Looking for Reasons NOT to Believe
It’s my firm belief that atheists aren’t really questioning seekers of truth. The Bible backs me up, as I’ve discussed in my posts on total depravity. Instead, I think that atheists actively look for reasons to not believe. Right now, I’m working on a series of YouTube videos answering 36 questions for Christians from a user named “azsuperman01” and I’m about to re-enter the podcasting arena with three shows detailing other “honest” questions for believers.
Do you know what I’ve learned addressing these so-called “honest” questions for believers? Nothing–I’ve only re-enforced my belief that atheists are actively seeking reasons to not believe in God. One way they do this is by making a great big, hairy, fat deal out of peripheral issues.
I wandered over a great example, although it’s a couple of months old. The post, “William Lane Craig, King of Fail,” discusses the issue that seems to be a hot button for non-believers: what happens if you’ve never heard of Christ? This video is evidently striking a chord with unbelievers, as it has three likes and three re-blogs to date.
Contrarian, the blogger, quotes William Lane Craig on the issue of not having heard about Christ:
God ensures that no one who would believe the gospel if he heard it remains ultimately unreached. Once the gospel reaches a people, God providentially places there persons who He knew would respond to it if they heard it. He ensures that those who never hear it are only those who would not accept it if they did hear it. Hence, no one is lost because of a lack of information or due to historical and geographical accident. Anyone who wants or even would want to be saved will be saved. (source)
Which, Craig is quick to add, is only a possible solution. Craig is no friend of Calvinism, and therefore the whole notion of unconditional election isn’t considered in this solution. Despite that, I might point out, it’s a fair solution. As Craig says, there is some Scripture to back this notion up. Of course, as I’ve pointed out in reply to John Loftus, geographic isolation may be a manifestation of unconditional election. That, I think, may be the more biblical solution to the issue at hand.
But this issue really is peripheral to the gospel. Attachment to material goods, wealth, and (yes) people takes a backseat to holding a covenantal relationship with God by faith in Christ.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that we are to cut off our hands or gouge out our eyes if they cause us to sin. Jesus tells us that treasures on earth are susceptible to moth and rust, therefore we must store up treasure in heaven, which is incorruptible.
Willingness to part with body parts to eliminate sin and relying solely on God for provision of needs is re-enforced by what Jesus says next: we are to hate our family in order to be his disciple. This blurb (which I call the skeptics’ favorite verse since it so often used out of context to make Jesus into an a-hole) is part of a speech on counting the cost. Jesus tells us that no ruler would build a tower without first figuring out if he had enough resources to complete it. He’d look pretty silly if he only got halfway and then ran out of money. Kind of like Rossford, OH and their amphitheater project that has been sitting half done for over a decade.
Part of the cost of being a disciple of Christ may be losing friends and family. You can extend “family” to mean “human race,” since we all share ancestry with Adam. The fact is, some will place faith in Christ, and most others will not. The peripheral issue is whether it’s fair to condemn a person just because they never heard that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. The fact is, before you can profess Christianity, you have to be willing to part with friends and family. Inevitably, some of those people you once called “friend” will become naysayers to your new found religion. You have to be willing to cut your ties if that’s what it takes to maintain a strong relationship with God in faith through Christ.
Remember that humans aren’t being sentenced to hell only because they lack faith in Christ. Humans are totally depraved–that is, predisposed to sin. We all sin and deserve condemnation for that. The moral law is written in our hearts, and we choose to disobey it, we choose to go our own way. Instead of letting God be the arbiter of good and evil through his word in the Bible, mankind has chosen to be its own arbiter with disastrous results.
We all fall under the condemnation of God, and therefore deserve hell. That happens independent of any knowledge of a Savior.
Jesus was once asked about the Tower of Siloam, which fell and killed 18 people. The seeker wanted to know why: what did those 18 do that brought the wrath of God? But Jesus redirects the question back on the seeker: are you any better off? Of course, the answer is no.
Salvation is solely by the grace of God. We did nothing to merit it. On the other hand, we’ve done plenty to earn condemnation and thus, eternal wrath.
“What about hypothetical people on remote islands that will never hear about Jesus?” It’s not an honest question. It’s a taunt. The question about the Tower of Siloam, likewise, was also a taunt. We should respond as the Lord did, by turning the question back around:
Atheist, forget about those hypothetical people on remote islands that will never hear about Christ. You have heard about Christ. You know the consequences of not responding in faith. What are you going to do?