in a nutshell
is a God
The belief in the existence of
God is called theism.
The belief that there is no God
is called foolishness.
At least that’s what the
Bible calls it. The definition is given twice in the Psalms (14:1 and 53:1):
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (NIV).
Men call it atheism. The prefix
a- is a negative so atheism is literally “no belief in God” or
“belief there is no God.”
The 19th-century German philosopher
Nietzsche’s famous pronouncement “God is dead” was followed
by this clever Christian couplet that followed the philosopher’s demise:
“God is dead.” —
“Nietzsche is dead.”
More common than atheism
is agnosticism, the belief that you can’t really know if
there is a God. The word combines the negative a- prefix with
the Greek gnosis, meaning knowledge. So it’s “no
knowledge.” The parallel roots in Latin give us the word
ignorant. So agnostics confess ignorance and say we can’t
do anything to remedy it.
Jean Paul Sartre —
well-known 20th-century French philosopher — began a movement
known as existentialism with a book that is definitely not an
inspirational classic, Being and Nothingness. Sartre
lamented that human beings must make decisions without ever knowing
what is right or wrong, good or bad. Existentialism leads to a
supreme sense of hopelessness.
in our hearts.
But mankind does have an inner
morality — a sense of right and wrong. It was placed there by God. Romans
1:18-32 is the Bible’s clearest statement that God is the Source of
our moral awareness. Verse 21 shows how morals are lowered: “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.”
That sense of morality is often
clouded by the recurring reinforcements of an immoral culture.
You see this most evident in pagan cultures, and increasingly
in traditionally Christian ones like the United States. Our culture
is really drifting toward paganism, and as it does so the image
of God is steadily obscured in our citizens. (See 2 Corinthians
The Evangel recently published
the story of actor Kirk Cameron, a self-styled “devout atheist”
who considered God a “fairy tale.”
“There’s no God,”
he would say. “You can’t prove that there’s a God.”
He didn’t change his mind
until he visited a church at a friend’s invitation and felt a personal
sense of conviction. “I felt guilty when he talked about sin,”
Cameron said. With this God-given sense of morality awakened, he soon became
can prove God exists.
Another response to the “God
is dead” claim is found in the words of an old gospel song: “If
God is dead, who’s this living in my heart?” This, of course,
is subjective, and it’s only good for one person at a time — the
one who experiences God. Nevertheless, those who have this experience also
know how real the proof is. It’s difficult to have a personal relationship
with someone who doesn’t exist.
prove God exists.
God’s existence has been
proven to many by honest intellectual study. Lew Wallace was a distinguished
Union general in the Civil War.
Wallace’s attitude toward
religion was, in his words, “absolute indifference.” Then on a
two-hour train ride he found himself discussing the topic with noted agnostic
Robert Ingersoll. They discussed the existence of God, the devil, heaven and
hell. Wallace, who made it clear he had formulated no opinion on the subjects,
reported that Ingersoll poured out a “pungent excoriation of believers
in God, Christ and heaven.”
Strangely enough, it was these
“most outright denials of all human knowledge of God, Christ, Heaven,
and the Hereafter” which stimulated Wallace’s pursuit of truth.
“Was the Colonel [Ingersoll] right?” Wallace wrote. “What
had I on which to answer yes or no? He had made me ashamed of my ignorance:
and then … as I walked on in the cool darkness, I was aroused for the
first time in my life to the importance of religion.”
Wallace, already a successful author,
resolved to investigate — by writing a book on the life of Christ. “That
would compel me,” he said, “to study everything of pertinency;
after which, possibly, I would be possessed of opinions of real value.”
His search ended with
two results: “First, the book Ben Hur, and second,
a conviction amounting to absolute belief in God and the divinity
Ben Hur: A Tale
of the Christ became the best-selling novel of the 19th century.
It has never been out of print since first published in 1880 and
has been translated into nearly every major language of the world.
Ingersoll’s invective awakened
Wallace’s intellect, and he went on a search. He found the Truth. And
Wallace the agnostic became Wallace the believer.
More than 20 years
ago Carl Sagan became popular with his documentary series Cosmos.
He stated the series’ premise thus: “The cosmos is
all there is or ever was.” What an amazing statement from
a scientist, by definition one who demands verifiable evidence
in order to make unequivocal statements, called laws.
Science says that every effect
must have a cause. Even a “Big Bang” (the event scientists say
exploded the universe into being) requires a cause. So one must believe in
either an eternal God or an eternal cosmos. In my mind it takes less faith
to believe in an eternal personal God, than an eternal impersonal cosmos.
It is intellectual arrogance to make one’s unprovable belief in an eternal
cosmos a law of science.
Witness an academic
freedom case of years past at San Francisco State University.
Biology professor Dean Kenyon co-authored a respected book titled
Biochemical Predestination that supported the mainline
scientific theory of living organisms evolving from nonliving
organisms through natural chemical processes. Through years of
study, Kenyon weighed the evidence and concluded this was doubtful
at best. In his classes he utilized what is generally considered
academically sound methodology — presenting all sides of
the issue, not just the “party” line. He taught the
prevailing evolutionary theory but also taught its many weaknesses
and the possibility of “intelligent design” —
all from a secular, scientific perspective.
Here the double standard
raised its ugly head. Not wanting evolutionary theory to be critiqued
objectively, the science dean forbade this attack on the sacred
evolutionary cow and removed Kenyon from teaching duties. The
theory of evolution could not stand the scrutiny of normal academic
objectivity. Though science is in the business of considering
evidence, the San Francisco State Science Department refused to
do so if it could lead to blasphemy against their “god,”
is represented as fact and must not be challenged. At the Scopes
Trial in 1925, the American Civil Liberties Union argued, “It
is bigotry for public schools to teach only one theory of origins.”
This was when creationism was the one theory being taught. Now
that evolution has replaced it, it is interesting to see how their
philosophy has changed. It’s now, “If you teach more
than one (our) theory of origins, we’ll slap you with a
It is clear that creationism is
not the only belief about origins that is a religion. When you
objectively weigh the evidence, including the law of probabilities
that complex life could arise at random from nothing (or little
better than nothing), you must realize that believing in blind
evolution requires more faith than believing in God! Sagan’s
statement is clearly an unproved creed of a close-minded “religion.”
God made the
Neither a fine Swiss watch nor
a drugstore special can make itself. They will not spring into being as the
result of random forces of nature. Somewhere, there must be a watchmaker.
The universe is infinitely more
complex than any watch. It is ludicrous to believe that such intricacies could
come into being by repeated random collisions of molecules. Such a system
requires an intelligent designer.
Romans 1:19,20 says, “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 men are without excuse.”
The universe proves God.
We will discuss the nature of God
in a future installment.
Horn is managing editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.