This week’s Questions @ Riverview post comes from the our new summer series at Riverview on the Psalms. We started with Psalm 14 on Sunday, June 7. You can listen to that sermon here. As always, feel free to submit comments and questions on the sermon or the text to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a question or comment on the blue slip during the service.
Did God write his rules on the hearts of everyone or just the Jews?
Romans 2 describes how Gentiles (non-Jews) obey the law of God, even though they never formally received the law as the Jews did. The reason for this, as Paul explains, is that God has written his law on every human heart. Because of this, all people know God’s moral standards of right and wrong. Nobody has to be taught that murder is wrong; nobody has to be taught that stealing, lying, and cheating are wrong. Why not? Because God ha written his law on every human heart. People know right and wrong, and their conscience bears witness to this fact, because God has written his law on every human heart.
Psalm 14.1 says “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Why is a person who says such a fool? Because God has made his existence evident through a variety of means, and one of those is that he has written his law on our hearts. The logic goes like this: Absolute moral laws exist; therefore, there must be an absolute moral lawgiver. The Bible declares that the Moral Lawgiver is God. God has given light to all men, and one of the ways he does that is by writing his laws on their hearts.
You said that creation proves there is a Creator. How would atheists like Richard Dawkins respond to this argument?
Romans 1 asserts that creation proves there is a Creator, and that all people know there is a Creator because a creation exists. Romans 1 also asserts that if we refuse to recognize this truth it is because we are “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.” In other words, our desire for sin keeps us from recognizing God as the Creator. Just as a painting proves that there’s a painter and a building proves that there’s a builder, creation proves that there’s a Creator. This is a rational, biblical, and logical argument.
There are some, like Richard Dawkins, who reject this argument, however. Dawkins advocates for a “blind watchmaker,” or in other words, a random evolutionary process that gives the illusion of design. Dawkins even wrote a book advocating this view. Dawkins has said, “And we are so stupid that we think that just because telephones and computers and cars are intelligently designed, that means we are too. Well, we’re not.”
The principle difference between Dawkins’ view and the biblical view is worldview. Dawkins begins with a presupposition that there is no God. The biblical worldview begins with the presupposition that God exists. In Dawkins’ worldview, creation serves as evidence of random chance. In the biblical worldview, creation serves as evidence of the Creator. The Bible (and, in my opinion, rational thought) refutes Dawkins’ worldview, however, in that human beings are incredibly more complex than “telephones and computers and cars.” Biblically, Dawkins fits perfectly into the mold of those whom the Bible describes as those who deny the Creator in spite of the evidence of creation as a result of loving their sin.
What are some practical ways that atheism shows up in the Christian life?
Psalm 14 shows us that any time we do not respond to the truth of God positively in faith and obedience, we are disbelieving God. We are, for all intents and purposes, atheists. Atheism is an issue in the life of the believer any time we actively disobey what God has said or reject something the Bible says is true about God. For example, when the Bible commands husbands to sacrificially love and care for their wives and husbands fail to do so, they are acting as atheists – people who do not believe what God has said. When Christians mistreat one another and fail to love one another, they are acting as atheists – people who do not believe what God has said, and therefore are not responding to what he has said in faith. Yes, we may claim we believe the Bible and are desiring to obey God, but the proof is in the pudding: what we do shows what we believe. If we don’t respond positively to what God has said, then it displays that we are losing the fight of faith.
Thankfully, God is longsuffering with fools and with atheists who battle unbelief. God is full of patience and mercy and will guide all those who are actively seeking him – even in the midst of their unbelief – to the truth and to life. All of us struggle with practical atheism is one sense or another. In those times, we should thank God that he is patient with us, and ask him for the grace and faith to respond to him and what he has said in obedience.