There are some who deny the existence of God. There are others who simply do not know and have chosen to not vote on the issue of God’s existence. Then there are many (certainly the majority) who hold to a view that God does exist. Where do you stand? You may ask, “Why does it matter if God exists?” It matters a lot. Because if there is no God, then there is no purpose. If there is no God, then your life, your choices, even human history itself is, at the end of the day, meaningless.
The Beginning of the Universe
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
Creation itself is a clue that points us to the character and the nature of God. For example, scientists now know that the universe had a beginning. Several decades ago the prevailing thought was that the universe had always existed. But current science is agreed that the universe had a specific moment when it burst into being. That event is most often called the “Big Bang.”
Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, who is the Edwin Hubble Chair at the Mount Wilson Observatory, and also the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a self-described agnostic, describes it this way: "The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion...The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen" (Robert Jastrow; "Message from Professor Robert Jastrow"; LeaderU.com; 2002).
Why do scientists now believe the universe had a beginning? Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity demanded that time, space and matter be co-relative; that is, they all had an absolute beginning. However, it wasn’t until famed astronomer Edwin Hubble looked through his powerful telescope that scientists were able to discover that the universe was in fact expanding. And they discovered that it was expanding from one single point in space. Then in 1989, NASA launched the COBE (cosmic background explorer) satellite to study the expansion of the universe. Scientists believed that if the universe began at a single moment, there would be radiation ripples evident in space. In 1992 Astronomer George Smoot revealed their findings. He said, “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.” These ripples not only existed, but they showed that the explosion and expansion of the universe happened with such precision, so as to cause just enough matter to congregate to allow galaxies to form, but not enough for the universe to collapse on itself.
Not only did our world begin with a big bang, but such a reality requires a big banger – a source outside of time, space, matter…a source that is intelligent and powerful that could bring the entire universe into being in one flash of light.
Dr. Jastrow went on to say, “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same” (Jastrow: God and the Astronomers, pg 14).
The “Finely Tuned” Planet
Back in the 1960s Carl Sagan declared that there were only two requirements for the sustainability of life on other planets: 1) certain types of stars were needed and 2) certain planets just the right distance from those stars. Today we realize that there are many more requirements for the sustainability of life. In fact, it’s quite miraculous that we exist today. For example:
- If our planet were just a bit larger, the extra gravitational pull would draw down deadly methane and ammonia gasses onto the earth’s surface and nothing could survive.
- If our planet were just a bit smaller, the lesser gravitational pull on the earth’s surface would not allow water to be produced; its vapors would dissipate in the atmosphere.
- If our planet rotated just a bit faster, high winds on the earth’s surface would make life impossible. (The winds of Jupiter are 1000 mph!)
- If our planet rotated just a bit slower, the longer days and longer nights would translate into extreme high and low temperatures that we could not tolerate.
- If our planet was tilted just a bit more or less than 23.5 degrees our seasons would be extreme heat and cold and vegetation would not be able to grow.
- If our planet were just a fraction of a bit closer to the sun we would burn up; if it were a bit further we would freeze. Our planet maintains this perfect distance from the sun as it rotates around it at a speed of 67,000 mph.
- We know that the moon that orbits our earth affects the tides of our oceans. If the moon was a bit larger the greater pull on the earth would cause colossal 100 foot waves that would completely destroy our coastal areas and flood our continents. If the moon were smaller the tides would not be strong enough to clean the ocean and replenish its ecosystem.
Since Carl Sagan said there were only two factors that must be present to sustain life, scientists now have discovered that there are more than 150 unique factors that must all be present for life to exist. The odds of finding another planet that possess all these factors are 1 in 10 to the 75 power. That’s a 10 with 75 zeros after it! (Miracle, Eric Metaxas, pg 43).
The NASA Mars rover has collected information about the planet and its atmosphere. What if while orbiting Mars and taking pictures of the Mars surface, astronauts discovered a series of stones that spelled out the words HELP! What if at another location, they spotted another set of stones that spelled out the letters SOS! What if a bit later they found another set of stones that spelled out the words SAVE ME! What would you conclude? You would conclude that there was or has been some form of intelligent life on that planet, because what are the odds that a set of stones could randomly be placed to spell three distinct words in English? The Bible tells us that God has written on every part of creation his personal signature. He has made it plain to us - so plain that we are without excuse.
Laws, Logic and Love
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them… Romans 2:14-15
There is within each of us evidence for God – laws, logic and love. The more we examine the world around us we find that our universe, our existence, is built upon natural laws that do not change. These laws enable us to study the world around us, to develop scientific methods, to depend on these laws of nature to be consistent and reliable. But where do these laws come from? And why over time do these laws not change? The second law of thermodynamics states that all things entropy, they fall apart over time. But the laws of nature remain constant. Why? The same is true with logic. There are logical arguments, conclusions, reason, and mathematics. These laws of logic do not change. There is order and reliability in them. Where did logic come from? And love. Most evolutionary sociologists claim that morality and love are simply behaviors conditioned in us over time because at one time they allowed our ancestors to survive. But why is there in the hearts of people a deep sense that there is universally moral (good) behavior and equally immoral (evil) behavior that applies to all cultures in all times? And where does this moral compass come from?
Those who deny the existence of God can only answer those questions with “I don’t know” or “chance.” But to those who hold to a personal God who created the universe, it’s quite clear who created laws, logic and love.
Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
We all believe something. The question is, who are you believing in? Are you placing your trust and faith in yourself, your wisdom, your thoughts, your knowledge, your insight, your reason?
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). According to the Bible, a fool isn’t unintelligent. A fool is simply one who refuses to listen to wisdom. The fool believes that he alone possess all knowledge and truth.
Will you place your faith in yourself or will you believe in what God has revealed?
Through his creation, we see his invisible attributes, his divine qualities...we see that God is orderly, creative, powerful. We see that God is faithful and reliable. We see that God is moral, good, loving.
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. -Psalm 145:18
If you seek him, He will draw near to you!
What is your purpose in life? Why are you here on this planet? Does life even have a purpose? Or are we all just going in circles on this planet in the universe without any purpose at all?”
Hungry for Purpose
All of us hunger for more; more life, more meaning, more purpose. There is some void or vacuum, some hole or emptiness in our lives that only a clear purpose can fill. Recently there was a corporate board room filled with high level executives. Most of these men had climbed the ladder of success, made money, held positions of authority. But one man made an interesting comment. He said, “Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. At times it just seems like I’m here to make enough money to keep my family happy, but there’s got to be more to life than that!”
Most people, at some point in their life ask the question, “Is this all there is to life?” Surely there is more to life that just working, paying the bills, doing stuff, going to bed and doing it all over again. We are hungry for more. Hungry for purpose.
Satisfying the Hunger
Our culture offers options for satisfying this hunger for purpose. Below are four voices that offer a solution to our problem:
No Purpose: Those who hold this view see life as one cosmic accident, a set of random events with no designer, no good, no bad, no heaven, no hell, no purpose. The problem with “no purpose” is that is doesn’t satisfy this ache for purpose in our lives. We are left empty.
Selfish Purpose: This view says that the purpose of life is to make it as pleasant as possible for you. This is the person who pursues all that life has to offer in hopes of finding happiness and fulfillment. And this is the most popular approach. More money, more possessions, more relationship, more advancement, more accommodations, more power should equal more purpose…right? But the answer might surprise you. King Solomon who was by far the most powerful, wise, wealthy and self-absorbed man to ever live wrote about his exploits in a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes. And in it he speaks about all that he did to try to satisfy his hunger for purpose with education, power, sex, alcohol, building projects, business deals. And at the end he summed up his life with these words: “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Benevolent Purpose: These are the people who derive their purpose from serving and helping others. They find a cause and give their life to it: raising a family, serving their country, eradicating poverty, providing clean water for third-world countries, standing for justice. But again, once you are gone, the world goes back to the way it was before. Families and countries ebb and flow. Poverty and injustice will always be here. And most will not remember your effort or sacrifice after one generation.
But there is another option.
Created Purpose: This view says that God has a unique purpose for your life and you find joy and satisfaction when you fulfill that purpose.
The Promise of Purpose
King David, the father of King Solomon, is wrote about his purpose in life in Psalm 139. While Solomon struggled with his purpose, David understood it well. And he reveals to us how we can satisfy our hunger for purpose. He lists off four things we need to know about finding God’s purpose for our lives.
GOD KNOWS YOU (Psalm 139:1-6)
David starts out with understanding that God knows everything about him. “God, you know when I sit, when I stand, when I walk in the room, when I walk about, you know what I’m thinking, you know what I’m doing…you go before me and behind me! This is more than I can take!” And this is the beginning of purpose, to understand that there is a God who knows you. There is a God who created you. Right now he knows where you have been, he knows where you are headed, he knows your fears, your dreams, your disappointments and your desires. And He is the one who holds the secret to your purpose in life.
GOD CREATED YOU ON PURPOSE (Psalm 139:13-16)
You may feel unwanted…just an accident with no purpose. But God sees you differently. He saw you in your mother’s womb. He knew you at the beginning. Before there were sonograms or 3D imagining, the womb was the “secret place.” No one could see what God was making, it was for his eyes only. David says, “You were there at the beginning. You saw me. You created me. You made me.” He says, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” That’s how God created you. God holds your purpose because he is the one who created you. He is the one who uniquely designed you with just the temperament, talents, personality, intellect, sense of humor that makes you uniquely you! There is no one like you. You are hand crafted. He made you on purpose.
GOD CREATED YOU FOR A PURPOSE (Psalm 139:14)
David writes, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The phrase “wonderfully made” literally means “made distinct or set apart.” God not only was there making you on purpose, but God was even at your birth setting you apart FOR a purpose! Does that not blow you mind? Let me give you another biblical example. The Prophet Jeremiah was one of the most influential guys in the Bible during his day, about 700 years before Jesus. Listen to what God said about Jeremiah. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart: I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). God said, “Jeremiah, I saw you in the womb. I made you there. And even then I set you apart for a specific purpose.” God alone possesses your purpose. Why? Because he created you on purpose, and he created you for a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God’s got a purpose for you. God’s got a plan for you. God’s created you to do something and he’s prepared it a long time ago! You can live a life of destiny! You Macro is the “big picture,” micro is the “small, specific picture.” In the same way, there is a big purpose and a specific purpose for your life! The big purpose for your life is the same for all of us. Jesus told us the most important thing in life is to “’… love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31). Jesus said your macro-purpose is to love God and love the people in your life! But in addition, your “micro-purpose”, your specific purpose is how you do that using your unique gifts, talents, personality, experience and passions. And God will reveal that to you as you seek him!
GOD HAS GIVEN YOU TIME TO FULIFLL YOUR PURPOSE (Psalm 139:16)
God alone possesses your purpose. He created you on purpose and for a purpose. You were put on this planet, at this moment in time for a reason. But you have only a certain amount of time to fulfill your purpose. God has given each of us a certain number of days. And they are not all the same. One of the interesting things about the sport of rowing is that the team sits with their backs to the finish line. They never really know when they are about to cross the line. That’s what our life is like. God has a purpose for you, but you don’t know how long or short your race will be. And it’s quite possible that you could miss you purpose all together. You could waste your life going in circles. You could squander the time God has given you pursuing other things. King Solomon, the party king, later in life came to the same conclusion his father did – that the purpose of life was found in the God who knew him and created him. He writes at the end of his memoirs, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiates 12:13). Satisfaction in life comes from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life. And one day, when you cross the finish line, you will hear from God, “Well done, you finished the race, you fulfilled your purpose!”