not touch on the personal experiences so many Christians have when they spend time with God. Personal experiences that very real, but are very difficult to describe to those who haven’t experienced them. Or on the miracles and healings that God is still doing today.
I think of Vonna Wala, a woman from my church who was healed of MS over 10 years ago after she was prayed for. She was using a walker and eventually regressed to a wheelchair soon after I first met her. But after she was healed she was able to resume her counseling business and even did the pre-marriage counseling for Michele and me.
Or consider Deb Johnson, another friend of ours, who had her hearing restored after someone prayed for her.
Granted even these stories can rationally be explained away as coincidences or chance, but when they are combined with many other similar stories and evidence, the weight behind the evidence starts to become significant.