What Dawkins, Hawking, and Harris Know About God

How would you like to peer into the mind of Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and Sam Harris to see what they really think about God? Romans 1:18-32 lets us do just that. There God tells us what every atheist knows about God.

“But, how do they know anything about God when they don’t go to Church, read the Bible, etc?”

The Apostle Paul says that the invisible things of God are made plain to everyone through the made things (v. 19). In other words, the creation reveals the Creator to all creatures. “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (v. 20). And he shows it to them through what He has made. Just as handwriting tells us something about the writer, and just as a painting tells us something about a painter, so God’s creation tells everyone, even atheists, a lot about God.

And what does the visible creation tell every atheist about the invisible Creator?

1. God exists. If they clearly see God’s invisible attributes (v. 19), then they obviously know He exists. As verse 21 says, “They know God.”

2. God is eternal. They know that there is a being who had no beginning and will never end (v. 20).

3. God is powerful. They have an eerie sense of God’s overwhelming almightiness (v. 20).

4. God is God. They not only know His eternal power but His eternal Godhead (v. 20). This is not someone just a bit bigger then themselves, but a wholly other kind of being, a transcendent God.

5. God is angry. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ungodly and unrighteous men (v. 18). Even atheists tremble in the thunder.

6. God will judge. Not only do they know God is presently angry with sin, but that he will justly judge it in the future (v. 32)

7. God is good. God has left a witness to His goodness everywhere in the regularity of seasons and harvests (Acts 14:17)

8. God is glorious. Day after day, and night after night, the fingerprints of God in His creation preaches “God is glorious, God is glorious” (Ps. 19:1-3). Every people and land have hear this sermon every day.

So why do Harris, Hawking, and Dawkins not believe this daily sermon that’s so full of theology?

Television
Let me use the TV to illustrate Paul’s explanation. God transmits a clear signal, and people receive a clear signal (v. 19-20). However, the viewers turn down the volume, they hold down or suppress the truth in unrighteousness (v. 18).

When that doesn’t work, they try to change the channels. They know they should worship, but they exchange the glory of God for idols (v. 22). They know there is truth to believe, but they exchange the truth of God for a lie (v. 25). They know there is a morality to govern relationships, but they exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural (v. 26).

When the signal still gets through, they try and switch off the TV, they do everything they can to get rid of this unwanted knowledge (v. 28), and then ultimately try to drown out the remaining message by ungodly lives (v. 29-31). But Paul says, despite these desperate attempts, despite all their protestations and denials, “They still know the judgment of God” (v. 32). They cannot escape the certain fact that they will one day meet a divine judge.

What grace!
What grace! That God makes such a generous daily revelation to a world which daily spurns, mocks, rejects and attacks his revelation! No ordinary artist would persevere when his handiwork was treated like this.

What madness! That men and women should reject such precious and valuable knowledge, and admire themselves as wise in the process (v. 22).

What privilege! This revelation of God through creation is often called general revelation because it is given to all. But it cannot save anyone.  General revelation can only show us our need, and give hints that God’s goodness may supply our need. But it cannot save us. It can only leave us without excuse. To be saved we need an extra revelation, a special revelation. That’s why God gave us His written and enfleshed Word. If we have that, we are highly privileged. But to whoever much is given, much will be required.

What hope! As we evangelize, we are not evangelizing blank slates. We are not starting with total ignorance. We are going to people who already know much about God. There are already mental sockets prepared for the truth of God’s Word to fit into and to explain.

Dawkins, Hawking, Harris & co will vehemently deny all this. But they know. And you know. And we know you know. And we only want you to know more, to know the Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”


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Why Are We So Unhappy?

“Oh trust in the Lord for happiness as well as for help! All the springs of happiness are in him.” Charles Spurgeon

Every recent poll agrees, American optimism is dying. Dana Millbank reported:

“When asked if “life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us,” fully 76 percent said they do not have such confidence. Only 21 percent did. That was the worst ever recorded in the poll; in 2001, 49 percent were confident and 43 percent not.”

And it’s not confined to one group either. The rich are as down as the poor, women are as down as men, blacks are as down as whites. Young people are only slightly less depressed than the old. Democrats are marginally happier than grumpy Republicans. Dana Milbank concludes:

“The gloom goes beyond wealth, gender, race, region, age and ideology. This fractious nation is united by one thing: lost faith in the United States.”

The New York Mag blames the torrent of bad news the media is feeding us 24/7 producing a widespread sense that the world is falling apart. The Wall Street Journal points to five factors:

  • We are in lousy health with an epidemic of obesity.
  • Stress due to health problems or overwhelming responsibilities.
  • The lifestyles of the rich and famous are making us jealous.
  • Our wages are stagnant
  • We work too much, far more than most other nations.

If you look at the majority of the causes highlighted by the analysts, you’ll see that they blame external factors for our unhappiness. But if our happiness is dependent on events outside my control, then there’s nothing we can do about my emotional state. We just become passive fatalists. What will be will be.

Christians have a big opportunity here to shine in the midst of the darkness, to show that happiness, true spiritual happiness, can be enjoyed independently of uncontrollable events, trends, and changes in the world and in our personal lives. As Thomas Watson wrote:

“Spiritual joy is higher built than upon creatures, for it is built on the love of God, on the promises, and on the blood of Christ.”

That’s the way to get to this:

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Phil. 4:11)


Young People’s Greatest Problem Is…

….Pride.

At least, according to Matthew Henry. In his little book, Sober-Mindedness Pressed Upon Young People, Henry says, “I have seen more young people ruined by pride than perhaps by any one lust whatsoever.”

Henry’s book is based upon the text “Exhort the young men to be sober-minded” (Titus 2:6), but in this section he also expounds Romans 12v3:

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Henry says that the Greek is literally, “think unto sobriety,” or “think yourself into a sober mind.”

But how do we do that?

Practical as ever, Henry advises:

“Keep up low thoughts of yourselves, of your endowments, both outward and inward; of your attainments and improvements, and all your performances, and all the things you call merits and excellencies.”

Sounds just like Facebook, doesn’t it?

Not.

Henry calls us to make as little of our attainments as most do of their faults, and instead to make much of others’ attainments and little of their faults. He notes how Moses didn’t know that his face shone, and when he realized it, he veiled it.

If Matthew Henry had designed Facebook instead of Mark Zuckerberg, we would be posting status updates on our failings, our faults, and our bad-hair days. And we’d be posting photos of others’ victories, achievements, and successes.

So how about this for a counter-cultural social media strategy:

“Dwell much upon humbling considerations, and those that tend to take down your high opinion of yourselves.” 

But Henry doesn’t end there; he doesn’t see sober-mindedness as an end in itself, but as a means to another wonderful end:

“And keep up a humble sense of your necessary and constant dependence upon Christ and His grace, without which you are nothing, and will soon be worse than nothing.”


Awesome Music, Awesome Words

Glory to the Holy OneFor the last few weeks I’ve been living off Glory to the Holy One, a CD of hymns composed by R C Sproul. If you’re familiar with Dr. Sproul’s theology, you will instantly recognize his spiritual heartbeat in many of these songs. In fact, I think that’s why they come with such power to me, as I’ve been so blessed by R C Sproul’s teaching ministry over many years. When I hear the lyrics, waves of other words he has written and spoken also flood into my soul, filling each line with layer upon layer of rich meaning. It’s a quite unique and wonderful experience!

My favorites are Glory to the Holy OneHighland Hymn, The Secret Place, and Clothed In Righteousness, each of them focused on the primary themes of Dr. Sproul’s long, faithful, and productive ministry – God’s glory, the beatific vision, the holiness of God, and the righteousness of Christ.

Awesome Music
And it’s not just the words that are awesome, the music is some of the finest I’ve ever heard. Those of us privileged to attend the National Conference will never forget the delightful conversation between Dr. Sproul and the award-winning composer, Jeff Lippencott, during which they told the story of how the album was conceived and produced. In fact, I just realized yesterday that the CD has a fascinating track at the end in which Dr Sproul and Jeff talk more about the production effort. Watch the video below to get a glimpse of the beautiful relationship that developed between these two men as they worked on this God-honoring project.

As I listened to Dr. Sproul that night, heard these hymns, and then listened to him preach an unforgettable sermon on his favorite text, Isaiah 6, the next day, it all just seemed to sum up everything I love about this man of God. I’m tempted to say it’s such a fitting capstone. But I hope not, because I earnestly pray that God may yet give him many more years to serve His church and bless His people.

You can listen to sample tracks here, and even listen to the entire album free if you download the Ligonier App.

The Making of Highland Hymn

PS. For my exclusive-psalmody friends, remember some of the staunchest defenders of exclusive psalmody in public worship (e.g. Dr John Kennedy, Dingwall) had no problem listening to hymns outside church worship settings!