19th January 2014

Combating Atheism 

The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1 (NIV UK) 

Recently we have seen the rising influence of writers and scientists who vigorously preach atheism. They not only express personal doubt about God’s existence, but campaign with evangelical fervour against the idea of God and religion. Highly educated, their arguments are not easily dismissed, even though their arguments have long ago been defeated. Many Christians see this move towards atheism as a threat. We feel we must somehow win this argument and prove that God does exist, or they will have won.

But no, they haven’t. You see, although I have absolutely no doubt about God’s existence, I also know that it is impossible to prove it to someone determined not to believe. There is ample evidence in the world to show the existence of a Creator. As Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). 

Although this scripture is often used to prove God’s existence, that’s not what is being said here. The wonders of creation provide impressive evidence for those who believe, but they do not give knock-down proof for those who do not. Thomas Aquinas put it well when he wrote, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” 

No evidence taken from nature proves the God of the Bible. God is not physically a part of nature; he is transcendent of its origin. Studying nature only yields further knowledge of nature.  ‘Only God knows God, and only God reveals God’. But just because we cannot give clear material proof that God exists it doesn’t mean the atheist has won the argument. We don’t need to be on the defensive. 

What we need is to turn the argument around. It is not our job to prove God exists—it is the atheist’s task to prove he does not. They must prove that God does not exist. And just as it is not possible to prove God exists through naturalism, you cannot prove God does not exist through naturalism. Many atheists, therefore, eventually admit that they are actually agnostic. Even Richard Dawkins in a public conversation with the former Archbishop Rowan Williams acknowledged that he could not be 100 per cent certain God does not exist—he stops short at 99 per cent. If they’re honest, they cannot dismiss the evidence that the physical, materialistic world is not all there is. They may not accept and surrender their lives to their Creator, but they are no longer sure he does not exist. They simply don’t know! They are agnostic, or “without knowledge.” 

Never forget that the strongest proof of God’s existence is first, Jesus Christ and, second, the example of those who have surrendered to God, and live their lives in partnership with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let us do that and let God take care of the atheists in his own good time. He will—because he loves them too.

Holy Father, you have us in hand to make of dull earth a masterpiece of your creation, destined to be with you for all eternity. We ask for our rough edges and the faults hidden within us to be remoulded as necessary. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach


joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

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