The more I investigate Truth, the more I recognize how difficult the subject has become. I realize now that no philosopher or theorist has really ever been able to offer a decent, comprehensive definition of just what Truth is. There must be a very deep irony somewhere there, Truth being the one measure by which we assess every ideology, every theory, every weight and every measure. “But is it true?” we rightly ask of any important statement, to which one may rightly reply in the manner of Pontius Pilate: “What is truth?” This question should seem strange. The definition of Truth is, superficially at least, almost too simple for words. Need we even search for a definition more definite than: “Truth is the opposite of falsehood”? Or, even simpler and probing even closer to the point, “Truth is that which is”? That which is, is Truth. That which is not, is undoubtedly falsehood. Unfortunately, one simple search into even the shallowest waters of philosophical traditions for a simple, coherent definition of Truth yields a mess of contradiction and confusion.
The problem is that, by most measurable accounts, there is no one “Truth” that covers the multitude of needs required: There is no one Truth that covers empirical matters, like, “How long is this yardstick?” and more vaporous matters, like, “What are the limits of human knowledge?” There are things measurable, and things immeasurable. There are Truths scientific and Truths epistemological—and thus far it has proven well beyond our capacity to reconcile the two with a single theory or definition. And even beyond this, there are the matters of perception. We have our senses, but then we have Plato’s terribly overused cave analogy tugging at us, asking if we can even trust ourselves. What are we to do with that?
In light of the inability of the greatest scientists and philosophers to come to any coherent conclusion, I present, for your consideration the one source of Truth that humanity has turned to more than any other throughout history: God.
If there is to be one Truth to cover the multitude of life’s possibilities, it must be an infinite Truth; if it is to cover the sheer diversity of man’s questions and doubts, some of which lie far outside the realm of knowability, it must exist in the form of a being at once knowable and unknowable. If we are to reconcile all of science and all of philosophy and all of mathematics and all of human emotion and all of art into a single embodiment of Truth, it can have no name other than “I Am.” To accept that anything else might be broad enough to span this impossible chasm is almost laughable.
You may accept God or deny Him, but if I was to be asked for an answer concerning the dilemma of a universal, all-encompassing Truth, this is the best I have been able to come up with. Surely it is the closest humanity has ever come to an answer. And I would arrive at my answer far quicker than the fruits of centuries of philosophical and scientific labor, and I would know it with far more certainty. In fact, more than two thousand years of searching in both science and philosophy have so far turned up only greater certainty that there can be no such universal answer to the universe’s many questions. Like a particle in quantum mechanics, the closer we look at Truth, the hazier and more impossible it seems. It is only tangible in the abstract, and there is something absurd about that.
I mention all of this not because I think that the human desire for Truth necessarily proves the existence of God, but because the search for Truth is the beginning of Christian apologetics. It absolutely must be. It is the one question that I have continually fallen back on as I have explored the various questions regarding what it means to know and believe in God. God is Truth; all Truth is found in God and nothing True may be apart from Him. To apologize for something is to offer a defense; and while I think God perfectly capable of mounting his own defense against the insignificant litigations of man, I believe that I am also called, perhaps more as an exercise for my own heart and mind than as any true benefit to my Creator, to offer my own response to the challenges of skeptics. To strengthen my faith by allowing it to be tested. I hope to acknowledge the arguments of the world in order that I might more boldly stand against them. God may in fact use me, though I must never be so vain as to think that he needs me. If God exists, He is more than capable of withstanding the petty attacks from His own creation. If He does not exist, of course, His foundations will crumble under the weight of argument—and good riddance.
I, for one, have found the former to be consistently and demonstrably true, and though I have lately surrounded myself with the words of the foremost skeptics of the age, I find myself growing daily less concerned by the possibility of the latter.
Before I can even begin to offer my own apology, however, I want to take a moment and comment on some of the things that I don’t consider valuable in terms of apologetics. I don’t, for instance, consider that an ultimate, perfect, unassailable case may be made for the existence of God; I don’t believe that faith can (or should) be circumvented. Though the skeptic may immediately point to this as a weakness of the Christian argument, I will only say “so be it.” I gladly admit that, while God does find ways of showing himself through His creation, no one piece nor accumulation of pieces of creation will ever offer empirical proof of His existence. At some point faith must include a leap into what is believed but unproven, and anyone who says differently has either never understood the meaning of faith or has never understood what it takes to turn evidence into fact.
Too many apologists, I think, have attempted to prove God by extraordinary weight of evidence; lists of evidence after evidence, as a public defender making a case for his client. Even Thomas Aquinas attempted this in his Summa Theologica, offering five proofs for the existence of God, each of them making clever use of traditional logical arguments (i.e. “Nothing can exist without a creator; we exist, therefore, we have a creator”), all of which have long since passed from regular use, as they are easily dispensed with by resorting to scientific uncertainty.
Besides these, there are a few more arguments that are frequently made that I will equally try to avoid here. Among them:
1) The Argument from Morality
2) The Argument from Meaning
3) The Argument from Life After Death
Now, I cannot possibly say that any of these arguments are entirely without value. Many have offered evidence that true morality must come from God; that without God life has no meaning or hope; that the decision to follow Him or not will reap our eternal reward. And by doing so the hearts of the hearer may even be pricked. There is benefit here, and I would never suggest that these ideas be dispensed of entirely. What I am saying is that if one’s purpose is to provide evidence of God’s existence to a mind already skeptical, then short of the miraculous intervention of God in the heart of man, these ideas are all-too-easily countered.
These arguments are each based on an idealistic notion of how things ought to be. To believe in these things is to truly hope that God does exist—and it is clear that it can be none other than God that put these desires uniquely into the hearts of man in the first place. Certainly, without God it is difficult to argue for the existence of an objective moral law, and therefore it would be wonderful if there was a good, supreme God who could provide one. Each of us hopes that this life might hold some meaning beyond the toil and turmoil of this Earth, and in our hearts we all know the hope of a life beyond this one, and therefore we either truly hope that there is a God to offer us this life after death. Our desire for meaning, morality, and eternal life offer not a proof of God, but a hope for God. A longing for God, or at least something like Him. It is difficult to argue for any of these without acknowledgement of the divine, but none of these, either alone or together, should lead one to truly believe that there must be a God.
So what are we left with? Absent God, we have neither morals nor meaning nor hope nor an eternal destination for souls (nor, for that matter, do we have souls at all); at least, we have none of these in any absolute, objective sense. But still we have not proven God. We have merely shown that it would be beneficial to us if God should exist. Even our “secular” society seems to understand this. Despite feverish protests, we still honor the halls of some courthouses with the Ten Commandments for, absent God, where does the law come from? The commandments remain out of necessity, for a transcendent law-giver must be acknowledged, even if only passively, by some words etched in granite by forgotten craftsman. We know, somewhere in our hearts, that should we tear them down we would be left to our own devices to assemble some sort of coherent “Law of Man.” God help us!
All I can truly say is this: Thanks be to God that He does, in fact, exist (proven or not), bringing each of these beloved realities to the hearts and souls of men.
The honest apologist must both understand and acknowledge that God will never be scientifically proven. He will remain (as he has derisively been called) a “God in the gaps”—an entity that exists where human knowledge is lacking. But what have we to fear from that? We mustn’t ever be foolish enough to believe that these “gaps” in human knowledge have narrowed even a hair’s breadth, even during these industrious times. More often than not, the pursuit of science has only widened our gaze, bringing to light ever more consequential questions—new gaps and new opportunities for God. We may have recently spent billions of dollars to dig a massive hole in Switzerland in hopes of coming to terms with nature at its smallest, but what have we truly built for ourselves but a pitch-perfect negative of the Tower of Babel, this time descending into the depths of the Earth rather than the heights of heaven (yet still dramatically failing to reach God). Though opposed by a vocal few, God’s work among and through his people continues to grow, even among a people who know only the language of science (which was once simple Latin, but then devolved into some mess of calculus and symbolism that would make an Egyptologist blush) and the dialect of reason-at-all-costs. His popularity and influence continue to grow despite the desperate voices of the humanists who proclaim, as has been proclaimed often in the century following Nietzsche, that “God is Dead”. Nietzsche, to his credit, believed that we simply hadn’t realized it yet, and that as human progress continued, we would soon come to recognize and acknowledge our independence from the divine. We stand now, after some of the most tumultuous, testing decades the world has yet seen—two world wars, a depression, atomic bombs, economic booms followed by busts, along with an almost supernatural advancement in technology that has surely hurt as much as it has helped—and yet the death of God seems to have drawn no closer. Even in an America that is best defined by indifference, Churches continue to grow. The faith spreads even faster in the third world, where the reaction to the gospel is often violence. Beyond all reason, beyond all science, beyond all logic, God’s footprints are still seen treading the Earth, as He first did the garden.
Though most often presented as a matter of the mind—a matter of logic and reason— apologetics must find its truest, deepest expression in the heart. Too often this Truth is lost on the loudest voices speaking on behalf of God (whether or not He requested it of them). The apologist must first acknowledge that the growth of the Jesus-sect, the Christian cult, The Way, takes place only when truly rational minds choose to make a truly irrational decision. It happens when hearts of flesh and blood are somehow transformed into spiritual organs of grace and Truth; a phenomenon unexplained by science and subject to no experiment of flesh and blood.
The academic arguments for God must necessarily acknowledge a point of impotence. The bludgeon of logic can only tenderize the modern mind so much—it alone will never result in any true spiritual commitment. The apologist must tread a line—though a somewhat hazy line—between arguments of the mind and the wordless groans of the spirit. Prayer and compassion must be allowed to intermingle with science and philosophy. Too often even the most noble apologist may neglect the Holy Spirit—one in the same being as the God he is trying to prove!
I am left with this final assertion, and I cannot say it boldly enough: One who argues for God should truly believe in God. There are some who will simply not be reached, either by intellectual arguments or by the fruit of the Spirit. They will be left perpetually unimpressed by Christian assertions that either their scientific principles or their ethics are lacking; they will care nothing of our good works or kindness. If we ourselves do not believe—truly believe—that even these souls are able to be won over by the supreme, omnipotent, perfect God we claim to argue for, then why should they believe us? Apologetics starts with faith, and from there the Truth (that is, God) will be made known.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy sums up the confused state of secular philosophy when it declares that it would be “impossible to survey all there is to say about truth in any coherent way...” In response I offer only this: “I am the way, the Truth, and the life...”
In the essays to come I hope only to show the depths to which I truly believe this to be true, and the profound effect this Truth can and does have on the human soul.
 I say that it is too well known not because it is not interesting, or even that it is not clever, but simply because it seems to hold far too much weight in first-year philosophy classrooms, where the entire intention is to encourage a belief in the impossibility of a student ever knowing the Truth. If the purpose of a lesson is nothing craftier than an upheaval of certainty, than the Cave Analogy is a great place to start. I, for one, am weary of hearing Philosophy 101 students explain to me, with absolute certainty, just how little we can actually understand about our own perception. The Cave Analogy simply makes a person too superficially philosophical, and thus insufferable.