Someone asked me recently, “Why do you waste your time writing a blog about theological issues? Can’t you do something a bit more useful with your time?”
Oh – sure. If we categorically knew that God did not exist – I agree, I would be wasting my time. It would be like spending time blogging furiously about the popularity of married bachelors. Pointless. Because married bachelors don’t exist.
But no one can make that claim about God.
If it is possible that there is a God who is responsible for creating the Universe and everything that lives in it, and it is possible to know something about that God – then is writing this blog really a waste of time? Particularly if that God expects us to use our rational capacities to do this work of getting to know him during our lives? No – from that perspective, writing this blog could be one of the most important things I do with my time.
You see – I don’t think we have to look very far to begin to learn something about what God may be like.
For centuries of human history, thinkers have looked at nature to see what we can learn about God. Any designer is going to reflect himself in what he makes. Right?
Enlightenment thinkers challenged the idea we could learn anything about God this way. David Hume thought that, “no inferences we make from the physical to the metaphysical are viable …. their conclusions go beyond what is supported by the evidence.” Immanuel Kant agreed, saying that “knowledge requires some sort of experiential basis. If we don’t have sense data, then we cannot have knowledge. And because we do not see, touch, taste, smell or hear God directly, Kant’s model does not allow divine knowledge to come from the physical world.” The enlightenment was not kind to Natural Theology.
Well – I think Hume makes an excellent point. It is simply unhelpful for theologians and apologists to make more of the evidence than they are warranted to. But can’t we say that nature could point us to God? Here are just two examples (there are many more). Can’t we logically consider that biology simply looks designed because it is … the result of a designing intelligence? Further, what do we do with the continuing discovery of the fitness of the Universe for the existence of life? Doesn’t this give a very strong evidence for design?
For more on design pointers, check out Jim Wallace.
What about Kant? He is right that we cannot access God directly with our senses. But can’t we encounter God indirectly via our senses? When police detectives arrive at a crime scene, they don’t usually have the criminal standing there saying, “Hello. I killed the victim. Please take me to jail.” No – they explore the scene for clues, they form the most logical hypotheses for the explanation of this evidence, and these hypotheses hopefully lead them toward the person who committed the crime. The detective’s senses are critical. They perceive the perpetrator indirectly, before they see him directly.
Maybe our senses will never allow us to sense God directly in the here and now. But they do allow us to view pointers towards him. Leaving us the promise of a future face to face encounter with Him.
I’ve written here about the way the Bible points towards God as a historical work. Yes, Christians say it is special revelation. But before its special, it’s simply historical.
There are pointers littered throughout our lives that direct us toward the God who is partially concealed in the here and now. I think it’s important to reflect on that possibility, and to explore the possibilities it presents. So, that is an important reason why I write this blog.
 James K. Dew JR. and Mark W. Foreman, How Do We Know? An Introduction to Epistemology, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2014), 134.