The Blind Faith of AtheismRelated Media
God created and sustains all things. His every work bears His fingerprint and signature, giving such clear, comprehensive, and compelling testimony to His power and genius that all people are without excuse for not worshipping and giving Him thanks. Believers and unbelievers, alike, swim in a sea of evidence for God’s nature and existence. But, for the sake of argument, let’s ignore this basic fact for a moment and ask the question: How much knowledge is necessary for an atheist to know that God does not exist?
The short answer is knowledge of everything in the universe and beyond. In other words, one must have the omniscience of God to legitimately deny the existence of God. Or put another way, one must be God to deny God.
Yet, all people are subject to great human limitations. If I can’t know the contents of my neighbor’s garage without looking inside it, how can I possibly know what is beyond the three or four dimensions of my existence or on the other side of the universe?1 Can we trust the opinion of people concerning ultimate realities when they have a hard time remembering where they put the car keys?
Baseless Opinion and Limited Perspective
Atheism, therefore, rests on faith; faith in the authority of human opinion and faith in a presumed ability to know what cannot be known by people with great human limitations. Is it any wonder that Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’”? God’s words to Job are instructive:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements, since you know?” (Job 38:1-5 NAS)
And as God’s words through Isaiah remind us:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge, and informed Him of the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales.... All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless (Isaiah 40:12-17 NAS).
A Proper Perspective
Indeed, a proper view of God provides a proper view of our limitations, and the limitations of those who would deny Him: “Thou hast made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight, surely every man at his best is a mere breath” (Psalm 39:5 NAS). And while all atheists will eventually meet the God they work so hard to deny, we need not be intimidated by their arguments of faith and unfounded opinion until they do. So, the next time you feel intimidated by the sophistication and confidence of atheists or the thickness of their books, remember that they don’t know what is in your garage, let alone what is on the other side of the universe.
Faith Versus Miracles
In the previous section we observed how atheists have great faith in their opinion and presumed ability to know what cannot be known. We’ll now examine how that same faith underlies the claim that the miracles of the Bible are unscientific, illogical, and impossible. Can unbelievers really know that the great and supernatural works of God recorded in Scripture are untrue? As we will see, all arguments against the historical reality of the biblical miracles, regardless of their sophistication, rest on simple and unjustified assumptions of blind faith.
To begin, have you ever noticed the contradiction of appealing to fixed and universal laws to deny biblical miracles in order to affirm a universe built and operating according to random chance? Uniform “laws of nature” can only exist because God designed, created and sustains them, apart from whom no such laws are possible. A world founded on random chance gives no basis for uniform laws of anything (to be discussed in part four). In short, the appeal to uniformity in nature to deny miracles affirms God’s existence in order to deny it. Besides, if the universe is founded on and operates according to random chance, how could anyone know how the universe operated at the time of the biblical miracles, or presume that it existed and operated the same way “millions and billions of years ago” as the evolutionists claim to know? To assume that things have always behaved the same way contradicts their explanation of a random chance universe.
Comparatively Small and Entirely Reasonable
How, then, can the atheist know that the miracles of the Bible are impossible? If a God of infinite power exists, He can do whatever He wants. Indeed, the miracles of Scripture pale in comparison to God’s ongoing exertion of His might to arrange and sustain every particle in the universe at every moment. God the Son “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3 NAS). God’s power displayed in His plagues on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, or Jonah’s cruise in a whale are relatively small compared to His ongoing work of ordering and upholding all things. Every miracle of Scripture is reasonable in light of God’s infinite power. And as God created and sustains the laws by which atheists deny the possibility of miracles (laws that are nothing more than how God chooses to order the universe for a particular period of time), He cannot be limited by them.
Mystery and God’s High Ways
God tells us, “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NAS). Given the limits of our human understanding before a God whose ways are infinitely higher than ours, mysteries and miracles should be expected. Thus, to deny the possibility of the biblical miracles, the atheist must first demonstrate that the biblical Maker and Sustainer of all things does not exist.
Essential but Impossible Knowledge
How, then, can the atheist know that the biblical God of infinite power does not exist, and that miracles are therefore impossible? As we saw in part one of this series, complete knowledge of everything in the universe and beyond is required to legitimately deny the existence of God, an impossible task. And if atheists cannot possibly know that God does not exist, they cannot possibly know that the miracles of Scripture are impossible. Lacking the evidence and ability to justify their claim, atheists must presume what they cannot possibly know to deny the possibility of God’s miracles. Swimming in a sea of evidence for His power, genius, and goodness, they use their God-given reason and blessings to deny the obvious and place their faith in personal opinion and a presumed ability to know what they cannot possibly know. Rightly Scripture tells us, they are “foolish” (Psalm 14:1) and “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
In the next section I will discuss the unwarranted faith behind the atheist’s denial of God based on what they view as illogical teachings of Scripture.
How should believers respond to claims that certain doctrines taught in Scripture are illogical, such as the Trinity? Or, given the existence of evil, logic proves a good and all-powerful God cannot exist because an infinitely powerful God could and would prevent evil (the “problem of evil”)? Atheists and Christians agree that logic guides right thinking, and both use logic to formulate and test truth claims. But, does the common appeal to rules of logic exempt the atheist from the problem of human limitations as discussed in parts one and two?
More Unfounded Faith
Here, again, we see in the atheist the same unfounded faith in human opinion and the ability to know what cannot be known. For instance, God is infinitely beyond our human limitations and can only be known as He chooses to make Himself known, and He has revealed Himself as a Trinity. From our limited human perspective, then, how can we know otherwise? If we deny God’s existence because we cannot logically reconcile God as three persons and one God, we assume that only those things we can fully understand can be true of God. But does our inability to fully comprehend an infinite God mean He cannot exist as He has revealed Himself to be? To deny His existence or nature because we cannot entirely grasp what He has revealed about Himself constitutes faith in our limited understanding as the ultimate standard of truth and makes our limited perspective the ultimate standard of what can and cannot be true of an infinite God. But how can anyone know the nature of an infinite God apart from what He has revealed about Himself? How can one who does not know the contents of his neighbor’s garage know that God cannot be a Trinity? Here again, atheists suffer from the same human limitations as the rest of us when it comes to knowing ultimate realities, including the ultimate reality of an infinite and Triune God.
The Problem of Evil
The same problem confronts the appeal to the problem of evil to deny God’s existence. The inability to comprehend why a God of perfect goodness and power allowed evil into His universe reveals the limits of human knowledge, but has no effect on the possibility of God’s existence. God has revealed much about the nature and existence of evil as it entered the universe by the will of free creatures. But mysteries remain, and the limited perspective and speculation of people cannot be the ultimate standard of what a God that transcends the world He created can be or do. In any event, the premise, “a good God will always prevent evil,” cannot be validated (and we know from Scripture and history that it is false). Things that appear impossible from our limited vantage point may be possible, nonetheless. And while sufficient to know and love Him personally, our knowledge reduces to next to nothing in the face of His infinity.
Useful Logic in Limited Hands
Logic is a valuable and indispensable gift from God to help us order our thinking and knowledge of Him and His universe. And because God is perfectly logical, no contradictions exist in Him. Yet, as used by limited and fallible people, logic alone cannot be the ultimate standard of truth regarding our infinite God—that honor belongs to God’s revelation. We depend on God telling us what He is like, and He has done so in Scripture. We can know Him truly as He has chosen to reveal Himself, but if we could fully understand Him we would be God. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). That we are unable to fully understand an infinite God is quite logical. To deny the existence of God because our limited understanding cannot fathom certain mysteries or truths He has revealed about Himself assumes our own limited understanding to be the ultimate standard of truth, an irrational and illogical assumption. God alone is the ultimate standard of truth.
Therefore, the same unfounded faith in human opinion and presumed ability to know what cannot be known underlying arguments against biblical miracles also underlie denials of God based on difficulties reconciling biblical truths according to our limited use of logic. People lack the perspective, knowledge, and ability to rightly deny the existence of an infinite God, regardless of the criteria they use.
For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe’ (1 Corinthians 1:19-21 NAS).
And while we can never fully understand everything about our infinite God, He has graciously revealed to us all we need to know to love and trust Him. Indeed, to trust His perfect power and character in the face of great mystery is the logical thing to do.
Chaos and Order
In the earlier discussion of “faith versus miracles” I briefly mentioned the problem of denying miracles based on the uniform laws of “nature” when a world founded on random chance gives no basis for such laws. Order can only exist because God designed, created, and sustains the universe. This poses a great problem for atheists because the basis by which they deny miracles is only possible because God exists, a contradiction to their claim. In other words, “the universe is founded on random chance,” but that which is contrary to random chance (i.e., uniform laws of “nature”) proves that biblical miracles are impossible. In this convenient sleight of hand, they deny their worldview to affirm it, or affirm God’s existence to deny it.
Imagine a Random Chance Universe
For the sake of argument, let’s assume the hypothetical world of the atheist, that all matter and energy came from nothing or have always existed, and that all things in this universe are founded upon and operate according to random chance. Now consider a few problems with such a universe.
No Purpose and Meaning
First, how can one random chance occurrence without meaning or purpose ascribe meaning or purpose to other random chance occurrences? Picture a universe where the nature, existence, and number of things continually change, where they randomly appear and disappear, where nothing can be predicted and anything can happen at any time, while nothing is related to anything else. Can purpose and meaning exist in such a universe? “If God exists and we are made in His image we can have real meaning,” but if not, all is absurd and meaningless.2
Second, how can a random chance occurrence interpret another random chance occurrence if the subject, object, and everything else continually changes, and nothing exists in the same form or relationship to anything else? How can flux interpret flux? All meaningful interpretation would be impossible in such a universe.
Third, how could anything be described with language? Words label things that have constant and knowable characteristics. But, how can a word refer to something that has no continuing trait or existence from one moment to the next? For example, consider a pet cat.
We can use language to describe a cat because it has certain common characteristics that people agree describe a cat. When someone says “cat” we think of a low-to-the-ground furry thing that purrs, takes great delight in ripping up perfectly good carpets, and excitedly runs about the house making an odd kind of celebratory howling noise after using the cat box (it’s the oddest thing). But, to what would the term “cat” refer if everything randomly changes continually?3
No word could apply to anything if nothing remains the same from one moment to the next. Language is impossible when words have no fixed and specific meaning.
No Truth and Knowledge
Fourth, truth and knowledge also require continuity of meaning and existence, for nothing could be true or known to be true of anything if all things continuously and unpredictably change. Truth and knowledge would be impossible in a universe founded upon and operating according to random chance.
Fifth, thought would be impossible. And even if we assume a designed and organized brain, along with all of the designed and organized systems to support it, thought requires the distinct ordering and continuity of language and knowledge, each of which are impossible in a random chance universe.
Atheists may object to this line of reasoning by pointing out that our universe has little or no resemblance to the hypothetical universe described here. And they would be correct, but only because God exists. Things have continuity of existence and operate according to uniform laws because God designed, created, and upholds all things. The universe, as we know it, is quite impossible apart from the genius and power of God and cannot reasonably be explained by random chance.
In the end, atheists rest their claims on untrustworthy and unjustified blind faith in personal opinion, trust in a presumed ability to know what cannot be known apart from God’s revelation, and belief in an impossible explanation of the source and nature of the universe. Created and dependent on God for everything, we could never know God or the ultimate source and nature of all things if He did not reveal Himself and explain to us how and why we are here. And so we thank Him for a faith that stands on His Word to us, Scripture, and agrees with all that we know about His world. We praise Him for removing our hostility toward the obvious testimony of created reality to His power and genius, and for giving us a heart to see and love the excellence of Christ as Savior. Through Christ alone we have forgiveness of sin, eternal life, and eyes to see His universe correctly.
1 See Craig Biehl, The Box: Answering the Faith of Unbelief (Nashville: Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015).
2 Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There in Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990; Originally published by IVP, 1968), 76.
3 Craig Biehl, God the Reason: How Infinite Excellence Gives Unbreakable Faith (Nashville: Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015), 35.