The Four Questions of Existence (Edited)

3 Jul

I recently got a hold of Joe Coffey’s book Smooth Stones: Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics on Kindle. I have thus far been very impressed with this book for its presentation of extremely complex apologetic issues in a simple and understandable way.

The table of contents includes:

  1. Is There a God?
  2. Does Science Disprove God’s Existence?
  3. Is the Bible Authentic and True?
  4. The Question of Evil and Suffering
  5. Aren’t All Religions the Same?
  6. Is Jesus For Real?
  7. An Epilogue for Non-Christians
  8. An Epilogue for Christians

One subject that Coffey discusses that has left a considerable impact on me is found in the first chapter titled, Is There a God? In this chapter, Coffey (again, in a very simple, yet not simplistic way) very persuasively provides an intellectual basis for believing in the existence of God.

He does so by evaluating the “Four Questions of Existence” that everybody (Christian or otherwise) have thought and must think through. They include:

  1. The question of ORIGIN (“Where did I come from?”)
  2. The question of DESTINY (“Where am I going?”)
  3. The question of PURPOSE (“Why am I here?”)
  4. The question of MORALITY (“How shall I live?”)

He makes the case that for the Theist (who believes in the existence of God), not only does he or she have an answer to each of these questions, but also a consistency between the four questions. That is, the answer to one question logically follows from the previous answer, and so forth.

So, for example, because we know that we were created by a Creator (origin), we also know when we die, we either will go to heaven or hell for eternity (destiny). Also, because we know that we were created by a Creator and because we know where we’re going, we also know that we are here to glorify our Creator and enjoy Him forever (purpose). And because we know that we have a Creator whom we were created to glorify and enjoy, we also know that we are to live the way God wants us to live (morality).

However, for the atheist and/or the agnostic, his or her worldview does not hold a consistency between these four questions. So, for example, Coffey gives this great example:

It’s no wonder America is so confused. Our atheist and agnostic friends typically answer questions one (origin) and two (destiny) with reference to a particular view of science and reason and logic without allowing God into the picture in any serious way (i.e. we are an accident of nature and we will eventually end up as worm food).

But when they get to questions three (purpose) and four (morality) they feel compelled to introduce ideas about right and wrong, and good and bad, and loving people, and being good citizens. Really? Why? How does that follow from their answers to questions one and two? It doesn’t work.

But we all know in our gut that if you answer questions three and four consistent with the answers you give for questions one and two, our world would come apart at the seams. So questions three and four get answered differently, and intellectual integrity comes apart at the seams instead.

What Coffey is saying (rightly) is that if those who do not believe in the existence of God truly lived consistent with what they said they believed, then, let’s be honest, who cares about being a good, decent human being? “Let’s eat, drink, be merry, and do whatever the hell we want to do – no matter how immoral – because it all ends tomorrow.” And yet, no atheist or agnostic (at least, not to my knowledge) lives like this.

So here are a few observations and reflections:

1. Theism (or the belief in the existence of God) has more intellectual credibility than atheism. Note: this is not an attack on atheism; rather, this is to hopefully serve as a word of encouragement to Christians that Christianity does, in fact, hold intellectual credibility, in spite of what this world (e.g. teachers, professors, friends, movies, etc.) tell them.

Again, it has more intellectual credibility because the Theistic worldview has an internal consistency about it, whereas those holding the atheistic worldview live with glaring inconsistencies. That is, we can answer the “Four Questions of Existence” without any inconsistency.

2. The question of the Existence of God is an important one to think about. The author of Hebrews, in Hebrews 11:6, writes: “…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

This matter is not one Christians should dismiss. It is helpful to think through this issue, even if we’re not called to be professional apologists. Believe me, I am no apologist, but thinking through this issue (and other “apologetic” issues) has helped me immensely, in creating a solid intellectual basis for Theism, in general, and Christianity, in particular.

3. Does the fact that the Theistic worldview is consistent with regards to the Four Questions of Existence “prove” that God exists? Not necessarily. But, what it does do is it negates the constant barrage of attacks from the Naturalistic/Atheistic worldview that Christianity is for neanderthals who drag their knuckles on the ground. It’s not. On the contrary, the burden is on those who hold to a Naturalistic/Atheistic worldview to account for their inconsistency.

Again, I would highly recommend Joe Coffey’s Smooth Stones: Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics. It is relatively short and easy enough for the average high school and college student (and, of course, beyond) to understand.


2 Responses to “The Four Questions of Existence (Edited)”


  1. How to Respond to Those Who Say There are Many Ways to God (i.e., How to Respond to Religious Pluralism) | One Pilgrim's Progress - August 14, 2011

    […] Last time, I shared his thoughts regarding the existence of God. This time, I wanted to share a little of what he wrote concerning the issue of plurality – or, the belief/claim that “all religions are correct and they all lead to God.” […]

  2. How to Respond to Those Who Say the Disciples Stole Jesus’ Body | One Pilgrim's Progress - October 4, 2011

    […] these past two posts, I’ve posted up short excerpts from Joe Coffey’s book, Smooth Stones: […]

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