Quick Responses to Skeptics:
by Charlie Campbell (Director of ABR Apologetics Ministry)
Q. “Is there any evidence outside the Bible that Jesus actually existed?”
There is. There are more than thirty sources outside of the Bible, written within 150 years of Jesus' life, that mention Him. Take, for example, Flavius Josephus, a first century historian. He affirms, not only that Jesus lived, but that He was “a doer of amazing deeds,” that “Pilate condemned Him to be crucified to die,” that He was a teacher who “won over many Jews and many of the Greeks” and that He was reportedly seen alive by His disciples after His crucifixion. A second extrabiblical source that mentions Jesus is a collection of Jewish writings known as the Talmud. This collection of ancient writings mentions Jesus, even saying that He was killed on the eve of Passover, just as the Biblical account describes. Other sources that mention Jesus include the Roman historian Tacitus, the Didache, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, the Gnostic gospels (e.g., the gospel of Thomas), etc. The Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, devotes 20,000 words to the person of Jesus Christ and never once hints that He didn’t exist. The evidence is certain. Jesus of Nazareth was a real person.
Q. What evidence do you have that God exists?"
CHRISTIAN: I think the cosmos itself is evidence that God exists. Think of all the billions of galaxies, stars, planets, and moons. How did they come to exist? Philosophers and thinkers down through the ages have narrowed the explanations into three broad options:
SKEPTCI: You really believe that God has just always existed?
1. The cosmos is eternal—and if that's the case, there's no need for a creator because the universe has just always been.
2. The cosmos created itself—again, no need for God. It brought itself into existence.
3. The cosmos was created by someone or something outside of itself—God.
So, let's consider which is the most reasonable explanation. The first option, that the universe is eternal, has been utterly rejected by the scientific community. Why? Astronomers are pointing to things like the background radiation echo, the motion of the galaxies, the second law of thermodynamics, and other evidences all of which have led them to conclude that the universe had a beginning. Well, that eliminates option one. Option two, that the universe created itself, is philosophically impossible—even logically absurd. Of course, before the universe existed it would not have been around to do the creating. Obviously, a non-existent universe could not have done anything! It did not exist. So, option one and two can be thrown out purely on scientific and philosophical grounds. Option three, that something or someone outside of the universe created the universe, is the option that both reason and the evidence point to.
SKEPTIC: But if the universe demands a creator, then God requires a maker. So, who made God?
CHRISTIAN: Nobody made God. Unlike the finite universe (a universe that began to exist) that demands a creator, God does not need a creator.
CHRISTIAN: Because He is eternal. Someone who has always existed does not need a creator or someone to have brought Him into existence. But the universe falls into an entirely different category. As the scientific discoveries have shown, it has not always existed. And anything that begins to exist requires a cause or maker. Things don’t just pop into existence all on their own. Nothing does not produce something.
CHRISTIAN: Well, before you scoff at the notion of God having always existed, keep this in mind: something must have always existed. Do you realize that?
SKEPTIC: Why do you think that?
CHRISTIAN: Well, think through this with me: if nothing cannot produce something, and yet something exists, then it follows necessarily that something has always existed (in order to bring the something into existence). Think of it this way:
1. If there ever was a time that absolutely nothing existed, nothing would exist now.
2. Something exists now.
3. Therefore, there was never a time that absolutely nothing existed.
So, to answer the question, Who made God? No one. God is eternal and does not need a maker. The universe is not eternal and does require a maker.
SKEPTIC: I hear what you're saying, but I still have a hard time believing in a God I can't see.
CHRISTIAN: I understand that struggle. Let me help you think through this. When you see a painting, what proof do you need to conclude that a painter exists? Nothing else besides the painting. The painting, all on its own, is proof there was a painter. You do not need to see the painter to believe that he or she exists. The painting is all the evidence you need. It wouldn't be there if the painter did not exist. And so it is with the universe and God. The universe, all on its own, is compelling evidence for a creator.
If you like to have short concise answers ready for conversations with nonbelievers, you'll love Charlie Campbell's book: One Minute Answers to Skeptics: Concise Answers to the Top Forty Questions, endorsed by Charles Colson, Norman Geisler and Nancy Leigh DeMoss.