not just a river in Egypt
“Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people living for today…” from John Lennon, “Imagine”
Perhaps someone would view the blog entry posted last Tuesday [1/3/13] and think of an objection- Perhaps someone could be surfing the ‘net and somehow come across this blog who considers themself to be an atheist or agnostic, or perhaps someone reading this blog knows someone who claims to deny the existence of God. In this case the question would be, ‘how can you claim to speak to everyone in that last entry? certainly an atheist or agnostic cannot be thought of as a theologian!’ But it is my assertion that there is no one who can honestly say that they are an atheist or agnostic. That is, anyone claiming to be an atheist or agnostic is committing an act of intellectual dishonesty. How so? Because the complexity and beauty of nature testify to the Sovereign Creator. Because of the fact that there is a knowledge of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ inherent to every individual to the extent that even the most outspoke professor of moral relativism will have situations in which they tell people what they ‘should’ and ‘should not’ do, and this fact testifies to the reality of the Holy Lawgiver. These matters are perfectly explained in the Bible, in Romans chapters 1 and 2.
So why are there people who claim to be atheists or agnostics?
The Bible gives us a clear answer to this question as explained well by Peter Masters, the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, in his book Biblical Strategies for Witness:
The root cause of atheism is expressed by the Lord in John 3:19-20: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (KJV).
Three crucial facts are taught in these words:
1. Sin is the basis of atheism.
2. The fear of reproof leads people to [deny their belief in] God. They cannot stand the pangs of conscience.
3. Proud independence hates light (that is, instruction and guidance from outside self).
Love of sin, then, is the prime motive for adopting atheistic views. People reject the existence of God because they want to indulge their pride and be free to do what they like. The atheist [or agnostic] gains (so he thinks) tremendous liberation the moment he repudiates the restraints of a God-ordained moral system.
Here is the real motive underlying the attitude of the atheist [or the agnostic]. First and foremost he is determined to be unhindered in the conduct of his life. He wants to be morally free to follow the dictates of his heart, his ambitions, his opinions, and his whims. He may well adopt some cultural refinements and a moral system of his own if it suits his purpose. But all his intellectual objections to God are produced from a mind acting under orders from the heart, where lusts reign.
The second fact taught in Christ’s words is that the atheist [or agnostic] has come to his position because he hates the pangs of conscience. He positions himself as far away from God-given standards as he can because he cannot bear the stab of shame, accusation, or awareness of his fallen ways. One of the chief purposes of his [agnosticism] is to protect himself from the movings of conscience.
The third fact taught by the Lord about the atheist [or agnostic] is that he is proud, and does not want to be dependent upon God for anything. He does not want to feel indebted to God for life, help or grace, nor does he want to obey him in anything. He likes to think that he is competent, self-sufficient, and capable. The idea of being a dependent being offends his ego. He wants to be the master of his life; the captain of his ship. He will not be a mere servant of God.
These three factors are all matters of the heart rather than of the head, and while the atheist must have his intellectual unbelief challenged, his real problem is a moral one: namely, rebellion. And the rebellion is seen in the three symptoms described by the Lord: sinful behavior, hatred of conscience, and pride.
IF YOU have happened upon this blog and have claimed to be an atheist or agnostic, then these are the facts you must deal with before God. (YOU ARE a theologian.)
If you are a Christian, then the truth presented above is crucial to your witness, for there are so many people today claiming to be agnostics. Their problem is not one of intellect: it is one of sin. You must be faithful to point this out and to declare their need for repentance and faith in the Savior.
[This was originally published on 6/9/05; some of the formatting has been changed.]