The fool has said in his heart, " There is no God."
Psalm 14:1 NKJV

By Thomas Whitelaw, M.A., D.D.
Kilmarnock, Scotland

Whether or not there is a supreme personal intelligence, infinite and eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, the Creator, upholder and ruler of the universe, immanent in and yet transcending all things, gracious and merciful, the Father and Redeemer of mankind, is surely the profoundest problem that can agitate the human mind. Lying as it does at the foundation of all man's religious beliefs-as to responsibility and duty, sin and salvation, immortality and future blessedness, as to the possibility of a revelation, of an incarnation, of a resurrection, as to the value of prayer, the credibility of miracle, the reality of providence,-with the reply given to it are bound up not alone the temporal and eternal happiness of the individual, but also the welfare and progress of the race. Nevertheless, to it have been returned the most varied responses.

The Atheist, for example, asserts that there is no God. The Agnostic professes that he cannot tell whether there is a God or not. The Materialist boasts that he does not need a God, that he can run the universe without one. The (Bible) Fool wishes there was no God. The Christian answers that he cannot do without a God.



In these days it will hardly do to pass by this bold and confident negation by simply saying that the theoretical atheist is an altogether exceptional specimen of humanity, and that his audacious utterance is as much the outcome of ignorance as of impiety. When one meets in the "Hibbert Journal" from the pen of its editor such a statement as this: "Society abounds with earnest and educated persons who have lost faith in a living personal God, and see their fellows and foresee themselves passing out of life entirely without hope," and when Blatchford in the English "Clarion" writes: "There is no Heavenly Father watching tenderly over us, His creatures, He is the baseless shadow of a wistful dream," it becomes apparent that theoretical atheism is not extinct, even in cultured circles, and that some observations with regard to it may still be needful. Let these observations be the following:

1. Belief that there is no God does not amount to a demonstration that no God is.

Neither, it is true, does belief that God is prove the truth of the proposition except to the individual in whose heart that belief has been awakened by the divine Spirit. To another than him it is destitute of weight as an argument in support of the theistic position. At the same time it is of importance, while conceding this, to emphasize the fact that disbelief in the existence of a divine Being is not equivalent to a demonstration that there is no God.

2. Such a demonstration is from the nature of the case impossible.

Here again it may be true as Kant contends that reason cannot demonstrate (that is, by logic) the existence of God; but it is equally true, as the same philosopher admits, that reason can just as little disprove the existence of God. It was well observed by the late Prof. Calderwood of the Edinburgh University that "the divine existence is a truth so plain that it needs no proof, as it is a truth so high that it admits of none." But the situation is altered when it comes to a positive denial of that existence. The idea of God once formed in the mind, whether as an intuition or as a deduction, cannot be laid aside without convincing evidence that it is delusive and unreal. And such evidence cannot be produced. As Dr. Chalmers long ago observed, before one can positively assert that there is no God, he must arrogate to himself the wisdom and ubiquity of God. He must explore the entire circuit of the universe to be sure that no God is there. He must have interrogated all the generations of mankind and all the hierarchies of heaven to be certain they had never heard of a God.

In short, as Chalmers puts it, "For man not to know God, he has only to sink beneath the level of our common nature. But to deny God he must be God himself."

3. Denial of the divine existence is not warranted by inability to discern traces of God's presence in the universe.

Professor Huxley, who once described himself in a letter to Charles Kingsley as "exactly what the Christian world called, and, so far as he could judge, was justified in calling him, an atheist and infidel," appeared to think it was. "I cannot see," he wrote, "one shadow or tittle of evidence that the Great Unknown underlying the phenomena of the universe stands to us in the relation of a Father, loves us and cares for us as Christianity asserts." Blatchford also with equal emphasis affirms: "I cannot believe that God is a personal God who interferes in human affairs. I cannot see in science, or in experience, or in history, any signs of such a God or of such intervention." Neither of these writers, however, it may be presumed, would on reflection advance their incapacity to perceive the footprints or hear the voices of the Creator as proof that no Creator existed, any more than a blind man would maintain there was no sun because he could not see it, or a deaf man would contend there was no sound because he never heard it. The incapacity of Huxley and Blatchford to either see or hear God may, and no doubt does, serve as an explanation of their atheistic creed, but assuredly it is no justification of the same, since a profounder reasoner than either has said: "The invisible things of God since the creation of the world are dearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity; so that they (who believe not) are without excuse."

4. The majority of mankind, not in Christian countries only, but also in pagan lands, from the beginning of the world onward, have believed in the existence of a Supreme Being.

They may frequently, as Paul says, have "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things" (Ro 1:23); but deeply seated in their natures, debased though these were by sin, lay the conception of a Superhuman Power to whom they owed allegiance and whose favor was indispensable to their happiness. It was a saying of Plutarch that in his day a man might travel the world over without finding a city without temples and gods; in our day isolated cases have been cited of tribes-the Andaman Islanders by Sir John Lubbock, and the Fuegians, by Admiral Fitzroy-who have exhibited no signs that they possessed a knowledge either of God or of religion. But it is at least open to question whether the investigators on whose testimony such instances are advanced did not fail to discover traces of what they sought either through want of familiarity with the language of the natives, or through starting with the presupposition that the religious conceptions of the natives must be equally exalted with their own. In any case, on the principle that exceptions prove the rule, it may be set down as incontrovertible that the vast majority of mankind have possessed some idea of a Supreme Being; so that if the truth or falsehood of the proposition, "There is no God," is to be determined by the counting of votes, the question is settled in the negative, that is, against the atheist's creed.

The Presumptuousness of Atheism
by Paul Copan

Atheist Antony Flew has said that the "onus of proof must lie upon the theist."

Unless compelling reasons for God's existence can be given, there is the "presumption of atheism." Another atheist, Michael Scriven, considers the lack of evidence for God's existence and the lack of evidence for Santa Claus on the same level.
However, the presumption of atheism actually turns out to be presumptuousness. The Christian must remember that the atheist also shares the burden of proof, which I will attempt to demonstrate below.

First, even if the theist could not muster good arguments for God's existence, atheism still would not be shown to be true.

The outspoken atheist Kai Nielsen recognizes this: "To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false....All the proofs of God's existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists."

Second, the "presumption of atheism" demonstrates a rigging of the rules of philosophical debate in order to play into the hands of the atheist, who himself makes a truth claim. Alvin Plantinga correctly argues that the atheist does not treat the statements "God exists" and "God does not exist" in the same manner.

The atheist assumes that if one has no evidence for God's existence, then one is obligated to believe that God does not exist - whether or not one has evidence against God's existence. What the atheist fails to see is that atheism is just as much a claim to know something ("God does not exist") as theism ("God exists").

Therefore, the atheist's denial of God's existence needs just as much substantiation as does the theist's claim; the atheist must give plausible reasons for rejecting God's existence.

Third, in the absence of evidence for God's existence, agnosticism, not atheism, is the logical presumption. Even if arguments for God's existence do not persuade, atheism should not be presumed because atheism is not neutral; pure agnosticism is. Atheism is justified only if there is sufficient evidence against God's existence.

Fourth, to place belief in Santa Claus or mermaids and belief in God on the same level is mistaken. The issue is not that we have no good evidence for these mythical entities; rather, we have strong evidence that they do not exist. Absence of evidence is not at all the same as evidence of absence, which some atheists fail to see.

Moreover, the theist can muster credible reasons for belief in God. For example, one can argue that the contingency of the universe - in light of Big Bang cosmology, the expanding universe, and the second law of thermodynamics (which implies that the universe has been "wound up" and will eventually die a heat death) - demonstrates that the cosmos has not always been here. It could not have popped into existence uncaused, out of absolutely nothing, because we know that whatever begins to exist has a cause. A powerful First Cause like the God of theism plausibly answers the question of the universe's origin. Also, the fine-tunedness of the universe - with complexly balanced conditions that seem tailored for life - points to the existence of an intelligent Designer.

The existence of objective morality provides further evidence for belief in God. If widow-burning or genocide is really wrong and not just cultural, then it is difficult to account for this universally binding morality, with its sense of "oughtness," on strictly naturalistic terms. (Most people can be convinced that the difference between Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa is not simply cultural.) These and other reasons demonstrate that the believer is being quite rational - not presumptuous - in embracing belief in God.

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV

My Thoughts on Atheism

For me, a life with no meaning other than the here and now is a very empty life for time goes by so quickly that the moments of only a worldly existence hardly seem worth living.

After a couple of generations, no one even remembers who that grave marker belongs to, what their life represented or how they affected other people or the earth.

Only a few earthly humans have a record in the world's history books. And one wonders if these history books accurately record the "real" human or just what someone else thought of them. Hardly worth 80 or so years of effort.

I only have to look at Solomon's thoughts near the end of his life as he wrote in Ecclesiastes to understand a world without a God.

A beginning by accident, a life without purpose and an end without anything else beyond seems very meaningless indeed.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
1:1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: 2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." 3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

As for me, there has to be a God who created the universe. From nothing comes nothing. So if there was never anything (matter for a universe) and nobody (a Creator God) did anything we would still have nothing.

Now, if the universe always existed, it would not be in the finely tuned order it is at this moment. Our planet would not be rotating on an axis at just the right tilt to maintain life and have just the right oxygen hydrogen mixture to support life and all of the other things that have to be just right to support our life.

It would not be as ordered as it is now as the basic laws of physics dictate that we would have nothing but a disordered universe. The second law of thermodynamics states, in a closed system (such as the universe), the entropy (disorder) does not decrease.

That is, if the system is initially in a low-entropy (ordered) state, its condition will tend to slide spontaneously toward a state of maximum entropy (disorder). So if the universe was always here (which begs the question of how did it get here in the first place) it would be quite disordered by now (for eternity past is forever a long time).

Not to mention that even science states that our sun would have burned out an eternity ago.

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