Thursday, November 22, 2007

Atheist? So you say you're an atheist?

By Charles Blair

Well, I don't believe you.

No, I'm not angry with you, and I don't want to debate all the
classical arguments for the existence of God; you've probably
considered them all already and rejected them because of your own
personal thoughts.

And no, I'm not going to use the familiar line "God doesn't believe
in atheists" as a premise here.

It's just that you, as an educated person, should know the virtual
impossibility of proving a negative, especially a universal
negative. To claim to do so implies omniscience, and frankly,
neither of us have that. We haven't been everywhere in the material
universe, nor have we explored the entire world of thought.

It's as if one were to say, "There is no such thing as a leprechaun,
or a unicorn." To be sure, none of us have seen such creatures, but
one documented sighting by an otherwise credible person would be
enough to disprove such a sweeping universal negative. And one
documented encounter with Deity from an otherwise credible person is
sufficient to disprove the universal negative "There is no God."

But there have been far more than one such encounter; millions of
otherwise credible people, many of them the best people in their
community in terms of human relations, the founders of hospitals,
schools, mercy missions by the hundreds, the kind of good neighbors
all of us love to have, all have claimed such "close encounters of
the main kind." Now, a claim to have seen a unicorn from someone on
heavy narcotics wouldn't impress me a great deal, and the fact that
the Authorized Version of the Bible uses the word isn't final
evidence; checking the Hebrew results in another term ("wild ox" in
some versions, though I still like the song where God tells
Noah, "And don't forget My unicorn.") And an Irishman heavy into his
celebration of St. Pat's with the "drinkin' of the green" might not
be the most credible witness concerning the "little people." But
when you have multiplied thousands of witnesses, many of whom would
be clinchers on the stand in any court case, over all 7 continents,
over thousands of years, all with the same testimony, there is surely
a presumption in favor of their words.

Which, of course, leads to the relatively small number of self-
professed atheists, agnostics, and skeptics (a recent
national "Atheist's Convention" drew some 500, according to the
news). More cautious thinkers prefer the terms "free-thinker"
or "agnostic" and simply state, "I haven't been able to find God,"
and with Confucius may say, "We do not yet understand man; how then
can we understand God? We do not yet understand this life; how then
can we understand another?" Interestingly enough, this is precisely
what at least three writers of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures also

Isaiah, in the last portion of that book (55:8-9) quotes God as
saying, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My
ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your
thoughts." The writer of Psalm 139 states (in v. 6) "Such knowledge
is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it." And Paul,
in Romans 11:33, concludes an in-depth discussion of God's character
with the doxology, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom
and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His
ways past finding out!" Evidently these Bible writers believed that
for man to search out God on his own was not to be expected, and that
God to be known must choose to reveal Himself.

Thus the agnostic is correct in stating that he has not found God,
but the real question may be, are we willing to be found by Him? As
Augustine once said, as if it were God speaking: "Fear not, for thou
would not seek Me if I had not found thee."

My reason for writing this brief discussion is not to seek an
argument, or to try to win a debate; it is intended to help honest
doubters think their way through the most serious issue of life. If
God exists, then all else is insignificant in comparison to that
truth. If there is no God, then nothing else really matters; life is
ultimately, in the poet's words, "a tale told by an idiot, full of
sound and fury, signifying nothing." One thinker wrote that he could
not have the atheist's humility, to consider life insignificant. As
a believer in the One Creator and Sustainer of the universe, it is my
prayer for you that this brief essay will help create in your mind a
desire to enjoy that sense of meaning in life that can come in
knowing the One Who is beyond knowledge. Feel free to contact me if
you want to talk about these matters.


I hope most of us know someone who hides behind the label "atheist"
to keep preachers away. If you're not comfortable handing this
material to them, or forwarding it, possibly this line of reasoning
will be helpful as you witness to them. I am strongly convinced that
there are really no atheists, only skeptics and people who are so
inured in their sin that this argument scares off some witnesses,
and staves off some conviction for sin. If any of you are able to
use any of it, I would be pleased to know the results.

R. Charles Blair

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