No, they don’t.
Yes, they do.
No, they don’t.
Yes, they do.
The Bible says in Romans 1:18-21:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed 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: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
and in Romans 2:14-15:
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
According to those who think EVERYONE believes in God, God has revealed himself through nature and human conscience, but those who reject this God do so by suppressing their knowledge of God. Modern Bible versions like the English Standard Version, AKA the Calvinist Bible, translate “who hold the truth in unrighteousness” in Romans 1:18 as “who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
According to the everyone believes in God crowd, every human being is born into this world with the innate understanding that God exists. As a person ages, they either embrace this innate understanding that God exists or they begin to actively suppress it. So, when a person says they are an atheist, they are not telling the truth. They are actively suppressing what they know to be true…that God exists.
Let me be clear about their use of the word God. They are not using the word God in a generic, inclusive sense. When they use the word God they mean the Christian God as revealed in the 66 books of the Christian Bible. All others Gods are false Gods and those who believe in them are, to some degree or another, suppressing their belief in the one, true Christian God. In other words, billions of people, from atheists to Buddhists to Muslims to every other religion but Christianity, are actively suppressing the truth that the Christian God is the one true God.
On one hand, I am inclined to dismiss people who think like this as arrogant buffoons. As my counselor likes to tell me about God exclusivists; here they are, people with itty-bitty brains, living on an itty-bitty planet, thinking that, out of all the gods humans have ever created, that their God is the one and only true God and that all the other Gods throughout human existence are false. Their proof for this? The Bible says….
As I was reading some of Joshua Whipps blog posts and some of the posts by his presuppositionalist Calvinist friends, I noticed that they believe that there is no such thing as an atheist. In their mind, as soon as the atheist asserts that there is no God, they are admitting there really is a God. Evangelist Justin Cox used a similar line of illogic when he stated that because I write posts about God this means I really believe in God. On the face of it, this is a silly argument but I do want to address it.
Some scientists think human belief in a God and need of religion is an evolutionary trait that our species found beneficial. This does not mean that a God of some sort exists. It just means that believing some sort of God exists was/is beneficial to the human species. As I have stated many times before, humans can believe all sorts of things that are not true. Billions of people, through religion, find purpose, meaning, and direction. The fact that they find purpose, meaning, and direction doesn’t mean that the locus of their belief, God, exists.
Evangelicals think their belief system is truth and all other belief systems are false. Often they appeal to history, pointing out that millions (billions?) of people have believed in the Christian God. The sheer number of believers, according to them, is proof that the Christian God exists. When someone tries this approach with me, as the street preacher in Cincinnati did, I ask them if they think the God of Mormonism is the true God. They always emphatically say NO! Mormonism is a cult! But, wait a minute. I thought that the sheer number of believers is proof that God exists. Millions of people believe in the Mormon God, so this means their God is true. The same argument could be made for Islam or any of the religions of the world that had a God or Gods as the locus of their belief.
The everyone believes in God crowd believes that the existence of God is self-evident. All one has to do is look at nature and they will clearly see that God exists. Remember, they are not arguing for the existence of just any God. In their mind, there is only God, the God of the Christian Bible. But, here’s the problem with this argument, there is nothing in nature that testifies to the existence of the Christian God. Unless one is presupposed to think that God is the Christian God, then looking at nature and saying God did it will not lead to the specific belief that the Christian God of the Bible did it.
When Evangelicals appeal to nature as proof that God exists, just for fun, I agree with them. I tell them that I fully understand how someone could look at the wonders of the natural world and universe and conclude that a God of some sort created everything. Intellectually, I think the deist argument for God can be made by appealing to nature. But, saying a God of some sort created everything is vastly different from saying the Christian God, as revealed in the 66 books of the Christian Bible, created everything.
What is there in the natural world that says to us that the Christian God of the Bible created everything? Nothing. There is nothing observable that points us to the Bible and the God revealed within its pages. The Bible God is a personal God, a God that is intimately involved with its creation. Any cursory look at our world reveals that the Bible God does not exist. We see no evidence for a God that is intimately part of our day-to-day lives. Millions of Christians pray to this God, yet all that the pray-ers hear is silence.
Claims of answered prayer are subjective and unverifiable. Sure, it is “possible” that there is a God in Heaven manning the prayer switchboard, but if this is the case, it seems that a lot of the prayer calls are being disconnected. Prayers for missing keys are readily answered but prayers pleading for the end of war and violence, for food to eat and clean water to drink, and safety from hurricanes and tornadoes, go unanswered. It seems the Evangelical prayer answering God is focused on minutia, stuff that doesn’t matter. Of course, the Bible teaches this very thinking when it says that God knows the number of hairs on your head. This God may know the number of hairs on our head but he seems unable to keep them from falling out.
As I have stated countless times, I see no rational, intellectually satisfactory way to get from A God created everything to THE God, the God revealed in the Christian Bible, created everything. Coming to this conclusion requires a person to believe the Bible is truth. Without this presupposition, it is impossible to conclude that it is self-evident that the Christian God of the Bible created everything. In fact, sociologists tell us that religious belief is taught and learned rather than being self-evident. Any cursory look at a map of the world’s religions concentrations show this to be true. I am of the opinion that a child comes into the world as a blank slate and that through parental and societal instruction and example, a child embraces a particular God and religion. (along with morals, ethics, and other beliefs)
It is important to understand that the everyone believes in God crowd often have a poor understanding of atheism. Their arguments are often addressed to atheist absolutists that assert that there is NO God, period. Many of the atheists I know, myself included, do not take this approach. I am agnostic on the God question, as is Richard Dawkins. It is impossible and irrational for me to say with absolute certainty that no God of any sort exists. I can say, with a great degree of certainty, that the Gods that humans in the past or present have worshiped don’t exist. I can look at human history and the various branches of science and conclude that the Christian God of the Bible is a human fabrication. Yet, it is possible that there is some sort of God that has not yet revealed herself to us. Perhaps we are the creation of an alien race or little more than a mind game being played by bored teens on a distant planet. Perhaps the hands off God of the deist exists. There is no way of knowing because this God does not involve itself in its creation.
There are all sorts of God possibilities, but as an atheist I look at the probability of such Gods existing. The probabilities are slim, so slim that I do not give them a moment of my time. I live my life as if no God exists because I see no evidence for a God’s existence. Realizing that I am a social creature, willingly part of a culture and a tribe, humanism becomes the foundation of my moral and ethical beliefs. When I am asked about my worldview, I respond that humanism is my worldview. It is through humanistic ideal that I live my life and pattern my interaction with others. Humanism provides me with a satisfactory way to understand the world and my place in it.
To the everyone believes in God crowd, none of what I have written here matters. Armed with absolute certainty that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, their answer to every question is, the BIBLE says. Atheists, agnostics, deists, Unitarians, and non-Christians might as well save their breath when it comes to trying to move Evangelical zealots away from their infallibility. They are like the line in the old gospel song, like a tree planted by the waters, I shall NOT be moved. Until they can consider the notion that they might be wrong, there is no hope of reaching them. Certainty of belief renders a person incapable of seeing things from any vantage point but their own. Until they are brought to the place of seeing that the claims they make from an ancient text written thousands of years ago are not true or are suspect, then there is no way to reach them. As long as they parrot GOD SAYS there is nothing a skeptic can say that will change their mind. Until they move from GOD SAYS to YEA HATH GOD SAID, as Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden, any discussion with them is a waste of time. (and this is why I ask Evangelical zealots to read several of Bart Ehrman’s books before engaging me in a discussion about the Bible)