What Dawkins, Hawking, and Harris Know About God

In Romans 1:18-32 God tells us what every atheist knows about God.

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.

 

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.”

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand, and is used with permission.