If There Is No God …

Do you notice how people often discuss “the God question” as though it’s just another topic to be decided either by public opinion polls, personal conviction or even by a court of law? The whole question revolving around the existence of God is far more important than just interesting debate. Either God exists or He doesn’t, and where we come down on that question has very serious consequences. If there is no God…dare we contemplate what this truly means?

We must.

I have a strong feeling most people don’t dare. The reason I believe that is because most people don’t “connect the dots”, by adding the if-then corollaries. In that way, we tell ourselves that we can have our cake and eat it too. We take the parts of religion/eternity that we like and dismiss the rest. How neat – but how likely is that to be even close to the truth?

So let’s dare to do it right here and now – let‘s take the “God debate“ to its logical extreme – if there is no God…

…Then Heaven and/or “a better place” are just wishful thinking

If There Is No God…
If There Is No God…

The notion of a place called “Heaven” has always been intimately connected with existence of a loving and benevolent God, and the Bible confirms this. Yet many people today, either having a weak concept of God, or dismissing the possibility of His existence entirely, nonetheless believe that there’s a better place on the other side of the grave, which many continue to refer to as Heaven.

Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. If there is no God, then it’s extremely unlikely that there’s a better place in any kind of “next life”. You’re beloved grandma – gone forever. Your cherished dog fluffy – dust in the ground. And you – toast in the making.

Have you dared to contemplate this?

Since many of us have been raised with some form of religious training, we are familiar with the concept of Heaven. Yet when we grow up and begin to lose touch with religion, we often retain the belief in the promise of Heaven. Let’s face it, it’s a very comforting notion, especially during dark times in life.

We even create our own definitions as to how one gets there, ie, good people go to Heaven, bad people go to the other place. Have you heard this spoken before? Have you believed it yourself?

While the concept may give us a sense of control over our eternal destinies, it is completely wrong according to the Bible. The problem with creating our own definition as to who attains something that looks like eternal salvation is that it’s completely subjective – we naturally include ourselves, as well as the people we love, while assuming those who we hate or fear have a one-way ticket to Hell.

Comforting yes, but completely wrong. In fact, it’s a complete fantasy of our own creation. If there is no God, then Heaven – or anything remotely resembling it – doesn’t exist.

…And so are angels

Angels are another common belief among people who have a fuzzy concept of God, or even reject His existence out of hand. Like Heaven, it’s comforting for people to believe that there are angelic beings who look out for us and guide us from the heavenly realms.

But can there be angels if there is no God?

According to ChristianAnswers.net, angels are mentioned “at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.” And – according to Scripture – angels do in fact perform many of the functions that pagans, “spiritualists”, various New Ager’s, and the many hybrid/pseudo-Christians believe they do, including protecting us, delivering us from danger, providing for us, and yes, even delivering us to God at the moment of death – a la Touched By An Angel.

And for what its worth, there’s even Biblical support for the widely believed concept of guardian angels. In Matthew 18:10 Jesus lays the foundation for guardian angels:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

What’s missing in the popular, non-faith based notions about angels however is that they exist to do the will of God, which is to minister to men. They do not act out of the kindness of their eternal hearts, nor by their own designs. They do not exist unto themselves. They are spiritual beings created by God, to do the will of God. And if God does not exist, then angels are a complete fantasy as well.

…There is no salvation, no absolution

If we’re completely honest, every one of us have done things in our lives that we regret, things we wish we could go back and undo. The reality however is that we can’t. We’ve hurt people, we broken relationships, we’ve caused problems, we’ve lined up on the wrong side of issues, undergone epic failures and made messes. Some have committed crimes, and a few have even caused the deaths of others.

In Psalm 103:8-12, the Bible tells us:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Emphasis mine)

We like to say forgive and forget, but is that what others do for us? Is that what we do for others? We can never be sure, can we? That’s because it’s very difficult for humans to forgive, and infinitely harder to forget. And very often, the world won’t let us forget. If you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, then you know what I mean.

Absolution is a divine gift, one the Bible says is freely available to us. But we can’t give it, not to others, and certainly not to ourselves. Only God can. And if there is no God, then there is no absolution.

…There is no right or wrong – only what we accept to be either

Humanity has a natural orientation towards rebelling against authority. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do – and we certainly don’t want to get our concepts of right and wrong out of an ancient book like the Bible. I believe this is one of the primary reasons why people reject belief in God. They can’t accept the fact that there may be definitive concepts of right and wrong.

One of the corollaries to Murphy’s Law is If the facts don’t support the desired outcome, then the facts must be changed.

And so it is with non-belief in God. Many non-believers come to their positions based on the fact that they do not agree with what they read in the Bible. On the surface, it may seem that non-belief becomes liberating – after all, you are effectively eliminating the rule book. But on deeper reflection, it’s stepping into very dangerous territory.

The diabolical figures of history – Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao, Charles Manson, and a host of other despots and mass murderers – were of the opinion that the world needed a new rulebook. The Word of God was not part of their agenda – in fact, it specifically needed to be removed. In each case God was eliminated from the picture, and in each case lives were lost – often millions of them.

If there is no God, then this is what happens when we are left to design our own concepts of right and wrong. There is no right or wrong, and the powerful and those wielding weapons create the definitions, and dole out the consequences to the non-compliant.

…Then those suffering in this life are indeed doomed

Maybe you’ve lived a pretty good life – you’re healthy, you have a loving family, plenty of friends, a comfortable standard of living, and a great future. If so, you may never have contemplated this topic.

But think for a moment about the people who are not similarly blessed – and they’re out there. Think about the people who are permanently physically or mentally disabled or impaired, people mired in poverty, people doing life sentences in prison, people who have lost loved ones in horrible tragedies, and people with terminal diseases, just to name a few.

What hope do they have???

In the human realm – they have none at all. A government program will not save them, and neither will positive thinking or the Tooth Fairy. Hopelessness is a very real human condition, and it afflicts millions of people at this very moment.

I know that doesn’t fit neatly within the realm of positive thinking, or the notion that life and human existence are getting better all the time. And I realize that most of us deal with the hopeless, either by ignoring them, by telling ourselves that they somehow brought it on themselves, or by rationalizing why we’ll never become one of them. But if we’re being realistic, then we have acknowledge this reality. Some people are in very miserable circumstances, and there’s virtually no chance that they will escape them in this lifetime.

In Romans 10:9-13 we’re told:

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Nothing in human existence – not our laws, our government structures, our economy, our monetary system or even our technology – can promise us anything that comes close to this. And if there is no God, then those who are suffering in this life are indeed doomed.

…Then Man is his own god

Millions of people are downright excited at this thought. If there is no God, then Man is basically his own God. That means we’re free to do what we think is best. We’re no longer “bound by ancient ideas that are irrelevant to the present time, and were crafted by people long dead based on their own selfish agendas”. We can create a world that is more fair and more open, maintain better control, and build a better world.

That sounds beautiful – if you believe in fantasies!

Think about it. Free to do what we want – until we infringe on the “rights” of others. More fair and open? What’s fair to you and me may be considered threatening to others. And building a better world? We can’t even control the weather!

Virtually all ideas centered on building some kind of earthbound utopia fall apart when you realize that the entire construct requires perfect human beings. It’s not a stretch to say that that’s never going to happen. In fact, considering the aforementioned megalomaniacs, and their efforts to create a utopian world, it seems that any attempt in that direction results in complete disaster. We don’t have the resources to create a perfect world, because we are not perfect beings. That realization in and of itself should reduce the notion of Man as his own God to the absolute nightmare that it is.

Only by aspiring to union with God do we have even a remote possibility of becoming better at anything.

The good things of eternity and even of humanity don’t exist, and can’t exist, if there is no God. Heaven does not exist, angels do not exist, absolution does not exist, there is no right or wrong, the suffering are doomed, and Man will wander in the dark – ultimately to oblivion. Only the existence of God makes any of those things possible, only the existence of God provides man with the divine compass that he needs to seek out true righteousness.

Apart of God, we have none of that.

Have you ever considered this?

( Photo by angeloangelo )

8 Responses to If There Is No God …

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Very thoughtful and thought-provoking post! I think the prerequisite to diving deep into these questions is having the courage and intellectual honesty to face the logical conclusions of one’s worldview.

  2. Hi Chaz – Very true, but as I said in the post, people make belief declarations, but then they don’t connect the dots. So it becomes possible to have benevolent souls called angels and a happy eternal destination like Heaven without acknowleging God at the center of it all. I can live my life just exactly and precisely the way I want while the angels take care of me and Heaven awaits me, and there’s no God with all of those ancient, confusing and disagreeable rules.

    Unfortunately, I hear and see examples of this kind of “belief” all over the place.

  3. A very thought provoking topic that I frequently ponder. I’m pretty cynical and have to admit that I often think that the whole concept was thought up by rulers in Biblical times to keep the masses from revolting. You know the whole “you’ll get your reward in Heaven” argument. However, the idea of death simply meaning you no longer exist is pretty depressing. I know I have no memory of before birth, but the idea of just not existing any more is hard to cope with.

  4. Hi Kathy – The flipside of that argument is the power structure telling the people that “there is no Heaven, so you have to get your earthly goodies – from us (the powers that be) – therefore bow, yeild, kneel before us.”

    I come from a largely secular background so I know the standard arguments against faith. But I’ve studied the Bible at some length, and I see too many consistent doctrines, and most of them are nothing one would have written if the primary intent was to keep people under control. For example, the first four of the Ten Commandments have to do with our relationship with God. They establish God as the Sovereign over all and demand our obedience to Him alone. There’s no room in those four commandments for human authority, hence Man would not have written them for any earthbound purpose. Most governments and other power structures want us to focus our allegiance on them, not on a higher power. Does that make sense?

    Also, the writers of the New Testament described themselves in derogatory ways; who would write such things about themselves? Further, Jesus taught many things, but his teachings never hinted at rebellion against the powers of the day. Where would the political payoff in that kind of pacifism come from, if the purpose were to establish a new political order? Jesus had no political agenda whatsoever, but he reached out to women, non-Jews, pagans, tax collectors (an occupation that was much more evil than we think today), prostitutes, and even the hated occupying Romans. All were seen as affronts to the status quo of the day.

    Many of the religious leaders of the day didn’t believe in life after death. Jesus countered by telling them “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:27). Time after time he challenged the religious leaders because their faith was corrupt or non-existent. They were supposed to know this stuff and they didn’t have a clue.

    The Bible contains more immutable logic then I’ve collectively heard or read in the rest of existence. The divine connection is obvious if you allow yourself to accept it – most people don’t because it clashes with their own personal agendas. And if it is the divine word of God, then that’s exactly how it should read. A human-centric/friendly book of faith could not come from God; it would have to clash with what we want to believe. Does that make sense?

    I’ve heard and read many arguments against the existence of God, and none of them stand up to the written Word of God, nor the experiences that come as a result of listening to that Word. My money is on Jesus’s explanation of eternity, and there’s more good that flows from that than I have time or space to cover here. Suffice it to say that there is a definate metaphysical component to belief in God that a non-believer doesn’t allow himself to get. It all makes greater sense the deeper into it you wander, and that takes that initial step of faith. Faith however, isn’t something the world takes all too seriously. I’m increasingly coming to view faith as divine intervention in the believers life, and I’m in total awe of it.

    I hope you can appreciate at least some of what I’m saying, though I certainly understand if you don’t.

  5. Definitely thought provoking, Kevin. One of the things that I am trying to do is take a step back and think through why I believe what I believe. I am a PK, and so grew up in the church, never really questioning some of the doctrines I’ve adopted. I think it’s important, whether you believe in God or not to consider lines of thought as you’ve laid out here. One of my favorite scriptures says “…always have an answer…” (Col 4:6), and I realize that is something I am lacking.

  6. Hi Sherian – First of all, what’s a PK??? (Never seen that abbreviation before.) You’re pointing out an uncomfortable truth, that a lot of Christians don’t necessarily know exactly what it is they believe or why. I’m not saying that Christianity is mainly an intellectual endeavor, but there is definately a large dose of gray matter required to embrace it, otherwise we’re just going through the motions.

    For me, it’s been a combination of:

    1) Studying the Bible, individually or in groups,
    2) Analyzing and debating the meanings of passages and verses,
    3) Looking for consistent themes and applications (there are far more than we generally assume),
    4) Considering my own life’s experience,
    5) Deep prayer,
    6) Interpreting events from a faith perspective – ie, some of what we think of as coincidences are actually full blown miracles that we dare not label as such for fear of criticism or looking “unsophisticated” in the eyes of the world.

    It’s been my experience that when we truly accept the reality of God He reveals Himself to us, often in subtle ways. For example, so much of my life’s experience has fallen within with Bible teachings, particularly spiritual experiences. We’re not as unique as we like to believe, and when we submit to God, he enlightens us. The scary part of course is realizing that much of what’s revealed is in conflict with how we want to live and how the world functions. But God wouldn’t be God if all he did was rubber stamp our behevior, then protect us with angels and sheppard us into Heaven when it’s all over. The angels and Heaven are true, but not the way we like to believe them to be.

  7. Hi Kevin,

    Interesting and thought provoking read.

    People dismissing the existence of God while, at the same time, embracing the concept of heaven would certainly appear to be contradicting themselves.

    The topic of God and religion, however, are hot buttons for many people and their official pronouncements may differ from what their heart is speaking to them when they are in a more quieter and contemplative state of mind.

    It may be a situation where people have suffered institutional abuse and have thrown the baby (God) out with the bathwater (institutionalism). And, institutional religion may have a part to play in this to the degree they’ve warned those contemplating such a departure that if they leave the institution they are, in fact, leaving God. So, the question is, can a person leave the institution without leaving God? And, if a person has a choice to leave one or the other, which would be the logical and prudent choice? And, when talking about institutional religion we have to recognize all the institutional flavors and their unique creeds and doctrines that conflict with one another. If a person can’t leave any of these institutions without leaving God, it would suggest an equal and distinct number of gods exist to coincide with the respective institutions represented. All of these institutions claim the bible is the inerrant word of God and that they follow it(s). With over 100 English language bible translations, this is obviously made easier and provides all of them with something to potentially hang their spiritual hobby hat on. Is it any wonder that people are tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater? In this case, however, these babies may simply be illegitimate children conceived in the mind of the institutions and far removed from the genuine Creator of the Universe.

    So, when someone who isn’t religious, in the classical sense, quietly embraces the idea of an afterlife, we assume they’ve come to this conclusion on a more intuitive level. They’ve obviously observed the intelligent design of the universe, our world, and our bodies and reached the logical conclusion that it all didn’t happen by accident.

  8. S&D – I love when you comment on my faith posts because you always enhance the content. I completely agree, the institutions have had a corrupting influence, largely because they over-emphasize certain doctrines at the expense of others. Some examples: the full-immersion baptism “requirement”, tithing, God wants you to be happy, the culture “wars”, the faith/nationalism hybrid, the hyper-focus on the end times, and best of all – only those who believe as we do are truly walking with God. And that’s just a small sampling.

    It’s like they’ve never heard of “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

    I myself am a non-denominational Christian tyring hard to keep out the various flavors that might succeed in corruping me more than they already have 😉

    Unfortunately, the institutions have become the problem, not just with faith, but also throughout our culture. They don’t exist to serve the masses, but rather to subdue the masses into supporting the institutions (you and I have had these discussions before!). Institutions are self-serving, self-protecting and self-perpetuating. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we may have to abandon the institutions in order to find our way to God. That includes faith institutions. That being said, we worship at one of the largest churches in the US and the message is solid (it’s also non-denominational – coincidence?).

    People are drawn to institutions precisely because they want direction. They don’t have the time or confidence to come to sound conclusions on their own. And of course, a society raised in institutions, working for institutions and governed by institutions, is not well qualified to do otherwise.

    But I don’t want to lay it all at the feet of institutions. People seem to like the confusion of our times, since it provides plenty of wiggle room to build your own faith (or anything else). In world that increasingly tells us that there are no hard and fast rules and where truth and morality are moving targets, subject to periodic revision, people build their own religious beliefs as though they’re creating a banana split. “I like Heaven and angels, so those are in my religion, but I don’t like sin, judgement, Hell, Jesus-only and eight of the Ten Commandments, so those are out.”

    Categorically, that kind of “faith” completely dismisses the possibility of God, because it relegates Him to having no authority over how He will be worshipped or even if He will be worshipped. It’s a Religion of Me, and that’s no religion at all – certainly not a legitimate one.

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