“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Psalm 14:1
There is a dramatic and growing increase in the number of “nones” in the polls which seek to determine the religious demographics of America; that is, those who respond “none” to the question, “With what part of religion do you identify?” An increasing number of young men who come to the Paul Anderson Youth Home claim to identify with the “nones”; and even if they claim to be a part of something within the religious world, it becomes apparent they are really part of the “nones” when you see they really do not know what they believe about God. They are not normally ready to admit that he exists, nor can they, with any certainty, determine he doesn’t. Two words best describe the majority of young adults today with regard to God: agnostic and apathetic; words whose practical meanings are fairly interchangeable. An agnostic is normally apathetic about seriously finding out if God is. Being apathetic about finding the true meaning of life usually equates to being agnostic (just don’t know) when it comes to the existence and nature of God.
So what is an amiable agnostic? C.S. Lewis coined this phrase when he wrote, “Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about ‘man’s search for God.’ To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.” In an essay entitled “Man or Rabbit?” within his book God in the Dock, Lewis writes about the agnostics who would not earnestly search for God, fearing if they found him they wouldn’t like him, and their lives would have to change into something they didn’t want; no thought at all of the seriousness of this search placing their entire eternity in the balance.
The other aspect is that the amiable agnostic will cheerfully discuss his “search for God” because he is apathetic about this search, just one more thing among many which doesn’t rise to the level of being important. Most other things take precedence. No wonder God calls such “thinkers” fools in Psalm 14, for such contrived running from God is nothing other than purely foolish.
Being an amiable agnostic fits with this culture when the primary impetus is to have “fun” without any or too much “moral restriction.” But when fun in life turns to hurt and pain, agnosticism loses its satisfaction. Suddenly, not being sure God exists stirs up some very incoherent thinking. There may be a crying out to this formerly, in their mind, nonexistent God, hoping now he exists to deliver them from this hurt and pain, or there may be an anger toward this once, to them, unknowable God who previously was apathetically ignored by them; self-righteous anger rises toward him for allowing hurt and pain in their life. Such anger, of course, fails to take into account their previous thoughts (or non-thoughts) and actions (or inactions) with regard to a maybe/maybe not God. Since we are quick to rely on our concept of fairness or justice, is it fair or just of God, in their view, for him to now be complacently apathetic about them and their situation considering their own previous apathy? Why should he now be required to jump to their aid? They now want God to lay aside fairness and justice, ignore the past agnosticism and apathy, and deliver them from whatever pit they seem unable to get out of on their own.
Amazingly, this God is just such a God: gracious. This God whom you previously avoided knowing will come to your help under the same conditions he always offered you: repenting of sin and believing that he exists and that he provides a way for you to come to him. He promises reward for all who earnestly seek him, even, especially, after ignoring him. You yourself know when your seeking is earnest; it depends on how much you really want him in your life, as well as recognizing your need.
How long will you remain an amiable agnostic? Or, in some cases, an angry atheist? Examine how coherent or consistent your thinking about God is in every circumstance of life. The truth of life and the universe is not incoherent. Science cannot be performed if the universe is incoherent. Its consistency and coherency allows scientific research and productive observation of it. It was logically planned. We learn what logic is by observing the universe. It does not display contradictory randomness. Neither should your search for and observation of the marks of its Maker. “For what can be known about God is plain to them [all people]. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
But the real obstacle in your search is not a lack of all knowledge of God so much as it is your apathy to him. Your apathy must be removed by your faith manifested in believing the conclusion that your personal nearness to God is preeminently important. The stakes of knowing him? Eternity.
“O, Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the works thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art.”
(1st verse of hymn based on a Swedish traditional melody and poem written by Carl Gustav Boberg, 1885)
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