How Philosophical Arguments can Lead Us to God:
Let’s tie together the key arguments for God’s existence. The three most popular arguments for God’s existence are the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, and the moral argument. These three, taken by themselves, each give us a limited perspective of what God would be like purely from reasoning and nature (natural theology). One deals with the nature of existence; one deals with the nature of the world around us; and one deals with the nature of conscience and meaning.
If we only had the cosmological argument, then we would know that God was an omnipresent, incalculably powerful, nonmaterial, and transcendent being. This gives us a good perspective of several of God’s core attributes. But it does not tell us anything about the operations of his mind nor the character of his being. That is why the cosmological argument can work for Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and nearly any other monotheistic worldview that may come up.
If we only take the teleological argument, then we see again that God is incalculably intelligent and powerful. We also see some of the careful intricacies of his mind that we do not see from only looking at the cosmological argument. The teleological argument reveals that God took very careful concern and interest with creation—whereas through the cosmological argument alone we may still assume that creation resulted from an arbitrary choice to create.
The moral argument is more of an argument from conscience and the dignity of human life. From this we see the intuitive fact that there is value to humanity and that we need to treat others in ways that demonstrate that value. Since we have an intuition to love ourselves at the very least, and love others ideally, then we can generally conclude that God has put such an intuition to love in the heart of humanity. He has given us the standard of good and right from which to live. Therefore we see God as being the grounding of the standard of what is good and right; and there can be no other being that more closely defines that standard.
Now, wrapping these three demonstrations of God’s existence together, what do we conclude about the nature of God from reason? We see that God is all-powerful and transcending space and time on the one hand. And on the other hand we see that He is personal and caring about human morality and choices. He is both transcendent and personal. He is both capable and willing. He is both intelligent and powerful. He is both with us and separate from us. He is both loving and just – never to contradict his perfect standard. Wrapping these three arguments for God’s existence together, we can see just how closely the best efforts of human reason actually comport with what Scripture has always said about God.
Ultimately, to know more of the specifics about the nature of God, God Himself must reveal them. There are certain things about God that our reasoning will not solve by itself. However, we see the one document that has stood the test of time that reveals the God that also lines up with the best of human reasoning. God, who makes the most sense out of the three most fundamental things of our existence – existence, design, and morality – has gone beyond these fundamental truths about Him to reveal more. It is like the difference between knowing a person by watching them and knowing a person by interacting with them. There is a lot we can know about a person with whom we watch regularly and honestly. But there is a new depth of knowledge and joy when we interact personally with that person whom we have watched and learned about. And we know the person with whom we interact is the same person that we have watched because we already know some of the fundamental attributes of who they are. Then, when we go from making rational observations about the person to personal interaction with the person, our heart delights because the depths of the things we knew rationally about the person are taken to new depths when we personally interact and have things revealed from the person.
There are a host of people whose hearts desire is to interact with God in this way. They may know God as the creator, the designer, and the moral lawgiver, but they have been watching from a distance. Acknowledging the fundamental attributes about God does not go far enough to satisfy the heart that God has to know us and the craving that he has created within our hearts to know Him. These brute facts that ought to be reasonably defended as the fundamental attributes that we can know about God from reason should be a driving force to take us deeper with Him. Acknowledging these facts is not an end in themselves, but more of a means to an end. As learning about the person should drive us to want to meet and interact with that person, recognizing the most reasonable brute facts about God should drive us to want to meet with Him.