By Jim Day
You know, I get a lot of people who say they can’t believe in God because they believe in science. When I tell them that God created science, they generally scoff. But the harder one looks at science, the more plausible the idea of a Creator.
It seems the hardest people to reach are people who feel they’re too smart to believe. They find excuses to intellectually reject God. People like Stephen Hawking or Carl Sagan. As a matter of fact, of the top 50 atheists in the world (according to TheBestSchools.com), 25 of them are distinguished professors and the other 25 make their living by being atheists. Well, technically, 18 are authors, who write about atheism.
Then there’s the literary agent who represents atheist authors, a rapper who has atheistic songs, a professional blogger who blogs about atheism, an actor, an attorney who files lawsuits to remove God from our money, a humanist (whatever that is), and one professional atheist (seriously, he doesn’t have a regular job). But 25 of them are distinguished professors!
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s this got to do with God Dots?” Good question and we are going to get there. … You see, in my humble opinion, these folks aren’t very smart at all.
Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. – Romans 1:21 (NKJV)
And there are thousands of God Dot stories from people like this who had no faith structure at all, or who walked away from their faith, who were futile in their thoughts and had dark hearts, but then had a “divine appointment.” People like Don Winget, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas at Austin.
Don is the author of 334 research works with 7,625 citations and 3,742 reads. He grew up in the church, but in his teens he decided that God did not exist. He says, “I started out arguing and then debating. I studied the Bible quite a bit as a child. I knew Scripture and that made me dangerous in debates. I had a list of 50 examples where I thought the Bible was contradictory that I would use. I would often bring these up and considered myself a ‘fire-breathing atheist.’”
Here’s more of his story in his words:
My wife and I had 5 kids. She was a cultural Christian and when I challenged her faith, she became an atheist.
But sometime later, it became obvious to us that our two oldest boys didn’t have any real spiritual or moral compass. My wife and I spent a great deal of time talking and worrying about this.
Neither of us gained a spiritual or moral compass at school – that happened by going to church in our childhood. Because of this, we decided that we needed to find some religion of the world and use that to guide our kids and get involved. We didn’t want to just dump them and drive off. We realized, though, that we would have to find someplace to get connected.
In our minds, this religion had to at least be plausible.
So once again, my wife and I both started investigating different world religions. With my background in anthropology, what we were looking for was a religion that wasn’t archeologically falsifiable.
In the midst of this search, we began looking for places for our youngest son to go to daycare. The only one we found that would take him was a Christian church.
When we ran into the pastor, we realized that this is someone we could talk to about Christianity.
That pastor was one of Don’s God Dots. He recommended some books to read: “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ.” Lee Strobel’s book cites archeological and other non-biblical evidence for Christ. One could argue that C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel were two more God Dots.
Over time, Don returned to the Lord. This reminds me of a little piece of Scripture.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
Another person who comes to mind is William J. Murray III, son of infamous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who filed a lawsuit that ended compulsory Bible reading in schools. The family business was atheism.
This son of America’s high-profile atheist, evolutionist and religion-hater read Taylor Caldwell’s book “Dear and Glorious Physician,” about Luke, one of the Bible’s Gospel writers. William rushed out at 3 o’clock one morning in a desperate search for a Bible. He found one in an all-night store. He said that as he read about why Jesus Christ had lived and died, it finally put meaning into his life.
“I got down on my knees and repented of my sins and asked Jesus Christ into my life as Lord and Savior,” he said.
One of his God Dots was Taylor Caldwell. Although the rest of his family disowned him, William became a Baptist minister and continues to live out his faith.
Then there is Dr. Paul Lim. His family came to America from Korea when he was 15 years old. Raised in the church, he walked away from his faith when he went to college.
His sister got engaged to a seminary student and asked Paul to go to a retreat, where her soon-to-be husband would be speaking. Reluctantly, Paul went. “Everything about the retreat was terrible. The food was bad. The kind of people that were there, I don’t want hang out with them,” he remembers. “The whole thing sucked.”
As a finishing touch to the retreat, a group of seminary students played Keith Green’s song, “To Obey Is Better than Sacrifice” and Paul got hit by the line, “I don’t need your money, I want your life.” He had patronizingly told his sister that he didn’t agree with her marrying a pastor, but that he would make a ton of money and he would contribute to them. But God had read his mail and orchestrated the perfect song to speak to him.
Paul hadn’t cried since he was 9, but he started bawling. His future brother-in-law came over and asked if he was okay. “I’m really, really sorry because I hated you,” Paul responded between sobs. “I think it’s God speaking to me.”
A week later he was back in the dorms at Yale, and everybody was sharing their winter break exploits. Finally, it was Paul’s turn. “I became a Christian,” he said timidly. The room went quiet. College students stared.
Here is the most interesting part of all these stories. All of the authors / singer / God Dots were at some point in their lives self-proclaimed atheists: C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, Keith Green and even Taylor Caldwell, who in an interview in 1978 called herself a Catholic atheist. They ran smack-dab into their own God Dots and came away with faith that cannot be suppressed.
Just as the apostle Paul had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus has designed divine encounters for us. People seem to put a lot of effort into denying God, but He never gives up on them.
Most people who take the position of atheism are angry with God over something. A death or handicap or illness or unanswered prayer, or even the loss of possessions, can cause some to deny God. Or they are just bored because of the lack of authenticity in the church. Denying God does not change the fact that He is, was, and forever will be. It’s kinda like stubbing your toe on a chair and then saying you don’t believe the chair exists. God is real, whether you believe or not.
Jesus is Lord, whether you believe or not.
Heaven and hell are real, whether you believe or not.
We should never allow the circumstances of this life to prevent us from seeing and admitting and living the truth. This life is too short and eternity is too long for us to allow that.
If there is someone in your life who has given up on God, ask them why, then listen. Open up a dialogue with them. Ask them questions and don’t argue. If they give you the opportunity, share your faith with them. Let your life be an example for them. Pray for them.
You might just be their God Dot.
Sources: Top atheists in the world, www.TheBestSchools.org; D.E. Winget testimony, www.Cru.org; William J. Murray, www.Creation.com; Dr. Paul Lim, www.GodReports.com; and interview with Taylor Caldwell, georgefsmith.blogspot.com
Jim Day is the pastor of Valley Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Hazelton, Idaho. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.