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The Experiential Argument: Why Do People Find God If He Doesn’t Exist?

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword.
—Hebrews 11:37

The final evidence we will examine this week is one of the most thought-provoking rationales for the existence of God. Consider the millions of people who claim to have experienced a personal relationship with God. For example, twelve apostles and more than five hundred witnesses claimed to see the resurrected Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:5-6). Some dismiss their experiences as wish fulfillment. However, such a theory contradicts the facts. The actions of Christ’s followers prior to and immediately after His death demonstrate that they did not expect His resurrection. Had they believed a resurrection was imminent, why would they have deserted Christ prior to His death? Why wouldn’t they have camped out at the empty tomb Saturday night in anticipation of the greatest event in history? The answer is that they were not expecting to see Christ again.

But they did. And they were so convinced of what they saw that 11 of the disciples experienced martyrs’ deaths. Beyond those who saw the resurrected Christ, there were many others during the early decades of the Christian faith who claimed to have experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ—a claim that resulted in a great personal sacrifice (Hebrews 11:36-37). More than 2,000 years later, millions of people around the globe are enduring persecution and death because they claim to have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. A willingness to die for a claimed experience with God argues strongly for the veracity of that experience.

One of the basic principles of rationality is that we should accept the testimony of an experience from another person unless there is reason not to. For example, if someone reports he witnessed a car accident, we should be inclined to believe him, unless of course, he is blind. The experiential argument for the existence of God is not limited to one or two people but encompasses millions of people throughout history from every nation. Furthermore, millions of people have embraced belief in God despite ridicule, torture, and even death. Evolution provides no answer for why millions of people would embrace a belief that is contrary to their own self-interest.

The bottom-line question is, does the evidence argue for or against the existence of God? Every day we make choices based on the best available evidence rather than absolute proof. It seems logical that before we embrace the idea that there is no God, we would require substantial evidence to substantiate that belief. Instead, the argument from the universe, the complexity of design, the uniqueness of human beings, and the experiences of millions of people throughout history are strong evidences for the existence of God.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How Can I Know There Is a God?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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