by Danny Linden
Synopsis: Atheism is not the enlightened philosophy it is often framed as, but a dangerous denial of the Creator and Lord.
There have always been those who reject even a shallow faith in God, and instead, cling to the tenuous assertion that there is no God. Atheists' numbers swell as western society grows more secular and materialistic. What are some of the flaws of atheism and the ramifications of believing it?
The Bible begins not with a mathematical proof or a philosophical treatise on the existence of God, but with the assumption that an omnipotent Creator must exist. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Atheists and Christians agree that laws of nature govern our universe. Various scientific fields are designed to study different slices of the universe: geology is the study of the earth and the rocks that compose it; biology is the study of living organisms; physics is the study of matter, energy, force, and motion; and there are, of course, many other such branches of science. Scientific research and experimentation are possible because the universe follows consistent laws—reflecting structure and form, not arbitrary anarchy. Laws regulate even the phenomena that we do not understand. We just have not discovered all that there is to know about the universe.
The Bible asserts that the form of the universe is a testament to the existence of God (Rom. 1:19-20; Job 12:7-25). Intricate design is indicative of a deliberate designer, not random chance. God values order and structure; this is reflected in His creation. By contrast, atheists direct their awe of the universe toward coincidence and the passage of eons of time. God made us with enough intelligence and sense to realize that the order of the universe requires someone to set it in order. We observe that phenomenon on a smaller scale every day. A fundamental law of physics states that the natural state of things is to progress toward greater disorder. Things grow old, fall apart and decay. By skillfully expending energy, man fights against that natural process and creates order—raw materials like stone, steel, and silicon can be formed and manipulated with tools to create something ordered, finished, and useful. Even those raw materials had to come from somewhere. From where does the inherent order of the universe come? Why are the laws of nature consistent? It takes a God who exists outside of physical reality to create such a thing—time and chance are not enough by themselves to accomplish this.
Rarely do you find an atheist who has little opinion on the idea of deity. The claim is often made that atheism is merely the lack of belief in a god, but in practice, it becomes a militant campaign against everything that deity represents. This strikes me as strange. Why is this distinction so common? I submit that its roots are found in man's rebellion against the responsibility he has toward God. Inherent in the idea of an omnipotent God is the belief that we must submit to that God. Unfortunately, submission is unattractive to many. Paul followed this line of reasoning in addressing the Athenians:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "For we are indeed his offspring." Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:26-31, ESV).
Since God created everything and everyone in this world, He has the authority and the willingness to set a standard of conduct for humanity and to judge our obedience or our rebellion. The Athenians were certainly not atheists, so Paul's argument was intended to lift them out of paganism and to confront them with the reality of the one true God, but the conclusion remains the same for us all. One day, we will stand before God to be judged. Those who are unwilling to accept this either have to redefine God's standards to make them more palatable or explain away God Himself. However, neither changes the reality of God's existence.
Many arguments that atheists make against God are not really against God at all, but against those who claim to follow Him. Sadly, wicked people have used God's name to condone all kinds of atrocities. God is not responsible for evil committed by "religious" people when He did not command that evil! Scripture is clear in its condemnation of false disciples. Invoking God's name casually or inaccurately is a serious offense:
And if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you (Rom. 2:19-24, ESV).
The presence of sinners, hypocrites, and religious factions does not disprove the existence of God. On the contrary, it should be no surprise that the obedience of man does not live up to the perfection of God. I fully expect to see innumerable variations of religion and hypocrisy in the world, and I share in atheists' disgust of this truth. God knows that these problems exist and condemns those who profane His name by their words or their actions (cf. Exod. 20:7; Lev. 18:21; 19:12; 22:2; Deut. 5:11; Matt. 26:69-75). I have heard "proofs" of God not existing that only contain descriptions of Muslim terrorism, Christian holy wars, and pagan genocides. Those events certainly happened, but they fail to prove the non-existence of God.
Atheists may be determined to ignore or resist God, but their efforts are foolish and vain. One day, every knee will bow to the Lord of heaven and earth, but only the faithful will do so in joy. May we all accept the reality of God's reign while His offer of grace is extended to us.
Author Bio: Danny has preached for the Northside church of Christ in Del Rio, TX for five years. He and his wife, Lauren, have two children. The church website is delriochurch.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.