Coffeehouse Questions



What do I think is the best argument for God’s existence?

There are many philosophical and scientific arguments for God’s existence. Many of them are convincing and powerful like the kalam cosmological argument, teleological argument, or the moral argument. I’ve even written about those in one of my first ever blog posts. However, I think there might be an even better argument when understood correctly. Check it out!

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Understanding The Meaning Of Life From Different Worldviews (Podcast)

I received this questions by text last week.

I’ve just been told that the purpose to life is to procreate. That all our actions boil to one meaning alone and that is ensure the succession of our lineage. I’ve brought to the table the topic of meaning and have been countered with the belief that meaning is only chemicals and that we merely assign meaning and have discovered good and bad merely because if affects our survival. How would you respond to this worldview?

Listen to my response here and comment below on how you would respond!

Here are the videos/podcast that I mentioned in the podcast.

  1. Understanding Objections From The Correct Worldview
  2. Sam Harris on free will being an illusion
  3. Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss on free will

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Listen to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show on Active Reliance Radio every Wednesday from 4:30-5 PM PT. This broadcast is also being live streamed every Wednesday on Facebook Live at 5 PM PT immediately following the radio show.

Like the Facebook page, watch live, and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. Send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number only for questions)

Doctor Strange and the Clash of Worldviews

If you haven’t heard, the newest Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, released this weekend. I had a group of guys from work that wanted to go see it and so I joined them on Friday night. Now, I’m not much of a Marvel guy, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I have seen most of the Marvel movies, but I wouldn’t really say I’m a huge fan which is why I didn’t know anything about this movie going into it.

What amazed me the most about this movie is the clash between worldviews. This year in my high school class, I’m teaching comparative worldviews and religions. I have spent weeks with my students teaching different worldviews like Secularism, Marxism, Postmodernism, New Spirituality, Islam, and Christianity. When some of my students came to class today, I was excited to hear that they did some worldview analysis on the movie. It feels good to know that they have been listening and saw the clash between Secularism and New Spirituality while enjoying a movie over the weekend.

Back to the point, today in class, I showed them this clip from the movie and asked them two questions. I asked, “How does Stephen Strange’s Worldview determine how he interprets reality? Explain. Do you think we should be open to having our Worldview changed? Why or why not?” I want you to watch the clip and evaluate it for yourself. Hint: Stephen Strange is a naturalistic materialist (physicalist). This means that he believes that only the physical world exists (matter) and that there is a natural explanation for everything.

Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this clip.

Notice a few things from this clip.

Only the physical world exists.

After hearing that his understanding of reality can grow in ways he never imagined, he rejects it not because of good evidence, but because he doesn’t believe in fairy tales, energy, or the power of belief. There is no such thing as spirit and the only thing that exists is matter. It’s interesting that there are no reasons given as to why these things don’t exist. Now, you may be thinking that I’m analyzing this too much, and that’s possible, but it is interesting to think about. This is what many Secularists do. When presented with reasons to believe in the supernatural, they respond with something like, “Those things don’t exist.” My response is, how did you come to that conclusion? Responding with an unsupported statement doesn’t answer the original question. Reasons need to be given to support statements like that.

What’s in that tea?

Notice how after his soul is pushed out of his body he returns and ask, “What’s in that tea?” This is the naturalism coming out. Naturalism is the belief that everything can be explained by natural causes. The soul can’t exist, that’s immaterial, so there must be a natural cause to explain what just happened to him. His first thought is that he was drugged and something was in the tea. I see this relating in many ways to conversations I have with atheists. They ask me for evidence, and when presented with evidence, they come up with some way to explain it away. If we are not open to the supernatural, then we will always find an alternative.

Do you think we should be open to having our worldview changed?

This leads me to my final point with my class. It seemed like Doctor Strange was so convinced of his worldview that even seeing his own soul didn’t convince him that he was wrong. I have heard some atheists admit that even if God spoke to them, they would think it was a dream or hallucination. I think this shows that no amount of evidence would change some people’s minds. Instead, as one student said, “Not being open-minded may cause us to miss certain truths.” I think he was right on! Open minded doesn’t mean that we change our worldview with every argument. It simply means that we are willing to objectively evaluate all the evidence. It also takes a humble attitude to admit that it’s possible that our views may be wrong. I realize that I don’t know everything, and it’s possible that I’m wrong, so that is why I spend the time I do researching. I want to be confident that I am following the truth.

Do you think it’s important to be open to having our worldview changed? Can being close-minded cause us to miss truth at times?

Remember that you can comment below or send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number only for questions).

How does consciousness point to God?

Consciousness is one of the undeniable facts of our universe, yet it is also of the biggest mysteries for atheists. Most naturalists don’t have an answer as to where it came from. Michael Ruse, an atheist philosopher, said on a recent Unbelievable? podcast that it’s the hardest question to answer for a naturalist. Sam Harris, an atheist philosopher and neuroscientist, wrote a two part blog on The Mystery of Consciousness where he said that consciousness cannot be an illusion, it isn’t physical, and that unconscious complexity can’t produce it. It is for these reasons and others that I think consciousness is best explained by God.

In this week’s podcast, Ryan responds to a listener question and then more details about how consciousness points to God.

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

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Send in your questions on Facebook or use #AskRyanP on Twitter

Who created God?

Who created God? Where did God come from? If the universe needs a creator, then who created God? If design needs a designer (Design argument), then who designed the designer? If everything that begins to exist needs a cause (Cosmological argument) then what caused God? These are  very common objections proposed by atheists. They are also questions that confuse many Christians and may cause doubts. I discussed this question with one student while working at Summit Ministries this summer. So, is there a response? Why do Christians think God doesn’t need a cause or a designer if everything else does? There are three important things you need to understand in order to properly respond to this question.

Contingent vs Necessary Being

The first step is to recognize that there are two different types of entities that exist. The first type is a contingent being. According to the Philosophy Dictionary, a contingent being is “Something that does not exist in and of itself but depends for its existence upon some other being.” Created things such as humans would be examples of contingent beings. We are created and depend on our parents to bring us into existence. Also, everything we create would also be contingent.

The second type of entity is a necessary being. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines necessary being as an entity that “could not have failed to exist.” Necessary beings exist necessarily and are not created ; they have to exist. Christians would define God as a necessary being.

It is a confusion of these terms that creates the problem. When atheists ask the question “Who created God?” they are defining God as a contingent/created being. This is not how Christians define God, so we are talking about two different things. We first have to agree on a definition of God before we discuss the question. If God is created, then asking who created Him is a good question. However, if God is necessary then we are led to my next point.

The question is illogical

It is because God, by definition, is a necessary being that the question “Who created God?” doesn’t even make sense. This question actually commits what philosophers call the category fallacy. It’s like asking, how much does the color red weigh? Since red is a color, it doesn’t have weight. Therefore, to ask how much it weighs is illogical. You would be applying the wrong category of question to the object. The same is true for God. Since God is a necessary being who is not created, it is illogical to ask who created Him. You can only ask what made something if that thing is something that could be made. Asking “What created the un-created being?” simply doesn’t make any sense. It would make more sense discussing if God is a necessary being by definition instead of asking who created Him (The video below by J.P. Moreland explains why God, by definition, must be necessary). This leads me to my last point.

Everyone is searching for something eternal

Both the atheist and the Christian realize that there has to be something that is eternal. Since we are contingent beings that exist, we therefore depend on something else for our existence. So, either the universe is eternal or there is something outside the universe that is eternal for which we owe our existence. For many years atheists believed the universe was eternal and that explained our existence. But now that science is showing that the universe is not eternal, we all recognize that there is something else. Some atheist say that it is a quantum vacuum, others say we live in a multiverse, while Christians say say that our universe was created. All of these views hold to something eternal (the vacuum, the multiverse, God). So, for an atheist to say that Christians are mistaken for believing that God is eternal because nothing can be eternal destroys their view as well.

Simply put, this question should not make you doubt God’s existence. Know that there is a response and that it is reasonable to believe that God is the un-created Creator. Here is a list of great Christian thinkers all answering the question “Who created God?” from a different perspective.

J.P. Moreland

William Lane Craig

Hugh Ross

Frank Turek

John Lennox

Remember to send in your questions on Twitter using #AskRyanP or email


Is Belief In God A Rational Position?

Is it a rational position to believe that there is an all-powerful God who created the world and gives us purpose? This question has become the topic of many debates over the years. One of the reasons is because its answer has eternal significance. “The existence of a personal, moral God is fundamental to all that Christians believe.”[1] Without a foundation in God, Christianity would crumble to the ground. Without God, man would just be an accident; a result of matter coming together and changing over time. This would create random accidental beings, and there would be no meaning, value or purpose.[2] However, with God, we have meaning, value, purpose, and answers to many questions. But is this a rational position?

Rather than looking at personal likes and dislikes, we need objective arguments based in logic to help us understand if belief in God is rational. To just say, “I feel” or “I think” is not enough. There have been four basic arguments that have been used over the years to prove God’s existence, three of which will be covered here. These are arguments from creation (cosmological), design (teleological), and moral law (axiological). With these arguments we should be able to give a logical and objective approach to see if God’s existence is rational.

1. The Argument Based On Creation

The first argument comes from creation and is called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It states that whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist; therefore, the universe has a cause. The first premise shows to be true because it is clear that whatever begins to exist has a cause. We don’t see things coming into existence every day. Are you able to give an example of anything that came into existence from nothing and without a cause? The second premise stating that the universe had a beginning is supported by philosophy and science. Science and philosophy give us strong evidence that the universe cannot be eternal and has to have a starting point. One scientific example is the 2nd law of thermodynamics. It states that the universe is running out of usable energy. “If the universe is running out of energy, and it has been here infinitely long, it would have run out of its energy infinitely long ago.”[3] Based on the first two premises, the conclusion follows that the universe has a cause. Whatever this first cause was had to be spaceless, timeless, uncaused, all powerful and immaterial. That sounds a lot like God.

2. The Argument Based On Design

The cosmological argument open the door for a rational belief in God, and when added, the second argument strengthens our case for a rational belief in God. The second argument is based on design and is the teleological argument. The design argument deals with the presence of order in the universe. This order can be explained by either scientific laws or personal explanations.[4] Scientific laws explain things like the law of gravity or the laws of motion. Personal explanations describe things like ability, intention, or order. For example, there is no scientific law explaining why your phone is lying next to your computer. It is only the person who put the phone there that can explain why he/she did that.

One thing that all of these scientific laws and personal explanations show us is that there is order in the universe. The universe has been so finely tuned that the slightest change would create a disaster. Science has discovered this delicate balance over the last 25-30 years.[5] For example, if the mass of a proton changed in the slightest, there would be no possibility for life. These numbers are so finely tuned that there has to be an intelligent designer. In the same way that a building has an architect, a painting has a painter, a computer program has a programmer, and a code has an encoder, the universe has to have an intelligent designer to explain its order and intricacy.

One scientific finding that has caused problems for many atheists is the information stored in DNA. “Even atheist Richard Dawkins, in his book Blind Watchmaker, admits that the DNA information in a single-cell animal equals that in a thousand sets of an encyclopedia!”[6] It is hard to believe that someone would stumble across a thousand sets of an encyclopedia and think that they just randomly appeared out of pure chance. One scientist figured that the odds for this type of a single-cell organism to form by chance are 1 in 10 to the 40,000th power, and it is infinitely more complex for a human being to emerge by chance.[7] All of this shows that science does not disprove the existence of God but that the rational explanation is that there has to be an intelligent being that created and designed our highly ordered DNA.

3. The Argument Based On Moral Values

We have seen the need for a cause and an intelligent designer, so now let’s see if we need a moral law giver. The first thing to realize is that there really is right and wrong and everyone expects others to follow that moral code. These objective moral laws don’t show us what is, but what ought to be.[8] Unless you are in a position of authority, you cannot tell someone they ought to do something. You could possibly say you think they should or you think it would be better, but this turns into subjective morality. In order for there to be objective moral values for all people at all times, we need someone in an objective position of authority. Even governments can’t be this authority because then each government would create its own morality and everything would return back to being subjective. The only way to explain objective moral laws is to have an objective moral law giver, God.

It is also interesting that in order to deny moral absolutes; you have to make an absolute denial.[9] It is very hard and sometimes even impossible to hold to the point that there are no objective morals. As soon as someone does something you don’t like and you tell them that they shouldn’t do it, you are making a moral statement. You are claiming that there are objective morals and we ought to obey them. Any time someone claims there is evil in the world or that the world is unjust, they are affirming objective morality. So in fact, the attempt to deny the existence of God by using evil in the world actually confirms his existence. Without God there would be no right or wrong, just different decisions. It is easy to claim relativism and say there are no objective moral laws, but it is nearly impossible to live it. “A moral atheist is like someone sitting down to dinner who doesn’t believe in farmers, ranchers, fishermen, or cooks. She believes the food just appears, with no explanation and no sufficient cause.”[10]

These three arguments combined show us the need we have for a cause, an intelligent designer, and a moral law giver. There is no possible way that our universe could begin to exist, be intricately designed, and have objective moral laws without God. These scientific and philosophical arguments make a very strong case that belief in God is a rational position. The odds of having what we have without God would be too large to count. Even if life could be possible, without God it would be meaningless. The best explanation for all of the evidence that we have is that there really is a God and therefore it is a rational position to believe that God exists.

[1] Norman Geisler, When Skeptics Ask (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013) 9

[2] William Lane Craig. “The Absurdity of Life Without God.” Lecture

[3] J.P. Moreland, “Arguments for the existence of God.” Lecture

[4] J.P. Moreland, “Arguments for the Existence of God.” Lecture

[5] J.P. Moreland, “Arguments for the Existence of God.” Lecture

[6] Geisler 15

[7] Geisler 16

[8] Geisler 16

[9] Geisler 287

[10] Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998) 168

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