By J. Matt Barber
They say there are no atheists in the foxhole.
Even fewer when death is certain.
None once the final curtain falls.
God’s Word declares, “The fool hath said in his heart ‘there is no God’” (Psalm 14).
For three decades, until his death in 1953, Josef Stalin was the mass-murdering atheist dictator of Soviet Russia.
He was also a fool.
In his 1994 book, “Can Man Live Without God,” famed Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias recounts a story he heard firsthand from British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge “that stirred [him] then and still does even yet.”
Muggeridge had collaborated with Svetlana Stalin, Josef Stalin’s daughter, on a BBC documentary about her God-hating father. She recounted his last act of defiant rebellion against the Creator: “[A]s Stalin lay dying, plagued with terrifying hallucinations, he suddenly sat halfway up in bed, clenched his fist toward the heavens once more, fell back upon his pillow, and was dead.”
“[H]is one last gesture,” observed Zacharias, “was a clenched fist toward God, his heart as cold and hard as steel.”
In my experience it is something common among atheists: an inexplicable, incongruent and visceral hatred for the very God they imagine does not exist.
Indeed, Romans 1:20 notes, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Yet excuses they make.
Psalm 19:1 likewise observes: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
The manifest intentionality and fine-tuning of all creation reveals design of breathtaking complexity. The Creator is of incalculable intelligence and infinite splendor. As I see it, atheism provides a case study in willful suspension of disbelief – all to escape, as the God-denier imagines it, accountability for massaging the libertine impulse.
“Wouldn’t the atheist ‘suspend belief’?” you might ask.
No, the phrase is properly “suspension of disbelief.” It is defined as “a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.”
In the case of the atheist, or the “freethinker,” as they paradoxically prefer, that which is unbelievable is that somehow everything came from nothing – that there is no uncaused first cause; that God does not exist, even as knowledge of His being is indelibly written on every human heart and proved by all He has made.
Be they theist, atheist or anti-theist, on this nearly all scientists agree: In the beginning there was nothing. There was no time, space or matter. There wasn’t even emptiness, only nothingness. Well, nothing natural anyway.
Then: bang! Everything. Nonexistence became existence. Nothing became, in less than an instant, our inconceivably vast and finely tuned universe governed by what mankind would later call – after we, too, popped into existence from nowhere, fully armed with conscious awareness and the ability to think, communicate and observe – “natural law” or “physics.”
Time, space, earth, life and, finally, human life were not.
And then they were.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Christian author Eric Metaxas notes, “The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces – gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ nuclear forces – were determined less than one-millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction – by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000 – then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp. … It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?”
Secular materialists claim it can’t be – that such explanation is a “God of the gaps” explanation and, therefore, must be banished from the realm of scientific inquiry. They demand that anything beyond the known natural is off-limits. Atheists attribute all of existence to, well, nothing. It just kind of happened. Genesis 1:1 of the materialist bible might read: “In the beginning nothing created the heavens and the earth.” Even in the material world that’s just plain silly. Nothing plus nothing equals something? Zero times zero equals everything?
And so, they have “reasoned” themselves into a corner. These same materialists acknowledge that, prior to the moment of singularity – the Big Bang – there was no “natural.” They admit that there was an unnatural time and place before natural time and space – that something, sometime, somewhere preceded the material universe. That which preceded the natural was, necessarily, “beyond the natural” and, therefore, was, is and forever shall be “supernatural.”
Reader, meet God.
In short: the Big Bang blows atheism sky high.
Fred Hoyle is the atheist astronomer who coined the term “Big Bang.” He once confessed that his disbelief was “greatly shaken” by the undisputed science, writing that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.”
Albert Einstein, who is often dishonestly characterized as having been an atheist, agreed that God-denial is foolishness. He once said of non-believers: “The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who – in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’ – cannot hear the music of the spheres.”
“I’m not an atheist,” added Einstein. “The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”
Illustrious NASA scientist (and agnostic) Dr. Robert Jastrow (1925-2008) put it this way: “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Yes, with time and chance, even science may eventually catch up to God’s Word.