“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. ;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.;For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”-Romans 1: 18-21.
Romans 1 is one my favorite chapters in the Bible. And I see the reality of this chapter in my conversations with many people. A few things stand out here: First. Paul says God’s “divine nature” should be evident to all. This means we can see the non-moral attributes of God in creation such omnipotence in the created order. “Perceive” means to “perceive in the mind.” “What has been made” means God’s workmanship can be seen. The created order is more than a physical act, but the work of design, or art where the craftsman brings his will, thoughts or emotions, love and skill into it.
Remember, the Greco-Roman religious world which Paul is addressing would have assumed that only the wise were the ones who had knowledge of their gods. Also, being that Paul was Jewish, he knew that Jewish people would have seen the pagans as having no knowledge of the one true God. So Paul is turning things upside down here in saying that knowledge of the true God is available to all. It seems that the apostle Paul gave us some clues about approaching the existence of God that match up with the evidence that has just been presented. Paul says that God’s existence and attributes can be “clearly seen” (Romans 1:18-20) since they have been “shown” to the unbelieving world through “the things that are made” (nature).
When we observe the effects in the world, we can infer there are two kinds of causes—natural and intelligent. In other words, there are really two general kinds of explanations for events: intentional accounts (which demonstrate signs of value, design, and purpose) and non-intentional accounts (which lack values, design, and purpose).
For example, both Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick (who are staunch atheists) both admit that while the world shows every indication it is designed and have purpose, they add one qualification; it only looks that way. In other words, while the design is evident, it can be explained without resorting to any Designer. Since Crick and Dawkins (as well as other atheists) only accept natural causes, this means the phenomena we observe can be explained mostly by chance and randomness. So even if the world shows intentional causation, the design can be explained without saying there is a Designer.
We must not forget that natural laws (gravitation, magnetism, etc) do nothing and set nothing into motion. So when someone such as Dawkins and other atheists appeal to “the blind forces of nature” as being able to explain all the observable complexity (such as anticipatory, irreducible and specified complexity), this makes no sense.
Second, it is true that a law of gravity, or the strong and weak nuclear forces don’t have minds or are conscious. However, while they may be blind, what Dawkins and others forget is that these laws are mechanisms. They are not agents. We must not forget that agents have goals and plan ahead. Mind or intelligence is the only known condition that can remove the improbabilities against life’s emergence. It is hard to see how a blind, naturalistic, undirected process could anticipate the universe that is required for our life to get started on our present earth and then go on to create life from non-life as well as the genetic code, etc.
So we see the confusion is between mechanism and agency. If Dawkins and others could at least admit that nature is a mechanism that is used by an Agent (e.g., a Designer), to accomplish His purposes, they would begin to make some sense. However, what we see here is that science can’t be divorced from philosophy. Metaphysical naturalism refers to the view that nature is the “whole show.” Methodological naturalism (as currently discussed and advocated by Dawkins, some atheists, etc.) is not a discovery of science. It must always be viewed as a presupposition of science as presently practiced. It is clear that modern science only accounts for secondary causation (natural causes alone without any agency).
Furthemore, it must also be remembered to insist that God must be a visible object which can be observed with the five senses is to commit a category mistake. We must not confuse two categories— the made and the Unmade. For example, the majority of things we observe in life are material objects; they have composition. But there are also a variety of things that we can’t utilize with our five senses such as the laws of logic, our own thoughts, or an objective immaterial law that most of us follow on a daily basis.
Obviously, the Bible teaches that God has no composition. The Hebrew word for one is “echad” which leaves room for a plurality within a unity of substance — but there is no implication of a plurality of beings or parts within a being. Scripture admonishes mankind about making any physical image of God (Exodus 20:4). God is pure spirit (John 4:24). He has no parts and is an immaterial Being. Hence, the God of the Bible is unmade. We can conclude that to insist that God must be a material object is both silly and unnecessary.
But even if God does make knowledge available to all, perhaps we forget that sin can dampen the cognitive faculties that God has given us to find Him. Therefore, sin has damaging consequences on the knowing process. Maybe we can ponder the following comment by Alvin Plantinga:
“Our original knowledge of God and his glory is muffled and impaired; it has been replaced (by virtue of sin) by stupidity, dullness, blindness, inability to perceive God or to perceive him in his handiwork. Our knowledge of his character and his love toward us can be smothered: it can be transformed into resentful thought that God is to be feared and mistrusted; we may see him as indifferent or even malignant. In the traditional taxonomy of seven deadly sins, this is sloth. Sloth is not simple laziness, like the inclination to lie down and watch television rather than go out and get exercise you need; it is, instead, a kind of spiritual deadness, blindness, imperceptiveness, acedia, torpor, a failure to be aware of God’s presence, love, requirements.” (Warranted Christian Belief. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2000, 214-215)