Today’s blog post is from Dean Ohlman, a fellow member of the facebook group Celebrating Creation by Natural Selection (CCNS). I have adapted the post below from some comments that he posted in a discussion thread on that site. Dean will be happy to answer comments posted here.
Dean is retired from Our Daily Bread Ministries (formerly RBC Ministries) where he was a Christian nature writer, website host, editor, and associate TV producer.
The apostle Paul points out that everyone worships–some worshiping the creation and some worshiping the Creator. At some point the apparent eternality of time and space indicated by a microcosm getting forever smaller and a macrocosm getting forever larger will cause an observant and humble person to wonder. Then the forces of the natural world, the beauty of mathematics, the anthropic principle, and the existence of humankind as predominant among sentient creatures (plus numerous other mysteries and wonders) will create in a humble person a sense of awe. And that awe/worship will find its object in either the Creator or the creation. The creation is the god of the atheist, whether he acknowledges it or not. Believing such, he eventually will not be capable of acknowledging the Creator. (My own unpacking of the meaning of Romans 1:20+).
I believe that material human beings making merely material judgments about the material creation will always come to material conclusions. And material human beings who have dismissed God from their minds will find that God has also removed Himself from their awareness. At one time they would not see God; now they cannot see God (Rom. 1:18-21)
If naturalistic scientists cannot make definitive conclusions even about the ultimate nature of matter, the nature of life, or the nature of light—something they can experience with their senses and study in their laboratories, how can they believe they can reach a definitive conclusion about the existence and nature of God, whom they cannot know with their senses, and about the manner in which God brought all things into existence?
I often wonder what would happen in the mind and soul of an atheist who spent a considerable amount of time attending the church’s I have been involved with and observed the love and graciousness of most humble believers. In a time of doubt and spiritual struggle where the silence of God was deafening, I was lovingly tended to simply by my good Christian friends–pastors, family, and church friends. In the midst of my crisis I laid my head in my wife’s lap and cried, “I just wish God would step out of heaven, put his arms around me and say, ‘I am here, and everything will be all right.” Instead, Marge put her arms around me and said, “I am here, and I am telling you that everything will be all right.”
Gradually and finally the truth expressed so eloquently by the apostle Paul dawned on me: God is present to us mostly in his church and in his people who are led by his Spirit to be the light to the world demonstrating love so profound that even an atheist would be touched. God, forgive us for our failure to be salt, light, and love in the world.
“The creation is the god of the atheist, whether he acknowledges it or not”.
This strikes a cord with me, because I remember feeling exactly that when I was an atheist. I have also heard some famous current atheists like Richard Dawkins sound a similar note. He has sid that the famous line by Darwin “There is grandeur in this view of life” is for him akin to a religious feeling. I believe him. The creation is indeed majestic and worthy of awe. How much more so, the Creator of all.