Sometimes I have been asked why theism - the idea of one God - is true and other ideas of a god aren’t. After all, there are only three theistic religions in the world (Jewish, Christian, Islam) and myriads of other types, so why should theism be the correct view?
This can be answered using logic and philosophy to first show that other types of religions have problems with being true, and that, to start with, only a theistic religion can be true - a religion that has a God beyond and within the world, a God that is both creator and sustainer. Other religions are consider to be “theistic” in that they believe in some sort of god or gods. Theistic religions can be classified as deism, pantheism, panentheism and, of course, theism. I will only highlight some of the problems that disprove these first three viewpoints.
Deism: Says that there is a God who alone is eternal, and who created the world and then walked away from it so that the world operates by natural and self-sustaining laws that He put into existence. A deist says that the supernatural does not exist, that miracles do not occur. This position is inadequate and illogical. If they admit to the miracle of creation, then they have to accept the possibility of other miracles. And if God was concerned enough to create man, it would follow that He would be concerned enough about man as to intervene personally.
Pantheism: Says that all is God and God is all; that God is the world, is us, etc. Hinduism and other Eastern and so-called New Age religions profess this, and this idea is promoted as the “Force“ in Star Wars. There are actually several types of pantheism, some of which devolve into polytheism. He is not a personal god and is more “it” than “him.”
The very quick way to demonstrate the self-defeating aspect of this system is that if God is unknowable and inexpressible by language or thought, then how do they know and express this about God?
Another way to demonstrate that it is self-defeating is to point out that, in this view “God is and I am not,” that is, God is all that is. But one must exist in order to claim they don’t exist! And if all there is, is God, then there is no I-thou relationships because there is only one entity. Religious experience then becomes impossible.
This view also claims evil is only an illusion, but if that is the case, what is the source of the illusion? This makes God the source of evil.
Pantheism’s god is dependent on creation; without creation the god doesn’t exist. But then they have to explain where the creation came from.
Another problem is, by saying God is all, he must include opposites. This then says nothing meaningful about him because he is and he isn’t.
Finally, there is a contradiction of God’s nature. If he is infinite yet shares his being with creation then part of him is finite, which now makes him infinite and finite which is a logical impossibility. This gets involved in philosophical arguments about contingent and necessary beings, which pantheism tries to make both at the same time.
Panentheism. This is similar to Pantheism. God is in the world the way a soul or mind is in a body. A lot of New Age teachers promote this. God is finite and limited. There are two poles of God: an actual temporal pole and a potential eternal pole. A form of this is also known as process theology because God is in a continual process of change.
A primary proof of falsehood is that the concept of God as an “eternal potential seeking temporal actualization” is self-defeating. No potential can actualize itself. And then there is the problem of evil: a finite god cannot guarantee the defeat of evil.
Theism. Proving the other theistic belief systems false leaves us with theism. It becomes the only adequate world view. So once we determine theism is true, how do we prove that Christianity is true instead of Judaism and Islam? If the Christian faith is true, then no other faith can be valid because Christ said that only through him can we get to the Father (John 14:6) and we are told that there is salvation in no one else (Acts 4:12).
Theism is the only logical system of believing in a god of any sort!
(Note: I wrote this back in 2005 for use in our book-table ministry. I used more than one book for reference, but the only one I remember is, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist,” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. Because this was for personal use, I didn’t note what were quotations and what was my own writing and I know there were some quotations. I have spent some time in a some books and can’t find where I got the information from, so if there are quotations without credit given, it is purely unintentional.)