It is a strange thing that in a world which was hand-made by God, many refuse to believe that he exists. Christians are often challenged by others to give some proof of God’s existence. Well, how do you prove the existence of something that is scientifically undetectable by any of our senses? The apostle Paul actually addresses that question in Romans 1:20: “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
Paul seems to be claiming that everything we need to know about God can be deduced just by looking around us.
- His Divinity. Paul says that “his eternal power and Godhead” can be understood by anyone. How so? Known in philosophical circles as the Cosmological Argument, we infer the existence of a creator from the existence of a creation. It is a physical law that everything devolves from something – everything that exists has a cause. A child asks, “Where do butterflies come from?” From a cocoon, we tell her. “But where does the cocoon come from?” From other butterflies, we say. “But where did those butterflies come from?” … and so on. Ultimately, we are forced to answer, where did the universe come from? How did something come from nothing? Even if we accept the idea of life evolving from basic cells into complex life-forms, where did the first cell come from? Paul’s answer is that obviously there was something or someone, who pre-existed all things – a First Cause. In order for such a being to bring all things into existence, it had to pre-exist all things. An eternal, all-powerful creator. We call that being God. When you look at the fact of creation you see divinity.
- His Intelligence. Even the most dedicated atheistic evolutionist will admit that the world we live in is too marvelous and wondrous to have happened merely by random chance. Everywhere we look we see signs of a highly complex and intelligently designed universe. And in order for one being – God – to have created everything with such precision and attention to detail, he must possess a level of intelligence that we cannot even begin to fathom. He would have to know, well, everything about everything! When you look at the intricacy of creation you see intelligence. We have a term for knowing all there is to know, and it is one of those invisible attributes of God – omniscience.
- His Power. If we accept the idea that our universe had a First Cause, then that Cause must have capabilities that no other being has. The power to create things out of nothing. And not just things but living things. And not just small things, such as microscopic organisms and atomic particles, but immense things like planets, stars, and whole galaxies! We must concede that anyone who can create an ever-expanding universe billions of light-years across, must have capabilities of a magnitude that we cannot even begin to comprehend. When you look at the vastness of creation you see his power. All-powerful. Or, theologians would say, omnipotent – another invisible attribute of God.
- His Presence. Clearly, a being who is capable of all this, is not contained by time or space as we understand it. He must transcend time and space or exist above and outside of the laws we associate with time and space. To ask about his size or his past is meaningless. He must exist everywhere at once. He must be equally present in all places at all times. This is self-evident if we accept that he is also divine, omniscient, and omnipotent. He must also be simultaneously and eternally present too. He can personally and individually interact with the entire human race at the same time – infinitely knowing, infinitely able, and infinitely present. When we look at the fulness of creation, we see the invisible attribute of his omnipresence.
- His Righteousness. We can also see, merely by observing life and nature, that things seem to operate according to certain fixed laws. The law of gravity, Newton’s third law (equal and opposite reactions), the laws of thermo-dynamics, laws of momentum and inertia – all seem fixed in our observable universe. And those laws treat all of us alike. Regardless of how religious or areligious you might be, rich or poor – if you step off a bridge the law of gravity will treat you the same. And if the creation reflects the nature, the character, might we even say – the personality of its creator – then we can be sure that God is also just and fair, unselfish, and impartial in his dealings with us. He is not swayed by our merits or lack thereof but is inflexibly just. We can expect that, if there is indeed a judgement day, we will all judged equally by the same standard and be rewarded exactly as we deserve. When we look at the laws of creation, we see his righteousness.
- His Mercy. If we accept all the above – that there is a Creator who knows all things and is immutably righteous, then we can only come to one conclusion – we are all in deep trouble! A quick glance at society around us, and if we’re brave enough, an honest assessment of ourselves, tells us that none of us have lived according to God’s righteousness. We ourselves have all been, from time to time, selfish, unfair, partial, disrespectful, dishonest, and cruel. How is it, that this ever-present and all-knowing, all-powerful and righteous Creator doesn’t just carry out the demands of his justice and eradicate us from the universe? How is it that we are allowed to stand here in the middle of what is clearly God’s creation and deny any obligation to its creator? He could crush us, but he doesn’t. He could overwhelm us, but he doesn’t. There can be only one explanation – God is benevolent - merciful. Despite having more than enough justification for doing so, and more than enough power to do it – God has not exterminated us! When we look at the inhabitants of creation, we see his mercy.
- His Love. Why has God not just exterminated us? His natural laws seem relatively inflexible, but he seems to have a soft spot for mankind. This infers that perhaps we were not created merely to be another creature eating, competing, reproducing, obeying only our genomic instincts; that God has suspended justice for our sake, unwilling to see us suffer for our own offenses; that maybe he has a higher purpose in mind for us. What could that purpose be? Does God require caretakers for the universe? If so, we are a bazillion light years away from doing that job (even if we were capable). Is he raising an army to fight another god in another universe? Aside from the fact that we couldn’t fight our way out of a wet paper bag cosmically speaking, Fermi’s Paradox seems to indicate that while earth is not the centre of the universe, it’s, well – the centre of the universe! Maybe the answer is that God simply created us, and this whole vast universe for us to live in, so that he could have someone to love and be loved in return.
So, his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. Any person, anywhere, at any time can simply observe the world around them and learn this: there is a God; we are guilty before that God; but he is inclined to be merciful to those who seek him. There is an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, righteous and merciful God who wants to know you, love you, and win your love in return.
The last phrase of the verse above says that because of this – because everything we need to know about God can be understood simply by walking through a forest or gazing up at the stars above us – those who still refuse to reach out to their Creator are without excuse. If indeed, God’s whole purpose is to find those who want to know him and live with them forever, then those who don’t seek him do so without the excuse of ignorance. It’s not that they couldn’t know God, but rather that they wouldn’t.