The following essay is adapted from a private letter of mine. It was to an a-Theist whom I had asked, “as an a-Theist, how do you account for the existence of truth?“
The a-Theist responded, “I would have to agree with Ayn Rand and many other philosophers, that A=A is the fundamental law of the universe. It needs no accounting for. Or, in the words of South Central LA, `What is, is’.”
Thus is demonstrated the fatal inconsistency of a-Theism. The materialistic a-Theist madly asserts that relativism and chaos are the ultimate reality. From chaos random forces emerge that erect the phenomena we see, as well as ourselves, via the alleged big bang, the ridiculous idea of evolution, etc. However, those very ideas, and the equation A=A, and the streetwise saying “What is, is” are all concepts entertained by beings capable of knowledge. But conceptualization itself, as well as the very existence of sentient beings, are utterly inconsistent with ultimate relativism and chaos! There could be no logic, meaning, or communication in that universe.
In the real universe, the knowledge of the true God is inescapable. The real universe is the creative, revelatory work of the eternal, personal, living God Who made sentient beings in His image – beings capable of knowledge and hence of predication. It is only here that the equation A=A can even exist! The feet of a-Theism must be held to the proverbial fire at this point. One can not say A=A and be a consistent a-Theist at the same time! In fact, a-Theism cannot be consistent, because it is a delusion.
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. His Divine being and purposes are the ultimate ground of all created things, visible and invisible. His creation speaks perpetually, consistently, and to all mankind not of God’s bare existence, but articulately of His eternal power and Divine nature. In addition to this revelation of Himself which God has given to all men (through His creation) is the Bible: the documentation for God’s elect of His redemptive plan and purposes, all devolving upon Christ, by Whose Divine workings the whole coheres.
Apart from Him there is no wisdom and knowledge. If a-Theism brings forth an alleged alternate foundation, it can be dismantled by demonstrating its hopeless inconsistency. God has shut up all men to unavoidable knowledge of Him. Men are absolutely without excuse for not recognizing God and worshiping Him. Knowledge itself disintegrates without Him. The a-Theist’s denial of God is only possible because God mercifully upholds the a-Theist’s very existence!
Perhaps the brothers Grimm would have allowed the suggestion of a bizarre extra episode to Gulliver’s Travels to illustrate this last point. Finding himself in Lilliput, the land of the tiny people, Gulliver picked up a Lilliputian – as he often did – so that the Lilliputian could converse with him. Held in Gulliver’s strong hand and looking into kind, condescending Gulliver’s amiable face, the perverse Lilliputian shouted, “I’m an a-Gulliverist! You don’t exist, Gulliver!” Thus it is with the a-Theist who is always in God’s hand (preserved by His mercy) and always looking into His face (His Self-revelation through creation).
Moreover, since the inescapable God is good and righteous, the ethical dimension of the beings made in His image can not be eradicated. One can no more shuck it off than maintain the length and width of a block of wood but eliminate its height. Witness the axe which a-Theists often grind against Christianity. In ethical indignation, they denounce religion as the opiate of the masses, as superstition, as charlatanism. But according to a-Theism’s own view of reality, that indignation is impotent and meaningless!
The ideas of error and deception are no more meaningful than the ideas of truth, beauty, or knowledge in the universe which the a-Theist claims to inhabit. What difference will it all make ultimately whether one is truthful or dishonest? What do those words mean in the world of the a-Theist? How can there be a quest for truth in an a-Theistic, a-moral universe? We are inescapably both rational and ethical creatures. Knowledge of ourselves brings irrepressible knowledge of God, because God is revealed by what He has made, and He made us! The universe which the a-Theist imagines to exist never could have spawned him.
Confronted with these observations, many a-Theists simply ignore the hopeless inconsistency in which they dwell, and take a pragmatic approach. They in effect steal the ideas of knowledge and meaningfulness from God’s universe (in which of course they actually live), and glibly go on pretending the universe is ultimately Godless, i.e. relativistic and chaotic. They base their ethics on pleasure seeking, altruistic humanitarianism, or on some autonomous idea of what is good. This pragmatism is the classical dishonesty of the “a-Theist fundamentalist”.
It is itself a demonstration of what the Bible proclaims about natural man, that rebel sinner culpably alienated from his Creator: he “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness”. He tries to ignore and avoid what he must and will ultimately face. To ignore hopeless inconsistency is both illogical and unethical. The fool has said in his heart “there is no God”. In the Bible, the term fool does not refer to persons of deficient mental ability, but to the proud, the complacent, those who refuse to accept the plain truth and behave as if they can do so with impunity.
Seeing the ever imploding absurdity of thinking chaos and relativism could be ultimate reduces the a-Theist fundamentalist position to ashes. Assuming a quasi a-Theistic position such as a-Gnosticism gains nothing. In maintaining that he does not know if God or gods exist or not, the a-Gnostic also has presumed some valid epistemological platform upon which he can stand and make this sweeping, stentorian predication: “I who use ten percent of my gray matter, and see an infinitesimal portion of the universe even when I use the most sophisticated microscopes and telescopes, hereby proclaim – God might or might not exist”. It’s just like the case of the mighty worm ….
Finding his subterranean domain constantly and persistently invaded by certain bright yellow, living, swiftly moving objects the worm boldly asserted, “birds might or might not exist!” Then the earthworm felt itself suddenly lifted with gripping force into a rarefied, unearthly medium. This ethereal substance was full of a luminescence brighter than a slithery dweller in shadowy regions ever could have imagined.
Dangling helplessly, it was heard to say in a subdued voice, “Maybe birds DO exist, but I don’t know. It’s irrelevant to my empirical understanding of reality. How do I know any SPECIFIC bird exists?” Immediately, the worm was plunged into a darkness far greater than even that of his recent underground home. Very shortly and quite ironically thereafter, the earthworm became eternally confirmed as what it had proclaimed itself to be: WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE.
Thus the a-Gnostic has 1) made his wormish ken the measure of all things, and 2) actually proclaimed himself as so full of his own knowledge as to deny the existence of the God the knowledge of Whom is inescapable! In other words, he has imagined himself wiser than God. His arrogance and folly are apparent to all, and the a-Gnostic is back to square one with the ordinary materialistic a-Theist.
What foundation for all predication can the a-Theist or a-Gnostic put forth? Without stealing concepts that can only exist in the world the Bible describes, can he consistently affirm that truth, beauty, or goodness even have a real, transcendent existence?
WHAT IS…TELLS US THAT HE LIVES!!!
Previously published elsewhere, August A.D. 1988