Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE COMPARATIVE INFLUENCE OF ATHEISM AND CHRISTIANITY”  Part 2

Psalm 14.1

 

In a previous sermon, which was also inspired by Jonathan Edwards’ grandson Timothy Dwight, I established the existence of God by means of logical arguments. It is rational and reasonable, especially when you take into account the connection between cause and effect, to conclude that since everything that exists in our universe is the effect of some cause, that great cause must be what we call God.

Though logical, rational, and reasonable people believe in God, there are some people who are best described as atheists. They can be either the speculative type of atheist, who thinks about such things as the existence or nonexistence of God and concludes, wrongly that there is no God, or they can be the practical atheist, who does not think much about such things, but simply lives his life as though there is no God. Whatever class of atheist a God-denier may belong to, and whatever pretensions the speculative or the practical atheist may make to knowledge and wisdom, such an individual is, in our text for today, universally characterized by folly.

In Psalm 14.1, David writes, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” In other words, every man who either makes this claim (the speculative atheist), or who lives this way (the practical atheist), is a fool. The atheist’s assertion that there is no God, either by his words or by his lifestyle, is the result of his own folly.

It is remarkable to note that David writes that this assertion is declared to be made in the heart of the fool. That is, this assertion flows from the fool’s wishes, and not from his understanding. The words, “There is,” are in italics in our English translation, indicating the words are not found in the original. Some commentators suppose that the passage is best understood in this way: David is asserting that the fool is wishing, “Let there be no God.” Whether this rendering be admitted or not, there can be no doubt that the chief reason why the assertion is adopted at all, is the reluctance of the fool to acknowledge in his heart the existence of the Creator.

That we easily believe what we wish to believe, is a truth so obvious that it is accepted as a proverbial truth. Therefore, the man who hates the control, despises the character, and dreads the inspection, judgment, and retribution of his Maker, and fully intends to continue in his course of sin, will find no refuge from anxiety and alarm, and no source of quiet in sinning that is so comfortable, or that is in his view so safe, as the belief that there is no God.

What makes atheism so incredibly foolish is that what anyone believes about the existence of God makes no difference about the fact of God. Since God exists, He will continue to exist, whether anyone acknowledges the truth of His existence or not. As well, the sinner’s danger from God’s anger against his sins is exactly the same whether he believes in God’s existence or not. Denial of reality does not alter that reality. So, anything that provides a false sense of peace and security, such as a sinner denying God’s existence and the future certain punishment of his sins, will only add to his wretchedness by adding to it the anguish of his great disappointment and surprise come Judgment Day.

No thinking man would hesitate to pronounce such conduct foolish in the extreme. Think about it. A fellow steps over the edge of a cliff. What benefit can it be to shut his eyes? What greater stupidity can there be than to shut your eyes, when such conduct will only guarantee your absolute destruction? Yet atheists are determined that there is no God.

Against the doctrine of God’s existence, they have raised up several objections which they declare to be satisfactory, at least, to themselves. Furthermore, they have packaged their objections into a scheme, and then presented it to anyone who would listen to them with a face of bold assurance. However, even this is not good enough for them. Thrilled with their own cleverness, and boasting the strength of their arguments, they ridicule not only everyone who claims to be a Christian, but also anyone who believes in the existence of God.

I think it is now time to examine two objections of the atheists. In my sermon, I will scrutinize their primary doctrines.

 

ATHEISTS OBJECT THAT Creation is so great a work, as to make it seem impossible even for God to accomplish it

 

You do not hear this type of objection much these days, but in ancient times, it was the great difficulty that Aristotle had with the existence of God.[1] Boiled down to its essence, it is the belief that God cannot exist as the explanation for the universe and all that herein is because the universe is too vast, too complex, for God to have created it. Therefore, Aristotle reasoned, the universe had to have existed from eternity past.

Keep in mind that this argument makes nonsense when compared to the principal of cause and effect. Every effect that mankind has ever seen or heard of, I pointed out in a previous sermon, has had a cause. Therefore, though we can discuss in abstract the concept of an effect for which there is no cause, such has never actually occurred in the experience of mankind.

So, Aristotle cannot get his mind around a God that is bigger than the universe, so he abandons the notion of a God who created the universe? How sound is that logic? My friends, the principle of cause and effect requires that the cause be bigger than its effect. Thus, logic demands, and observation has always upheld, that the cause be bigger than its effect.

Therefore, one can only reasonably and rationally conclude, whether Aristotle could get his mind around the concept or not, that however big the effect that we refer to as the universe and all that herein is happens to be, God must be bigger.

 

NEXT, ATHEISTS INSIST THAT THE PRESENT STATE OF THE UNIVERSE FORBIDS THE BELIEF THAT IT COULD BE THE RESULT OF GOD’S CREATIVE ACTIVITY

 

In other words, when it suits them, atheists will complain that the creation of the universe was too big a job for God, and that a god could not have created it. Then, when that objection does not suit them, they argue that the creation of the universe was not done well enough for God to have created it.

So, which is it? Was the job too big for God, or did God not do a good enough job to suit you?

The reason for this second objection, of course, is that the world is full of injustice and suffering. This is something no Christian would think of denying. This world is obviously fully of pain, disease, and death, and the moral condition of things is no different from the material condition of things. This place is a terrible mess.

However, the real question has not to do with the present condition of this world, but with how this present condition came to be. The atheists insist that this world has always been a place of evil, injustice and suffering, while the Christian insists that this world has not always been a place of evil, injustice and suffering. Our claim is that the Fall of mankind into the depths of depravity, because of a sinful rebellion against God, is the explanation that lies back of the great tragedies that we all witness. Thus, it is useless to try to throw in our faces the false argument that a holy God could not have created this wicked world. Christians maintain that this world was created pristine in every way, but sin was introduced by Adam’s rebellion, which precipitated the Fall.

The Bible, of course, gives a full account of these events, the only explanation found anywhere of the creation of all things and the formative events that left the nature of our present world in its current condition. However, atheists object to the Biblical account of the Creation and the Fall. The one source of information on the subject, and they completely deny it as an explanation of present circumstances. Not only that, but the Bible asserts that the present circumstances are the direct result of the existence of moral evil, something atheists are ill equipped to deal with. After all, if there is no God, no moral Governor of the universe, how can there be such a thing as right and wrong?

The problem with atheists is that they cannot explain certain things apart from Biblical revelation. However, since they reject Biblical revelation, that means they cannot explain certain things. However, by their reasoning, nothing is beyond human understanding. Therefore, anything that is beyond human understanding must be assumed to not be a work of God. Why not? Because there is no God . . . they say. Atheists criticize Christians for arrogantly insisting that we are the product of God’s creative genius. Yet atheists are the ones who are arrogant, denying even the possibility that there could be truths they cannot grasp, evidence they do not appreciate, marks of workmanship and the fingerprints of the Creator that they are blind to, which points to the existence of the God of creation.

We readily admit that no one has direct proof that God created the universe and everything in it. Additionally, we acknowledge that there are many questions which are not only unanswered, but which are unanswerable. However, we do have God’s Word, and in His Word He shows us that His dealings with us are by faith. Faith is what pleases Him, faith is what He will respond to, and faith is the means He has chosen to convey to us blessings and benefits. Therefore, because God’s Word is proven to be reliable and trustworthy, and because the Bible provides us with certainties, let us resolve to never allow things we are uncertain about to deprive us of the joys brought to us by the things we are certain about.

God’s plan for mankind is for the just to live by faith. Atheists scorn that proposition and emphatically reject the notion that faith should play a part in any thinking man’s life. Yet they would look upon a wonderfully constructed watch and take it by faith that it just happened to be, and that no one designed and fashioned it. We look at something infinitely more vast and complex than even the most luxuriant watch, this universe in which we live out our lives, and take by faith that it was designed and fashioned (we call it created) by God. Christians and the atheists each live our lives according to the dictates of our faith. However, whose faith is folly? Is it the person who thinks the universe had a Designer and Builder, or the person who denies the Designer and Builder? Think what you will, David labels such a person a fool.

 

SERMON:

 

I have discussed two objections of atheists, now I want to scrutinize three of the core doctrines of their religion.

Yes, you heard me correctly. I referred to the atheist’s beliefs as a religion.

Think about what a religion is: A religion is a system of supposed truths that are accepted as true by faith. A religion is a system of supposed truths upon which a person relies for his present and future well-being. Moreover, a religion is a system of supposed truths that the religionist seeks to persuade others to adopt and believe.

Does that not perfectly describe atheism? An atheist’s beliefs are taken by faith, since a person would have to examine the whole universe before he could actually prove there is no god. An atheist certainly stakes his present and future destiny upon the rightness of his beliefs, and he will burn in Hell for eternity if he is wrong. Finally, an atheist, since he is convinced he is right, does try to persuade others to adopt his views, which is another way of saying that even atheists evangelize in an effort to add coreligionists to their non-religious religion.

So, what are the core doctrines of this sometimes organized and sometimes unorganized religion called atheism? The doctrines, which atheists have connected to the objections I previously dealt with, and which, are deserving of our serious attention, are the following:

a.  First, atheists believe that things have existed in an eternal series.

b.  Next, atheists believe that the existence of these things is casual.

c.  And finally, atheists believe that evolution, the mindless interaction of matter and energy that is responsible for life and the development of all the forms of life that presently exist, is an undeniable fact.

I will speak to each of these doctrines in order:

 

First, Atheists insist that there has been an Eternal Series of things

 

This is just another way of stating that atheists believe in the eternal existence of matter. Let me show you how absurd this notion is:

Think about what an atheist is saying when he insists that matter is eternal. He is saying that everything in existence has a beginning, but that there was no beginning to the sum total of all the things that had beginnings.

Let me state it another way: There is no individual particle of matter, no matter how small it may be, which is claimed to be eternal. Every atheist admits that atoms are formed and broken up, only to be reformed again. The same thing is true of protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks, and everything else that comprises our physical universe. However, atheists claim that although everything that comprises matter has very definite beginnings and endings, matter as a whole is supposed to be eternal?

Are you catching the fastball the atheists are throwing, in the hopes that you will take it as true? A whole is comprised of its parts. No one doubts that. However, people actually believe that the parts of something, which have definite beginnings and endings, can comprise an eternal whole? My friends, that does not make a lick of sense.

Can you not see the folly of arguing in favor of the eternity of matter, in light of the undeniable (and undenied) certainty that everything that comprises matter has definite beginnings and endings? If everything that makes up our material universe (no matter how you divide the whole) each has a beginning, then it is utter nonsense to argue the eternity of matter. If the parts, which comprise the whole, had a beginning, then the whole had a beginning, because the whole is the sum of the parts and the whole could not have existed apart from its parts. Thus, the atheistical doctrine that there has been an eternal series of things (which means that matter is eternal), is a doctrine which is patently false and which violates all reason and logic. However, this is to be expected, since “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

 

Next, Atheists ALSO assert that the existence of things is CasUal

 

My friends, atheists are walking right into our wheelhouse now.

Webster’s dictionary defines “casual” as “taking place, or beginning to exist, without method or design.”[2] Think about this one, if you would. If you deny that things exist without method or design, then you are denying the principle of cause and effect. It just happened.

Hold on a second! Which is it, Mr. Atheist? Is matter eternal, or did it just happen? Once again, the atheists want to have it both ways, depending on which assertion seems to be most convenient to advancing their notion that God does not exist. However, they seem to ignore the flaws in their logic, which flaws would suggest that (contrary to what they suppose) God does exist.

A few more comments on this notion that things just happen, without any relationship between cause and effect (what atheists call casual).

First, it should be noted that this is a theory that has no scientific support of any kind. To insist that anything can occur in violation of the principle of cause and effect is to fly in the face of every scientific observation and discovery that has ever been made. Therefore, if you ask an atheist why you should believe that the existence of matter is casual, which is to say that it is an effect for which there is no cause, his only consistent answer is, “Because I say so.”

A bit of history to show you the ridiculous extremes atheists have gone to in their efforts to explain away the existence of God: A man named Epicurus was the principle proponent of this system.[3] He supposed that innumerable solid atoms existed from eternity in infinite space, that they were of different sizes and figures, and that they were all separated from each other. As well, they were originally motionless. When it was objected that they must then have remained forever motionless, which is impossible since things are now in motion, he changed his theory to advance the notion that these solid atoms were in motion, and that they had been in motion from eternity, but that their motions were parallel to each other. However, when it was objected that the parallel motions of atoms could not possibly explain their present tendency to collide with each other, he once again adjusted his theory to state that the atoms did move, but they moved in not quite parallel directions. Keep in mind that with none of these theories was there any scientific evidence to support what he was proposing as true.

By the way, what caused the motions of the atoms? Their own weight, he insisted. Of course, he had no conception of the gravitational attraction of masses. However, you see how even the most brilliant atheist devises a scheme to deny the existence of God by insisting that matter is eternal and without any cause. However, when the scheme is shown to be flawed he modifies it. Then he modifies it again, and again, and again. However, will the atheist ever consider the possibility that the reason his logic is flawed is that his reasonings are built on the false premise that there is no God? Of course not. The reason the notion of the eternity of matter does not hold up under scrutiny is that matter is not eternal. Only God is eternal, but they do not want to go there, do they?

What works best to refute the false theories of atheists is a logical and rational examination of their beliefs. Truly, as our Lord Jesus said, the truth does set you free. Therefore, we can be free from slavery to an irrational and illogical system of belief that asserts everything and believes anything, so long as the belief in God can be denied.

 

Finally, Atheists assert LIFE oweS ITS existence to the operations of Matter

 

To clarify, this is another way of saying that atheists believe that the origin of life and the development of living things into higher organisms is the result of evolution.

In opposing evolution, I will return to arguments derived from the connection between cause and effect. This is because, in the case of evolution, because it once again seems to suit them, atheists argue that the principle of cause and effect working in a purely natural and material fashion (chemical reactions) has produced life and the various forms of life that used to exist and which now exist.

I think chemical reactions, because atheists claim mindless and undirected chemical reactions are all that is necessary, are inadequate to create life and to develop the different forms of life that now exist. Follow along:

Matter is acknowledged by the atheist to be destitute of intelligence. This must be so, since the atheist seeks to prove that his own existence and that of other beings was not derived from an intelligent cause.

Second, though I have already refuted the idea, the atheist supposes the eternal existence of matter, unsupported by any evidence whatever.

Third, if we admit that matter has existed from eternity, for the sake of argument, then the chemical interactions of matter must also have occurred since eternity past. Thus, for example, hydrogen has always interacted with oxygen to form water. Of course, this is necessary, since nothing has altered the nature of matter if matter has always been matter. Thus, hydrogen has always been hydrogen and oxygen has always been hydrogen. You get the picture.

However, if matter has always existed, matter has always interacted with matter, and all of this has been from eternity, then the consequences of such interaction should also be eternal. Am I right?

Therefore, if matter is eternal, and the chemical reactions of matter are also eternal, then the products and results of such reactions should be eternal, meaning the human race and all of the species of life that exist should likewise be eternal, if they are the result of mindless eternal chemical reactions. However, is mankind an eternal species? Obviously not.

Therefore, you see, the assumption that matter is eternal and that life is the result of evolution cannot possibly explain the origins of life or the species that presently exist, because they cannot explain our existence. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

Fourth, there is no fact that gives even the appearance of plausibility to this scheme called evolution. The only facts, which have been advanced to support evolution, are the variations, which occur in plants, and animals that result from adaptations to the environment, which do not actually result in a net gain or loss of genetic information in the species.

For example: Horses taken to a cold climate develop a more hairy coat. Take their offspring to a warmer climate and the coat will thin out. However, if you take succeeding generations of horses back to cold climates, their coats will once again be thicker. My friends, whether the coats of horses or the beaks of finches on the Galapagos Islands, these things are not evolution.

Fifth, on the contrary, numerous facts directly refute this scheme called evolution. Evolution depends upon matter being eternal. However, eternal matter would have reached equilibrium in eternity past, meaning no more changes would currently be taking place. Yet we see physical changes taking place all the time, with the wave action of the oceans eroding the coastlines around the world, and wind eroding the tops of hills and mountains. If these processes had been going on forever, our whole world would be flat, with no valleys or mountains.

Here is another one: If matter has existed from eternity, why do we see it unevenly distributed throughout space? If matter was eternal we would expect it to either all be collected into one place, or we would expect it to all be spread out evenly throughout the expanse of the universe. However, neither extreme is true, showing matter is not eternal.

Sixth, if matter is eternal, why do we still have comets? Perhaps you have seen comets in the night sky from time to time, bright streaks of light appearing as little globs of dirt and ice enter the earth’s atmosphere. The tails on comets come from the solar wind blowing the dust and ice from them, resulting in them having a very limited span of life. However, if matter is eternal and the span of life of comets is very limited, why do we still have comets? Why were they not all burned up eons ago? Whose beliefs require more faith?

Suppose we set aside all of the scientific and logical objections to evolution that I have mentioned this morning. The whole notion of evolution would still be nonsense, because unintelligent matter cannot be the cause of intelligent life. You see, what a cause does not contain or possess, it cannot communicate. Unintelligent matter does not possess the information necessary to create and sustain life; therefore, life cannot spring from matter alone. Human life, and all the forms of life that exist here on earth (even the simplest forms of life) are the result of God intelligently manipulating matter and creating chemicals of astonishing complexity to both sustain living things and to enable living things to reproduce.

 

From the observations I have made this morning, it is evident that atheism in all its forms is a religion that is not based upon reasonable or logical thought. Atheists simply do not want to acknowledge the existence of God; therefore, they construct arguments to hide behind that cannot stand up to careful scrutiny.

What is amazing is that there are an increasingly large number of people, people who are oftentimes very bright people, who are either speculative or practical atheists. Either they have declared themselves atheists after some thought, or they live their lives as if there is no God without a great deal of thought.

Why do men do such things? Keep in mind that men generally believe what they want to believe, no matter the evidence to the contrary. Keep also in mind that men’s hearts are deceitful and wicked. Therefore, they will seize upon any premise, grasp any justification, whereby they can withhold from God the honor and the obedience that is due Him.

To be sure, there are terrible consequences for such behavior. To be sure, the price for atheism will be very high, indeed, in terms of punishment and eternal suffering. But that is why David calls such fools.

The things atheists believe have been shown to be ridiculous and illogical. The things atheists believe have been shown to be, at their root, unbelievable. However, because atheism is a product of the inclinations and desires of the human heart, because it is what sinful men want to be true, it is what many men will continue to believe to be true . . . no matter how foolish such beliefs are, and no matter how tragic the consequences are. So, what do you do with an atheist? Turn to Proverbs 26.4-5:

 

4  Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

5  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

 

From this passage, we see that no matter what you say to a fool you are not likely to affect him much. After all, he is a fool. Just be careful that you, #1, don’t completely ignore him, or else he will be wise in his own conceit, and, #2, that you don’t get sucked into an endless argument with him, or you will be too much like him.

So what do you do with a fool? First, realize he is a fool. Second, prayerfully respond to his false beliefs, but do not get your hopes up. After all, he is a fool.



[1] Timothy Dwight, Theology Explained & Defended, Volume One, The Glorious Nature of God, (Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2005), pages 88-89.

[2] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 282.

[3] Timothy Dwight, Theology Explained & Defended, Volume One, The Glorious Nature of God, (Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2005), pages 92-93.

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