If you’ve followed this series at all, you know that answering these types of questions has been difficult. I have been constantly trying to show how God is satisfying the request without subjecting God to the person objecting. To do that, I have been forcing the skeptic to define what it is he/she is objecting. For the first two posts, that’s what was need. See for yourself (Answering Prayer & Showing Up).
But this post is different.
This theistic holdout isn’t based on a misused word or a human limitation. This is man calling God to show off, to quit hiding behind the veil and make himself known. Here is how A. Robinson submitted the request:
“I would hold out for a demonstration of some sort that would be clearly impossible for anyone but a God to perform…I would suggest that, say, 1000 stars that are visible to the naked eye be relocated within a few hours so that they form the message ‘I AM.’…”
Wow. Pretty bold request, but legitimate. By all accounts, this should be doable. But it certainly isn’t being done, is it? I mean, God certainly isn’t rearranging any stars and unless you believe seeing Jesus in a piece of toast to be divine revelation, I’d probably have to admit defeat. But I have a confession to make. God showing off is exactly what led me to start the series.
I was reading a book called, “Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case”, by Frank Turek. The book isn’t just Frank’s opinion. He brings his experience debating well-known atheists and shares their view, in their words, and highlights the shortcomings of their position—it always comes down to foundation. What I mean is,
“atheists are using aspects of reality to argue against God that wouldn’t exist if atheism were true. In other words, when atheist give arguments for the atheistic worldview, they are stealing from a theistic worldview to make their case. In effect, they are stealing from God in order to argue against Him.”[i]
That’s when I realized that everything you could ever need to believe in God is here before you. This is the point I laid out in the first post—you prayer is being answered, “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (Jas 4:10). I dove further into this point in the next point when I wrote that although there are many arguments against God, God is more reasonable; “for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities…have been clearly seen.” (Rom 1:20). And that thought will carry us through here, too.
There seem to be two pieces of Robinson’s view that we will address briefly.[ii]
Reorder the stars
Psalms 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Let’s think about this for a minute. If we assume the God of the Bible exists, we must then assume that the request of A. Robinson isn’t just “If God Would Show Off”; it’s far bigger and far more personal. Robinson is essentially saying, “You may be proud of the work you did in the sky, but I find it lacking. Undo the work of your hands and do it my way—spell you name.” From this perspective, I wouldn’t submit either. It’s rude. It’s arrogant. It’s selfish. It’s audacious. No offense, but if this is what you are demanding—you may need an ego check. #JustSayin
But the Bible doesn’t prove anything, you may retort. God can and should show off, you may still attest. Very well, but we don’t need to see it in the sky. In fact, seeing God at work is infinitely more impressive than a mere 1000 stars spelling a two-word sentence in three measly letters. Hmph!
Communicate a message
The second part of Robison’s request is an appeal to intelligence. Seeing the magnitude of the galaxies and stars and vastness of space may seem awe-inspiring, but awe is not God (in the mind of some). It’s certainly not intelligent—it’s a heap of rubble. Heck, why even study anything if their is no intelligence behind it? I mean, if there is intelligence behind the creation, if their is order, in depth study makes sense—let’s learn more! But if not, what could you possible hope to learn? Anything you do learn about X has no bearing on Y because they are products of their own random mutations. Or, to put it another way,
“While there is certainly evidence from science to support theism, the most important point…is not that science supports theism but that theism supports science. In other words, theism makes doing science possible. We wouldn’t be able to do science reliably if atheism were true.”[iii]
What is even more puzzling is that 1000 stars seems to be magnificent enough to get through to skeptics, but it’s really selling short the power of God. Humorously illustrated, asking the author of creation to move a few hundred stars is like asking Arnold Schwarzenegger to carry groceries to the car.
But I digress, here’s the problem.
“I AM” is a simple message. It can be written at different angles, different spacing, or different font/font size. Indeed, some letters could be bold, or underlined, and a mix of upper/lower case and the phrase would still have impact. Communication is amazing that way, it requires very little, but can be amazingly complex. Think of all the things we can do by simply rearranging and repeating 26 letters of the English alphabet!
Now expand that even further and let me introduce you to DNA. Richard Dawkins, an atheist, and an evolutionary biologists admits “Some species of the unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1,000 Encyclopedia Britanicas.[iv] But the information in a DNA requires order, it requires specifics, and is very fragile. In contrast to the hasty positioning of a few thousand stars, DNA makes star placement look like my wall of kindergarten art. Even more impressive, our DNA isn’t some bio-complex wordsearch. I mean, DNA isn’t a heaping mess of information cells which have some useful bits nuzzled in a lot of waste–it’s all useful and it’s all ordered.
“It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical.”[v]
Turek expands this point when he writes, “The implication is clear: If a short message in English requires intelligence to compose, then so does a genetic message thousands of books long.” [vi]
Oh the irony; 1000 stars = God, 1000 Encyclopedias = random chance.
But it gets better! As recently as the last few years, scientists are discovering the complexity of DNA is getting more complicated–and not just in how it works. As it turns out, there are messages inside of messages. Dr. Georgia Purdom puts it like this,
It’s like discovering a coded message that means one thing when you read it in English, but if you pull out every third letter, it means something completely different in French.[vii]
This is the kind of intelligence beyond compare–the kind of thing only God could do. Hey Robinson, isn’t that the kind of thing you were looking for?
And just a quick note for those holding on to the “a lot can happen in billions of years” idea, let us remember:
“Mutation and natural selection can happen only to organisms that already have genetic information.”[viii]
To date I have not sought the Bible as an apologetic. Rather, I have offered biblical passages in support of its consistency within the conclusion. That is, the conclusion proves the Bible not the other way around. Today is different. I’m writing this on Easter; remembering the cost of the cross and the significance of the empty tomb.
As I consider this in contrast to my target audience, I can’t help but recall the danger we are all in:
- Prov 14:1 “A fool says in his heart there is no God”
- Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to the one who argues with his Maker—one clay pot among many. Does clay say to the one forming it, What are you making? Or does your work say, He has no hands? How absurd is the one who says to his father, ‘What are you fathering?’ or to his mother, ‘What are you giving birth to?’
This series started by stumbling across a group of atheist asking themselves the question, “What would it take for you do believe in God?”. Well, friends, the results are in. God is living and active (Heb 4:12) and he cares for you (1 Pet 5:7), but do not be deceived because God is not mocked (Gal 6:7a). There are some who will call my arguments strawmen and some who will assume I am preaching a God of the gaps. Neither could be further from the truth. These same people will assume science will eventually disprove God, but whether or not that is true has zero bearing on the evidence at hand. As J. Warner Wallace stated on the last ACL Podcast, “We’re not inserting a God of the gaps hypothesis on the basis of the weakness of naturalistic explanations. Instead, we’re doing the most reasonable inference based on what we know from our common experience.”
If you are struggling with accepting God, there are answers, justifications, and good solid reasons to believe. Prayer does work. God is showing himself. Indeed, God is showing off. The choice at this point is, will you believe or reject. Ultimately the choice is yours to choose, but do not make it blindly as if no evidence were ever presented. If God would… God has! Now what?
A personal note from me, the author
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series. For those of you who have contributed (willingly or inadvertently), thanks for your help. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. If anything I have offered is in contrast to your personal worldview, I would challenge your own worldview with the same scrutiny you would use to challenge mine. I’ve been where you are—I’ve rejected, denied, and ignored the stuff that required me to change in support of whimsical living; it’s a dead-end.
If anything I’ve said has inspired you to rethink or re-evaluate God in your life, let’s talk. He’s doing exactly as you ask, and he’s doing it abundantly more than you could ever imagine.
[i] Frank Turek, Stealing From God: Why atheists need God to make their case. NavPress. (2014). xvii-xvii.
[ii] I have edited this for space to be concise. If anyone has further questions, please leave comments below. I’d love to address these in more detail.
[iii] Turek, 145.
[iv] Richard Dawkins. The Blind Watchmaker. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1986), 116
[v] [v] Hubert P. Yockey, “Self Organization, Origin-of-Life Scenarios and Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 91 (1981), 16.
[vi] Turek, 60.
[vii] Georgia Purdom. DNA’s Hidden Codes. “Answers Magazine” Apr 1, 2016. pp74-78.
[viii] Turek, 59.