Do you believe in God?
Most people do.
But don’t take my word for it. Researchers at Oxford University recently unveiled a massive study of people worldwide, from China to Poland and the United States to Micronesia, concluding an almost universal adherence to religion and belief in the divine.
This is not big news. It’s the theological equivalent of a baby discovering his bellybutton: it’s always been there, and now there’s proof.
However, the three-year Oxford study debunks a lie that humanists successfully foist on the culture these days: They say religion is a crutch that helps evolving humans cope with life’s difficulties. Now science itself confirms this is an extreme and minority viewpoint.
Of course, social scientists at Oxford could have saved themselves a lot of time, travel and money by reading their Bibles.
The Scriptures explain the human religious tendency this way: “(God) has put eternity in their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In other words, man is prewired to understand that God exists.
That’s why I usually disagree politely with people who insist that they are atheists. Atheism is counter to a person’s God-given nature to understand – at some level – that he exists.
To those who truly are atheists, as opposed to just confused or uncertain, the Bible has far harsher words than mine: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1, NKJV).
Why such a severe rebuke?
God has not hidden himself. Quite the opposite. The beauty, complexity and ingenuity of the natural world itself bear the unmistakable fingerprints of our creator. The evidence of God is everywhere; it’s a brazen and baffling display of ignorance to assert otherwise.
The Bible puts it this way: “But God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because He has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (Romans 1:18-20, NLT).
Humanism, then, is not an enlightened conclusion man reaches when he is properly educated. It is a childish act of rebellion.
Here’s something the Oxford study didn’t complicate: Belief in God, though socially normal, is not enough. The Bible says that even demons believe in God. Belief in God simply establishes that a person is not a fool.
Yes, man is created for relationship with God. But he’s also born into a state of rebellion. We have a sense that God exists, yet we fight against his authority over us, and resist his desire for us to fulfill his purposes.
In other words, we’re sinners.
Had the Oxford scientists continued their research, they would have found that far fewer people believe in hell. Yet hell, eternal punishment and separation from God, is the literal and certain destiny of sinners.
Incredibly, God has a remedy: He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to bear the wrath of God for our sin. God invites us to end our foolish rebellion against him by putting our faith in what Christ has done and follow him:
“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are” (Romans 3:22, NLT).
Jesus himself said it this way: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. … I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:1,6, NKJV).
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