Psalm 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.”
There is an old saying that nothing starts an argument quicker than a discussion between either politics or religion. But, I think that there is no issue that provokes more controversy in the free marketplace of ideas than the question of whether or not there is a God. In a book on “Why Atheist believe in Unbelief” by Sproul, I started reading on the religion of “Atheism” (the belief in no god) to understand more, since our Pastor JJ presented a Wednesday night overview or “Comparative Religions at our church peaked my interest. Focusing on Atheism to find the reason why people do not believe in God, I found immediately that this debate has raged for ages, as the Stoics theistic beliefs, the Platonists “Idea of Good’ and the Aristotelians “Unmoved Mover” beliefs were mocked and scoffed by individual group in their time. In every culture with believers in God there have been unbelievers. From apathy to violence, from unbridled passion to careful, calculated reasoning, the debate takes place. But knowing that misunderstandings and problems can arise by the proper definition of words, a study starts with the clarification of the varieties of “Theism” and the various categories of it.
Ecclesiastes 3:10-14 have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what god has done from the beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it si that men will revere Him.
Sproul explains that that the word “theism” is a general term that includes a wide variety of species. Literally, the word means “Godism,” that is, belief in God. It is derived from “theos”, the Greek word for God. The content of the term, however , is far more difficult than its derivative. One dictionary defines “theism” as “the belief in the existence of a god or gods”, and the definition of “god” as “a being or object believed to have more than nature attributes and powers and to require requires man’s worship” and also “a person or thing of supreme value.” This all-encompassing definition is broad in scope and serves to increase the ambiguity (vagueness and uncertainty) that so often surrounds the meaning of the word “God”. For instance, the National Motto of the United States of America is “In God We Trust”, which is historically documented as based upon the Judeo/Christian definition of Israel’s “Yahweh” of the Pentateuch and Bible, but in the pluralistic culture of today, you will hear that the word “God” can mean whatever you, individually and personally, want it to mean.
Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Sproul states that because of the now ambiguity of the word “God” and the multitude of meanings attached to it, some contemporary thinkers have despaired of having any meaningful discussion of the word at all. There is a crisis of language in the whole of God-talk. Therefore, God cannot be discussed seriously and rationally unless people agree on what sort of being and/or power that they are attempting to discuss, because the problem is in terms of language. Radical skepticism, however, is an overreaction to the problems involved. Though the word “God” abounds with linguistic difficulties, it still functions in a meaningful way in our society. Most people still assume that “God” refers to some person, or power, on a level of existence different from ordinary humanity. “Theism” is, it is generally agreed, belief that such a power or being exists. In terms of numerical statistics, it is safe to say that the vast majority of human beings have at least subscribed to some variety of theism. Theism has been so persistent in human civilization and has been so characteristic of mankind that it has been fashioned to describe man in terms of being “homo religious”. Man appears to be incurably religious, not atheistic. There is something about faith and unbelief. How can such brilliant thinkers and competent scholars come to such radically divergent positions? The debate between theists and atheists continues. Why? Knowing can and will help you and I to be a better disciple to, and witness for the Lord to our family, friends, and neighbors. Let’s take a look.
In Christ, Brian