Has the New Atheism dealt a death blow to God? Has faith in God been buried by science? As I walk in my neighborhood, signs are popping up that affirm what the various homeowners believe. One of the frequent signs declares “I believe in Science,” implying that faith in science somehow contradicts faith in God. This is the message of scientist Richard Dawkins in his book, The God Delusion. Recently I’ve been reading a terrific book by Oxford University Mathematics and Science Professor John C. Lennox, called God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? One of the helpful points he makes is that the issue should not be framed as believing in Science vs believing in God, but rather as two different world views, that both believe in science. We either believe in materialism or naturalism or we believe in theism or God. Again, both views believe in science. And while I can’t reiterate everything Lennox has to say in critiquing the new atheism or affirming faith in God, one of my favorites is a quote he takes from Dawkins’ book and his response. Dawkins has dedicated his book to Doug Adams who said, “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies living at the bottom of it?” Lennox responds by saying, “Dawkins is guilty of committing the error of proposing false alternatives by suggesting it is either fairies or nothing. Fairies at the bottom of the garden may well be a delusion, but what about a gardener, to say nothing about an owner? The possibility of their existence cannot be so summarily dismissed—in fact, most gardens have both.”
All this to say, this is the first of 10 blog posts from what the Bible calls The Ten Words, or what most English translations call The Ten Commandments. I like to think of them as Ten Words that Will Change Our Lives. And the first word from God is found in Exodus 20:2, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.”
There is no explicit commandment in this verse–but an expectation to believe in the Lord our God. So the first word that will change our lives is “Believe!” Our very first priority is to believe in God and acknowledge who He is. In fact, this verse identifies seven areas of His character that we’re to believe in.
- We must believe in the person of God. The verse begins with “I.” God is not an “it” but a person with being and mind and heart and will.
- We must believe in the eternality God. He say “I am the LORD,” using His name Yahweh, indicating His eternal nature (“I am who I am” Ex 3:14). He has no beginning or end; He was never weak or dependent; He did not grow in His ability nor will He ever decline in strength. God does not have good days or bad days. The Lord is as He always was and always will be.
- We must believe in the all-powerful God. He is the Lord our “God.” The Hebrew name Elohim was used in Gen 1:1 (In the beginning God [Elohim] created) showing His strength and power.
- We must believe in the relational God. It says I am the Lord “your” God. The word “your” is actually singular showing that God relates to us as individuals.
- We must believe in the redemptive God. The text says He redeemed Israel from Egypt and from slavery. All people are enslaved even now, we’re slaves to sin. And through the death and resurrection of our Passover lamb Jesus, He has redeemed us from slavery to sin.
- We must believe in the compassionate God. Why did God redeem Israel? Because He observed their misery and heard their cries (Ex 3:7-8). God has the same compassion on us so He redeemed us as well.
- We must believe in the sovereign God. God has the authority to issue a proclamation such as the Ten Words, including this blog post about who He is.
Believe. That’s the first word and it teaches us our first priority in life–to believe in and acknowledge the God who loved us and redeemed us.