When your faith is questioned, “always be ready to give a defense… for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). With this video, equip yourself to answer three of atheists’ favorite objections about your belief in God.
[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Belief in God was once taken for granted by many, but now, not so much. In fact, a breed of “militant atheist” has arisen, inspired by the likes of evolutionist Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.
Such atheists claim to hold the high ground in terms of intellect and reasoning, saying that only the ignorant or the foolish would continue to believe in God in the modern era.
Today, we’ll look at THREE COMMON OBJECTIONS that atheists make concerning the existence of God, and we’ll put them to the test. So join us for today’s episode of Tomorrow’s World, “When Atheists Attack!”
Greetings, and welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. Today, we’re going to address three common objections atheists give concerning belief in God. We’re also going to give you an opportunity to request our free resource The Real God: Proofs and Promises. Be sure to note the contact information you might need to get your free copy when it appears on your screen.
An atheist is someone who believes there is no God—as distinct from theists, who believe there is a God, and agnostics, who are uncertain one way or the other.
Of course, God’s opinion about atheists is made plain in the Bible, as in Psalm 14:1, where He inspired King David to write,
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
God liked that statement so much, He had it essentially repeated in Psalm 53.
Still, God’s take on their lack of wisdom has not deterred some. In the early 2000s, the so-called “New Atheism” hit—championed by biologist Richard Dawkins, author Christopher Hitchens, neuroscientist Sam Harris, and philosopher Daniel Dennett—or as some have called them, the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism.
But in reality, the only thing “new” about the “New Atheism” was the attitude: more militant, more aggressive—but otherwise presenting the same old questions as the old atheism.
And we should highlight here at the start: Questions are good! We SHOULD ask questions! But when we do, we need to be OPEN to the answers—even if they aren’t the answers we were expecting or the answers we wanted. And we should be willing to put those answers to the test—especially in a day and age like ours, a period prophetically described in the Bible as a time when “truth is fallen in the street” (Isaiah 59:14), and convincing lies are far easier to come by.
So, what do you do when an atheist comes to YOU with questions? Well, frankly, you should evaluate the scenario first. Sometimes someone doesn’t really want answers—they are just looking to “score points,” and even if you answer their question, it goes in one ear and out the other. Yet, we should be ABLE to answer, and the Apostle Peter encouraged Christians in the first century to make sure they were ready to do so, to the best of their ability. In chapter 3 and verse 15 of his first letter, Peter writes that we should
“sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…” (1 Peter 3:15).
And, really, being ready for that defense is not just for the sake of your inquisitor. YOU need to know, for yourself, that God exists, that He is real, and that He is involved in both world affairs and your life.
So—how do you answer when someone questions your faith in God? For the rest of today’s program, we’re going to tackle three common questions atheists ask.
Here’s the first:
“If God made everything, who made God?”
We’re starting with this one, because it is a quick one! Someone who asks this is making a classic category error. The world around us—all the matter, space, and energy—had a beginning. Both the most up-to-date science and most rational lines of inquiry agree: The universe and all the matter, space, time, and energy that is in it had to have a beginning—whether that beginning was the famous Big Bang or something else. And, having a beginning, it had to have a CAUSE of some sort.
But God HAS no beginning. He is not among the things that are “made”—and having no beginning, He requires no creator. The Bible makes the distinction in these categories plain in John 1:3. Speaking there of the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, through whom the Father created all things, John writes,
“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3).
There are those things that are made, and then there is God, who existed before and apart from those things.
The world around us—matter, space, time, and energy—had a beginning, and, therefore, HAS to have a cause—a reason for it to come into existence. I like to quote from Julie Andrews’ character Maria in The Sound of Music on this point: “Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.”
Therefore, there must be a CAUSE for the universe that exists apart from the universe’s matter, space, time, and energy—a timeless cause that precedes all matter, space, and energy—and God fits that description. And, asking what made him is to misunderstand what and who God is.
Welcome back! In the first part of today’s program, we addressed the question, “If God made everything, who made God?” We can summarize the answer: “No one. Unlike the physical universe, God is eternal and had no beginning.” The person who asks misunderstands, or misrepresents, what the word “God” even means. In fact, you could add, “Without something fitting God’s description, there would be no universe at all.”
That last point is important, because sometimes atheists accuse believers of hiding behind a “God of the Gaps”—that is, claiming that believers only use “gaps” in scientific knowledge as evidence that God exists, but that, as those “gaps” are filled, the evidence for God supposedly evaporates. You could imagine this as saying that someone ignorant of how the water cycle works on earth might believe that a divine being just creates rain from nothing and, thus, rain becomes a “proof” that God exists.
Then, when scientists discover the water cycle, that “proof” evaporates, like a shallow puddle on the sidewalk on a hot day.
It is the “God of the Gaps” fallacy that many atheists have in mind when they ask the following question:
“Why do we need God if evolution explains everything?”
After all, evolution is the reigning scientific dogma of the day and is considered by many to be one of the crowning achievements of science and human reasoning. So, if evolution really does explain everything, why do we need God?
In answering this question, we need to recognize at least three mistakes revealed by the question. First, the theory of evolution doesn’t explain “everything.” The origin of the universe, the laws of physics and mathematics, consciousness, objective morality—the list of things for which a transcendent God remains the best explanation is LONG! When they say “everything,” they usually mean evolution explains LIFE. And I can understand why someone would be sensitive about this. The existence of life on planet earth definitely demands some sort of explanation!
But does EVOLUTION explain it? That is the questioner’s second mistake. The theory of evolution is FAR from sufficient to explain the wondrous variety of life we see on earth, let alone the origin of that life!
Finally, when we take an honest look at the complexity of life—it’s interwoven systems of dependence, the collection of complicated organs and nerve networks that must work together in a mind-bogglingly coordinated way, the abstract coding and error-checking systems of DNA—again, when we take an honest look at life’s complexity, we find that the current theory of evolution is FAR from able to explain that coordinated complexity.
In fact, the idea that evolutionary theory DOES currently explain all of these things is generally a façade, and there is currently a great deal of debate about how to address the theory’s persistent shortcomings.
The UK newspaper The Guardian recently reported on the turmoil in the evolutionary sciences:
“Strange as it sounds, scientists still do not know the answers to some of the most basic questions about how life on Earth evolved. Take eyes, for instance. Where do they come from, exactly? The usual explanation of how we got these stupendously complex organs rests upon the theory of natural selection” (“Do we need a new theory of evolution?” TheGuardian.com, June 28, 2022).
Then, after summarizing the usual evolutionary tale of the gradual development of the eye, the article continues:
“This is the basic story of evolution, as recounted in countless textbooks and pop-science bestsellers. The problem, according to a growing number of scientists, is that it is absurdly crude and misleading.”
“For one thing, it starts midway through the story, taking for granted the existence of light-sensitive cells, lenses and irises, without explaining where they came from in the first place. Nor does it adequately explain how such delicate and easily disrupted components meshed together to form a single organ. And it isn’t just eyes that the traditional theory struggles with. ‘The first eye, the first wing, the first placenta. How they emerge. Explaining these is the foundational motivation of evolutionary biology,’ says Armin Moczek, a biologist at Indiana University. ‘And yet, we still do not have a good answer. This classic idea of gradual change, one happy accident at a time, has so far fallen flat.’”
In fact, one could go so far as to say that, if random mutation and natural selection really DID create all life on earth, then evolution would have to be evidence that God DOES exist, because all of the giant, coordinated, improbable LEAPS evolution would have to take would require a DIVINE BEING to help it along!
It seems that, to prop up their own faith, evolutionists tend to depend on their own “God of the Gaps.” Or, perhaps, their “Darwin of the Gaps.”
In actuality, the complexity of life positively and forcefully argues for an INTELLIGENT SOURCE behind its creation! Only intelligence has ever been observed to be able to create such complicated, PURPOSE-ORIENTED structures as what we see within even the SIMPLEST of lifeforms!
Appealing to God’s existence and agency as an explanation for life is not hiding behind a “God of the Gaps.” Quite the contrary—the intelligent design present in all life is POSITIVE EVIDENCE for the existence of intelligence BEHIND life.
In the first part of today’s program, we addressed the question, “If God made everything, who made God?” We can summarize the answer: “No one. Unlike the physical universe, God is eternal and had no beginning.” In fact, SOMETHING fitting God’s description is needed even to HAVE a universe to begin with. Then, in the last segment, we tackled the question, “Why do we need God if evolution explains everything?” And we noted that “Evolution doesn’t explain everything and, in fact, fails even to explain what it is supposed to: life.” Frankly, believing all the claims of evolutionists takes more faith than believing in a Creator.
But the third common attack you might hear from an atheist neighbor or acquaintance comes with an emotional wallop, which is often the source of its strength:
“How can God be good if there is so much evil in the world?”
Of course, history certainly records many great evils—the Holocaust inflicted on the Jews, the Soviet starvation of Ukranians in the 1930s, and chattel slavery in the pre-Civil War American South are just a few examples. And for many of our viewers, the presence of evil in the world hits home in a personal way. Many of you have been robbed, assaulted, or abused.
There is no getting around it—our world is filled with evil. But if so, the atheist asks, how can God be good? After all, why would a good God allow such things? Is He too weak to stop it? Or is He just unaware that evil things happen? If so, then He isn’t really “God.” Yet, if He is all-powerful and all-knowing, and yet He does nothing, then they claim He isn’t “good,” and therefore isn’t really “God” that way, either. They claim this dilemma simply means there is no all-seeing, all-powerful, GOOD God to begin with.
So, what do we make of this?
Well, it’s interesting how quick people are to put the blame on GOD for mankind’s evil—and, frankly, that is exactly what the devil would want us to do! It’s interesting that when Adam and Eve first sinned by disobeying God and eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the first thing they both did was try to pass the buck. After God asks them about it, we read their responses in Genesis 3 [vv. 12–13]:
“Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’” (Genesis 3:12–13)
So, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the devil. In fact, if you look more closely, Adam blamed GOD. Note, he said, “The woman whom YOU gave to be with me”! And to this day, people continue to blame God for the evil mankind is responsible for.
Consider the evils we mentioned earlier, the Holocaust, the cruelty of the Soviets, and slavery—or, for that matter, robberies, assaults, or abuses. Those are evil actions inflicted by human beings. And the blame for them should lie with those human beings.
Still, the question remains, why does God ALLOW such human beings to commit evil? Part of that answer is founded upon the need for humans to have FREE WILL—which must include the ability to choose to do the wrong thing. God’s purpose for us requires growing in CHARACTER—specifically, learning to possess God’s OWN character—to choose the right over the wrong. And growing in CHARACTER requires the ability to make choices—free-will choices, which includes the possibility of choosing evil and causing suffering, along with the possibility of choosing the good and to endure suffering.
When you understand the purpose of God, you come to understand that the eternal good that God is producing through His plan of developing His own righteous character in human beings is of such reality-altering significance, that it will outweigh all the evil mankind has ever committed or experienced. In fact, the Apostle Paul says just that in Romans 8:18:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:18–21).
Notice—the current sufferings we experience aren’t even worthy to be compared to the glory to come. In fact, notice too that Paul says that creation itself is suffering and will be delivered in that day to come. One of the curses of mankind’s sin in the Garden of Eden was that we removed God as the caretaker of creation, as if we can do it all ourselves without Him. God explains to Adam in Genesis 3:17–19 that creation will no longer be accommodating to man in any special way but will go its own course. Mankind needs to learn the full lesson that we NEED God, and that attempting to build a world without Him leads only to suffering—as we are then left vulnerable to the afflictions of nature, our own evils, and the twistings and persecutions of the devil.
If you’re a parent, you understand what God is doing, if you think about it. How many times must parents allow a child to experience a taste of the results of their own bad choices before they know the lesson will sink in? Well, in God’s case, He’s not just teaching one child, but all of humanity—and the lessons need to make an impact for eternity. The stakes of these lessons could not possibly be higher.
Yet, we have God’s promise that, at the time of restoration of all things, the glory that is revealed in the children of God will far outshine any evil that has ever been committed and any suffering that has ever been experienced such that they will not even come to mind any more, forever. We should all pray that time comes quickly.
So, to summarize an answer to this third attack, “Evil in the world is a consequence of man’s free will. Yet God is using our choices to achieve an eternal good that will far outweigh any suffering mankind has ever experienced.”
The fact is, we are living in an increasingly skeptical world in which God is being effectively shoved into a corner as the movers and shakers in society seek to create a civilization that pretends He does not exist. Faith in God is under continued and sustained assault.
If you will seek to know the God of the Bible and will be willing to set aside your own preconceived ideas, your own selfish desires and outlook, and embrace the way of life that Jesus Christ commands of those who follow Him, you can become convinced and convicted of the REALITY of the God who inspired that Bible.
You will increasingly begin to see in your life, day by day, the fruit of your choices, and that fruit will become one of the most powerful proofs of God’s existence you could ever hope to possess. And it can strengthen you in a way few things can and enable you to stand strong and tall whenever atheists attack.
Just as God challenges us in Malachi 3:10 to put Him to the test by obeying Him, I challenge you today to do the same. You won’t regret it.
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Why is the God of the universe not real to most people today? Why is there so much skepticism and doubt about God? If you have ever pondered these questions, the answers could change your life! In this booklet we will examine the sources of modern misunderstandings about God, and consider seven proofs that reveal the true God.