There is No Excuse for Atheism – Clay Peck

An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that naturalism and evolution had created. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!” he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind.  As he turned to look, he saw a 7-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing in on him. He tried to run even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes. He looked over his shoulder again and the bear was even closer. His heart was pumping frantically as he tried to run even faster, but he tripped and fell on the ground.

 

He rolled over to pick himself up and saw the bear right on top of him raising his paw to kill him. At that instant he cried out “Oh my God!” Just then, time stopped. The bear froze, the forest was silent, the river even stopped moving. A bright light shone upon the man, and a voice came out of the sky saying, “You deny my existence all these years, teach others I don’t exist and even credit my creation to a cosmic accident and now do you except me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?”

 

The atheist, ever so proud, looked into the light and said “it would be rather hypocritical to ask to be a Christian after all these years, but could you make the bear a Christian?”

 

“Very well,” said the voice. The light went out, the river ran, the sounds of the forest continued and the bear put his paw down. The bear then brought both paws together, bowed his head and said, “Lord I give you thanks for this food that I am about to receive.”

 

Psalm 53:1 says —“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Ps. 53:1)

 

Scientifically, you cannot conclusively prove that God exists, just as you cannot prove that He doesn’t exist.  Even though we cannot prove in a laboratory that God exists, that doesn’t mean that there’s no evidence for God’s existence.  There’s lots of good evidence.  In fact, the Bible says that there is really no excuse for atheism:

 

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:18-22)

 

Since God is the Creator and we are his creatures, there is no way for us to know anything about him except what he reveals to us about himself. There are two ways that God that God does that: General and Special Revelation.

 

General Revelation is a phrase used to describe the revelation that is available to all people, at any time, at any place on this planet.  The intricate design of the universe implies that there must be a designer behind it all.  General Revelation doesn’t tell us everything there is to know about God.  Basically just two things: that he exists and that he is powerful… (“eternal power and divine nature”)  For example, General Revelation doesn’t tell us he is loving and merciful—just that he is powerful.

 

General Revelation is sufficient to demonstrate that God exists; it is sufficient to hold accountable and declare guilty all who deny God; but it is insufficient for the knowledge of salvation.  Fortunately, General Revelation is not the only way God has revealed himself. 

 

He has also made himself known through Special Revelation.  I believe that whenever and wherever a person on this planet reaches out toward God as a result of General Revelation, that God then sends that person some form of Special Revelation so that he or she might understand who God is and how he has provided for salvation in Jesus Christ.  Whenever God directly communicates with us that is Special Revelation. 

 

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” (Heb 1:1-2)

 

The text says God spoke in “various ways” (visions, dreams, audible voices, messengers, angels–even a donkey!), but all of those forms of communication were inferior to the ultimate supreme revelation—HIS SON.

 

Today the primary form of Special Revelation that we have to understand God by is the Bible.

 

Now with God seeking to make himself known to his creatures through both General and Special Revelation–with the two books of nature and the Bible declaring his existence—why is there so much unbelief in the world today?  Romans 1:18 tells us why—because people “suppress the truth.”

 

Today we live in a modern world where the majority of scientists have bought into a philosophy called: Naturalism.  Growing out of Darwinism, Naturalism has become the scientific creed for more than one hundred years.  Naturalism is the belief that nothing exists beyond nature.  One naturalist scientist states his view this way: “Everything that exists is simply the result of blind chance and eternal matter interacting over endless eons of time in an infinitely old universe.”

 

That means that all the bewildering complexity and diversity of life on our planet came from chance mutations starting with a lifeless chemical brew that produced the first living molecule out of an electrically charged slime pond. What do you think the odds are of this universe evolving completely by blind chance?  Unfathomable, right?  But naturalist scientists say, “That’s alright because we have all the time needed.  Just give it enough time and anything can happen.”

 

For more than a century faith in God has been viewed as “unscientific.”  In recent years, though, there have been some shifts happening in the scientific community and more and more scientists are admitting evidence of “Intelligent Design.”

 

One example of this shift is happening as a result of the scientific evidence that supports the so-called Big Bang Theory.  The belief that the whole universe began with a massive explosion at a definite point in time has challenged the view that the universe always existed.  And the Big Bang Theory has actually opened up the door of scientific possibility for many that perhaps God was behind that original explosion.

 

Coupled with that are the incredible discoveries in both cosmology (the macro universe) and biochemistry/molecular biology (the micro universe).  Scientific findings in these areas have led some thinking people to see the handiwork of Intelligent Design.

 

That should not be surprising to those who believe God’s Word:

 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun…” (Ps 19:1-4)

 

Let me give you a few examples from the macro universe that demonstrate the precision of the universe.  Our solar system is exquisitely calibrated to support life.  Scientists are learning more and more about what they call the fine-tuning of our universe that is necessary in order for life to exist. 

 

A few examples of this fine-tuning of our universe:

·         There is a perfect balance to our earth…it never wobbles in orbit unlike other celestial objects (Ps. 104:5 says God has set the earth on it’s foundation and it cannot be moved…science bears that out)

·         If the earth was 1 degree closer to the sun we would all fry, water would boil in three minutes… If the earth was 1 degree farther from the sun we’d all freeze, all the water would freeze solid, and earth would become a barren desert

·         If the sun was 1 degree father from the center of the galaxy, planets could not have formed around it… 1 degree closer to the center and stellar density would throw the earth out of orbit

·         If the moon was slightly larger or closer, tides would sweep the coastlines with massive flooding… If the moon was slightly smaller or farther away, life in the oceans would die due to lack of nutrient movement from gravitational currents by tides

·         If earth was 2 degrees farther from Jupiter, asteroids and comets would pummel our planet and machine gun us into oblivion (Jupiter serves as giant protective shield)… but if Jupiter was slightly closer, it’s gravitational pull would destabilize the earth

·         If the earth’s surface gravity was 1/1000 stronger, the planet would retain too much gas and we’d all suffocate… if it was 1/1000 weaker, there’d be too much water evaporation and the planet would dry up

·         If the magnetic field of the earth was 1/1000 stronger, electro magnetic storms would wipe us all out… if it was 1/1000 weaker, the ozone layer would be too thin to protect against fatal radiation

·         If the rotation of the earth was slightly slower, the difference in temperatures between night and day would kill vegetation…if slightly faster, wind velocities would be at hurricane level all the time

·         If there was slightly more oxygen in the air, plants would burst in to flame with the slightest spark… if slightly less nothing living could breath

·         Our planet is one of the only ones in our solar system with a perfect circular orbit…if the orbit was elliptic (more oval shaped) we would all freeze on the outer loop, farthest from the sun

 

There are hundreds of such examples of the fine-tuning of our universe necessary to support life.  Our galaxy must be exquisitely calibrated in order for lift to exist on this planet.

 

What are the odds of this all happening by random chance? The laws of physics are designed with such precision that it is inconceivable that they could be the result of chance.  Just one of these examples of fine-tuning requires a balance of 1 to 1037.  The likelihood of this occurring by chance is described by Dr. Hugh Ross (in his book The Creator and the Cosmos):

“One part in 1037 is such an incredibly sensitive balance that it is hard to visualize. The following analogy might help: Cover the entire North American continent in dimes all the way up to the moon, a height of about 239,000 miles (In comparison, the money to pay for the U.S. federal government debt would cover one square mile less than two feet deep with dimes.). Next, pile dimes from here to the moon on a billion other continents the same size as North America. Paint one dime red and mix it into the billion of piles of dimes. Blindfold a friend and ask him to pick out one dime. The odds that he will pick the red dime are one in 1037.”1 (Hugh Ross. 1995. The Creator and the Cosmos, p. 115)

 

It takes faith to believe in God, but it’s not blind faith.  It’s faith based on evidence.  And it takes more faith not to believe in him!  The more you learn about the universe, the more that is true.

 

Here are a few quotes with you from agnostic scientists who are wrestling with the implications of Intelligent Design in the universe:

 

“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming.” (Paul Davies)

 

“As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency – or, rather, Agency – must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?” (George Greenstein)

 

A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. (Fred Hoyle)

 

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. (Robert Jastrow)

 

The words of Scripture are just as true today as when written–“The living God who made the heaven and earth and sea and everything in them… has not left himself without testimony…” (Acts 14:15-17).

 

How could scientists examine the evidence of modern scientific discoveries and not admit that there must be a Designer behind all this exquisite design?

 

Listen to this searing indictment by science historian, Patrick Gwinn (of George Washington University):

“Many scientists are willing to accept wild speculation about unseen universes and self generating matter for which not a shred of observational evidence exists.  This suggests something about the power of the modern atheistic ideology and the cultural agenda of many in the scientific profession.  The mainstream scientific community has in effect shown its attachment to an atheistic ideology of a random universe to be in some respects more powerful than their commitment to the scientific method itself.”

 

That indictment echoes words written by the apostle Paul two millenniums ago (Rom. 1:18-22).

 

The advances of science in the last several decades have changed the playing field.  No one can truthfully say that atheists only go by facts and Christians only go by faith.  The debate is between two worldviewsNaturalism and Christianity—not the facts.  We’re all interpreting the same facts.  Although they are in the minority, more scientists are coming under conviction that there is a Designer behind this fine tuned universe.  Yes, it takes faith to believe in him, but it is a reasonable faith based on high probability.

 

We all make decisions every day based on high probability.  We know that some people have head-on collisions and die in automobiles, and yet we drive cars with a certain amount of security in our belief that we will arrive at our destination safely. 

 

Don’t insist on ABSOLUTE PROOF for the existence of God.  That’s not how you live your life.  Every day you look at evidence and make decisions based on high probability.   Look at the evidence, and see if there is enough to tip the scales of probability.  I believe that there is sufficient evidence for the existence of God for a jury to arrive at a unanimous conclusion that is beyond reasonable doubt.

 

I believe that evidence in favor of the existence of God can be found in at least six areas:

 

1. In Nature

 

Romans 1:20 declares that God can be known by what he has made.  We see his footprints in creation. 

Consider just three ways:

 

A. Footprints of God in the Earth:

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?”  (Job 12:7-9)

 

B. Footprints of God in the Heavens:

“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:  Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.  Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”  (Isaiah 40:26)

 

C.  Footprints of God in our Bodies:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  (Ps. 139:13,14)

 

“The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth?… Is it not I, the Lord?”  (Exodus 4:11)

 

“Does he who implanted the ear not hear?  Does he who formed the eye not see?”  (Ps. 94:9)

 

I provided a few examples from the macro universe earlier that show intricate design.  There are also multiple examples from the micro universe that demonstrate exquisite fine-tuning that is just as amazing.

 

Studying the human body is enough to boggle your mind.  The human eye is a classic example.  Sir Charles Scott Sherrington, famous English physiologist of Oxford, concluded: “Behind the intricate mechanism of the human eye lie breath-taking glimpses of a Master Plan.”

 

When confronted with darkness the human eye increases its ability to see one hundred thousand times.  The finest camera ever made does not even vaguely approach such a thing, but the human eye does it automatically.  The eye will find the object it wants to see and focus on it automatically.  It elongates or compresses itself.  Both eyes moving together must take different angles to fix themselves upon what is to be seen.

 

Fluid must flow across the eye continually in order for it to be kept moist and clean. There is gland which produces tear fluid which is discharged through a hole in the bone surrounding the eye.  Dr. James Kennedy writes: “Let the atheist or the evolutionist tell us who bored the hole in the bone and laid a water pipe through it for the dispersion of our tears.”

 

Even Darwin himself, the father of the evolutionary theory, in a chapter titled “Difficulties with the Theory” from his Origins of Species states, “To suppose that the eye, with so many parts all working together… could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

 

God has revealed Himself in nature  (the earth, the heavens, our bodies…).  The Bible sums up the evidence like this: “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.”  (Heb. 3:4)

 

God has revealed Himself also—

 

2.  In Conscience

 

The apostle Paul writes:

“Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Rom 2:14-15)

 

C.S. Lewis begins his book, Mere Christianity, with these words:

“Every one has heard people quarreling.  Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kinds of things they say.  They say things like this: ‘How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?’– ‘That’s my seat, I was there first’– ‘Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm’– ‘Why should you shove in first?’– ‘Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine’– ‘Come on, you promised.’  People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.”

 

He goes on to argue that when we talk that way we are appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which we all agree to and expect other people to know about. 

 

If you compare the moral teaching of the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, it is amazing how very much like each other they are, and like the Judeo-Christian teachings as well. There seems to be a built in sense of ‘oughtness’ in all people.  It is wrong to sexually abuse a child in any culture.  Why?  It’s just wrong.

 

This sense of right and wrong is more than just a social convention or herd instinct.  It is like the mathematical table.  Two plus two equals four irrespective of its culture.  Our sense of fair play, justice and obligation to others points to the existence of a personal, holy Creator who has put His moral law within us.  There is a God and He is intensely interested in right conduct — in unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness.

 

God reveals himself through nature, through conscience and—

 

3. In History

 

History is replete with evidence of God in action, intervening in the affairs of humanity.

In the Old Testament, the greatest proof of God’s activity in human history which is referenced over and over is the Exodus story— the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery through the parting of the waters at the Red Sea.

 

In the New Testament, the proof of God’s activity in human history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is referenced over and over.  It is irrefutable evidence.

 

God has revealed Himself in nature, in conscience, in history, and of course–

 

4. In Scripture

 

The Bible doesn’t attempt to prove the existence of God.  It assumes belief in God and then explains by story and teaching what kind of a God He is.

 

The Bible reveals a God who is:

  • Omnipotent (all-powerful), Gen. 18:14
  • Omniscient (all-knowing),  Ps. 139:1-4
  • Omnipresent (all-present), Ps. 139:7-10
  • Perfect in Holiness, Ex. 15:11
  • Perfect in Love,  John 3:16

 

The Bible provides a God-directed, God-inspired, God-protected, trustworthy and accurate revelation of himself.

 

Along with nature, conscience, history and scripture is–

 

5. Human Experience

 

Millions of sane men and women point to the evidence of God in their lives.  This argument is far from conclusive in and of itself, but it is significant along with the others. If a person making the claim is a trustworthy person, than it is worthwhile to examine the claim.  Christians through the centuries and around the world have claimed that they have a relationship with God; that He is real to them; that He has forgiven their sins; that He has given them a new start; a changed life.  They claim a supernatural peace; answers to prayer; and evidence of miracles.

 

I realize that there are some real crazy people out there who believe all kinds of weird things and that doesn’t make them true.  But there are countless, intelligent, respectable, level-headed people who would be willing to take a lie-detector test and affirm their belief in a God with whom they have a personal relationship.  If one person says God changed their life, that is purely subjective, but when hundreds and thousands say the same thing it starts to become observable, objective evidence.

 

While God has revealed Himself in all these ways, the ultimate revelation of God is not nature, conscience, history, Scripture, or human experience, but the revelation of God –

 

6.  In Jesus Christ

 

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…”  (Heb. 1:1-3)

 

Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God.  He is the best reason for believing in God. 

 

Jesus not only revealed that God exists, but he demonstrated and taught what kind of a God He is.

·         He is a loving Father who cares for us each one;

·         He knows the hairs on our heads; 

·         He listens to our prayers; 

·         He loves us each regardless of our past achievements or failures; 

·         He has special regard for the poor, the weak, the discouraged, and even vile sinners;

·         He comforts those who mourn, encourages those who are downcast, lifts up those who fall;

·         He longs for us to be, not just servants, but his children;

·         He never gives up on us or forsakes us;

·         He patiently, but persistently pursues us when we run away from Him;

·         Saves us solely by his grace;

·         He loves us so much that He was willing to as far as the cross of Calvary to redeem us.

 

The great Creator God has revealed himself.  There is no excuse for atheism!