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Articles - God

Articles concerning the existence of God.

Posts in Thomas B. Warren
An Agnostic Is Neither an Atheist Nor a Theist

Some Simple Definitions

Although these words have been defined with various shades of meaning by some thinkers, I wish to use some simple, brief definitions of three crucial terms: agnostic, atheist, and (Biblical) theist. An agnostic is a person who holds that there is not sufficient evidence available to man to warrant the deduction that men can know that God exists. (The agnostic holds that there is not evidence available so that man can answer either “yes” or “no” to the question as to whether God exists.) An atheist is one who claims that there is sufficient evidence available to man to warrant the deduction that men can know that God does not exist. A (Biblical) theist is one who holds that there is sufficient evidence available to men to warrant the deduction that men can know that God does exist. I am concerned in this article to show that while some men who espouse the basic agnostic viewpoint may classify themselves as theists, such a classification is unwarranted. To be an agnostic relative to, say, X is to hold that men cannot know X. In this article, I am concerned especially with agnosticism relative to the existence of God, the inspiration of the Bible, and the correct interpretation of the Bible.

 

“Kinds” of Agnosticism

Relative to the existence of God, there are at least two kinds of agnostics. The kind of agnostic who “leans toward” theism (such as Blaise Pascal) says that no one can know whether God exists but claims that “it is more reasonable” to believe that God does exist than that he does not. But the fact that this type of agnostic “leans toward” theism does not make him truly a (Biblical) theist. The other kind of agnostic is one who “leans toward” atheism (such as Bertrand Russell). This kind of agnostic holds that no one can know whether God exists, but he claims “that it is more reasonable” to believe that God does not exist than to believe that he does.

 

An Agnostic Is Neither an Atheist Nor a Theist

There are numerous philosophers who claim not that they know that God does not exist, but that there is not sufficient evidence available to men to enable anyone to know whether God does or does not exist. It is manifestly incorrect to refer to such men as atheists, and it is surely the case that at least most of them would resent anyone referring to them as atheists. There is a definite distinction made between being an atheist and being an agnostic. While we thus recognize the distinction between an agnostic and an atheist, we also must recognize that it is incorrect to refer to an agnostic as a (Biblical) theist. If a given person says that there is not sufficient evidence available to men for them to know whether God exists, even if he does claim that it is “more reasonable to believe” that God does exist than to believe that he does not exist, such a person is not a (Biblical) theist–he is an agnostic! This is the case simply because so long as one holds that the evidence available to man is not sufficient to warrant the deduction that men can know that God exists, even if they do say that it is “more reasonable” to believe that God exists than that he does not exist, then they are not theists but agnostics!

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Atheism—Our Greatest Foe—And How to Deal with It

SOME INTRODUCTORY MATTERS

  1.  The problem and its importance. In Romans 1:18-20, Paul made clear that the “everlasting power and divinity” of God “are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made.” He further explained that, as a consequence of rejecting that evidence, even though the rejecters professed themselves to be wise, they actually “became fools” and began to worship what had been created rather than the Creator (Romans 1:21-23). In greater detail Paul then explained the consequences of rejecting God. In the remaining verses of the first chapter of Romans, three times Paul says that God “gave them up.” (1) He “gave them up . . . unto uncleanness” (1:24). (2) He “gave them up unto vile passions” (1:26). (3) He “gave them up unto a reprobate mind” (1:28). A careful study of Romans 1:18-32 will enlighten the student as to the terrible consequences of rejecting God. As we survey the situation in our own world, we can see the same results (moral and spiritual degeneration) from the same action (rejection of God).

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Some Results of Rejecting God

“And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful; who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them.”  (Romans 1: 28-32, ASV)

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The Tremendous Challenge of Atheism

There can be little doubt that the truly "big" issue which faces the church now and for many years to come is that of skepticism. By "skepticism" I mean to include such diverse viewpoints as atheism, agnosticism, positivism, and all sorts of religions which reject the existence of the true God and the inspiration of the Bible. However, in this article emphasis will be on atheism in particular. I plan to divide this article into three main parts: (1) Part I — The Growth and Power of Atheism, (2) Part II — What Must We Do About It? and (3) A Conclusion.

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