Ron Highfield’s new book, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God , probes in chp 3 “What fools don’t know: the existence of God.”
Here we will find a good discussion of the existence of God that refuses — and I don’t see this very often — to let the existence question become simply and only rational argument with conclusion that God “does” exist or God “doesn’t” exist. Instead, through it all Highfield argues that natural theology is not enough and that all theology must work from revelation (the Word of God) if it is to be thoroughly Christian.
On the title of the chp: “There is no lack of talk about God today. But one does not need to listen to it very long to realize that most speakers do not know what they are saying” (69). This one clinched it for me: “And whether one believes or not, blabbing on about God without understanding is the activity of a fool.”
The Christian question is not “Does God exist?” but “Does God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) exist?” We cannot know the answer to this question apart from God’s gracious revelation.
He examines three opposing options: the pagan option, where the powers of nature are seen as divine, the atheist option, where God is denied, and the agnostic option, where knowledge is not possible.
An excellent section in this chp is about the reality of atheism and he drives it “all the way down.” What happens if one is really an atheist: cosmically, there is no meaning, no purpose, no plan, no mind of God and no mind of man to match the mind of the cosmos, no value. This works itself into an existential reality: we have no meaning or purpose or values. Finally, atheism makes everything absurd and chaos.
Highfield challenges atheism to justify its belief apart from denying theism. It needs to identify this something and how it explains everything else without reference to God (see p. 81).
Next, the traditional arguments for God: cosmological, moral, ontological and their limited usefulness.
Finally, he pushes beyond the “yes” or “no” question to the significance of God’s existence:
we are here for a reason
we are planned
we have a meaning that is real and eternal
we have values rooted in real order
we are real
we can accomplish something real and lasting.