When I announced that I was leaving my job with the California State Legislature to go to seminary, my dear friend and coworker, Daniel, offered me 30 pieces of silver if I agreed to stay. When I pointed out that such an offer hadn’t gone well for the last guy who took it, he tried a different track. “What if I disprove the existence of God? Then will you stay?” This, I agreed to readily.
Daniel has a PhD in bioengineering, and he doesn’t believe that God exists. And in a way, he is right. God is not a distinct being that exists within the universe. Too often, the God that contemporary atheists spend their time trying to discredit, and the God that many faithful Christians spend their time defending, is not the God that the Church worships, or has ever worshiped. In fact, what the atheists argue against isn’t God at all, but merely a god. Disproving the existence of a god in no way disproves, or even answers the question, of the existence of God.
The material world cannot, by its very nature, account for its own existence. Quantum physics may eventually be successful in proving that universe is infinite and constantly expanding, or that our experience is only a simulation, or that dark matter is being sucked up by aliens for galactic conquest, but so what? What does that have to do with existence as such? How can it ever answer the question: why is there is something rather than nothing? And not only why is there a universe, but why does that universe (or even multiple, ever expanding universes) continue to exist?
Christians do not believe that God is a being that exists in the universe. Beings are limited. They are some things, and they are not others. A cat is a cat and not a dog. Its “catness” defines it and limits it. God is not limited like this. He is Being and He is Existence. He is “that, without which, nothing could be.” He is the Infinite, the Uncreated; not just the maker of all, but the sustainer of all that is, seen and unseen. Or, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “the one in whom we live, and move, and have our being.”
It is only recently that we have forgotten what our ancestors took for granted: that the universe is infused in, out, and through, with the shimmering light of Existence. To our forefathers, the heavenly bodies were not mere cold rocks and distant gravitational fields, hurtling mindlessly through a vacuum, but spheres of celestial light that pulsed with the energy that made them, and which holds them in existence. Cliffs and oceans were not random collections of minerals and molecules, but expressions of the infinite mind that gave them their forms. And human beings — the most dangerous and wonderful of all the beings in the cosmos — were not mere biological machines with squishy computers executing a genetic program, but energetic, noble, and intelligent creatures, capable of love, consciousness, and creativity. Creatures made in the image of the One Who Is infinitely loving, infinitely conscious, and infinitely creative. Because God is the infinite fullness of all things, all the universe points to Him.
In the end, it may not be wrong to lie on one’s back and look up at the stars on a clear summer night and not think about Him who called them forth, who gave them their names, and who holds them in existence, but to instead see them only as mindless matter, and to not bother asking why they are there and how they came to be. But to do so would require a faith that I will never have.