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
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.
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”
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-
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
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.