Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You Can't Believe in Something You Don't

"I wish there was a God. I wish there was. It would be great. From what I've heard, he's brilliant. But, you can't believe in something you don't. Also, if there is a God, why did he make me an atheist?"
These are the words of the atheistic comedian Ricky Gervais coming from this video interview. I've been thinking about these words for the last several days since I saw the video, particularly about Gervais' explanation of not being able to believe in something you don't. I saw this on Abraham Piper's blog and he had some thoughts on this that got me thinking even more:
Here’s a thought experiment:
  1. Pick something you believe (anything, no matter how insignificant…)
  2. Now believe something different.
How’d that go for you?

We’re all myopic, in that we can only see what we see, believe what we believe. Sometimes what we see changes, and with it our beliefs, but what if what we see doesn’t change?

The more I keep this in mind, the harder it is to find fault with people who disagree with me…
I agree with AP's final thoughts. Over the last several weeks some experiences have humbled me and created in me some sense of understanding why some people don't have my worldview.

For instance, I talked with a good friend of mine Sunday night who considers himself a non-Christian. However, he used to consider himself a Christian and was a dear brother who was mightily encouraging in my walk with Christ in college. After having a discussion about what he believes to be true in life, I hung up the phone in sadness and frustration. I asked God, "Why do I believe and why doesn't he?"

It's not a matter of winsomely explaining the gospel or the apologetic arguments for belief. At the end of the day, the God who spoke light into darkness has to shine in a person's heart to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 4:6). This truth is humbling, because I didn't do anything to deserve it. But it's also a hard truth to me right now, because I know people that don't believe and I know God is in control of that.

Another good friend reminded me last night the helpful truth that we're not going to fully grasp these realities. And when in heaven, we will see nothing of God's sovereign decree as being unfair or wrong. Instead, we will worship the God who graciously spared a few sinners undeserving of His love.


  1. Amber3:38 PM

    Great post. I came across your blog a while back after following a link to it from the Gathering’s website, your perspective is always refreshing. I think we all experience the disappointment of others not accepting the truth -- whether they’re loved ones or people we have never even met. Thanks for the reminder to focus on the fact that God is bigger than our frustrations and that His grace and love are boundless. Ultimately He is the one who will change hearts.

  2. Amber - Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Anonymous3:30 PM

    I have been there more than a few times myself. You articulated exactly what I have felt at times when I read or hear of some watering down of religious traditions in our culture. You're right, it is very humbling and God's mercy towards me when I have done nothing to deserve knowing the truth is heartbreaking to me when I see others living a lie.
    I forget the location of the verse, but it says in the Bible that the god of this age has blinded the hearts and minds of many.
    Thank you for reminding me that I am not responsible for them. God has to draw you to Him and unless He does that, there is nothing you can do. But maybe we can be one cog in the machinery that eventually leads them to Christ. That is my hope.

  4. You said here "This truth is humbling, because I didn't do anything to deserve it. But it's also a hard truth to me right now, because I know people that don't believe and I know God is in control of that". I am a non believer. I sort of believed when I was a child and attended Catholic schools. Now in my adult life I see no reason to believe any of it. I often wonder why other people I know who are very intelligent can believe things I find absurd. Also I wonder if it is me missing the boat. So if my believing is up to God as you just stated, then why would a loving God not instill that belief in me like he has with you? If I am going to hell for not believing then it would seem like it's his fault. Why would a loving God do that to so many people? Again, it doesn't make sense. It's unbelievable.