Man believes that his existence and importance are self-evident and that God’s existence and importance are not. He therefore questions God, and in history billions of words have been deployed arguing for and against Him. Christians have used arguments based on moral law, causation, design in the universe, and the beauty of creation to support their belief in God’s existence. Non-Christians have attacked these arguments and deployed their own, primarily the problem of pain and suffering in the universe, to support their disbelief in God. On 24 March 2012, about 20,000 people at the Reason Rally in Washington DC celebrated “irreligion, nontheism and secularity”, and the event was billed as a “coming out” party for atheists in America.
If it is true that God is the foundational reality, not man, and “Why man?” is a far more reasonable question than “Why God?”, why is there such controversy about Him? If God is so dominant in the universe, why do so many people disbelieve? Why is so much venom and bile directed towards the One who is revealed in the Bible as being so loving and so good? We could ask, “Why not God?”
Some people have honest questions about God. It truly is difficult to imagine that an all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful God could exist and still allow suffering, especially the suffering of the innocent, in this world. Some are angry with Him. Others have been hurt by people who claim to be believers in God and reason that if God’s followers are like that, they want nothing to do with Him. Still others reject God because they just haven’t thought much about Him; they feel that they have been successful without Him and their social circle doesn’t believe so why should they?
However, the ultimate reason for rejecting God has little to do with the items noted above; people reject Him because they want to (Romans 3:10-19). God is demanding, requiring people to comply with His moral law and change their lives in ways that they resist. Most of us think that we are pretty good on our own, or at least better than the next guy, and don’t need to change. In the past people believed that they were moral creatures who were capable of acting with or against God’s universal moral law and were responsible for the choices they made. In the modern world people believe that they are inherently morally good, that there is no binding moral law, and that any bad behavior on their part should be explained as disease or someone else’ fault. In the past, sin was acknowledged. Today even the concept of sin is rejected. Thus the first criteria for knowing the God of the Bible, acknowledging your sin and repenting of it, cannot be met. Sometimes, the questions and hurts that people claim are keeping them away from God are merely smokescreens; socially acceptable reasons for rejecting what they do not want to embrace.
God is relentless, calling people to Himself and reminding them of His existence, His work and His love for them in countless ways every day of their lives. Our very humanity craves the existence of God. The famed skeptic Voltaire said “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” He later added “But all nature cries out that he must exist.”
It is difficult to go against our nature and reject Him, but nonetheless many do. If a person rejects Christ his psychological makeup and even his neural structure change, making it harder for him to ever accept Christ in the future. If a person submits to Jesus Christ, he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God; over time and with pain he is modeled into the Lord’s image.
The Bible teaches that man is dead in his sins, possessed of a sinful nature which naturally rejects God. While the Spirit of God enlivens each man and makes it possible for him to accept the Lord, our normal bent is against Him. There is truly a spiritual battle for the lives of men on earth. Even those who believe in God sometimes resist Him. The Israelites in Exodus 20 believed in God, but His presence was overwhelming, and they cowered in fear. There is such a thing as getting more than you bargained for.
People reject God for many reasons, but primarily because that is what they want to do. The many arguments against Him are often smokescreens for the real impediment to belief…the rebellious human will. Believers can’t blame them too harshly; but for the grace of God and work of the Spirit, every Christian would have done the same. The answer to the question “Why not God?” is found in the human heart.
God is truly the center of the universe and man without Him truly is lost. If the unbeliever persists in his rejection, he will be separated from Him forever. While some might imagine that this is what they want, who would really choose to be alienated forever from the source of everything good, everything beautiful, and everything of value in the universe? Those who love the Lord must do all we can to keep anyone from that fate.