What difference does it make if God exists or not? What would the implications be if God did not exist?
We begin with two questions: “What difference does it make if God exists or not? What would the implications be if God did not exist?” The answer to these questions lie at the very center of life’s meaning.
today on the johnny Karberg show, does God exist. A recent Pew survey revealed that more than one in five americans now consider themselves atheists agnostic or nothing in particular. Maybe you yourself are asking does God exist, what are the philosophical and scientific arguments that show God exists? My guest today, who will answer these questions is analytical philosopher Dr William Lane Craig, he’s considered by many to be the top christian philosopher of our generation and has debated many of the most well known atheists in some of the leading universities around the world. Dr Craig holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Birmingham in England and also a doctor of Theology degree from the University of Munich, he serves as a research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and is the founder of reasonable faith dot org. Dr Craig has authored or edited over 30 books and over 100 articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, two of his most popular books are Reasonable Faith and on guard today, we begin with the question what difference does it make if God exists or not? People who shrug their shoulders and say, what difference does it make whether God exists or not merely show that they haven’t thought very deeply about this question. Even atheist philosophers like Friedrich Bertrand, Russell jean Paul Sartre recognized that the existence of God makes a tremendous difference for man, both, collectively and individually to hear what difference it makes if God exists or not, and second the evidence for God’s existence. We invite you to join us for this special edition of the john Achterberg show. Welcome to our program. I’m john anchor Berg, we’ve got an exciting program for you today. My guest is dr William Lane Craig, who is one of the finest philosophers of our time. He’s engaged in debates and dialogues with many of the most well known skeptics in our world today and um at some of the most prestigious universities around the world, you can’t believe the pressurized situations that Bill has been in and done a marvelous job and dr craig, I’m really glad that you’re here today. And I want to start with a question that may describe what a lot of people in our audience right now, what they are saying about themselves, what difference does it make if God exists or not? Why does it matter? Many people say that it really doesn’t matter to them if God exists or not? And you say the most important question anybody can even answer is the question of God’s existence. Why people who shrug their shoulders and say, what difference does it make, whether God exists or not merely showed that? They haven’t thought very deeply about this question. Even Atheist philosophers like Friedrich Bertrand, Russell, jean paul, Sartre recognized that the existence of God makes a tremendous difference for man, both collectively and individually. You see if God does not exist, then human beings are just biological organisms and like all biological organisms are doomed to die, both individually and collectively as a whole and therefore every one of us has to come to grips with what the theologian paul Tillich called the threat of non being, that is to say, even though I know that I exist, I’m real. I’m alive. I also know that someday I will die, I will cease to exist. I will no longer be. And that thought is staggering. I remember as a boy, when my father first remark to me offhand that someday I would die, I was just overwhelmed with this fact, I was filled with an unbearable sadness and fear. Somehow as a child, the thought that I was going to cease to exist, I was going to die had just never occurred to me and over time I learned to live with the inevitable as we all do. But I think there jean paul sartre’s insight remains true. Whether it’s a few hours or a few years makes no difference. Once you have lost eternity and if there is no God, then we have lost any hope of immortality. We have only this finite existence. So for each one of us individually, life ends at the grave and this is true, not only for us individually, but also collectively for mankind as a whole. Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding and as it does, so it grows colder and colder and colder. Eventually there will be no light at all. There will be no heat, there will be no life, There will simply be the carcasses of dead stars and Galaxies expanding into the infinite blackness and the recesses of outer space. So if there is no God, then mankind is doomed to extinction as well as each one of us individually is doomed to death and the result of this is that life itself becomes absurd. The life that we do have is without ultimate meaning, value or purpose. Yeah. Talk about this thing of meaning. Why is it that if God does not exist, that we have no ultimate meaning for our life by meaning? I mean, significance, why something matters? And if God does not exist, then ultimately our lives are insignificant. It doesn’t matter what we do or what becomes of us now, someone might say, but this person affected the course of history, or he affected in other individuals. But all that shows is a relative significance to his life, not an ultimate significance. Ultimately, mankind is doomed to extinction in the heat death of the universe. And so it literally does not matter what you do or who you are, because everything will end up the same. So, the contributions of the scientists to the advance of human knowledge, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world. The efforts of doctors to alleviate human pain and suffering all of these ultimately come to nothing. In the end, they don’t make one bit of difference. And therefore, if God does not exist, ultimately our lives are without meaning or significance. You also say that if God does not exist, then life has no ultimate value, explain by value. I mean good and evil, right and wrong. And the claim here is that if there is no God to serve as the absolute standard for right and wrong, good and evil, then objective moral values and duties do not exist on the atheistic view. Moral values are just the accidental spinoffs of the evolutionary process and social conditioning, but there really is no objective good or evil. As the french existentialist puts it, we are simply confronted with the bare, valueless fact of existence and there’s no one to say that you are right and that I am wrong. Yeah, you said if the life ends at the grave that it makes the ultimate difference whether you live as a Stalin or a mother Teresa explain that. Well again, if God does not exist, there is no hope of immortality and therefore there is no moral accountability for how you live. Even if there were objective moral values under atheism, they’re hollow abstractions because Stalin and mother Teresa ultimately meet the same fate extinction in the heat death of the universe. Yeah. And you know, you had a great illustration of even if you had immortality, you still need God, you had this science fiction illustration talk about that. Well, I once read a science fiction story as a boy where an astronaut is marooned on a barren asteroid in outer space, all alone and he had with him two vials, one was poison, The other was a potion for immortality. And seeing his predicament lost in outer space on this barren chunk of rock, he decided to commit suicide and he gulped down the vial of poison and then to his horror, he realized he had swallowed the wrong vial. He had drunk the potion for immortality and thus he was cursed to exist. A meaningless, valueless, endless existence so that it’s not just immortality that we need. If life is to be ultimately meaningful, valuable and purposeful, we need God and immortality. And you say the problem gets even worse because without God, we have no objective way of saying what’s right or wrong, no objective morals. Yes. Without God, there is no absolute standard of right and wrong, good or evil, everything becomes socio culturally relative. And there is no one to say whose values are right and who’s wrong in the absence of this transcendent absolute standard for good and evil. And that would describe our culture today, wouldn’t it? I don’t think actually john that our culture is relativistic, although many people think so, I think what’s happened is that there’s a new set of absolutes in place. Things like the absolute, value of personal autonomy, tolerance, acceptance of other viewpoints and this looks like relativism, but in fact, really, it’s a new absolutism that rejects traditional values in favor of these other values, you also say that if God does not exist then life has no ultimate purpose. What do you mean by purpose? I mean a goal, a reason for which something exists, and if God does not exist, there is no purpose for human life or for the universe, we are just accidental by products of nature which have been brought into existence for no reason at all, and we are ultimately doomed to perish in the heat death of the universe. So on atheism, there is no reason, no purpose for which you exist over which the universe exists. I remember as a boy reading the novel by H G Wells called The Time Machine, which illustrated this so well in the novel Wells, time traveler journeys far into the future to discover the ultimate destiny of man and what he discovers is a dead earth orbiting a gigantic red sun. There is no life, no human existence, no civilization, everything is gone. And as I read the novel, I thought no no it can’t end that way, but this is reality in a universe without God, there is no purpose, it will end that way like it or not. And so in the story Wells time traveler returns, but to what, just an earlier point on the same purposeless rush toward Oblivion. So truly if God does not exist human beings find themselves in a horrible predicament, life is ultimately without uh significance meaning, value or purpose. Alright, some Atheist claim that it’s still possible for man to live a meaningful and happy life without God. And you say it’s impossible for Atheists to live consistently and happily with their view, right? I think that it’s impossible to live both consistently and happily if you believe that life is ultimately without meaning, value or purpose, the only way that Atheists managed to live happily is by living in consistently with their world view. But if they really live consistently as though their lives were without meaning, without value, without purpose, they would be in deep despair. And so I think this is the fundamental human predicament. How do you find a worldview that allows you to live both consistently and happily? Atheism does not furnish such a view. Now, you’ve cited several examples of some of the famous Atheists today and in the past that have done this, they have they’re living inconsistently. Yes. Take for example, the area of meaning in life, even though Atheists recognized that without God, life openly has no meaning, they still continue to live as though their lives were meaningful. For example, jean paul said that one may create meaning for his life by choosing a certain course of action and socked himself chose Marxism. Well, that’s totally inconsistent. The universe doesn’t really acquire a meaning just because I happen to give it one, and I think that’s easy to see, suppose you give the universe one meaning and I give it another one. Who’s right. Well, the answer is obviously neither one, the universe remains meaningless in and of itself, regardless of how we happen. Two regard it. So, I think what sorry is really saying is, let’s pretend that our lives have meaning and that’s just fooling yourself. Yeah. Why is it that when we turn to the problem of values, that this is where the most blatant mistakes are made? Yes, the area value is where the most blatant inconsistencies occur, because it is impossible for an atheist to live as though there were no objective moral values and duties. For example, Frederick, the great 19th century atheist broke with his mentor, Richard Wagner precisely over the german composers, anti Semitism and strident german nationalism. Similarly, jean paul, sartre writing in the aftermath of the Second World War, declared that a doctrine that leads to the mass extermination of jews and other peoples is not just a matter of an arbitrary choice, but is really morally reprehensible and unacceptable. Bertrand Russell admitted that he could not live consistently with his own views. He was an outspoken social critic denouncing war and restrictions on sexual freedom. Even a person like a Richard Dawkins is an unabashed moralist, even though Dawkins says that if there is no God, there is no good, there’s no evil, there’s nothing but pitiless indifference. Nevertheless, his books are filled with indignant moral condemnations of practices like harassment of homosexuals, religious indoctrination of Children practice of human sacrifice. All of this is inconsistent. It shows that one cannot live happily as though objective moral values and duties do not exist. Let’s pick that up to in terms of objective moral values. Here, you have atheists saying that they have these objective moral values whatever they choose to to be, but they’re inconsistent and living without God has some grave consequences. You were watching a BBC commentary one time on the holocaust, Tell me about that in this BBC documentary, they interviewed survivors of Auschwitz and one nurse was forced to become the gynecologist at Auschwitz and she described how Mangala the doctor, they’re grouped these pregnant women into a certain barracks by themselves. After a time she no longer saw any of these women. And she made inquiries what happened to the women who were housed in barracks? And the response was, oh, haven’t you heard dr Mangala used them for vivisection. He cut them open alive. Um and if there is no objective moral value, then you cannot condemn such an action is wrong. There was a rabbi interviewed who was imprisoned at Auschwitz who said it was as though all of the moral commandments had been reversed, thou shalt kill thou shalt lie, thou shalt steal. And mankind has never seen such a hell. And yet in a very real sense if God does not exist than our world is Auschwitz, there is no good and evil. There is no right and wrong. There is just the bare valueless fact of existence and no atheist can live consistently within the framework of such a worldview. Yeah. And I found it incredible that a doctor L. D. Rue, in a remarkable address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in 1991 advocated that we believe in a noble lie. Talk about that right? What Professor Roux said is that we cannot allow social chaos to govern society, But on the other hand, the totalitarian option of trying to impose moral values on people is equally unworkable. So how do we get out of this predicament? He said What we need is a noble lie whereby the intelligentsia deceive the masses into believing that there are objective moral values, objective meaning, objective purpose, even though there is none. And so Roose advocated that we deceive ourselves by means of this noble lie so that mankind and society can function and go forward. His closing verdict was very telling, he said, Without such lies, we cannot live. This is the dreadful verdict pronounced upon modern man in order to live consistently and happily, he must live in self deception. All right, let’s go to the good news. How does biblical Christianity challenge this world view of modern man in light of the unlivable itty of Atheism, It seems to me john that we need to go back to square one and say, wait a minute, How do we know that God does not exist? If God does exist, then there is an objective basis for meaning, value and purpose in life. And therefore, I think this should motivate us to examine a new the evidences and arguments for the existence of God and truth of Christianity, because if there is good reason that God exists, that gives us a framework within which we can live consistently and happily. So you said that Biblical Christianity provides the two conditions necessary for meaningful, valuable and purposeful life. God and immortality explain that that’s exactly right, john on biblical Christianity, God does exist and life does not end at the grave. The meaning of life is to be found in a personal relationship with God, which lasts forever into eternity. The values of life are rooted in the nature of God himself, who is by nature loving, just kind, generous, faithful, and so forth, so that we can affirm the objectivity of moral values and duties. And finally, there is an objective purpose for life God has created us for himself. Our end is to be found in the knowledge of God. This is the fulfillment of human existence to know God and his love forever. So that unlike Atheism, biblical Christianity furnishes the necessary conditions for a consistent and happy life God and immortality which give us meaning value and purpose. This is not just academic for you, You’ve actually experienced what you’re talking about, Take us back to the time when you were not a christian and you started thinking about these things, Yes, I was not raised in a christian family though it was a good and loving family, but I experienced the despair and the blackness that I’ve talked about and that I later read in the french existentialist philosophers as I looked out at life and my own existence, I thought what is the meaning of my existence? I was aware that everything was doomed ultimately to extinction. And I could see no meaning or purpose for my existence or the existence of anything else. And this filled me with a deep despair and and blackness and I don’t know if you understand what this is like, but it makes every day miserable another day to get through. And I remember one day I was feeling particularly crummy, I walked into my high school german class and I sat down behind a girl who is one of these types that is always so happy, it just makes you sick. And I tapped her on the shoulder and I said, what are you always so happy about anyway? And she said it’s because I know jesus christ as my personal savior. And I said, well I go to church and she said that’s not enough Bill, you’ve got to have him really living in your heart. And I said, well what would he want to do a thing like that for and she said because he loves you, Bill! And that just hit me like a ton of bricks here, I was so filled with despair and and anger. And she said, there was someone who really loved me and who was it, but the God of the universe. And that thought just staggered me to think that the God of the universe could love me, that worm named Bill Craig down there on that speck of dust called the planet Earth. And so I went home that night and picked up a new testament that had been given to me in the fifth grade by the Gideons when they visited our grade school and I began to read it. And as I read the gospels, I was absolutely captivated by the person of jesus of Nazareth. There was a wisdom about this man’s teaching that I had never encountered before, and there was an authenticity about his life that was simply undeniable. Well, to make a long story short, I went through about six months of the most intense and agonizing soul searching that I’ve ever gone through until finally I just came to the end of my rope and one night I cried out to God and I cried out all the anger and the bitterness that had been building up inside of me. And as I did so, I felt this tremendous infusion of joy like a balloon being blown up until it was ready to burst. And I rushed outdoors. It was a warm midwestern summer evening and you could see the Milky Way from horizon to horizon. And as I looked up at the stars, I thought God, I’ve come to know God and that moment just changed my whole life. I knew that I could not do anything less than spend the rest of my entire life sharing this good news with mankind because this is the truth. If it’s really the truth, this is the greatest news ever announced folks, this is the truth. And we hope that you’ll keep listening in this series. Next week we’re gonna talk about five good reasons to believe in the existence of God. So I hope that you’ll join us then stay tuned for scenes from next week’s program. Well, thank you for joining us today here on the john Engelberg show. If you’re interested in becoming a christian, please go to our website at J A show dot org and click on become a christian, which you’ll find at the top of our homepage. You’ll also be able to read information on how you may start a personal relationship with jesus christ as your savior. For more information concerning today’s program. Or if you’d like to watch some of our other programs and topics, Go to our website at J A show dot org and click on watch. If you’d like to watch our television programs on your smartphone, go to your app store and download our free johnny Karberg show app. It will open to over 60 of our television programs that you can watch anytime anywhere for free. You’ll also see many other categories of information that are available to you join us next week for another episode of the john Ekberg show, I want to say thank you for watching, May God richly bless you. I want to get to the second reason for the existence of God. As you say, the complex order in the universe points to an intelligent designer, explain Scientists once thought that whatever the initial conditions of the universe might have been given enough time and a little luck, eventually intelligent life forms like ourselves would evolve. But instead, during the last 50 years or so, scientists have discovered to their surprise that the existence of intelligent life in this universe depends upon a complex and delicate balance of initial conditions given in the Big Bang itself. In fact, it appears that the universe has been incredibly fine tuned for the existence of intelligent life from the very moment of its inception. And this fine tuning is beyond comprehension in its delicacy. To give you an idea of the delicacy of the fine tuning. Let me just give a couple of numbers to give you a feel for the odds. The number of seconds in the entire history of the universe, all the way back to the Big Bang is about 10 to the 18th Power 10 to the 18th power seconds in the entire history of the universe. 10 followed by 18 zeros. A huge number, the number of sub atomic particles And the entire known Universe is said to be around 10 to the 80th power. Now, with those numbers in mind, consider the following. In order for the universe to be life permitting the force of gravity and the weak force in the atom have to be fine tuned to the precision of one part Out of 10 to the 100th power. The cosmological constant that governs the accelerating expansion of the universe is fine tuned to one part out of 10 to the 120th power. Here’s a real eye popper roger. Penrose of Oxford University Has estimated that the odds of the initial low entropy state of the early universe obtaining by chance alone is one chance out of 10 To the power of 10 to the power of 123.