“A Poem Lovely As a Tree”
Vol: 94 Issue: 22 Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I got an email recently from a skeptic challenging me to one of those ridiculous verbal duels over whether or not God exists. Such arguments are pointless.
In the first place, the skeptic doesn’t want me to convince him that God exists, he wants to convince me that He doesn’t. I’ve never fully understood why anyone would want to advance a philosophy that offers nothing and takes everything.
Christianity offers eternal life — the skeptic offers the cold grave. (“I think I’ll take “What is a stupid trade?” for five hundred, Alex!”)
In the second place, neither side can prove their argument empirically. The skeptic cannot prove God does not exist. He can only argue the reasons why he believes God does not exist.
But it is impossible to prove a negative. Just because I can’t see God doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist.
(I can’t see my mother in law at the moment, either. But believe me, she exists.)
I turned down the offer although I had the advantage over my would-be opponent. While it is impossible to prove a negative, the contention that God does exist is a positive statement.
The argument against the existence of God rests on the absence of evidence acceptable to the skeptic — not the absence of evidence itself. The evidence is overwhelming. There is certainly more evidence arguing in favor of God than there is against, since, by definition, there is no evidence for a negative.
The Bible says that such an argument is the epitome of foolishness: “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.”
The rules of philosophy and science concur. One can only deny the existence of God based on the fatally-flawed assumption that because they cannot see Him, He does not exist. That’s a pretty foolish foundation upon which to build one’s conclusions.
The furthest either science or philosophy can legitimately take it is the assumption that because they can’t see Him, He is not there. Theoretically, He could be somewhere else.
The evidence for God is everywhere. The Apostle Paul writes: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
The Psalmist declared: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalms 19:1)
Look at the sublime precision of chemistry, for example.. All the elements combine in very precise mathematical ways to produce their various compounds. Each of the elements are recorded on a valance chart — the precise number and weight of each atom can be counted and measured.
Every plant has a precise number of leaves or petals, arranged in a precise order. Every living thing has a certain number of chromosomes in its cellular structure according to its design. Man has twenty-three paired chromosomes. A dog has thirty-nine. An ape has twenty-four.
Poet Joyce Kilmer offered this eloquent argument in his poem, “Trees”: “Poems are made by fools like me. But only God can make a tree.”
If there is a more powerful argument for the existence of God than the Bible, I don’t know what it might be. No skeptic can offer an adequate explanation for desert-dwelling Job’s description of the Arctic permafrost.
Who told him? He didn’t look it up in a book and he sure didn’t go see it for himself. Who told Job that wind moves in circles and not in a straight line? Who told Isaiah the earth was round and suspended by nothing?
The Bible speaks to us in the two existing languages of sentience: the spoken word and the universal language of mathematics. (And this is the point where I usually lose patience with the skeptic. The best rebuttal he can offer is “oh yeah?”)
Because words can be used to tell a lie. That’s why God also wrote it out numerically. Because numbers CAN’T lie. And neither can God.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One God.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
For God, the number one signifies Divine completion. For human beings, it takes two to make man complete;
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for the labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
The number Three is the simplest compound unity — it is the first and simplest compound unit of mathematical science. God is one God in Three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Three is the number of the Godhead.
Four signifies the number of this created world. There are four seasons, winter, summer, spring and fall. There are four points on a compass, north, south, east and west.
The living creatures (cherubim) of Ezekiel chapter 1 are four in number. They each have four faces, four sides, four wings and move on four wheels, representative of God’s creation and providence.
Man has five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. We have five senses. Added together we have ten fingers and ten toes. The decimal system is based on this system of tens.
We think in tenths. A tithe is ten percent. No man could be consecrated as a priest under Jewish law unless he had all ten fingers and toes. Five, doubled to ten, stands for human completion.
The number six is the number of man. As we’ll see in a moment, the number seven is the sacred number of spiritual perfection, so six falls just short of it. Man was created on the sixth day. The Divinely-appointed work week is six days, with the seventh set aside for God.
Hebrew slaves were appointed to serve for six years before manumission. Goliath had six fingers and six toes. His spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron. Goliath’s height is recorded as six cubits and a span.
Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. Jesus Christ was crucified on the sixth hour of the sixth day of the week.
And of course, there is the most famous six of all as recorded in Revelation 13:18: “Here is wisdom. Let him that understandeth count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.” (666)
Six units six tens, six hundreds. Three sixes, each successively higher on the decimal scale. The number 666 represents the antichrist — the number of imperfect, spiritually incomplete man, multiplied 100 times over.
Then we come to the number seven. The number seven is representative in Scripture of spiritual perfection.
Four is representative of the physical world. Three, the representative of the Trinity. Together, they equal seven.
Seven days make up one of the four quarters of the moon. There are seven basic notes in music. There are seven prime colors in the rainbow. On the seventh day, God rested.
The number seven is the fourth prime number is also a Mersenne prime, the first Woodall prime, the fourth factorial prime, the second lucky and the second safe prime number.
A ladybug has seven spots. Most mammalian necks have seven bones. There are seven rows in the periodic table. The neutral pH value between acidity and alkalinity is seven. There are seven stars in the Big Dipper. There are seven continents and seven seas.
The Book of the Revelation is addressed to the seven Churches of Asia Minor. There are seven star representing the seven angels who represent the seven churches. In Revelation 3:1, Jesus is identified as having the ‘Seven Spirits of God’ — or the whole and completed Spirit of God.
In Revelation 5:6, the Lamb is pictured as having seven eyes (representing omniscience) and seven horns(representing omnipotence).
There are seven seals, seven thunders, seven vials; the dragon has seven heads and seven crowns upon his heads. There are seven mountains, seven kings, etc.
The Bible specifically says there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David; fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian captivity, and fourteen generations from the Babylonian exile to Christ. (Matthew 1:17)
Fourteen is seven doubled. The Passover is on the fourteenth of Nisan, and fourteen lambs are offered on each of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Pentecost is on the fiftieth day, after the passage of the full 49 (7×7) days from Passover. The Jubilee Year is the fiftieth year after the passage of seven ‘weeks’ of seven years each.
Under OT Law, an animal must be at least seven days old before it can be sacrificed. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days. A male child could not be circumcised until after seven full days had passed.
The rules of cleansing (as in cleansing a leper) involved seven sprinklings of water.
The Day of Atonement demands seven sprinklings of blood.
The menorah has seven branches and seven lights. Noah entered the ark on the seventh day. (Genesis 7:4,10) Noah’s ark came to rest on Mt Ararat on the seventh month. (Genesis 8:4) Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel.
Joshua sent seven priests who marched around Jericho for seven days blowing seven trumpets. On the seventh day, the circled the city seven times before the ‘walls came tumbling down.’
Samson’s marriage feast lasted seven days. Samson had seven locks of hair (Judges 16:9) It took Solomon seven years to build the Temple. Job had seven sons. His friends grieved in silence with him for seven days and seven nights. Job offered seven bullocks and seven rams for a burnt offering.
Jesus told the Pharisees to forgive trespasses seventy times seven. He imposed seven ‘woes’ on the Pharisees. Romans 8:35 lists seven afflictions; 12:6-8 enumerates the seven gifts. James 7:17 lists the seven qualities of heavenly wisdom. 2nd Peter 1:5-8 outlines the seven virtues imparted by faith.
The seventieth week of Daniel lasts for seven years. The disciples took up seven baskets of fragments after the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes.
The skeptic’s counter-argument is ‘coincidence’. Or that some human or group of humans actually wrote the Bible using the two universal languages of sentience. Either takes more faith in nothing than I am capable of mustering.
“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalms 139:14)
The skeptic knows that in his soul, too. So there isn’t much point in debating it.