Hiding From God
Trying To Hide From God
Ever since sin entered the world, mankind has made various attempts to hide from God. Adam literally tried to hide in the garden(Genesis 3:8). Years later God revealed through Paul that many of the Gentile nations had dodged the existence of the True God by reasoning Him out of their minds (Romans 1:21-23), But God said that the theories they had developed to avoid Him were "futile speculations" (1:21). People are still attempting to hide from God or dodge His existence in our own time. In this lesson we want to examine some of the theories that people are attempting to hide behind, so as to avoid a confrontation with God and their own consciences.
"The Bible Doesn’t Try To Prove The Existence Of God"
The Bible wasn't written to people who rejected the existence of God. The Old Testament was written for the benefit of the nation of Israel and future generations of believers (Romans 15:4). The New Testament was written to individual Christians and congregations or Churches in a geographical area. The Bible exists, therefore someone wrote it (a non-entity can't communicate). The next question is "who" is the author of this book? "When Charles Spurgeon was asked by a feverish young man, 'Dr. Spurgeon, how can I defend the Bible?', he replied: 'How would you defend a lion? Let it out of its cage and it will defend itself!'" (The Bible: The Living Word of Revelation p. 202). Only two choices exist: Either the Bible, including the New Testament, which contains the character of Jesus Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, and the highest moral and ethical standard known to man...is the product of the minds of deceived (many of them uneducated-Acts 4:13) or dishonest men. Or it's message and contents originated in the mind of God (2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Cor. 2:9-13; 2 Timothy 3:16). Did ignorant fishermen really invent the character of Christ? "Only God could tell us what a true man should be like…intelligence must not stifle piety, and prayer must not be a substitute for work, and zeal must not be irrational fanaticism, and reserve must not become stolidity. In Christ we have the perfect blend of personality traits...His zeal never degenerated into passion, nor his constancy into obstinacy, nor his benevolence into weakness, nor his tenderness into sentimentality. His unworldliness was free from indifference and unsociability or undue familiarity; his self-denial from moroseness; his temperance from austerity. He combined childlike innocence with manly strength, absorbing devotion to God with untiring interest in the welfare of man, tender love to the sinner with uncompromising severity against sin, commanding dignity with winning humility, fearless courage with wise caution, unyielding firmness with sweet gentleness!" (Know Why You Believe. Paul Little p. 45). A question must be asked in view of this, and even those in Jesus' day were forced to ask it of themselves. "If Jesus wasn't the Son of God, if He wasn't the ideal man, then what will the future Messiah do for an encore?" (John 7:31) What did Jesus leave "undone"?
"Scientific Advances Have Made Faith In God Out-of-Date"
To the contrary many true scientific advances have only testified to the accuracy of the Bible. Advances in science have disproved the theory of Spontaneous Generation and have supported the Biblical view that life can only come from pre-existing life (Genesis 1:12,24),as well as giving us the Laws of Thermodynamics (Genesis 2:1; Hebrews 1:10-12), and has revealed how much influence the mind has over the actions of the body (Mark 7:20-23). One writer said, "nothing that stops with science can be the whole truth." Science can develop more efficient ways to abort babies, but science can't answer the question, "Should we?" Science has developed painless ways to kill the elderly, but science can't answer the question, "Is it moral?" Science has enabled people to have sex change operations, but science can't answer the question, "Is it right?" One writer responded, "Science can only tell us what can be done; it can never answer the question whether it should be done. It can tell us that x number of people (or percentage) commit adultery; it cannot tell us whether they should." Actually the opposite to the above argument is true. Scientific advances have made belief in God more crucial than ever.
"Religious belief is the method primitive society uses to cope with what it can’t explain"
But even the most advanced societies believe in God. The Nation of Israel was an advanced society, just read the laws which governed them, and look at the accomplishments of David and Solomon: Deuteronomy 4:6; 1 Kings 4:21-34, this was by no means a third world country! And who is going to say that the United States is a "primitive society", and yet it was founded on a belief in God. In addition, how well did Nazi Germany cope when it rejected God’s explanation of life and how to live it?
"Belief in God is a form of wish fulfillment"
This argument is explained as, "We wish for Someone greater than we, who can help us cope with the complexities and barbarities of society. Hence we 'invent' God to meet this inner compulsion" (Atheist Dodges of The Theistic Evidences. Roland H. Worth Jr., The Preceptor, March 1982 p.22). I always have a problem with any argument which claims that men who were dishonest, weak, fearful, or deluded invented the character and moral attributes of the God described in the Bible. If this is the case then what would a "real" God have done? In addition, if this is the case, then why have smart men (the men that make the above argument) failed even to correctly understand what these "primitive" men were trying to say? Why should the pressures of life result in belief in God rather than despair? That is, why does man wish for God in the first place? "Furthermore, if there isn't some kind of standard of right and wrong why should we even be able to recognize the existence of barbarity, injustice, and corruption? Wouldn't the natural situation be the blind acceptance of this norm? Wouldn't the normal result be a materialistic predestination doctrine rather than any thought of the desirability of escape?"(Worth p. 22). Does wishing for something, mean that it doesn't exist? Everyday people wish for all sorts of things (a good steak, comfortable home, future spouse, restored relationships, children, etc..). "Though we may invent a belief because of our fantasies and wishes, it is equally undeniable that many (most?) of our wishes are rooted in reality. They may involve an impractical expression of reality but not an impossible one" (Worth pp. 22-23). This argument doesn't explain the following, "If man invented God, if God is the invention of man's selfish desires, they why did man invent a God that is so against the desires of most people?" That is, a God that condemns all forms of selfishness (Galatians 5:19-21). A God that demands that we place Him first (Matthew 6:33; 10:37), and others second (Phil. 2:1-5). Why is the God of man's "wishes" so against the "wishes" of most people? And why is it that the Bible doesn't let anyone off the hook, young as well as old have responsibilities (Ecc. 12:1; Ephesians 6:1-4; Titus 2:3-6), the rich as well as the poor (1 Timothy 6:17ff), the slave as well as his master (Colossians 3:22-4:2), the man as well as the woman (Colossians 3:18-19). Finally, couldn't atheism be a "wish fulfillment"? Don't many people "wish" that God doesn't exist, and hope that they will escape any form of judgment beyond this life (Psalm 14:1)?
"Religious Faith is for Weak People"
"The rest of the usually uncompleted statement goes something like this: 'Oh, it's not a bad thing for you to believe in God. Of course, only weak people believe in God. It's really too bad you are a weak person'.... if all who are theists are automatically weak people, then what need is there to seriously examine their case?" (Worth p. 23). In reality, the Bible claims (and experience confirms) that everyone has a weakness (Romans 3:23; 5:6-8). We also need to define "weakness". What is true weakness? On the one hand we have the self proclaimed sufficient person who argues that they don't need anyone and their goal in life is to avoid things they don't want to do (Luke12:16-21; 16:19; 2 Timothy 3:1-4). On the other hand we have the Christian, one who has acknowledged that mere human wisdom fails to have the right answers for how to live (Jeremiah 10:23). They have admitted that they have sinned, and that they cannot save themselves. They willingly have submitted to the instructions found in the Bible. Now these instructions command them to: Love their spouses unselfishly, to place others first, to personally and in private seek to patch up strained relationships, to personally approach another in sin and seek to bring them to repentance, to deny self, to spend time with their children and discuss the serious things about life, to approach neighbors and strangers with this message, to do things for the right reason, to have sincere motives, to always treat others in a way that is in their true best interest, to be forgiving and forbearing, to remain patient during the most difficult of situations, to accept the truth no matter how hard it hurts and to show kindness to our enemies. Now, which person is "weak"?
"We can’t give 100% proof that God exists"
"Brace yourself for a mind-boggler: Can you prove 100% that you exist? You may cite Descartes, 'I think; therefore I am'. But are you really thinking or is that too an illusion? In the final analysis there is no way that you can provide 100% proof for anything." (Worth p. 25) Even Science doesn't deal in 100% proof. "The concept of 'truth' in science is thus quite special. It implies nothing eternal or absolute but only a high degree of confidence after adequate self-testing and self-correcting…. one fact may disprove a theory and not all facts can be observed.." (Notes on the Nature of Science. George Gaylord Simpson, p. 11). In addition, there are some things that you cannot put in a test-tube or under a microscope. "No one has ever seen three feet of love or two pounds of justice, but one would be foolish indeed to deny their reality" (Little p. 24). Neither can the atheist give 100% proof that God doesn't exist. "The analogy to a scientific experiment is useful: At some point sufficient evidence is available for us to take a definitive stand. After a reasonable number of efforts, the scientist has legitimate grounds for expecting the result of his experiment to remain the same indefinitely whenever the same exact procedures are duplicated. You see, at some point we reach the stage where the unbeliever crosses the line from claiming a lack of evidence to obstinate blindness and the refusal to accept the evidence" (Worth p. 25). God proclaims that plenty of evidence exists (Romans 1:20; 10:16-21; Acts 14:17; 17:27; 1 Peter 3:15).
"The molding influence of Society is responsible for our faith in God"
But many became Christians in the first century, despite the fact that society at that time persecuted such belief! (Acts 14:22; 1 Tim. 3:12) Neither Roman society nor Jewish or Pagan society forced people to become Christians! "Furthermore, we find in countries that are officially atheistic, that there are still stout bands of dedicated theists who defy every censure and persecution aimed at their faith"(Worth p. 23) History, the Bible, and the events of today are full of examples that contradict the argument that says, "we have no choice to believe because of the inescapable coercion of our society" (Romans 11:3-4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; The 11th Chapter of Hebrews).Many of us here right now have refused to conform to the present beliefs and values which are held by the majority in our society.(Romans 12:1-2).
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/644-9017