Why God Must Exist


 

Someone asked me why I believe God must exist.  I’ll say right off, this won’t be for everyone.  The request came from a comment I made that having been a math major in college and spending 35 years in the computer industry, it’s safe to say that I think logically.  And, that even though I didn’t want to, I came to the conclusion that God must exist.  So if you’re not into math, this may not get your interest.  On the other hand – I’ve been told that it’s possible to skim through the math parts and still get the concepts.  (If you’re reading this, Hi again! to ServingJesusHere)

For the background on why I didn’t want to believe in God for a while – you can check out the about me page.  I’m not going to get into that here, since it’s not relevant.  I’m also going to assume the reader has enough of a background that fine details won’t be explained.  Otherwise it’s going to be way too long.

 Infinity

One concept that I had a really hard time with, and still do actually, is infinity.  You have this thing called a number line.  You can pick any two numbers – and there’s an infinite number of numbers between them.  OK so far.  Now – pick two more numbers that are farther apart than the first two.  There’s also an infinite number of numbers between those two numbers.  And both infinities are obviously equal, because infinity cannot be greater than or less than infinity.  ∞ = ∞.  That’a so basic, you can’t get around it.  But how can these two infinities, where one is “obviously” longer than the other, be equal?

It gets worse.  Now pick any one of the previously selected numbers, and continue on the number line from that point until forever (a ray →) – because there’s no end to the number line.  That’s also infinity – and it’s equal to the other infinities!  And then using that same number, go in both directions (a line ↔) forever.  Now we have yet another infinity – “obviously” longer than any of the others – and yet equal to all of them

How can this be?  And yet it has to be.  The basic rules of math prove it.  

Trying to get my head around that is like riding a roller coaster, or one of those rides that just spins you around.  From everything you learn, you “know” it has to be true.  Otherwise, everything about math falls apart.  And yet, your eyes – and part of your brain – tells you it cannot possibly be true.

This is the beginnings of starting to accept things by faith.  Especially when everything you “think” you “know” is screaming at you that can’t possibly believe what faith is telling you.

But, whether we think about it or not, we do things like that all the time.

Electricity

You use electricity.  Well, unless maybe you don’t and you’re reading a copy of this that someone else printed for you.  But in some way, electricity was required for you to be reading this.

Anyway – did you know that electricity is based on the square root of negative one?  It’s in the mathematical formulas that describe how electricity works.  But what is the square root of negative one? The square root of a number is defined as – a number that when multiplied by itself, gives the original number.  For example, the √1 is 1, since 1 times 1 = 1.  The √4 is 2, since 2 times 2 = 4.  But there’s another principle of math that says when you multiply a negative number by another negative number – the result is always positive. Therefore – it is impossible two have the square root of any negative number.

The solution?  Invent a new “number” in a new numbering system.  The √-1 is “i”.  “i” is called an irrational number.  Tell me about it – sounds very irrational.  But it’s also critical.  Without it – all those formulas that require the √-1 won’t work!  And yet – they obviously do work – because unless there’s a problem, when you hit the power button on your computer it turns on.

Talk about faith.  But this time, we can actually see that – no matter how irrational (pun intended) it seems – electricity really does work, so the faith in the formula is justified.

Impossible formula

You can go to this page on Wikipedia for more info if you’d like, but here’s the basics of an impossible formula.

It’s possible to “prove” that 1 = 2.  From there, it’s also possible to “prove” that any number is equal to any other number.

Here’s the formula:

Consider two non-zero numbers x and y such that
x = y. 
Then x2 = xy. 
Subtract the same thing from both sides: 
x2 - y2 = xy - y2. 
Dividing by (x-y), obtain 
x + y = y. 
Since x = y, we see that 
2 y = y. 
Thus 2 = 1, since we started with y nonzero.

If you didn’t catch it right away, the problem is that in dividing by (x-y), we are dividing by zero.  Generally, this is an illegal operation.  Note the word generally.  

There are times, like when working with what’s called limits, distribution theory, or one I really used to enjoy called linear algebra – where division by 0 is is not only OK, but required.

In addition, with computers, the result of every calculation requires a defined result.  Here’s a brief excerpt from Wikipedia on the floating point methodology that’s used:

The IEEE floating-point standard, supported by almost all modern floating-point units, specifies that every floating point arithmetic operation, including division by zero, has a well-defined result. The standard supports signed zero, as well as infinity and NaN (not a number). There are two zeroes, +0 (positive zero) and −0 (negative zero) and this removes any ambiguity when dividing. In IEEE 754 arithmetic, a ÷ +0 is positive infinity when a is positive, negative infinity when a is negative, and NaN when a = ±0. The infinity signs change when dividing by −0 instead.

The justification for this definition is to preserve the sign of the result in case of arithmetic underflow.[3] For example, in the single-precision computation 1/(x/2), where x = ±2−149, the computation x/2 underflows and produces ±0 with sign matching x, and the result will be ±∞ with sign matching x. The sign will match that of the exact result ±2150, but the magnitude of the exact result is too large to represent, so infinity is used to indicate overflow.

For those of you that are into computers – writing programs more than just using something like Word or Excel – you’ll be familiar with this.  In fact – you count on it.  Otherwise – chaos would result.

Again – more faith in something that we “know” is not possible!

More, anyone?

Oh yes – there’s more.  Much more.

But I leave it to you to check them out if you want.  

Look at things like geometry.  The basic building blocks are point, lines and planes.  Points have zero dimensions.  Lines have one dimension.  Planes have two dimensions.  When I was in school, we were taught that all of these were strictly theoretical.  Nothing exists in our world with less than three dimensions.  But without taking these building blocks on faith – geometry didn’t work.

Along that line, look at modern physics – string theory.  Now we’re told that one dimensional “string” are very important.

There are other science article on this site.  And the list will be growing. So check out the “science” category to see more about how we can see God through science.  And about how He would be the ultimate “math / science teacher” in Heaven – for those interested.

Unexpected Faith

As you can hopefully, see – our initial assumption that it’s not possible to have faith in something we can’t see – isn’t really true.  
The same is true for having faith in something that we don’t think is possible.
These things happen all the time.  
Not only that – but we count on them happening all the time.  Our lives would be utter chaos if they didn’t!  
But we believe – we believe in them – and we believe them.
Believing in God isn’t a foreign concept to us.  It’s in the structure of our lives to believe that unseen things will happen – and will happen consistently.  It’s also in the structure of our lives to believe that the impossible will happen – and will happen consistently.

The Way of Life

As I mentioned, there was a time in my life when I didn’t want to believe in the God of the Bible.  One time I was in the library at college to study.  I sat down at a table with a book that someone else left there.  I needed a break from the book I was reading – so I picked up the one from the table.  It was called The Way of Life, by Lao Tzu.  It was interesting.  Eastern “religion”.  It was a way to peacefully live life.  And I needed some peace.  It was short – so I read the whole book right there.  I liked it – so I checked it out.

At some point, I realized I was looking at it and comparing it to what I learned from the Bible.  The mother of ten thousand things – that was like God.  But there was no beginning to anything.  Everything was already here – and this was how to live peacefully in what was already here.  There was also nothing afterwards.  What happens when we die?  There’s nothing there.  This offended my sense of “me”.  I liked the part of Christianity that had us living forever in the next life – even if I had problems with God I still wanted that.  And there was nothing like Jesus – no one to “solve” the problem of me not being a good person.  

There was too much missing from that nice little book.  It sounded peaceful – and it was all very visible.  But where was the invisible and impossible part of Christianity that I still wanted?  Even if I still had problems with the God of Christianity – I still wanted part of it.

The devil

Yes – I really meant it – the devil.  I am firmly convinced – from first hand experience that he does exist.

A few years after the previous experience, I was at an IRS office.  No – the devil wasn’t sitting behind the counter, working for the IRS.  At least not in my case.  I was in a hurry.  And in a bad mood.  And the lady in front of me was taking a really long time.  She was having trouble understanding something that sounded really easy to me.  I was getting more and more frustrated.  With her.  This was a bad situation.  And it got worse.

When she was finally done – I had this thought in my head – “I hope you get hit by a car when you leave here”.  I know.  It’s awful.  I never felt like that before.  

My time at the counter was very short.  I left the building and was walking to my car.  I heard screeching tires and then a bang.  It came from the direction in which I was walking.  I looked just a little to the right – and there was that woman literally flying though the air.  Oh no – what did I do!  I was so scared.  That was before cell phones, so I ran back to the IRS office and told them to call 911.  

When I got back to the corner where it happened, the driver and a couple other people were with the woman.  She kept saying she was OK, but they made her wait for the ambulance.  They came.  She refused to go with them and walked off.  Thank God she was OK.

But at that point – I knew Satan existed.  And he heard what I thought.  And he acted on it.  And God let him do it.  Like I said – thank God she was OK.  That really shook me.

Now I had real faith that something evil that I couldn’t see and didn’t want to believe in – was most certainly real.

But I was still angry with God.  Still had “issues”.

Modern “Tower of Babel”

For those that aren’t aware of the Tower of Babel, here it is –

Ge 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
Ge 11:3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
Ge 11:5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
Ge 11:8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

In a lot of ways, I look at some of what goes on with computers – especially super computers (in my early time in the industry) and now clusters of computers networked all over the world – as modern day attempts to build The tower of Babel.  

We even have people like Stephen Hawking who set out to know the mind of God.  

Quantum computing has, as on of it’s goals, the ability to “know” all the outcomes of a given event at one time.  Think about that.
Originally, the goal with computers was to do things faster than if done by hand.  Even then – making us more like “gods” – being able to do so much so quickly.  But with quantum computing – it’s really a step towards being like God.  

Right now – it’s one event – and one level of outcomes from that one event.  With God – it’s all events that have happened / will ever happen – and all possible outcomes from all those events.  That seems like a pretty realistic humanized point of view of how God can know everything ahead of time.  And that’s where people want to go with computing.

More faith – the goal to be like God and know ahead of time what’s going to happen.

Remember the story – or some variation of it – that has a butterfly beating it’s wings in Africa and causing some sort of disturbance in the weather in the United States?  Well – God knows exactly how / why / when that happens.  Quantum computing aims to know the same thing.

They want to believe in something they can’t see.  They’ll use formulas and assumptions that can’t possibly be true.  And they’ll believe in their computer model.  But they won’t believe in God.

Meeting God

A neighbor invited me to a weekend retreat at their church.  I was ready to go, so I said yes.  I got there.  Was really nervous.  All these people who believed in God.  And I only knew two of them.  And I wasn’t sure I really wanted to be there.  But I was.

At the end of the first evening, there was the altar call.  I had been Catholic before, so didn’t know anything about this altar call.  People were invited to go to the front of the church and kneel when they felt “The Presence of God”.  I didn’t feel anything.  So I stayed standing where I was.  I told God – “I’m not moving until I feel You”.  People kept going up.  My eyes were closed, but I could hear them.  The pastor said the front was full.  If we felt something now – we were supposed to just kneel where we were.  I kept telling God that I’m not kneeling until I feel You.  

Yes – I know.  Impossible to see.  Impossible to know for sure.

But then I felt Him.  I cried for two hours!

Again – you can read more in the about me page.  But the point is made.  I waited for the impossible.  And He came to me.

Conclusion

This is like the tip of the ice berg.  There is so much more.  So many things that we do that count on things that – if we really thought about it – we’d tell ourselves we’re crazy.  We’d wonder how we could ever believe in them.

But somehow with God – we have a hard time.

Now – don’t get me wrong.  I don’t advocate just blindly believing.  It’s good to question.  It’s good to investigate.  I think it’s important.  Beyond just being “natural” things for us to do, it also ensure that we really know what we’re believing and and what we’re believing.  Not that we’ll totally understand, like I still don’t really understand that number line / infinity thing.  But I believe it.  I use electricity.  I’ve written computer programs that used division by zero.  I’ve programmed linear algebra based computer simulations.  I’ve done all those things.  After checking them out.

With God – I don’t know how He can be everyplace all the time – but the number line infinity issue gets me to understand there’s an awful lot of something tucked away inside even the tiniest thing I can see with my eyes!

I don’t know how He can possibly know ahead of time the outcome of every choice that every person is ever going to make – even before the very first person was even created – but just the fact that people are trying to build a quantum computer that can essentially simulate even a small part of what God can do – that’s got to tell me that we “know” about this capability that God has!

“Believing in” and then “Believing”

At some point, I really came to believing “in” God.  As a kid – yeah, I “believed”.  As much as a kid can believe.  But we don’t really understand.  We don’t see the reality of believing and what comes with it until later.  Then our beliefs are challenged.  Then we find out that maybe we didn’t really believe.  Then some of us don’t want to believe.

But if we don’t give up and accept a life of nothingness – if we keep examining – keep asking questions – keep looking at what we are doing – we will come to a point where I believe we realize that God must exist!  

That takes me to one last piece of scripture, which I’ve tried to keep to a minimum here –

Ro 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Many look at this and think it’s all about condemnation.  I look at it and think it’s also about revelation.  

Let’s break this down into two parts.   First –

what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,

This is the examination – the questioning – all the stuff that I just wrote about.  I think Paul is telling us that if we do these things – we will find God.  How can we help but find Him?

Well – the answer to that question is in the second part –

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, …  so that men are without excuse.

Suppression of the truth.  That’s how we can fail to find God.

Maybe we choose to not even bother to search for the truth.  That is, in effect, suppression of the truth.

Maybe we search – we investigate – we ask questions – but we’re going to the wrong people / places for our answers.  That sounds like what I did with The Way of Life.  It might have been very peaceful following that book.  But it wasn’t complete.  There was too much missing.  Rather than be satisfied with an incomplete solution, I had to keep looking.  Anything else would have been suppressing the truth.

Maybe we search – we investigate – we ask questions – but we don’t like the answers.  Maybe then we pick and choose the parts we like.  Maybe we focus on the parts we don’t like.  Maybe we half halfheartedly “give it a try”.  All of these are suppressing the truth.

The way forward

what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,

I think this is the way forward.  

But we have to really search for it.  I think we’re so “intelligent” now that we have a hard time believing in God.

We talk about the Bible being a fairy tale – because it can’t be proved – God can’t be seen – it’s all just too impossible.

Think about that the next time you turn on your computer – which uses impossible electricity – which relies on mathematics formulas that are impossible and seemingly just plain wrong.  But it all works.  And you need it to work.  So you accept it.

Let me suggest this.  You need God too.  At the end of all our searching, investigating, questioning – He is the answer.

Suppress and suspend your unbelief for a little while.  Just like you do with electricity and the computer you’re using.  

See if that doesn’t help you find God.

He’s waiting for you.

 

image from farm2.staticflickr.com

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