Is This Program Right Or Wrong?

Recently in a lectureship in Las Vegas, Nevada, I was challenged by a local denominational minister on whether the work we are doing is biblically right or wrong. A rather wide range of objections were raised to even suggesting that we should offer evidence of God's existence. Among them were these:

1. Any attempt to prove the existence of God depends upon human wisdom and knowledge, and God is far too great for any such attempt.

2. Attempts to explain the spiritual by using physical things is not possible.

3. Scriptures like Romans 1:25 demonstrate that.all humans really believe. It is only those who are deliberately dishonest who claim to be atheists.

4. Human knowledge, understandings, and philosophy change and God does not, so using human things to understand God's existence is doomed to failure.

5. The Bible says faith comes by hearing the Word of God ( Romans 10:17 ), and human logic and science are not a part of that.

6. If you prove God's existence by facts A, B, and C and if A, B, and C turn out to be inaccurate, then your faith in God is destroyed.

To me, it was ironic that such a series of objections were raised by ministers in Las Vegas because this is a city desperately in need of spiritual help and faith and, for the most part, little is being done to meet that need by the religious community.

Man thinking very hard There are a lot of appealing arguments in these objections for those who are ministers. There is no need to deal with those academic fields related to apologetics, and all questions are confined to theological discussions. There is also no requirement to deal on practical terms with the hard questions that humans have to deal with such as human suffering and the purposes of our existence in relationship to that. Pat answers can be given to all human problems by picking an appropriate biblical passage and quoting it.

The problem of such assertions is that they ignore many biblical passages and are totally out of touch with the real world that most of us live in. First of all, it is biblically wrong and arrogant to suggest that all atheists are liars. Your author was an atheist because of his upbringing, and more and more people in today's world doubt the existence of God because they have had no opportunity to believe. In John 11, we see a man named Thomas who is the strongest of all of the other followers of Jesus. When it appears that Christ will be killed, Thomas responds with "let us also go that we may die with him" (verse 16). A few chapters later in John 20:24 , we see this same man denying Christ. Not only does Thomas deny Jesus, but he also tells what it would take to make him reestablish his faith. "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." Thomas was not dishonest or willingly antagonistic; he just needed evidence. Jesus responds in verse 26 by showing Thomas his hands and his side.

There are many other passages in the Bible which speak about the role of evidence in faith: Job 10:8-14 , 12:7 , 38-41; Psalms 8 , 19:1-6 , 104:6-24 , 139:14 ; Proverbs 8 ; Acts 17:24-26 ; Romans 1:18-25 . Those who deny the use of evidence are being very one-dimensional in their approach to faith. The Bible demonstrates a very wide approach to faith encouraging man to learn about God in all the ways available to man. Saying that "faith comes by hearing." the Word of God is not an exclusive statement. There is no question that knowing God's Word can build faith nor does it invalidate passages like those above.

Another problem that those who oppose the use of evidence in developing and building faith have is that they do not understand the process. Jesus repeatedly provided evidence to the people of his day. In spite of his miracles, however, there were many people who continued to disbelieve--especially the religious leaders of the day. God has never forced faith. Man has always been free to deny God in spite of the evidence God has provided. Blind faith is not what God has demanded of man, but rather an intelligent leap of faith. Evidences reduce the size of that leap, but it never removes it. Even spiritual things can be strengthened and illustrated by physical things. Jesus used parables which were physical illustrations to teach spiritual concepts.

It is true that human knowledge changes and that new scientific knowledge becomes available on a daily basis. Every time a new discovery is made, it is up to man to see how it can be applied. That is true both physically and spiritually. The lesson of history is that as new discoveries are made, they support the existence of God and the credibility of the Bible. If we make a mistake, it will be rectified as our understandings become more complete and more accurate.

The more we know of the creation, the more we know of the Creator. If God created the cosmos, the evidence has to agree with His Word. If they do not, we have either misunderstood the evidence or we have misunderstood His Word or both. In the past, there has been a lot of both, but this is self-correcting. To refuse to use tools God has given to help men and women grow in their understanding and spirituality is a major error. 

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, JanFeb02.