Does God Exist? A Book for the Common Man
Johnson C. Philip & Saneesh Cherian
Philip Communications, 2013
In this compact, highly readable little volume, Does God Exist? A Book for the Common Man, Drs. Johnson C. Philip and Saneesh Cherian present various lines of objective evidence to support the belief that the God described in Christian theology also exists objectively in reality. Supervisors at the Trinity Graduate School of Apologetics and Theology in India, Philip and Cherian further have explicitly set out to unpack their arguments in understandable language, and in this they have doubtless succeeded.
Most of the larger intellectual questions that confront believers in the new millennium are addressed here, with chapters dedicated to: science and God, logic and God's existence, the theory of probability, the historical witness of the Bible, and the problem of pain. In addition a chapter is dedicated to what the authors have called "the relational verification," essentially an argument that humans cannot receive information apart from trust in the providers of it.
From the opening chapters the authors put advocates of scientism, empiricism and evolutionism on notice: "Nobody has proved that God does not exist, yet plenty of people claim that science has disproved God. It is time to face the issue." The highly secularized state of affairs in contemporary culture, they suggest, is not the result of arguments or rational reflection, but of indoctrination. From childhood most of us have been led to believe, without qualification, that science is the sole path to truth and that evolution, particularly the thoroughly naturalistic theory proposed by Darwin, is a fact of science beyond dispute. But the actual scope of science is far more limited: "The aim of science is not to investigate all reality, but rather to investigate those realities that are seen in the form of matter and energy." Modern society moreover has become increasingly dominated by technology, which is thought to be the product of theoretical science.
Similar lines of thought are suggested for other areas of knowledge: logic, mathematics, probability and historical research. Against the usual atheistic pronouncements, this book offers not only arguments from causality, design in nature, and a defense of God's purposes in allowing pain (theodicy), but appeals to historical/archaeological evidence. Unlike most apologetic books, this one moreover calls attention to the powerful evidential value of biblical prophecy. For example, prophecies in Leviticus and Ezekiel, dating to circa 1500 and 600 BC respectively, predicted the restoration of the Jewish nation to the land of Palestine after centuries of wandering and persecution – an event which finally occurred only in 1948.
What struck this reviewer most was the chapter on relational verification. This brief discussion constitutes not only a call and exhortation for believers to responsibly "vet their sources," so to speak, but correction and admonition for those who are too easily taken in by critics of the faith. Philip and Cherian here point out a truth that may have been obvious in previous generations but perhaps needs to be rediscovered, namely: trust is not the result of a scientific observation or experiment. This is especially worthy of recollection in the "Internet age," when anyone can speak authoritatively and even earn credentials in relevant fields relatively easily.
Thus anyone can jump on a message board and declare that every argument ever proposed for God's existence has been refuted "a thousand times." But not everyone has actually earned the authority to speak into the lives of others. As Philip and Cherian remind us, trust requires an element of credibility beyond having diplomas framed on a wall. Christians, they remind us, not only have intellectual truth on their side, but their lives have changed. They tend to run hospitals and orphanages, and otherwise strive to do good in the world: "Christians do that because of their relationship with God."
All told, Does God Exist? is a nicely organized, well-argued and accessible sourcebook for anyone interested in the question of God's existence. Given that the authors have deliberately sought to speak to the widest readership possible in plain language, it may not appeal to those seeking purely technical philosophical arguments or clever intellectual tidbits. But for the rest of us it effectively lays out basic arguments for God in relevant, straightforward terms.
-- Don McIntosh