The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Prov 1:7 (ESV)
Recognizing God for who He is and giving Him due reverence as Lord is the beginning of knowledge, not the end of it. This is very different from what most people think today. Even some Christians think that if we just start with what we already know without God, we can show people that God really does exist. From there, we can tell people about who God is. This does not match the verse though. A knowledge of God does not come after wisdom or knowledge, a knowledge of God comes prior to wisdom and knowledge. People cannot fear God if they do not know Him, and people cannot have knowledge of other things if they do not fear God. Therefore a knowledge of God is necessary to a knowledge of anything else. The more we come to know God the more we know ourselves and the world around us. It is also true that the more we know about ourselves and the world the more we can know God, for He has revealed Himself to us through ourselves and the world.
All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. There are none outside of Him. Beware of being taken captive by anti-Christ thought that is worldly and human and tradition, rather than thinking in accordance with Christ. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Oh how different this is from most attempts to “prove” the existence of God today! Take, for example, the following “proof for the existence of God”:
1. Everything which begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore the universe has a cause for its coming into being.
The person who uses this argument would present it and then explain that this cause must be God. Of course, it is not quite that simple. First of all, how do we know that everything which begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being? It might be said that everyone just knows this, but there are those who claim that they do not know it. Either way, the person who is making this argument must be able to support the first premise of the argument. How could someone possibly do this? Even now there are some scientists who are in various ways casting doubt on the belief that those things which come into existence must be caused. Besides that, no one has ever experienced everything which begins to exist. As you read this a baby platypus is probably coming into the world for the first time, but how do you know that this event was caused? You certainly were not there. Much more, even if you know that the event was caused, how do you go about proving that to someone else who likewise was not there?
There are many who do not believe the second premise of the argument either. There are various arguments offered in support of the second premise, but they have not gone unanswered. For example, some will say that if the universe never began to exist, it must have always existed. Very well, but if there were actually an infinite number of moments before the moment you are reading this, then we never would have reached this moment. The trouble here is that this is really no argument at all. How do we know that we would have never reached this moment, given an infinite number of such moments which came before? If the universe has always existed, then an infinite number of moments did come before this moment. Who is to say that this did not happen? Where is the argument? One can repeat that if there were an infinite number of moments prior to this moment then we would never reach this moment, but this is just assuming what needs to be proven. We are at this moment now. We have reached it. There may have been an infinite number of moments prior to it; there is no way to prove otherwise. Other mathematical arguments involving infinite set theory have been set forth to prove that the universe had a beginning. Similarly, scientific models of how the universe began have been used to support the second premise of the argument. For example, the Big Bang theorizes that there was a beginning of the universe. What may be found is a group of Christians defending the Big Bang to try and prove that the universe had a beginning so that they can prove that the universe was caused so that they can somehow prove that this cause was our God.
Even assuming that everything which begins to exist does have a cause and that the universe began to exist, who is to say that the universe itself is not the one thing which began to exist but was not caused? The point is that 99 things coming into existence with causes do not mean that the 100th thing that comes into existence will also have a cause. It looks altogether impossible to me to prove that the universe had to have a cause for its coming into being, even granting that the other premises are true. The problems do not end here.
Consider the argument that “everything which begins to exist has a cause for its coming into existence, and the universe began to exist, therefore the universe has a cause for its coming into existence”. Someone would have to know everything in order to even begin to show that “everything which begins to exist has a cause for its coming into existence”. Further, the argument just assumes that the universe has a cause because everything else does. Perhaps everything which begins to exist does not have a cause because the universe does not. Aside from these difficulties is the difficulty of proving that the universe indeed did begin to exist and has not existed eternally as many believe that it has.
Even if the argument all works though, what has it really shown? The universe has a cause…? So what? How do we know that this cause did not happen and then go out of existence? How do we know that it still exists? Why only one cause and not many others? What else can we really know about this cause? If someone honestly wants to show that the Christian God exists, this is not the argument to use, because it fails miserably. Even if the argument succeeds then it has proven the existence of any number of gods unlike that of Christianity. So those gods exist?
If your head is spinning, do not worry. While clear, God honoring thinking is something required of the believer, the type of “proof” just discussed is not. Now you have seen a traditional “proof” for the existence of God with some of its problems. Now let us take this popular argument and compare it with how the Bible sets out showing that God exists:
In the beginning, God
Gen 1:1 (ESV)
That is it. The very first verse of the Bible does not offer large, confused syllogistic proofs for the existence of God. Rather, the Bible simply assumes that God exists from the very start. We should too, and we should not be ashamed to do so. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. All of the treasures of knowledge are hidden in Christ. Beware of deceptive philosophy which is according to human tradition and the first principles of the world rather than according to Christ.
Photo – Credit: Jeffrey Newman (Univ. of California at Berkeley) and NASA