Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:22)
Lately, the Lord has been sending atheists to me challenging me to prove to them the existence of God. It baffles me why, if they really do not believe that God exists, they insist on demanding proof of His existence. If they truly believe that God does not exist, why should it matter to them what Christians believe about the existence of God? One would think that they would adopt the attitude of live-and-let-live. One atheist excused his antagonism against Christians because he felt Christians always tried to shove God down his throat. Personally, I know few Christians that are that aggressive in their evangelistic zeal. Sadly, most Christians are timid about sharing their faith. So, this perceived Christian aggression most likely comes in the form of Christian radio and television programs and occasionally through secular airwaves as Christians opine as part of a news broadcast. Perhaps the occasional street preacher comes along with his message of hell fire and damnation, but all of these are easily avoided. Such methods seem to fall far short of heavy-handed evangelism, but obviously such ostensibly innocuous proclamation of the Gospel is as caustic to an atheist as water on the Wicked Witch of the West, and atheists hate it.
Last week I got into a protracted conversation with such an atheist. Rather than attempting to prove to him that God does exist, I challenged him to prove to me that He doesn’t exist. Of course he could not. So then I challenged him to explain the existence of the universe and all that we see, including our own existence. He immediately took up the Big Bang banner for which he asserted that there was more proof than for creation – a broad, sweeping generalization which he could not substantiate. From there he went right into attack mode on “people [who] created God to answer for everything they never understood … because everything they question has been answered with God’s work.” Of course he, who is open-minded and not bound by such limitations, prefers “to live a lift [sic] seeking an answer, a real one, even if it’s never answered, [he would] rather not just give up.” Interestingly, he is willing to chase any option other than God. Then his audacious arrogance clearly came through:
If one day the clouds open and there appears a figure … and he spoke to me, or if I were to die and somehow my dead brain, full of non-active brain cells became active again and I hallucinated that I arrived at the Pearly Gates and was met by your lord and saviour [sic]. He then asks why I never had faith of his existence….
This is where I will make a few points…
A) – God “planned out my life” = So he planned for me to be an Atheist and see all the faults and flaws in religion
B) – God–is all forgiving and = Well then no matter what I do (because he mapped out all that before I was born) he’ll b’ forgiving and accepted me.
C) – I w–s [sic] made in his image, his faults are mine.
D) – God–is all loving = Why would he “crea“e [sic] me” kno”ing [sic] I would live my life not under his strict regime; resulting in me spending my afterlife in hell. That’s a ’retty [sic] [expletive] move, even if he’s “t’st“ng” [sic] me ”o [sic] prove me [sic] “love“ to ”im [sic], that’s on’ [sic] sick guy by human standards.
But I would stare him in the eyes and go “Where was the proof?” (emphasis mine)
Besides pointing out that he had not satisfactorily answered the question of existence and instead resorted to parroted and unsubstantiated generalizations about the Big Bang for which there is absolutely no proof and which is all based on conjecture, I offered the following reply:
Let me briefly respond to the four points you made:
A) God does have a plan for your life, but you are not obligated to follow it. Some of this is answered by “C&D” below. God “is longsuffering [toward us], not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
B) God is forgiving, but He sets a limit on His forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). However, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man [sows], that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). “Or [do you despise] the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God [leads] thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart [treasure] up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:4-5).
C&D) Mankind in general, not YOU in particular, was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). There are several aspects to this, but the aspect that is pertinent to this point is that of WILL. God did not create man as a robot programmed to do exactly as He commands. He gives us the ability to choose whether or not to have a relationship with Him. We can accept or reject Him through our own free will. God wants a relationship with you, but He will not impose Himself on you. He loves you, but only you can decide if you will love Him. God doesn’t send anyone to hell. Those that go to hell are there because they chose to reject God; it isn’t God’s choice (see “A” above).
God, by definition, is perfect in every aspect. When God created man, man was as perfect as a created being could be and he was placed in a perfect, sinless environment. But in order to have a perfect relationship, man had to make a choice whether to obey or disobey God. The choice was simple. There was only one rule to break or keep: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Man chose to disobey. “And when the woman saw that the tree [of the knowledge of good and evil] was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). At that point man lost the perfection with which he was created, and the relationship between man and his Creator was broken, because perfect God cannot abide imperfection.
At this point the God of the Bible deviates from all other man-made gods, because from this point on, it is God that puts forth the effort to restore that relationship. He loved man so much, even in his fallen state, that He took it upon Himself to pay the penalty for man’s disobedience by taking the form of man, coming to earth to live as man, then die a painful and humiliating death on a cross, only to conquer death and rise again on the third day. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
No other man-made god, no other religion has a God like the God of the Bible. And you have the option to reject Him, if you want, but THAT is YOUR choice. And when you wake up in hell, you won’t be able to blame God for YOUR choice. “He that [believes] on him is not condemned: but he that [does not believe] is condemned already, because he [has] not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:18-19).
When you meet Him, (and you will meet him), the words “Where was the proof?” will stick in your throat so that you will choke on them! Here is the proof: “that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God [has shown] it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). The proof is in your hand! Can’t you see the wonderful design – how well it operates to let you turn a wrench, play a violin or paint a masterpiece? What about the marvel of your eyes? You are no product of randomness! But whether you believe or not, the choice is yours and just like any other independent agent, you are responsible for your own choices as well as for the consequences of your choices.
I left him with one final word from Scripture: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
I have not heard back from him. I pray that some of this sank in.