The year 2011 was remembered as the 50th anniversary of the Russian Uri Gagarin’s first flight into space. Though his exact words have been disputed, and communist propaganda was undoubtedly at work, Gagarin is famously said to have quipped, ‘I see no God up here’.
In 2012 the American Neil Armstrong passed away. He was the first man to walk on the moon, eight years after Gagarin’s exploits. He too is remembered for an iconic saying: ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’.
Armstrong spent the best part of three hours walking across the lunar landscape and, on reflection, reasoned, ‘God walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon’.
The Bible teaches, and logic affirms, that God’s existence is self-evident. Psalm 19:1 says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament shows his handiwork’.
Romans 1:20-21 develops that theme further, declaring that, ‘For since the creation of the world, [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened’.
While engaging in street evangelism, Ray Comfort, a New Zealand-born minister and evangelist, illustrated the cosmological argument for God by inviting people to consider how a building is formed.
He argued that, rationally speaking, a building is, in itself, the evidence that a builder has been at work. A building requires plans and a builder to implement them. Noone in their right mind would argue that a building assembled itself of its own accord, either overnight, or through millions of years, or by pure coincidence.
The same is true of a work of art like a painting. It has obviously been carefully and deliberately produced by the artist. The universe itself is evidence for a Creator.
God’s self-evident existence is behind the psalmist’s assertion in Psalm 14:1 that, ‘The fool has said in his heart that there is no God’.
The Hebrew word used for ‘fool’ is nabal,which means stupid, wicked or vile. The ‘folly’ being described is a ‘practical atheism’: a cold attitude of heart which need not deny God’s existence intellectually, but, in practical terms, lives and speaks as though God has no sovereignty, control and influence over human affairs.
What lies behind practical atheism? The answer is pride — the pride that prevents a person from seeking and calling on God. Simply stated: if there is no God, then there is noone to referee the universe, and you can play by your own rules.
Pride was the cause of Lucifer’s expulsion from heaven and the bait behind his first lie to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Isaiah 14:13-15; Genesis 3:5). Pride lies at the root of all sin.
The Lord looks on mankind from heaven with absolute clarity, while sinful man is like someone with his telescope the wrong way around. Before a sinner is born again (John 3), he is spiritually short-sighted, with a heart morally corrupt and spiritually dead.
When the Lord looks down from heaven, he sees everyone and understands their ways (Psalm 33:13-15). The believer is greatly comforted by this, for he knows that God is in ultimate control and that, in God’s sight, he is of ‘more value than the birds of the air’; he has his name inscribed ‘on the palms of [God’s] hands’ (Matthew 6:26; Isaiah 49:16).
Jon Taylor is a deacon at Broadstone Baptist Church, Poole, a member of the FIEC Pastors Associatio,n and a researcher for the Reachout Trust.