The Brief on Unbelief (Worldview 5)
I know I made a bold claim in the last article. I wrote that Dawkins knows he is living in a universe created by God. I want to explain that claim in this article.
Unbelief is not so much about the intellect as it is about the heart. The real motive for refusing to believe in God is hidden under surface reasons such as a lack of evidence, science vs religion, suffering in the world, religion causing wars and the many other arguments we’re used to hearing or even making.
So what is the real motive? I will get to that, but first let's consider what the human heart tends to do with the evidence.
The Evidence the Heart Receives
The reality is, the internal and external evidence for the existence of God is roaring all around us every second. Romans 1:20 tells us that we have so much of this evidence that we actually have no excuse for denying God’s existence. Let me give you some examples:
Example 1 - when the nation of Israel went on its extensive Sinai Desert tour, the evidence for God’s existence and goodness was all around them. They had witnessed the ten plagues in Egypt, they had seen a sea divide in two, they had watched bread fall from heaven, every day they walked behind a massive pillar of fire and cloud, they saw that God could get water from a stone.
Yet Psalm 95 describes them as a generation who hardened their heart against God. The author of Hebrews calls this unbelief (6:12). How can there be unbelief with all that evidence? Because it isn’t about the evidence, its about the heart that witnesses the evidence.
Example 2 - when Christ was on earth He performed miracle after miracle. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, the leper clean, the lame walk, the dead live, the empty full, the storms calm, the demons flee, the water wine, the sea walkable.
Yet with all this evidence the generation hardened their heart against Him and cried for Him to be crucified. You see, it isn’t about the evidence, it’s about the heart that witnesses the evidence.
The Heart that Receives the Evidence
In John 3:19-21 we are told that people do not come to the light of the truth because they love the darkness. The reason they love darkness is because their deeds are evil.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 we are told that people do not accept the truth of the gospel because they have pleasure in unrighteousness.
In Romans 1:18 we are told that people suppress the truth of God’s existence because of sin. The act of suppressing something is wilful and active. Let me illustrate. In order to hold a basketball under water I need to continue to push it down. The moment I let go, the basketball will bounce up and hit me in the face. Unbelief is not passive; I need to continue to actively suppress the evidence around me in order to continue in unbelief. Therefore, there is no such person who can truthfully say "I just don't believe that sort of thing" about God's existence. Note - I didn't write that there is no such person who says it, I wrote that there is no such person who can truthfully say it. According to Romans 1:18, every single moment a person lives in unbelief is an active and wilful moment of truth suppression.
Romans 1 continues on by detailing, step by step, the digression and motive of unbelief stated in v18:
the evidence for God is clearly seen and understood by all v19-20
we know this but we do not want to worship Him v21
we willingly worship anything else instead of God and create gods that suit us v22-25
we willingly love sin and so do not want thoughts of God to interrupt our pursuit of it v26-28
we willingly fill our lives with every kind of evil thought and deed and celebrate as others do it too, even though we know we are in rebellion and worthy of judgment v29-32
The Real Issue
So here’s the reality. People love sin. We love it so much that we are willing to commit rational and spiritual suicide to pursue it. We are willing to deny our Creator because He gets in the way of what we want. We are willing to continue to actively and wilfully deny what we know is true.
We don’t want God in our minds because we know we are rebelling against His good law and we know we will face judgement because of that. But because of our (1) love of sin, (2) fear of judgment and (3) hatred of God we willingly blind ourselves to those truths. Or, again, as Romans 1:18 explains, we knowingly suppress the truth.
Let me finish by going back to my bold claim at the beginning of the article; we all know God exists. We all know He is the Creator of the universe. We all know His commands are good and true. We all know there is righteous judgment for breaking these good commands. But we would rather attempt the impossible task of fabricating a worldview in which God doesn't exist so that we can carry on breaking His law without thinking about the consequences. We want, if I can go back to my illustration, to keep the basketball underwater.
The next articles will be explaining how someone with a no-god worldview is in a desperate place because they can't make sense of the world they are living in. Article 6 will deal with purpose, article 7 will deal with identity.
Alan Campbell is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He came to Christ as a young adult and trained for ministry at Bethesda Free Church, Sunderland. Alan ministered in Bethesda as the Associate Pastor until 2019 and now ministers at Union Chapel, Bath. From time to time he teaches at North Cotes (NTM/Ethnos 360) College and The Theological College of North Staffordshire. Alan travels across the UK, Ireland, Europe and the States speaking at universities and equipping churches and campus ministries to share the gospel in a post-modern context. He is passionate about helping the believer to root their identity more and more into the person and work of Jesus Christ. Alan is married to Victoria.