Atheists often recite the mantra that their denial of God’s existence stands on reason and science while belief in God stands on faith. The claim, of course is pure fiction. All people use reason and all people have faith in an ultimate authority, though the object of faith may differ. But problems with the claim run deeper, with an irony we would do well to appreciate. Defining faith as blind, the apologists of atheism believe they call people from fairy tales to the enlightened conclusions of science and reason. But underlying the “rational and scientific” façade lurks a well-disguised plea—a call to faith in the perspective and opinion of fallen and finite people. The evangelist of atheism says, in effect, “entrust your meaning, purpose, life, and the ultimate destiny of your soul to my personal opinion.” In short, “have faith in me.” The debate between atheists and Christians has nothing to do with faith versus reason and science (every scientific discovery is consistent with the Christian worldview). Rather, it concerns faith in the God who created everything, knows everything, and has explained everything to us in Scripture, versus faith in the perspective and opinions of people who do not know the contents of their neighbor’s garage without having a look.
As we have seen, atheists assume for themselves the ability and authority to know and explain ultimate realities that they cannot possibly know. They presume their own sufficiency to tell others the source, meaning, and purpose of life, including the destiny of the soul. Naturalists, of course, deny the soul’s existence, a belief they cannot know as true. Yet, they invite you to trust their opinions, including no life after death, no judgment of their works, and no heaven or hell.
They ask you to reject Christ, the only possibility of an eternal, holy, and happy life of meaning and purpose, and exchange Him for the speculations of limited and fallen people. They invite you to deny the obvious, to treat with contempt the One who created us in His image, has given us every good thing, including the ability to reason and discuss such things, and has paid an infinite price of infinite suffering to Himself that we might have forgiveness of sins and new life. They ask you to discard the knowledge of your God-given purpose, meaning, and destiny of immeasurable joy in heaven as God’s royal children in exchange for a few years to do what you want without accountability, without hope or purpose as an accident of time and chance destined for nothing, even as they ask you to trust them that you will not end up in hell for it.
Atheists propose a tall story with serious consequences. And who would dare assume responsibility for the eternal destiny of others and direct them entrust their souls to such blind-faith and unwarranted opinions? Who would write books to influence millions without a certainty that their opinions are absolutely true and not leading people to a horrible fate? Their boldness is frightening and only outdone by their inability to know what they so confidently assert and ask others to embrace. By denying God’s existence they have assumed His place.
Whatever you may think of Pascal’s “Wager” as an encouragement to pursue God, one should consider the eternal consequences of the Christian versus the atheist being wrong about heaven and hell. The contrast is stark. Eternity is forever. Yet, atheists cannot possibly know that hell does not exist and they will not bail you out should they be wrong. Beer commercials notwithstanding, there are no parties in this horrible place. Why would anyone risk even a 1% chance of spending eternity there? Yet, the unreasonable deception of sin risks eternal condemnation for a few years of bread that never satisfies (Isa. 55:2), incurring the guilt of inviting others to follow this disastrous course. And as for the here and now, ask any believer if their life is better or worse since they have been born again, even with its hardships and the scorn of the world. True believers know the infinite value of Christ as compared to the temporary and shallow allurements of the world. Why, then, should anyone trust the untrustworthy prophets of nothing and despair?
To the believer, God remains infinitely excellent and worthy of your life and worship, while the inability of atheists to know what they claim to know will boost your faith in Christ and Scripture. To the unbeliever, please reflect upon the ability of your object of faith to meet your needs and deliver on its promises, implied or otherwise. Please consider that appeals to reason and science to deny God are neither reasonable nor scientific but attempts to justify unbelief and avoid the One to whom we owe all things. Deep down all people know God exists and that He deserves our love, trust, and gratitude (Rom. 1:18ff.). And consider that those writing thick books denying the truth of Scripture, who ask you to trust their siren song concerning God and all things, cannot possibly know what they ask you to believe.
And know that “the Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9 NAS), that He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4 NAS). And while people find comfort in numbers, book sales and popularity provide an untrustworthy barometer of truth or virtue, especially today. “The gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matt. 7:14 NAS). As for the supposed earthly benefits of presuming one’s independence from God, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37 NAS). And disinterest displays contempt for the One who gave us life and every good thing, to whom we owe all things. Christ suffered infinite wrath on His soul to pay the penalty for our rebellion and contempt, and he did so from an overflowing love for the unlovable. Imagine the ingratitude of ignoring such a gift.
Thus, along with the saints and the Apostles, “We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:20-21 NAS). May God give you grace to trust Christ, who alone gives eternal life and meets your every need, to whom belongs all glory and honor forever, Amen.
Scriptures marked NAS are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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© 2018 Craig Biehl, author of God the Reason, The Box, The Infinite Merit of Christ, and Reading Religious Affections
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