September 6, 1994
A person professing to be an atheist was flattered when someone suggested to him, “You must be extremely knowledgeable.”
He responded that he felt he was definitely intelligent and well informed. To that, the other person responded, “You must know everything there is to know.”
The atheist said, “Well, no, I have to admit that I do not. Actually, no one can know all there is to know.”
The next response was more unsettling: “I am surprised. Being an atheist requires knowing all there is to know about everything. The reason you have to be so knowledgeable is simple: if you don’t know everything, then God could exist in a realm of which you are completely ignorant.”
At that, and somewhat to his credit, the person who called himself an atheist changed his label. He said perhaps he was really an agnostic. The Bible says, “Only a fool says in his heart there is no God.” This man at least decided not to be a fool.
An agnostic position is somewhat like atheism, however. Agnostics believe ultimate reality (usually God) is unknown and unknowable. They seldom insist there is no God but say no one can know for sure.
Strangely, the Bible never argues for the existence of God. Instead, it treats the issue as self-evident. Concerning creation, no one finding a grand piano in the middle of a jungle would suppose the ebony trees fell in just the right configuration, ivory tusks from elephants over a period of years arranged themselves in order and were polished smooth by the rains, and copper ore was buffeted by the elements until it became piano wire. Because of the intricacies of creation, an intelligent Creator is assumed.
As for accountability, the Bible also assumes every man realizes that one day he will die and face judgment. This common fear is evident in the way people from every culture and era try every possible means to either escape death or appease the “ultimate judge” regarding their obvious imperfections.
A few decide the most rational choice is to declare God dead. If there is no God, there can be no judgment. Others imagine a god (or gods) that would approve of their lifestyle. Still others make idols to represent the gods they fear and offer sacrifices of various sorts hoping this will make their gods treat them favorably in the afterlife.
The religions of the world have in common the notion of some sort of ultimate reality but only one holds there is one God, the Lord Jehovah, creator of the universe and sovereign over His creation. This God revealed Himself to a people-group, the Hebrew nation, who recorded that revelation in a collection of books known as the Old Testament.
Then, two thousand years ago, He revealed Himself more fully by pulling on humanity (like a suit of clothes) and becoming one of us. In Jesus Christ, we can see what God is like: He loves us, but hates sin — so much so that He became our sacrifice for it. His story is in the New Testament.
As for the atheist’s requirement to know everything and the agnostic’s insistence one cannot know, Christ declares God is knowable. Those who follow Christ enjoy an intimate, personal relationship with Him. The reality of that relationship is so incredible that we are satisfied not to know everything else.