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Is God Way Up There?

About the Arguments in the animation

It’s difficult to put the arguments for God into two minutes, partly because there are many, and they become more convincing the more arguments there are that seem to point to God’s existence. But here is a more full explanation of the arguments the animation reflects.

What made, what went bang?

You may be surprised to find that The Big Bang theory brought scientific thought into agreement with Christianity that the universe started at a point in time and developed in complexity. Before this, scientists believed that the universe had always existed.

Various scientists and mathematicians have tried to work out models of how the time-space universe could have started itself, or how the world itself could have been eternal. Stephen Hawkings, in his more recent book, Grand Design, talked about the beginning of time being like the South pole with no starting point, nothing further ‘South’. Later in the book, however, he describes the law of gravity and a fluctuation of energy in a vacuum being what enables the universe to start from nothing. But surely energy and the physical laws he talks about are not ‘nothing’. This is far from a beginning from nothing. Why are these forces and energy there, and where do they come from?

However we attempt to explain it, we are faced with the question of why and how there was nothing there at all, and then something appeared. Whatever the cause, if it is something in time and space, requires another cause – unless it is an entity or being with some kind of eternal quality. This certainly seems to point to something like God existing. But God was not made up to fill this gap in scientific understanding. This is how the Bible has always described God for thousands of years – as The Beginning and End, a being outside of (the creator of) the laws of nature and our universe. This seems a surprisingly logical and plausible depiction of God, especially when compared to other ancient thought which suggests less ‘scientific’-sounding myths where creatures vomit up the world, for example.

William Lane Craig is one philosopher who puts forward a similar argument, that a universe trapped in time, and therefore with a cause, can only have an eternal entity as its cause. He goes on to argue that this eternal ‘thing’ must have the quality of mind and person, because how else would an eternal cause of the universe go ahead and act to create the universe. If this eternal ‘thing’ were some kind of impersonal mechanism then this action would already have eternally happened as part of its programming.

He also argues that the chances of the conditions being right for the universe as we know it to form have been calculated to be so unimaginably small it is almost not worth considering that chance caused it, or at least it is far harder to believe than that God created it (especially as there is also other additional evidence for God, that could be put forward). Additionally, as Oxford Mathematics Professor John Lennox suggests, there has not been enough time for the universe to evolve in such complexity through chance processes alone, it seems to have been directed in a certain direction.

If these things were the only evidence for God they might be convincing. But it is even more convincing if we find evidence throughout human experience, of this God that the qualities of the universe seem to point to – the Bible puts forward Jesus as one of the most central pieces of that evidence.

A man can’t be God or rise from the dead.

For many, certainly in the West, we are inclined to start with the assumption that anything supernatural is illogical or unscientific and that belief in miracles is naive. This is not helped by the popular idea that the definition of the word ‘faith’ is ‘without evidence’ (although in the examples in the Bible, faith is always trusting in God because you have previously seen him to be trustworthy – i.e. you have evidence to base your faith on).

So the idea that God could communicate with us in becoming a person, then live a perfect life, and rise from the dead to prove it, sounds unlikely to our minds. But if you put aside any pre-assumptions and bias, and just analyse the person of Jesus on the level of pure logic, it is hard to explain the person of Jesus any other way. He made claims that only a madman or evil con artist would make (unless they were true). But he certainly didn’t act like he was delusional or irrational. He showed wisdom in being able to silence his opponents in debate, and he taught and modelled ethics ahead of his time in accepting the outcasts of society and modelling humble leadership, etc.

If we think about what kind of evidence God would have to give to be considered good enough evidence of his existence, it would have to be something supernatural, something humanly impossible, that does not normally happen, something that shows control over the laws of nature (to show the existence of someone with the power to create them). If God is morally perfect, it might be something that shows a prototype of how human life should be. The kind of proof would have to be something like Jesus’ life, resurrection or his miracles.

One final proof is the effectiveness of belief in God or Jesus (Christianity). You can look at the accounts of many Christians throughout history whose lives have been radically transformed, or reformed against all the odds, by nothing except God and the teaching of the Bible. If its claims were a delusion it should not be so effective in producing happy, healthy people, irradiating social problems, etc. Again, this is another discussion there is no room for here. There are many bad examples of those who claimed to be Christians as well. But it should not be a surprise or prove anything to find fake versions of the real thing. So finally, Christians themselves, are one other piece of evidence. They may not be perfect but we’d expect to find something different, something more than normal, at work in their lives. And we can see this in history or judge for ourselves by going along to church events or talking to Christians we know.

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Away in a What?

A simple stick figure guide to Christmas …

Download below

If the video inspired you, find out more by popping into a church near you this Christmas – we recommend finding a good church or exploratory course here.

And the paper version …

Christmas-simpleguide-tract Christmas-simpleguide-tract2 Christmas-simpleguide-tract3 Christmas-simpleguide-tract4

 

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Would you like to use this video in your church service etc?
Please do! There’s no cost. We just ask that you don’t edit it.
We’d love to hear how you’re using it, so if you get a chance, we’d appreciate it if you could drop us an email/message us on FaceBook, as it’ll help us to create more resources in the future.

Download Away in a What? Christmas Video (43Mb)

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If you would like a slightly slower version for a particular audience please download the version below

Download Away in a What? Slow for English Learners (43Mb)

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Is there an afterlife?

We’d all like it to be true but is it just wishful thinking? The Bible claims there is evidence for God and the afterlife – not just in a message or sign from God, but something more solid. God entered the world in the form of life itself, as a living person – Jesus of Nazareth. He gave us evidence – even better, a demonstration – of himself and of life after death.

But can we believe it? People just don’t rise from the dead. Wasn’t the idea that Jesus was God just invented later? It sounds outrageous to us, but remember that the God the Bible describes created the laws of physics. If he is to give us evidence of himself, the evidence has to defy these laws and show us there is one who controls them. If it were anything less than miraculous you might accuse God of not giving you good enough evidence to believe. It was meant to be something that doesn’t happen in our normal experience of life.

So is it believable? Jesus is one of, if not the most striking person in history. He made a claim that could only be made by a madman, unless it were true – that he and God were one and the same. Yet he did not behave like a madman – he was able to outwit his opponents with rational arguments and morality that has been admired around the world ever since. Jesus’ divine nature was not decided by a committe hundreds of years later, as one popular novelist recently described. We see him making this claim himself in the eye-witness accounts of his life in the Bible (John 10:30, for example).

And Jesus gave the reason God would do something so unbelievable as becoming man. He said he had come ‘not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45) – a perfect God dying a human death, in our place, for our wrongs, to give us a reward that we don’t deserve: heaven. And Jesus demonstrated life after death to prove it.

Has God given us evidence of himself and the afterlife? If he has, then Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the most obvious sign in human history. It is too important to overlook, too much hangs in the balance. Take the opportunity to find out more.

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What’s the Difference Between God and Santa?

The beard, the naughty or nice list … it’s how many picture God. So is he just a made-up Santa for adults? Can we know if he really exists or what he is like?

Has science, for example the Big Bang, ruled out God, just as gravity rules out flying reindeer? The Big Bang is an explanation for how the physical world has developed from an initial ‘dense state’, but does not explain how this, or the laws of physics, started to exist. Can something physical be the cause of it all, with no need to ask what caused that? In time and space there is always a ‘before that…’. So could something outside of time and space exist, someone eternal like God? And would he care about us if he did?

What evidence would convince us that there is a creator of the laws of nature and life itself? An act that breaks these laws or creates life itself, perhaps? The Bible claims that God has given evidence, in the life and death of a person called Jesus: a life created from nothing, born from a virgin, and 33 years later, raised from death.

It sounds outrageous … We often want to dismiss anything labelled ‘miraculous’, but remember if God does exist, we’d demand something similar as proof. Is it so strange that God would communicate with us, not merely in words or information, but in the most advanced form – life itself?

But the Bible claims these events are not just evidence of God’s existence. They show that God has not abandoned the world but rolled up his sleeves and got dirty to fix it. He gave us a prototype for life: one of love and forgiveness. From the baby in an animal trough onwards, the most powerful being in the universe showed how real power is so different from how humans have exercised it.

But here is where God is most unlike Santa … He did not come to make a list of naughty or nice, but to erase our record of wrongs. As Jesus died, he chose to suffer death and hell for us, pay the penalty for our wrongs, and offer forgiveness and life after death to those who turn to him. If such good news is true, we cannot ignore it …

The Bible says we need to admit that we’ve ignored God and broken his rules. We need to say sorry and have a change of direction – with God in the picture this time. To make things right between us and God, we cannot rely on our own efforts and goodness, but we need to rely on what God has done for us through Jesus.

The Bible puts it like this … ‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been condemned for not believing in the one-of-a-kind Son of God. The Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light because they were not really interested in pleasing God’ (John 3:16-19, ‘The Living Bible’ & ‘The Message’ Translation)

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