If you were going to try to think your way to a reasonable conclusion about God where would you start?
You would, quite naturally, want to start with something factual, something you could count on for a bit of evidence. There are at least two things of which you can be sure of as starting points. The first is your own existence. The second is the existence of stuff outside of yourself.
You exist and you are thinking. While someone might want to try to doubt this as a basic premise, if you begin to doubt this then it is not really possible to have any knowledge about anything. In order to think rationally you must trust that your mental faculties and senses present you with a reasonable representation of reality.
Once anyone acknowledges their own existence then they also see other stuff around them. There is a whole universe of stuff! There are planets, stars, moons, rivers, mountains, lakes, deserts, dogs, cats, camels, chocolates, bread and even more things than I could begin to list. All around us is a huge amount of stuff.
So a logical and reasonable starting point when you begin to think about God is to begin with these two facts: your own existence and the existence of the universe around you. How can you explain your own existence? How can you explain the existence of the universe?
There is a simple observation to make here as a good foundation. You and the universe have something in common! You are both contingent.
“Contingent?!” I can almost hear some people asking themselves what that means!
Simply put, it means that you cannot explain your own existence. You rely upon something else as an explanation for your very being. As an entity, you are contingent upon something else to explain how you got here. In the case of people, everyone is contingent upon their parents.
The universe is also full of contingent things. Any way you slice it and at whatever level you look at it, everything else in the universe fails to explain its own existence. An easy question to ask to work this out is to ask “If there was nothing else besides ___________, would ___________ still exist?” So if there was nothing else besides the sun would the sun still exist? No, it would not because the sun must have formed somehow. There is nothing in the sun which can spontaneously create itself.
Since the universe is full of things which rely on something else to explain their origins, then we can understand that the whole universe is dependent on something else.
While this sounds like a strange way to begin thinking about God, look at how far we have come in such a short time. Already we can understand that the universe relies on something outside of itself to explain how it came to be here.
Would it be fair for us to call the thing that is so powerful, so creative, so intelligent and so good that it could create the whole universe, God?
Yes, I think so.