I said in a previous entry that nature can no more disprove God than the artwork on the Sistine Chapel ceiling disproves Michelangelo.
A few days ago I engaged in a friendly online debate with an atheist. He (yes, I’m assuming his gender) started with asking for proof of God. Part of the discussion is as follows:
Me: A lack of evidence doesn’t automatically negate something’s existence. It could mean you merely haven’t discovered that evidence, yet. My overall point is, only by searching for something will you find out for certain if it does or doesn’t exist. By not looking for God and believing beyond all doubt he can’t exist, of course you’re not going to find him.
Atheist: and the converse is still true just because you say there is a God doesn’t mean there is one.
Me: All the more reason to keep an open mind for the possibility, because if indeed true, the consequences of disbelief have eternal consequences.
Atheist: if the only motivator is fear, I want to have even less to do with it. [A]nd what if I am right how much of everyone’s life is getting wasted on something that doesn’t have any meaning?
Me: First, it’s not about fear so much, but about prudence and respect. For instance, I don’t fear fire, but due to my respect for its power, I prudently avoid sticking my hand in it.
As for whether or not I discover at my death God doesn’t exist, my life hasn’t been wasted. Not by a long shot. God gives me peace and joy. I don’t have to fear anything, not even death. Due to my faith, I can look forward to eternal life. Plus, faith in him encourages me to live righteously, lovingly, and generously, much more so than if I didn’t have faith in him.
He also said: if you cannot prove that something exists, I have no interest in it. It is just who I am I was born the scientist.
The last comment made me think of Romans 1:19-22 (ESV): For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
I want to concentrate on two things the atheist said: “It is who I am I was born the scientist” and “If the only motivator is fear, I want to have less to do with it.”
Romans 1:20 addresses both the scientist in this person as well as fear being a motivator (although it’s not—or at least shouldn’t be—the only motivator).
Let’s look at nature and how it shows not only God’s care, but his power. And yes, we should indeed fear it (or at least be prudent when experiencing its power).
Most everyone can readily see God’s care. Jesus spoke of it himself in Matthew 6:26 & 28-29: Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? … And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these.
The picture above I took in the North Dakota Badlands a few years ago. I can’t look at it and not be awed by it. I can’t help but see God’s care and beauty in every single star and planet. The Moon and stars shine light in the dark and show the passage of time. Plus the most famous star, Polaris, shows us true north. It gives us direction even in the most hostile and desolate environments and has for millennia.
Yet anyone who’s lived for any amount of time knows the dangers of nature’s power. Those who live on the coasts learn about the power of hurricanes. Those who live on the plains need to prepare for the occasional tornado. Those who live near a fault line should watch for earthquakes. Mountain-dwellers should tread lightly over snow lest an avalanche sweep them away. Volcanos make islands and mountains, but they also cause devastation with spewing hot lava and pyroclastic flows of rock and ash.
God is even more dangerous if we don’t give him the respect, the awe, and yes, the fear he deserves.
The consequences of not taking nature or God serious—as I said in my comments to the atheist—are eternal.
Whether or not my words made a difference, I leave that to the Holy Spirit. Although I do pray they took root, because I would like to meet this hopefully once-but-no-longer-atheist in Heaven someday.