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Christian Apologetics: Supplement… Why people reject God

God or No God?

Why do many obviously intelligent people prefer to believe that there is no God? Humanity prides itself on its freedom of choice.

Human beings are free moral agents who have been given the right to

Make their own decisions. Each person decides what he wants to wear,

What he wants to eat, and where he wants to go. But most important, each

Person decides what he or she wants to believe. A speech given by the Old

Testament character Joshua allows us to see just how free each one of us is

To choose if we want to believe in God. Speaking to the Jewish nation

Thousands of years ago, Joshua said: “And if it seems evil to you to serve

The Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the

Gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or

The gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my

House we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Joshua’s point could not

Have been clearer: the Jews—just like every other nation and all individual

People—had the freedom of choice to believe, or not to believe, in God.

Freedom, however, always comes with responsibility. With freedom of

Choice comes the responsibility to think carefully, choose wisely, and act

Forcefully. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every human being to recognize,

Believe, and obey the truth.

Throughout history, many people have decided not to believe in God.

They have gone by many different names—atheists, freethinkers, agnostics,

Infidels, etc. In this section, we will look at specific types of unbelievers.

The word atheism means “without God.” The atheist is the person who

Says that there is no God. The late Carl Sagan was one of the world’s most

Famous atheists. He summed up atheism when he declared: “The Cosmos

Is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” An atheist is one who plainly states

That God does not exist.

However, it is much easier for someone to call himself an atheist than it

Is for him to defend such a position. In order to know that there is no God,

A person would have to know every single fact in the Universe, because

The one fact that he did not know might be the fact that God exists. For instance,

If a person had a unique, blue-striped shirt, he could not prove that

No other shirt in the world was like it unless he had seen every other shirt in

The world. The atheist cannot prove that God does not exist, because  he

Cannot possibly know every other fact there is to know, any more than a

A man with a blue-striped shirt can see every other shirt that exists.

The actual truth of the matter is that most atheists do not deal with facts

At all. They are so set against the idea of God that they dismiss or ignore the

Evidence that proves His existence. The late Isaac Asimov, another famous

Atheist, once said: “Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence

To prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I

Don’t want to waste my time.” Atheism does not answer the evidence for

God’s existence, and cannot offer a reasonable alternative for belief in Him.

The word agnostic means “without knowledge.” The agnostic does not

Boldly proclaim that God does not exist. Instead, he suggests no one can

Know whether or not God exists because there simply is not enough evidence

Upon which to base a conclusion. In essence, then, agnosticism says: “I don’t

Know, you don’t know, nobody knows, and nobody can know if there is a

God.” Agnostics frequently point out that man cannot know everything,

And that he never has been able to “detect” God with his limited mind and

Capabilities. Thus, the agnostic suggests, people should quit searching. What

The agnostic fails to realize, however, is that this concept must work both directions.

That is to say, man must be unable to reach up to God, and God

Must be unable to reach down to man. But God is not unable to reach men,

For He is not limited by the same constraints in time and knowledge as humans.

An infinite God could make Himself known to us any time He wanted

—and there is nothing to prevent Him from doing so. Furthermore, there is

Good evidence that He has done exactly that. The agnostic’s claim of “I can’t

Know” really is a mask that he puts on to hide the fact that he realizes there is

Ample evidence (that he can neither explain away nor disprove) to establish

The existence of God. Perhaps the agnostic cannot find God for the same reason

A thief cannot find a policeman!

The skeptic is the person who doubts that there is a God. The standard

Dictionary definition is quite revealing when it describes a skeptic as one

Who holds to “the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular

Area is uncertain and who has doubts concerning basic religious principles.”

Notice that the skeptic does not claim knowledge of God is unattainable

(as the agnostic does), but rather is “uncertain.” The skeptic is not

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Prepared to accept anything except that which can be verified empirically

(that is to say, by using the five senses). To the skeptic, then, science becomes

The only valid method of “proving” anything. Since God cannot be

Seen, tasted, heard, touched, or smelled, then skeptics say that either He

Does not exist or that He cannot be very important even if He does. However,

The skeptic’s position is faulty because even he “knows” some things

Exist that cannot be verified by the scientific method. Science never will be

Able to observe or explain such concepts as love, hate, sorrow, or joy. Science

Never will be able to explain why a man in a foxhole during a war

Throws himself on a hand grenade to save his fellow soldiers. The sad part

Is that the skeptic has paid a high price for his skepticism—the rejection

And abandonment of some of the human race’s most important and cherished

Concepts. Why? In order to be able to say: I doubt that God exists.

The infidel is the person who not only refuses to believe in God himself,

But who also is intolerant of, and actively opposes, those who do. The infidel

Speaks out against God, and does all he can to condemn religion. The

Infidel despises God and the Bible—and anyone who believes in either.

Up to this point, we have looked at different categories of people who

Do not believe in God. But why, exactly, do they refuse to believe in Him?

For the rest of this lesson, we would like to examine some of the reasons for

Disbelief in the God of the Bible.

There is little doubt that many people find belief in God difficult because

There is in their mind a bias that sways them against it. This built-in bias is

What some have referred to as “the prejudice of unbelief.” One author put

It like this: “One of the significant and obvious reasons the unbeliever remains

An unbeliever is that he likes it that way. In fact, any evidence of

Any source or to any degree fails to move him from his position if his heart

Is strongly bent against evidence and toward unbelief.”

At times, people suffer from extreme prejudice, especially when it comes

To belief in God. They operate within a framework of bias against the God of

The Bible. The Christian God is utterly repugnant to them because He represents

A threat to man’s own desires and ambitions. In other words, the will

Of man is on a collision course with the will of God. Such a course leads inevitably

To a conflict of interests. Some people apparently would rather die in

Sin than live in obedience.

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Paul reminded the first-century Christians in Rome of those who, “knowing

God, glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in

Their reasonings, and their senseless heartwas darkened. And even as they refused

To have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate

Mind” (Romans 1:21,28). The problem about which the apostle wrote was

Not a failure to accept what was unknowable (the text in Romans clearly indicates

That these were people who could, and did, know of the existence of

God). Rather, it was a problem of refusing to accept what was knowable

—i.e., God’s reality.

Those to whom Paul referred had such a built-in prejudice against God

That they refused to have God in their knowledge. This situation, then,

Caused the apostle to write (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) that “professing

Themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). In biblical

Usage, the term “fool” generally does not indicate an unintelligent person,

And it certainly is not used here in such a fashion. Instead, the term carries

Both a moral and religious judgment, as it does in Romans 1. This is why the

Psalmist (again, by inspiration) wrote that “the fool hath said in his heart,

There is no God” (14:1). If “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”

(Psalm 111:10), then, conversely, foolishness finds its origin in the rejection

Of God. Isaiah referred to a man as a fool whose “mind plots iniquity to practice

Ungodliness” (Isaiah 32:6, RSV). Bias against God therefore has become

One of the chief causes of unbelief, which no doubt explains why the writer

Of the book of Hebrews warned: “Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall

Be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief in falling away from the

Living God” (Hebrews 3:12).

Surely one of the most powerful influences on any human being is parents.

Generally speaking, mothers and fathers not only are the first influences

In a child’s life, but also are a continuing influence. It has been said

That a child’s mind is like Jell-O®, and that the parents’ task is to put in all

The “good stuff” before it “sets.”

The task of putting the right things into the mind of a child is difficult,

And requires much patience. It is a 24-hour, full-time process that should

Take place continuously—when sitting with a child, riding in a car, eating a

Meal together, and even while watching television (see Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Sometimes the education of a child is accomplished by instruction, which

Is why parents are encouraged to rear their children in “the training and admonition

Of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Other times it is accomplished by

Discipline, as the Proverbs writer noted when he commented: “The rod and

Reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother”

(29:15).

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On occasion, however, parents fail to teach their children to believe in God.

Sometimes they even teach a child not to believe in God. If children see a

Parent who does not care about God, or is skeptical of all evidence relating

To God’s existence, that child is likely to end up just as indifferent and skeptical

As his or her parents. The spiritual condition of entire nations has been

Affected adversely because of the failure of parents to instruct their children

Properly regarding belief in God.

Certainly, one of the most important causes of unbelief is improper education.

Proper education is a wonderful tool that can be used to build better

Communities and nations. But some types of education are bad—not only

For individuals, but for societies as well. Any type of education that attempts

To destroy belief in a divine Creator (God) is a negative system that can lead

Only to ruin. As sad as it is, the kind of education now being offered in many

Public schools has the potential to destroy faith in God. One of the main tools

Used to destroy such a faith is the teaching of organic evolution. For the past

25 years, evolution has been taught as a scientific fact in many elementary,

Junior high, and senior high schools, as well as in most colleges and universities.

As a result, when textbooks and teachers present organic evolution as

Something “all reputable scientists believe,” many students believe in the theory

Without ever being exposed to the opposing evidence which shows that

Creation by God is a much better explanation for the origin of the Universe

And its inhabitants. Acceptance of the naturalistic concept of evolution leads

Quite naturally to disbelief in God.

Many people will not believe in God because, if they do, then they will

Have to change the way they live. These people may be involved in sins

Such as homosexuality, greed, adultery, or any number of actions that are

Contrary to the laws of God. As soon as they admit that there is a God, then

They also must admit that God wants them to do, or not do, certain things.

They do not want a God Who tells them what to do, so they simply choose

To believe that there is no God. Psalm 14:1 discusses this clearly: “The fool

Has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done

Abominable works.” One of the most common reasons people choose not to

Believe in God is because they do not want to give up their sinful lifestyles.

We are living in an era where science rules, and where we observe its

Accomplishments everyday. Science has been successful in doing wonderful

Things—such as eradicating smallpox, putting men on the Moon, prevent-

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Ing polio, and lengthening human life spans. However, while we should be

Grateful for the strides that science has made, we likewise should acknowledge

All that science owes to God. In Genesis 1:28, God told man to “subdue

The Earth and have dominion over it.” Surely this statement by God is

The cornerstone, or charter, of science.

Yet undoubtedly one of the greatest obstacles to belief in God is the attitude

That science somehow has made belief in God obsolete. Many scientists

Today claim that the only way to discover something is by empirical

Observation. If something cannot be observed by the five senses, then either

It does not exist or is not important. Of course, since God cannot be observed

By these five senses, to many scientists (and others who have adopted

Such a view) He does not exist or is not very important even if He does.

It is not pleasant to be labeled as stupid, dumb, ignorant, or moronic. Yet

Those labels have been applied to people who are willing to defend the existence

Of God and the biblical concept of creation. Thousands of highly intelligent

People are scientists, and many of them believe in evolution. The

Idea being suggested, then, is that “all intelligent people” believe in evolution.

After all, how could so many “smart” people be wrong?

However, the idea that truth is determined by popular opinion or majority

Vote is false. A thing may be (and often is) true even when accepted

By only a small minority. In fact, scientific successes often have occurred because

Researchers rebelled against the majority opinion for the sake of truth.

Just because millions of people believe something, does not make it right.

If something is true, stating it a million times does not make it any truer, and

If it is false, stating it a million times does not make it any less false.

Another frequent cause of unbelief is the existence of evil, pain, and suffering

In the world. If there is an all-powerful God, and if He is all-good, then

Why do bad things happen to innocent victims (such as babies)? Many have

Abandoned belief in God because of the presence of suffering in their lives

Or in the lives of those close to them. Some have lost children, others have uttered

What they believe to be unanswered prayers, and still others have seen

Their best friends taken from them. Faced with these terrible tragedies, they

Have decided that God must not exist because if He did, then surelyhe would

Have done something to prevent such events.

Here is a brief response to this problem. When God created everything,

He said that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). However, the first man and woman

(Adam and Eve) sinned against God and brought pain and suffering

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Into the world. God always has given human beings the right to make their

Own decisions. He did not create humans as robots that have no choices.

The suffering that is present in the world today is a result of the misuse of the

Freedom of choice of both past generations and our own generation.

Furthermore, there are times when suffering actually is beneficial. Think

Of the man whose chest begins to throb as he begins to have a heart attack,

Or the woman whose side starts to ache at the beginning of appendicitis.

Pain often sends us to the doctor for prevention or cure. Also, pain and tragedy

Help humans develop some of the most treasured traits in society—

Bravery, heroism, self-sacrifice, and numerous others.

The fact that even Jesus, as the Son of God, was subjected to pain and

Suffering (Hebrews 5:8; 1 Peter 2:21ff.) Proves that God loves and cares for

His creation. God could have abandoned us to our own sinful devices but instead,

“God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still

Sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

All too often man’s “wisdom” has replaced God’s (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-

25), causing many to lose their way in what has become one of themost horrible,

And yet one of the most common, tragedies of our day. The price humans

Have paid for being intellectually learned but spiritually ignorant—the

Loss of their souls—has been far higher than we ever could have imagined.

The Lord is happy to help those today who live in honest unbelief.He has

Provided ample evidence so that they might believe. But what about those

Who refuse to believe in God, in spite of the evidence? The apostle John said:

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral,

Sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns

With fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Copyright © 2001—Apologetics Press, Inc.