The Fool’s Answer About God, Part 2

[NOTE: Numbers in parenthesis refer to notes at the end of article]

“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 53:1).

The psalmist and fool returned for their card game, tossing their bets, calling one another on their hands, and attempting to gain an edge with each card.  Their bantering continued back and forth for about an hour in their attempts to gain a philosophical strategic advantage.  The fool was hesitant to say much about the questions the psalmist left on the table from their prior game.  He thought long and hard about them, attempting to wrestle through some subtle and distracting replies from his readings of the Four Horsemen of new atheism: Dennet, Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins.  Although, he did not want to be the first to speak, he believed he was ready to engage in this winner-take-all bout with the psalmist.  He read through numerous philosophical arguments from the four atheists and others and considered himself armed to reply to any question about the psalmist’s God.

The psalmist threw out a question, “Mr. Fool, have you ever been married?”  The psalmist paused to wait for an answer from the fool.

The fool was caught off guard by the sudden question seemingly unrelated to their previous discussion about God.  He wondered what marriage had to do with whether God exists or not.  He was unsure what the psalmist was up to and how to address his question.  His readings of atheism had not prepared him for such a question.

Then the fool replied,  “Uh…Yeah…Yes.  But what of it?  None of the ten marriages ever worked out for me.  I never got anything out of them.  Every morning when I sat down at breakfast, the wife I had would preach at me about this or that, trying to convince me of her god.  They were the worst communions I ever had.  I then shopped around to find the woman with the best looks, listened a bit to her ideas, got tired of them, and decided they were not to my liking.

The fool paused and then continued, “It was similar to searching for a church, you know.  Sit in the pew for awhile, get preached at, but never getting anything out of it.  I couldn’t get any satisfaction as the Rolling Stones would say, you know…heh heh…the preacher was like the voice on the radio trying to ignite my imagination with useless information…how pure my soul could be.”

The psalmist interrupted, “So, finding a wife is like finding a good church, eh?  You didn’t get anything out of marriage or church?  What was it you were looking for?  Self-fulfillment? Self-gratification?  Some magic solution to solve all your problems?  Did you believe the preacher or your wives were genies ready to pop out the lamp and fulfill all your fantasies?

The fool squirmed in his chair just thinking of his failed marriages and all the hypocrites he met in one church after another.  The fool replied in an angry tone as his face grew red and his hands shook, “What a second.  What does having a wife have to do with God, religion, or church?  I don’t get it.  I’m not interested in your psychoanalysis.  So what’s your point?”

The psalmist replied, “In our last card game, you suggested believers in God must take a “flying leap” of faith.  You also said that you didn’t need faith and that faith is a religious thing.  My point is that faith, or its twin “trust” is relational.  You do not rely on science for proof your wife loves you or that she is beautiful, kind, and patient with you in spite of any conflict or disagreement the two of you encountered.  Tell me how you apply scientific methodology to those qualities?  Tell me, also, how interpersonal trust between a husband and wife or even friends are religious experiences if indeed you assign faith only to religion.  Do you establish a null hypothesis (1) and apply statistical analysis in relationships for determining the confidence level of marital love?  What scientific proof do you need from the women you married that they loved and trusted you?  Finally, would you apply such an analysis to yourself for seeking scientific proof of your trusting commitment to your spouse or even that she is your spouse at all?”

The fool thought about all the alimony he paid out to each wife that left him without the means to buy his boat and RV and retorted, “Now wait a minute!  That is plain ludicrous!  You can’t apply science in that way.”

The psalmist interrupted, “Why not?  If atheists hold that science is the arbiter of all that can be known, (2) then the qualities of love, faithfulness, patience, beauty, or relational trust cannot be known except through scientific method.  The trait of trust is every bit a faith factor in relationships, and this fact seems to escape your notice.  Even the atheist Bertrand Russell suggested as much when he said, “What science cannot tell us, mankind cannot know.” (3)  Would you make exceptions for beauty, love, faithfulness, and trust by claiming that they are not within the realm of knowledge?  Or would you claim their nonexistence altogether or that they are subject to individual taste or perspective?  If so, are perspective or taste not then part of the realm of knowledge?  If they are part of human knowledge, would then Bertrand Russell’s assessment not apply that they are subject to scientific inquiry and proof?  How would scientific inquiry explain trust, love, and faithfulness apart from religion if you hold that faith is the exclusive realm of religion?  Also, you claimed that those who believe in God must take a leap of faith.

The psalmist paused, leaned over the table, looked the fool in the eyes, and continued, “Did you take a leap of faith each time you married?  Was not your interactions with your marital prospect sufficient substance and evidence (4)  for you to trust her enough to marry?  That does not sound like a leap to me but trust based on knowledge of the woman you wanted to marry before you said “I do.”  You admitted that you shopped around, examined each woman you married, listened to their ideas, and then made your choice.  Did you not gain knowledge of each woman before you married?  Was there not evidence?  Even with such evidence, you still needed mutual trust for your relationship or skepticism and doubt of your spouse would continue to overshadow you.

The fool seemed stunned by what the psalmist said.  He stared at the cards in his hand and contemplated if they were good enough to win this round.  One card kept him from an inside straight and winning the hand.  He discarded one and asked for another card.  The card he received had written on it EMOTION.  He thought, “That’s it!” Love and trust like faith are just emotions.”

The fool looked up from his cards straight into the eyes of the psalmist and exclaimed, “Faith like love is nothing but an emotion.  You can express emotions toward things that do not exist, such as a dead loved one.  Dead people no longer exist.  Christians do the same with God.  They simply express their emotions toward a god that really does not exist.”

The fool folded his arms, sit up straight in his chair, held his head high, grinned at the psalmist, and said, “Answer that!  Your god is simply wishful thinking based on emotional desire.”

The psalmist spoke gently, “Mr. Fool, your explanation of love is reductionistic much like Sigmund Freud’s assessment of religion as being nothing more than an illusion or mental illness or Karl Marx’s belief that it is no more than the “sigh of the oppressed” or “opiate of the people.”  Anyone can derive a philosophy of love.  Tina Turner did when she referred to it as a “second hand emotion.”  Now these are unsubstantiated truth claims.  They are simply sheer philosophical assumption from speculation arising from a given worldview.  Your claim also has no substance for scientific analysis as you claim as needed for knowledge.  It is no more than philosophical mysticism.

“Mr Fool,” the psalmist continued, do you think that perhaps your lack of understanding of faith may have contributed to your ten failed marriages?  You compared it to going to church for Christians – seeking what you could get from it rather than give to it.

The psalmist laid one of his cards on the table that showed the following formula:

faith (substance + evidence) = hope (God’s promises) + unseen realities (faithfulness, love, patience, self-control, kindness, giving)

Mr. Fool,” the psalmist said in a compassionate voice, “This card shows a formula that God has revealed to everyone about the essence of faith.  It transcends any religious experience or practice to the relational.  It not only applies to relationships with people but also with God.  Just as your trust in people elevates your hope, so also does this same trust in God do the same.  This faith is not a religious leap of faith but that which relies on knowledge.  Human philosophy claims that faith begins when knowledge ends.  It also claims that since God does not exist, that theists must take that leap of faith and cling to it in the face of God’s nonexistence.  That is not the biblical view of faith.  It does not separate faith from knowledge but rather joins them.  That knowledge consists of all God is and does in time and space.  Our tendency toward evil is undeniable historical fact that requires a remedy beyond ourselves before we destroy ourselves. As any judge would in human courts, God must judge all evil and those who commit it.

“God declares,

“There is none who does good. God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one. Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? There they are in great fear where no fear was” (Psalm 53:2-5).

“God broke through time and space and provided the remedy in the life of His Son Jesus.  He lived a life pleasing to God, a life we could not live.  He also died in our place so that we do not have to be judged for our evil.  Placing faith in God’s remedy gives hope of escape from God’s judgment and for being with God forever.”

The psalmist paused once again and then asked, “What is your assessment of this faith, Mr. Fool?”  How do you see yourself in relation with this God and His remedy?”

“One of God’s spokesman wrote,

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame”” (Romans 10:9-11).

The fool looked at the losing cards in his hand and stammered, “I…I…uh…I never thought of it like that before.  Let me…give your words some thought, and I will have an answer the next time we meet.”

__________________

CITED NOTES

(1) Null Hypothesis – Something assumed to be true unless statistical analysis shows otherwise.

(2) Paul Copan, How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong: Responding to Objections that Leave Christians Speechless, Baker Books, 2005, p. 58.

(3) Attributed to Russell in Ted Peters’ Cosmos As Creation: Theology and Science in Consonance (1989), p. 14

(4) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  While this passage applies to God, its truth shows it as a relational quality between and among people.  As a married couple gains knowledge of the other, their faith and trust in one another grows and becomes more firm.  That trust promotes hope of a lasting relationship and evidence of unseen realities – continued faithfulness, integrity, and self-control.

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The Content of Faith

Many centuries ago the Christian philosopher Anselm of Canterbury wrote,

“For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand. For I believe this also, that ‘unless I believe, I shall not understand’ [Isa. 7: 9]. (St. Anselm (1998-09-10). Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 87). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.)

Understanding arises from faith and not faith from understanding inasmuch as sight does not require faith. For if faith arises from understanding, there would be no faith, because understanding would swallow it through (in)sight. Yet we have faith for understanding much of what remains unseen. The unseen has substance and evidence, and we do not deny that unseen because we admit its substance and the evidence for it. Science continuously shows us such substance, and we have faith in our scientific instruments to confirm this substance. Yet, some question both the substance and evidence for faith until someone makes a promise to us. That promise contains both substance and evidence. That substance is its fulfillment, and the evidence is that the promise remains unseen until also fulfilled.

God does the same thing for us. He is bold enough to step out of His sphere into ours and make a promise and big enough to bring it to pass. Jesus assumed our status in our humanity, loved us, gave His life for us to deliver us from our nihilistic state. His promise was God’s promise,

“In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, i would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself so that where I am you will be, also” (John 14:2-3).

Are we courageous enough to believe that promise from the unseen God inasmuch as we believe the unseen words coming from our spouse or close friend?  Trust depends on it.  Those who depend on and have faith in their spouses or friends come from different religious and philosophical persuasions.  They are Christian, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and a number of other persuasions.  Some say, faith is fake or not required, because they see it as a religious expression.  Yet contrary to their own persuasion, they exercise that faith daily with their spouses and friends, for they depend on their word, and trust them to fulfill it.  Faith in God is no different. Although He remains unseen, He is relational, and He expands our understanding of trust.  While unseen, He calls us to trust His promises.  Can this call be any different from trusting out spouse or a friend?  It holds as much substance and evidence, for it is tested daily in the crucible of relationships.

Ten Obstacles to Saving Faith: Introduction and Obstacle One

In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul sets out to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of that defense of the gospel is faith. Throughout this letter, Paul gives meaning to faith by association with the contents of the gospel. The center of that gospel is Jesus Christ. He associates faith with the following:

  • grace (Romans 1:5; 5:2; 12:3)
  • righteousness (1:17)
  • Christ’s sacrificial death (3:25),
  • justification (3:28, 30; 4:5; 5:1)
  • righteousness (4:11-13; 9:30-32; 10:6-8)
  • God’s promises and inheritance (4:13-20)
  • obedience (1:5; 16:26)

All of these comprise the meaning of God’s saving act toward us. They stand in contrast to our alienation from God and unbelief resulting in rebellion against and rejection of Him. In the first chapter of Romans, Paul sets out ten obstacles to saving faith, which prevent people from coming into relationship with God both in our existing life and in the life to come of eternity. These obstacles resist the above listed benefits from God and reflect unbelief. This article addresses the first obstacle with subsequent articles taking up each of the others. While Paul writes of these obstacles from the perspective of those who reject God and fail to believe Him, Christians can also stand in the way of enjoying relating to God and enjoying His presence in life through not believing God in the benefits He offers.  This is not to say that Christians do not possess these benefits.  Rather, believers can doubt them and fall into a similar life as someone who does not believe the gospel and the benefits it brings them.

In laying out the condition of all humanity in Romans 1-2, Paul sets forth a heavy indictment of those who reject God. Among the first of these indictments include ungodliness and unrighteousness. He writes,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

Notice that ungodliness and unrighteousness begin a downward spiral. The first of their acts is the suppression of truth. Once this suppression occurs, indignity toward God results in dishonoring him. That follows with lack of gratitude leading to futile thinking and a dark heart. Once rejection of God and His glory thrusts Him down through dishonor and ingratitude, it leads to lifting up a claim to wisdom and ultimately full-blown idolatry.  A claim to the wisdom of which Paul notes, is really a claim of being wiser than God for recognizing what is best for ourselves.  The wisdom of which Paul speaks leads to idolatry (1:23), that is corrupting the image of God and setting up images gods unworthy of Him.

Rejection of God takes many forms:

  • Embracing God and then turning away (apostasy)
  • Claiming that one cannot know God (agnosticism)
  • Denying that God actually exists (atheism)
  • Worshiping of other gods (polytheism) made in the image of man (idolatry)
  • Defying outright God although one knows Him (rebellion)
  • Practicing the occult and cultism (Satanism)
  • Making excuses for not embracing God by faith (self-will)

Regardless of the form, they all add up to unbelief and rejection of God. Paul makes known that unbelief is the key ingredient leading to ultimate idolatry and all of its trappings: uncleanness, lust, and dishonorable treatment of self. The list Paul makes provides a summary of the type of people who typify unbelief (Romans 1:29-31), among which consist of sexual immorality, envy, murder, strife, violence, lack of trust and love.  Idolatry is the act of the worship of gods made in the image of those things in the created order including humanity.  It is the enshrinement and placement of anything in the created order as first place before God.  All of the above listed rejections of God are idolatrous practices.

Notice that their progression begins with ungodliness and unrighteousness. These two characteristics describe the natural bent of humanity. The first term, ungodliness, refers to a lack of respect or irreverence. It is a failure to render honor. It is the negation of a bent toward the goodness that characterizes God. The second term suggests unfaithfulness or disloyalty and not imperfection. It could also describe faithlessness that exhibits wrongdoing, injustice, and wickedness. Unrighteousness is a force for all other evils, especially those that Paul sums up at the conclusion of the chapter (1:29-31).

In listing the irrational and hostile traits at the conclusion of chapter one, Paul illustrates an undeniable truth. Those who exhibit ungodliness and unrighteousness toward God conduct themselves in like manner toward their fellow humans. If they demonstrate unrighteousness toward God, they will do so toward others. If they display acts counter to the sexual design for which God created them, they will perpetrate sexual immorality as described in the Bible toward others (1:29). If they are haters of God (1:30), they will be malicious, envious, deceptive, evil-minded, violent, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful toward others (1:29-31). Dishonor and irreverence only perpetuates the results of these characteristics toward others. The empirical evidence is obvious worldwide where we witness conflicts and wars over the material goods of the world and the desire to deprive others not only of their property but also of their lives either on an individual level or on the level of a society or nation.

Faith in God cannot stand when such turmoil and maliciousness exist. They exist or have existed within each person on the earth and in every person who has ever lived who never turned to God. For faith to exist and thrive, all individuals must recognize, admit to, and turn away from ungodliness and unrighteousness. The Bible calls this repentance. Repentance and faith must come together, and they do so only through God’s activity within the individual in turning a person from his or her own self-oriented condition toward Jesus Christ to recognize Him as the Redeemer of one’s soul.

Copyright (c) 2014 Action Faith  Books Press.  All rights reserved.  Cannot be used or stored in any form without expressed written permission from Action Faith Books Press.

An Invitation to Discuss Published Articles on this Website

As a source of writing and publishing on issues related to biblical faith and its defense, this website is open to all who wish to respond to these issues regardless of their faith or philosophical persuasion.  This means those from any religion or denomination or even atheists may reply to articles.  However, all written responses are moderated.  Such an invitation calls for a dialog of respect.  This means that those who seek to engage in accusations, abuse, name-calling, slander, and related behaviors will not be able to post messages in response to written articles.  People can disagree and support their side without being abusive.

Thank you,

Action Faith Books Press

Atheism and Its Irrational Call for Proof of God

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”1

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Peter 3:15).1

Atheism frequently demands that those who believe in God give proof of His existence.  It claims the requirement of such proof before the willingness to believe God does exist.  The evidence for them is “proof.”  Apart from this demand for faith being a contradiction, atheism’s approach is a contradiction.  To demand perceived (or seen) proof for believing (faith is in the unseen) is an untenable demand.  Proof relies on the senses (the seen) but faith relies on the unseen.  While faith calls for evidence from unseen reality (Hebrews 11:1; i.e., promises), seen reality is limited and thereby not an adequate means for proof of God although seen reality offers substantial evidence for God.

A person has a right to their own opinion, but they do not have a right to define evidence or proof according to their own terms. Those who also demand proof fail to realize that irrefutable proof is not scientific. Therefore, atheism stands on an unscientific ground while claiming to hold to scientific methods. That which is held in theory is not necessarily held at proof.

Many theories and hypotheses do not stand on proof. Yet those who form them as well as those who work with them accept them without the same level of proof as atheism.  For if it did, theory and hypotheses could not be refutable. Theories over time have been refuted or struck down. For a theory to be struck down does not alarm those who hold to the theology of atheism. When someone in the scientific field establishes a theory, atheism does not demand an ill-defined level of proof they demand for God’s existence.

Proof and evidence are not the same although one may call for the other. They are different, otherwise they would not be different words with different meanings.  Their use depends on the particular discipline in which they are used.  For example, the field of mathematics seeks proof in equations for solving a mathematical problem while in the field of law, jurists, judges, and attorneys seek evidence.  Evidence does not necessarily “prove” a case, but it can erase doubt.

Evidence can be used for proof.  However, it does not necessarily guarantee it or make anything certain.  What if certain evidence omits a fact?  That fact can have a substantial bearing for the proof of something.  We live in a world full of limitations.  Such limitations easily lend to the omission of facts for establishing evidence or at most the certainty of something.  Even if we have an overwhelming amount of evidence toward substantiating a thing or theory, our limitations are giant variables that stand in the way of any proof.  Consequently, the demand of proof for God is an absurd demand.  For one, it requires material world proof for God who is not of the material world.  That material world proof at the least is in the imagination as in the case of an atheist who while demanding proof for God imagines for what the atheist demands proof.

The person demanding such proof has not adequately worked through the necessary argumentative processes and limitations that stand in the way of yielding any evidence lending to a proof.  Furthermore, the person making the demand ignores the disciplines in which proof and evidence are called for and applied.  It is a demand without meaning because, it is one in which the one making the demand does not consider that not even atheism can produce the proof against God’s existence.  Atheism cannot even imagine non-existence the non-existence of God (See Anselm’s Proslogium, Chapter Three).  Yet atheism demands proof for what it imagines to be God.  An atheist may say, “Since I do not believe God exist, I do not imagine God.”  However, the the atheist speaks of God, he or she has already imagined and shaped one’s conception of God.  To that, the atheist may reply, “I can imagine that which is false or fictitious.”  Indeed, anyone can imagine fiction, and the creators of fiction do this.  However, they do not call everything they imagine God.  If God did not exist, they could not even speak of God, for He would not arise in their imagination.  This is a very different point than imagining fiction.  One can imagine fictitious beings because they extrapolate such fictitious things from what already exist.

This returns us to the previous statement that a person cannot imagine or even speak of that which does not exist.  For if something does not exist, it cannot be imagined.  Therefore, it takes far more faith to believe in that which one cannot even imagine or of what one cannot speak (that is, the non-existence of God) than it does to place one’s faith in that which one can imagine.  Atheists claim no God and thereby no faith.  In one way this is correct while in another it is incorrect.  It is correct in that faith in the non-existence of God is a giant leap of faith, which is no more than irrational presumption.  For it is a naked presumption and not genuine faith to imagine non-existence of God, which is an impossibility.  In this sense, it takes faith divorced from reason and the entire realm of reality.  For that which does not exist is not part of reality.

Then why does atheism demand proof of God’s existence? Because atheists have already reached conclusion for themselves that He does not exist. They have done that because they reject God as authority over their lives and in doing so place themselves in the precarious position of an autonomous person independent of God.  They do so while being dependent on many other invisible, unknown, or currently unknowable things in the created material universe.

The most common method of rejection is denial.  Denial is not a reply on the merits for any position, especially for the non-existence of God.  It is simply positing a naked declaration stripped of reason.  This stance is a contradiction and irrational position for atheism because it never demands proof for all of the invisible components of the material world’s existence as well as those things that threaten existence. Yet atheism demands proof for something they imagine, that is, their conception of God.  Atheism or those who hold to atheism have already entertained that for which they demand proof while denying the very thing for which they demand proof.  This is a contradiction.

That is, atheism’s demand for proof depends on what an atheist imagines about God and not on reality or what another position may hold.  Consequently, atheism often calls for proof for a straw man god, one it imagines or alleges Christians hold.  For when atheism demands proof, those who are atheists already entertain a god for which they demand proof. The very fact that they imagine the divine gives evidence that God exist, because as noted in a previous article, one could not even imagine God if He did not exist. That goes for any sense of divinity.

By establishing an imagined god and demanding proof for it, atheism alleges victory by asserting that no one has presented proof for the god of the atheist’s imagination. Atheism does not outwardly define the god of whom it demands proof while holding to that which it demands proof.  Many atheists also do not refer to the sacred writings of those who follow the God of those writings such as the Christian Bible.  Many atheists also refuse to read the very book Christians claim presents the real God unless they read it for citations to use against Christians to present a god who is unjust or a tyrant or another straw man. Rather they reject the Bible. In doing so, they fail to entertain knowledge that offers them evidence of God and then claim without having read it as it should be read, according to common reading skills, that its contents are fantasy.  They claim this without offering any refutable scholastic evidence.

This is irrational, for it rejects the knowledge they do not have and refuse to entertain. It is also irrational to demand proof for an imagined god.  This places atheism in a very precarious position in its refusal to entertain knowledge while demanding “proof” of God’s existence when the evidence of such proof could lie in the knowledge they do not possess and not so much in the imagination of the atheist.  It is one thing to demand a defense from another concerning that person’s theology, but it is quite another matter to offer one’s own defense for a held theology.  Quite frequently, atheism’s defense of its theology is demanding proof from theists for the existence of their God.  This demand is not an adequate defense of a position.

Atheism technically is a theology in the proper sense of the term.  A denial that it is not leads to a redefinition of terms like “theology.”  Atheism is a theology of the non-existence of God (or any gods, but particularly the Christian God).  Atheism rests on faith in both the non-existence of God and concerning the invisible things of the material world. By claiming that God does not exist, their faith rest on that proposition, that is, on the non-existence of God, for atheism cannot provide evidence of God’s non-existence. Therefore, they simply must believe.  Atheism also rests on faith concerning the things they do not see as well as on things of which they have no knowledge, the invisible things of the created material world of which there are many.  Any denial atheists make that the must have faith is a redefinition of faith to escape from beleiving they must have faith.

One person does not have knowledge of everything – physics and all other sciences. Yet, atheism demands proof of God while not demanding the same level of proof for the things of which they have no knowledge.  It also fails to consider the context and discipline of which proof is required (such as mathematics versus the legal profession). They believe in those who do have that knowledge (scientists, their teachers, parents, and so on) while pointing to Christians as foolish for believing in those who wrote the Bible and disclose God in it. This is still another contradiction. The glaring part of this contradiction is that many atheists engage in ridicule of Christians for believing God and the Bible while being accepting of many unseen realities for which there is no proof or may not be proof.

Again, ridicule is not a defense for one’s position.  Rather, it is an irrational response.  In doing so, atheism not only dismisses any argument theists put forward, but it offers no evidence for atheism.  In essence, atheism exercises similar belief by believing in those who have more knowledge than they concerning the material world, which holds many unseen and unknown realities.  This is also a contradiction of atheism.

What then should be the Christian reply to those who refuse to believe God?  It should be the same as it would be for anyone else.  Present Christ.  Of course, such presentation requires more discussion than a two word sentence.  It is important to first determine the seriousness of the one to whom we present Christ and the gospel.  The backlash of ridicule or scoffing shows no seriousness for engaging prolonged discussion on a peer to peer basis.  To attempt to give an answer to someone who holds the position of ridicule for the God of the Bible with the gospel would be futile.  This does not mean that we withhold the gospel message.  We give warning of the rejection of God in a similar manner Jesus gave to Nicodemus (John 3:19-20).

As Christians, we have three tools God has given us for encountering those who do not know or yet believe in God and His salvation through Christ: the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and God’s gift of reason.  The Bible is God’s disclosure of Himself.  He really wants people to know Him.  However, two major barriers stand in the way: one’s alienation from Him and separate realms.  We are of the material (temporal) realm, and God is of the divine realm, and He alone exists there.  To know God, He must reveal Himself.  God does so through revelation.  God revealed Himself to us through His word found in the Bible.  Not only this, but He comes up beside His word through the Holy Spirit to not only enable us to understand God but also to relate to Him.  God actually crossed the vast barrier between the divine realm and the material realm in the form of a man, Jesus Christ.

God has also gifted us with the capacity to reason toward comprehension of His word and its disclosure of how to relate to Him through the revelation of Jesus Christ.  We can use these tools for communicating to those who have never heard of the gospel and who do not know God.  The Holy Spirit, then, works within the individual to give understanding just as He did in us.  Only God can penetrate the mind and conscience of individuals to receive His message and place faith in Jesus Christ.  Only the Holy Spirit can change resistance and ridicule to faith and worship.

Both the Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter explain how Christians engage reason in sharing their faith.  Paul states that we use persuasion (2 Corinthians 5:11).  That is, we engage reason to call people to faith in God.  He also writes that we meet reason with reason (2 Corinthians 10:5).  The advantage of the reason we use is that it points to God, receives aid from the Holy Spirit, and involves the knowledge of God as opposed to the knowledge of worldly philosophy.  It breaches the barrier of the material world and calls upon people to reject reasoning that excludes God but rather focuses on that which is eternal.

Peter writes that we give a defense for our hope.  We have the only hope available in light of the hopelessness of the present postmodern self-reliant age.  Such defense engages our minds for presenting the claims of the gospel.  Since we serve and relate to the God of hope, we call all people to it, but not by ourselves but by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is in this power, which resides in the gospel, where our confidence and hope dwells.  Atheism has no hope, which is a fatalistic theology, because it is self-reliant and seeks autonomy.  This is a position of fantasy and not reality.  All need the gospel message of Jesus Christ for life.  Without it, one faces destruction whereas eternal life waits for all who believe the gospel.

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1 Nelson, Thomas (2009-02-18). Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV) (p. 1165). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. Use by permission.