God’s Not Dead (Or Else We Wouldn’t Be Here Talking About Him)

Title: God’s Not Dead (Or Else We Wouldn’t Be Here Talking About Him)
Text: Genesis 1:1, Psalm 14:1, Proverbs 1:7
Time: March 28th, 2014

A movie was recently released called “God’s Not Dead,” which is based on the story of a young college student who was challenged by his atheist professor to prove God’s existence. The movie (I haven’t seen it yet) is about how this student responded to the atheist’s challenge. Now the statement “God is not dead” might also be a response to the famous Time magazine cover in the 60s that proclaimed the death of God. An article written inside covered the so-called “Death of God” theologians like William Hamilton, Thomas Altizer and other, who wrote that in the new secular world God has been put to death through modern science and the modern worldview. Nietzsche, the famous German atheist philosopher, wrote extensively on how the western world had put God to death through its rationalism. Obviously, what these philosophers and theologians are talking about isn’t that God has literally been put to death, but rather that the idea of God has been gradually dying in the consciousness of men and women for a long time. While belief in God remains fairly high, the reality of God’s actual presence in the lives of men and women today is indeed low. It seems that more and more people today are willing to live their lives as if God were dead, as if God were unnecessary, as if atheism were true. Now few people would actually profess atheism – that takes a certain type of person with a lot of fight in them, and also, I might add, a pretty big ego, seeing that an atheist must believe that while the vast majority of people in the world, 90 plus percent, is wrong about the question of God, he alone is right. However, most people, it seems today, are perfectly willing to live almost as if God didn’t exist. And that is becoming more common with every passing year. Now in tackling the question of whether God exists or not there are different ways to come at the question. Some people approach the question of God from the standpoint of assumptions and presuppositions. In other words, whether for theism (the belief in one God) or atheism (the disbelieve in God), we must all either assume that God is or that God isn’t just to even begin a conversation on the subject. Yes, there are those called agnostics who claim they can’t tell whether there is a God or not, so they supposedly sit on the philosophical and theological fence waiting for more evidence either way. But I’ve found that agnostics are usually atheists who don’t know they are atheists, or don’t want to admit it. Now atheists usually assert that believers in God must assume that God exists, but they, atheists, come to their position by reason and reflection. Therefore, they claim, it’s more reasonable to not believe in God than to believe in him. What I’d like to do today is show that we all have to assume that God exists, either consciously or subconsciously, in order to simply function in life. In other words, we’re all believers in God in one way or another, and that’s a pretty strong clue that God’s not dead.

First, the Bible assumes what most people assume – God exists. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In the beginning God – that’s how the Bible opens in the first sentence of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. In the beginning God. Now why would God reveal himself as an assumption? The Bible, after all, as Christians believe, is divine revelation from God. Why would God simply start with his own existence as an assumption rather than try to prove it for men and women. God could have, you know, felt that humanity needed a little lesson in philosophical reasoning, and so he could have inspired the prophets – in the case of Genesis, the prophet Moses – to begin with an argument for God’s existence. Then, once that foundation was established, moving on to additional information about creation, the origins of evil and sin, and so forth. But no, God begins the Bible in Genesis with the assumption of his existence, and invites everyone to assume it from the beginning. I believe the reason why the Bible starts with the assumption of God’s existence is because it’s almost impossible to not assume it. Most people in most places in most times through all of human history have assumed God’s existence. They’ve differed on the details of describing God, but not on the fact that there is something supernatural out there that controls everything in a way humans and nature can’t control things. There are many reasons why most people have assumed God’s existence, and we don’t have time to go into all of them, although I’ll touch upon a few of them. One is that it’s assumed by nearly everyone that in order for there to be morality you need a law-giver, and since we all feel strongly that there really are true rights and wrongs to live by (although we imperfectly live by them), there must be a God who’s laws are established. We also feel that evil people will somehow get their due punishment whether in this life or the next, and God is assumed to carry out this process of justice. Morality makes sense assuming there is God. Also, by assuming God, meaning and purpose in life makes sense, and since we normally feel that somehow our lives have meaning and purpose (even if we haven’t discovered what it is yet), God must exist to give our lives a context for ultimate meaning and purpose. Also, God is usually assumed because only in him do we find any answers to life’s most profound questions. We may not know all the answers, but with God at least somebody knows where everything came from, why humans exist, and what the plan is for everything. The assumption of God is most satisfying when all these and other issues are raised. But let me now turn to the assumption of atheism and how totally inadequate it is as a starting point, and why most people reject it.

Second, the assumption of atheism leads to absurdities. Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God. . . .’” This same statement is repeated in Psalm 53:1. And the Bible consistently assumes belief in God is wisdom, and disbelief in God is foolish. The Bible’s attitude toward the rare individual who doesn’t believe in the existence of God is that person is stupid, foolish and morally depraved. The actual word “fool” here in the Psalms can also be taken as a morally corrupt person, a moral law-breaker, a spiritually and morally rebellious person. Now the majority of people who believe in God have always looked with suspicion, like the Bible does, upon anyone who claimed to be an atheist, because it was seen as an excuse for covering up moral rebellion. The logic is this – if you don’t want to be obliged to follow any moral or spiritual law, you’d simply deny any moral or spiritual law-giver, i.e. God. So by denying God one denies any binding moral right or wrong, in other words, one must throw out all real morality and ethics. And that’s absurd, since we all know that there are real, binding moral rights and wrongs. So atheism makes morality absurd. If there’s no real lawgiver, there’s no real right or wrong. If there’s no real right or wrong, then Hitler or Mother Theresa were moral equivalents. Also, under atheism, in the absence of ultimate justice, Hitler doesn’t meet punishment for his crimes; neither does Mother Theresa receive rewards for her kindnesses. Atheism makes morality absurd, and makes ultimate justice absurd as well. That’s one reason why people intuitively reject it as foolish. Also, the assumption of atheism makes life, ultimately, absurd as well; that’s another reason why most people reject it. Listen to atheist scientist Francis Crick, co-founder of DNA, “Well, I don’t think we’re (here) for anything. We’re just products of evolution. You can say, ‘Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don’t think there’s a purpose.’ But I’m anticipating having a good lunch.” Do you see how absurd atheistic thinking is? In order to cope with his nihilistic atheism Crick must totally trivialize the question and live in denial of it. Looking forward to eating a tasty lunch must suffice to keep his mind off profound questions of existence. Now there were some atheists who were man enough to attempt to live by their atheist assumptions, and these were the existentialist writers and philosophers like Camus and Sartre, and before them Nietzsche. They looked into the abyss of nothingness and meaningless and human purposelessness and some of them even went insane, mad. Now that’s were the logic of atheism leads if followed consistently. Most atheists are too cowardly to do that, so they live as hypocrites, basking in the sun and light of a God-believing culture, all the while tearing down the God from whom they benefit in life. This too is absurd, which is why most people refuse to do it.

Third, the assumption of atheism leads to irrationality. Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” There’s that word again, fool. Actually, in the Hebrew there are five words for “fool,” and this word in Proverbs is different from the one for “fool” in Psalms. Here, it means intellectually foolish, or stubbornly argumentative or un-teachable. And we see this kind of atheist in those famous writers and speakers like the late Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, comedian Bill Maher, and others. These guys love to argue. They love to be contrarian. They love to dispute, debate, criticize, mock, blaspheme, and so forth. They more or less make their living mocking the faults and foibles of believers, while standing back and acting as if they themselves are not part of the whole messy enterprise of living. But if they’d really explore the implications of their own atheistic assumptions they’d soon realize that belief in God is actually most reasonable, and atheism is most unreasonable, ultimately. For example, let’s take reason itself. How do we know we can understand anything about reality, or that we aren’t just deluding ourselves into thinking we can understand reality when in fact we can’t? How can we trust our minds? If reason is merely a product of blind, unguided evolution – as atheists say – then maybe our minds aren’t made for knowing truth, just helping us survive in order to reproduce. With the atheist assumption we can’t even determine if reason is reliable. But if we are created in the Imago Dei, the image of God, then our mind and rationality reflects the mind of God and corresponds to reality, enabling us to discover and understand not only natural things but also what God reveals of himself through divine revelation. We are guaranteed a measure of lucidity in investigating nature and thinking about God. Both science and theology are possible because we can be confident that our minds are made to correspond to reality because God made it so. But under atheism, we have nothing to guarantee us that our minds are good for anything but surviving through the process of natural selection. We must believe certain things, but maybe it’s just because these beliefs are helpful for survival purposes, not because they are true. Under atheism, we have no rational basis for trusting our rational thinking, nor for thinking that anything we believe is “true,” only that it might be “helpful.” This reduces research to pragmatism rather than discovering truth. Also, assuming atheism means assuming determinism – that’s what Einstein, an atheist also, concluded. Freud, another atheist, came to the same conclusion in the field of psychology, that man is ultimately chemically determined. That means, we believe what we’ve been determined to believe. Free will is an illusion; rational choice is impossible. That’s where atheism leads, to this conclusion.

Carl Sagan, the famous atheist popularizer of naturalistic science with the hit TV program “Cosmos” in the 80s, began his presentation with the claim, “The cosmos is all there was, is and every will be.” But if natural forces are all there is, then the human mind would also be included in it as well. And if mind was simply under the same natural laws as all of nature, then it too must operate under mechanistic principles that exclude any real freedom. Under atheistic assumptions, we might feel free, but if everything, including the mind and reason, is operating under natural law, then human choice isn’t really free, but instead determined by prior natural forces acting upon it. But believers in God, the supernatural God of Christian theism for example, can really believe in rationality and free will because not everything is determined by natural law. The mind of God operates outside of natural determinism, and so does the mind of men and women, being a component of the Imago Dei, being made in God’s image and likeness. The assumption of God, which the Bible makes and which makes the most sense for most people, assumes that we are given real choices in life, non-determined by natural forces, just as God is free to choose outside of the forces of the cosmos he created. Our thought processes aren’t determined by nature, they aren’t just playing out the survival mechanisms of evolution, but really can seek truth as truth. We can truly make choices not determined by material forces because mind is made of something other than matter and energy in various forms. So it’s no wonder why most people in most places at most times on earth have rejected atheism. It’s absurd. Atheism dehumanizes men and women into the by-product of some impersonal, blind, unguided, uncaring process called natural evolution. It teaches that there’s no point or purpose for human existence. It teaches that reason and free will are illusions, actually just survival mechanisms, not necessarily connected with truth or good or right. It teaches that there is no purpose for the human race, no meaning for living. It teaches that life is ultimately absurd, love is pointless, any and all noble efforts are finally futile in end. Now we begin to understand why the Bible assumes God’s existence – because God’s non-existence is absurd. Under atheism nothing makes sense, ultimately. God’s not dead, because God Almighty can’t die — he’s eternal. He’s the only brute fact in all of reality. And from this one brute fact, everything else follows. Now we may struggle to understand him and everything that follows, but at least things make sense in a general way. Under atheism, nothing makes sense in a general way. That’s why I say, “God’s not dead, but atheism is a dead end.”

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