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Second in a series

Theology in a nutshell

There is a God

By Ken Horn

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

“Nietzsche is dead.” — God

Part 1: Theology in a nutshell

Part 2: There is a God

Part 3: The Bible, God’s message to mankind

Part 4: God, the three in one

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.

Morality is 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 4:4.)

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 a believer.

Personal experience 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.

Knowledge can 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 of Christ.”

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.

Something must be eternal.

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,” Darwin.

Evolutionary theory 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 lawsuit.”

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 ultimate ‘watch.’

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.


Ken Horn is managing editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.

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