|Statue of Jesus Christ in Carrollton, Ga.|
In modern America, we live in culture in which religious thought and beliefs are often ridiculed and discarded in favor of secular thought. All religions are commonly derided as myths. A new generation of atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, is not content to coexist with religious believers, but seems determined to drive all religious thought from the public forum.
Yet in reality, a belief solely in logic and reason is not logical or reasonable. Atheists must realize that, given the immense amount of available information in the universe, we cannot know everything. Yet if we cannot know everything, how can we even be sure that we can’t know everything. We cannot know for sure what we can and cannot know. What we don’t know may change or contradict something that we think we know. This is why science books are constantly being rewritten. It is foolish to arbitrarily rule out the existence of God if we cannot know that he actually does not exist.
As Rabbi Derek Leman of Stone Mountain’s Tikvat David Messianic Congregation discussed on his podcast, naturalists, people who reject the supernatural, have a self-defeating philosophy. Drawing on C.S. Lewis’ book Miracles, Leman notes that reasoning refutes itself: “If reasoning is nothing more than moving particles of matter or energy in my brain, then I have no basis to trust knowledge as a valid concept... Reasoning used to not exist, at least in the naturalist worldview and the evolutionary creationist worldview. So we should ask the question: how did it come into existence? There was no designer according to this theory, and indeed until there were thinkers, there was no such thing as truth or falsehood, so thinking must have evolved by natural selection. But how could this happen when our thoughts and sensations were subrational? What mechanism made them capable of knowing truth and making inferences that are fact? This is a real problem and it imposes on the naturalist the very embarrassing task of trying to show how randomly evolved reasoning could also be a power of seeing truths. In other words, if reason developed through random means, why should we believe that anything that comes to us through reason is actually what we would call truth?”
People who reject the supernatural constitute a minority of the world’s population. According to Adherents.com, only 8 percent of the people in the world are atheists. That number holds true for the United States. A USA Today/Gallup poll from 2010 reports that 92 percent of Americans believe in God. In Georgia, deep in the Bible belt, only 2 percent do not believe in God according to Pewforum.org. Even political partisanship doesn’t make a very big difference in belief in God. According to Gallup, eight percent of Democrats and independents do not believe in God. This is consistent with the national average. On the other hand, Republicans are more theistic than average with a rate of only one percent of nonbelievers.
What these statistics demonstrate is that naturalists exhibit a superior attitude, deriding the majority for their belief in God, without any evidence that their atheistic beliefs are correct. In effect a small part of the population, without any additional information or evidence that the majority lacks, is taking the position that they have special knowledge and enlightenment. In fact, more and more of this minority is feeling the need to evangelize their faith, the belief that God is nothing more than a myth and can be replace by something as contrived as a “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” There is both an arrogance and an irony to this position, especially in light of the lack of evidence against a deity.
|Christ the Redeemer in Rio (Sean Vivek Crasto)|
The belief in God by an overwhelming majority of the world’s population would seem to bear out the Bible’s contention that knowledge of God is “made plain by God” and that “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 people are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-23). The people of the world may not have seen or read Judeo-Christian scriptures, but they can see the evidence of God’s existence from his creation. Those who reject this obvious truth “claimed to be wise, [but] they became fools” (v. 22).
Further, as Christian apologist Chuck Colson points out, naturalism and logic cannot adequately explain the four major questions of life. Colson points out that secular naturalists cannot explain how the universe originated. Their only answers toward how to solve the world’s problems are utopian ideals that, when put into practice by less than perfect human beings, often result in piles of dead bodies. They view the purpose of life as self-fulfillment, but cannot explain the evolutionary purpose of altruism. In light of Darwin’s ideal of survival of the fittest, it makes no sense to help the poor and the weak at your own expense.
On the other hand, if God does exist, then it is both reasonable and logical to believe in miracles. If God created the world, whether by speaking it into existence as it presently appears or through the process of evolution, then it follows that he has the power to intervene in nature. It would be a simple matter for the God who created the world to part the sea or resurrect the dead. It would be more difficult to believe that God would be unable to effect miracles.
As John Leonard, Atlanta Creationism Examiner, recently wrote, “It makes perfect sense that a supernatural God could, and would employ explicable, reproducible natural world phenomena to confirm His awesome power by His ability to predict, control and manipulate nature.” Because a miracle can be explained by the scientific method does not mean that it is devoid of the supernatural. Even if we find a rational explanation, the supernatural should not necessarily be discounted.
As an example, Leonard cites scientific rationales for the plagues that God sent upon Egypt in the days of Moses (Exodus 7-12). Each plague plus the parting of the sea (Exodus 14) can be explained and corroborated scientifically. However, the timing of these miracles and the resulting freedom for the Israelites implies a divine hand at work for specific purpose. The fact that God used natural phenomena to work his will does not make his control over nature any less thorough or the result any less miraculous.
God’s greatest miracle was the sacrifice and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ, but not because of the mere triumph over death. If God is truly the creator of life then he would obviously have control over life and death. The difference in the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ is that it granted the gift of eternal life to anyone who chooses to accept it.
Without Christ we are all living under a sentence of death for our sins. The miracle of Jesus is that God has offered us a free pardon, a get-out-of-jail free card. By accepting God’s offer and Christ’s sacrifice, we all have the chance to escape eternal death (as a few have returned to speak of). The miracle is that God freely offers love, redemption, and salvation to us in spite of our sins. This is the miracle of Easter.
Belief in God and science are not mutually exclusive. Many scientists and educated people are Christians and believers in God. In Atlanta, those who are interested in science and God can attend the monthly meetings of the Atlanta chapter of Reasons to Believe. The group meets on the last Thursday of each month at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta. The group is also on Facebook.
Readers not in the Atlanta area can find local chapters on the Reasons to Believe website.