What has God made?

  • Question 125, from ‘Dan’, United Kingdom

    According to Romans chapter 1, verse 20 what specifically has God “Made” that leaves us without excuse?

    This verse in Romans is referring to an argument for the existence of God, deduced from the existence of the world around us. Sometimes this is referred to as ‘natural theology’, or in philosophical terms as the ‘cosmological argument’ (from the Greek word ‘kosmos’ meaning ‘world’). What the writer, usually thought to be the apostle Paul, is saying, is that the existence of the world is evidence of God’s existence and because this is so obvious, anyone who does not worship God has no excuse for their impiety.

    In the Epistle to the Romans Paul advances several ‘apologetic’ arguments, that is, he states reasons why he thinks people should accept Jesus Christ as their saviour (see chapter 1, verse 16). Paul begins his argument by explaining why every human needs a saviour. Pointing to the universality of human sinfulness, he cites the rejection of God, despite the ‘evidence’ of God’s existence, as proof that humans are sinful.

    Although Paul uses the existence of the world as evidence for God, he also denies that any human being can achieve perfect knowledge of God from just looking at the world. This is quite important given the cultural prevalence of gnosticism at the time. Some gnostic sects taught that God could be understood through study and contemplation, which may explain why Paul dismisses those who claim to be wise as “fools” in verse 22.

    In recent years natural theology has declined in favour. Evangelicals point to the ‘fallen nature’ of the world, which limits any understanding of God from nature. The growth in empirical scientific understanding of the world has also undermined the cosmological argument for the existence of God, with many other hypotheses put forward. However, the longstanding belief in God as the creator means many Christians would probably claim the existence of the world/universe was evidence, even if only limited evidence, for the existence of God.

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