“How silly of you Christians to believe in a sky god that doesn’t exist. You may as well believe in Peter Pan.” These kinds of statements are often seen in the comment section after an article that takes a Biblical position. When I read them, I realize that the ignorance of many new atheists seemingly has no bounds. They obviously have not read the scriptures.
Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord makes some interesting and exclusive claims.
He challenges all the nations of the earth to bring out any of their gods which can accurately foretell the future. “Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen…Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods…” (Isa. 41:22-23). Knowing that there is no such god, the Lord then declares, “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isa. 42:9). And then He lays down this challenge: “Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear, and say, It is truth” (Isa. 43:9).
When Richard Dawkins was asked by a fellow atheist how they should treat Christians, he said, “Mock them.” This is almost too classic! Peter prophesied that is exactly what they would do in the last days. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pet. 3:3,4).
Dawkins does not even get the “former things” right. When pressed by Ben Stein in the film Expelled to give his idea of how life originated on earth, Dawkins proposed that perhaps aliens landed on earth and kind of planted the beginning of life from which evolution began, bringing us to where we are now. According to Psalm 1, it is wrong to sit “in the seat of the scornful.” But one is tempted!
If atheistic answers about former things includes alien spaceships bringing life to earth and then going on their merry way, what could they possibly tell us about things to come? The alternative to their ignorance is for them to listen to the Lord and then say “It is truth.”
But they persist in their search. SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an organization that is looking for intelligent life out in space. Just today I saw that they are asking for $80,000 for a new initiative. They have massive radio receivers listening for sound patterns from space that may indicate intelligence somewhere. They are no closer to telling us about former things or of things to come than were the idol worshippers in Isaiah’s day.
But they persist in their naturalistic beliefs. Acts and Facts magazine (Apr. 2017) reports on two new finds of proteins in fossil bones. One is from a fossil purportedly 190-197 million years old. Scientists don’t know how soft tissue can last that long, but that does not keep them from conjecture. Perhaps it is modern collagen that has inserted itself back into the old bones contaminating the fossils and making it merely look like it once belonged there. Brian Thomas, the author of the article, asks this question: “The protein discoveries come from fossil science, and the protein decay rates come from experimental science, but where do we get the millions of years?” He rightly responds, “If that merely comes from evolutionary speculation, then the tension dissolves.” But they continue in their speculation, so for naturalists, the tension continues.
Contrast these ways of looking at former things and at what will happen in the future with how Jesus taught his disciples. He knew about former things. He clearly stated that at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female.” He joins Adam and Eve with the beginning of creation. All of this speculation about alien spaceships and stealth collagen creeping into fossils evaporates when we listen to what Jesus said about former things.
He repeatedly told them what was going to happen before it occurred. He told Peter to cast a line into the water and the first fish he caught would have a gold coin in its mouth. When it was time to celebrate the Passover, He sent disciples to where a man would be walking with a pitcher. That would indicate the place they were to prepare the meal. Several times He told them that He would suffer and die and then rise again. Why did He give these prophesies? “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he” (John 13:19). He repeats it a short while later. “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them” (John 16:4a).
After Isaiah made it abundantly clear that there is no other god who can do what the Lord can do in telling about the past and about the future, he then gave a detailed account of the passion of the coming Messiah in chapter 53. I met a student in his room after calling and making an appointment to see him. He told me that he was Jewish and he knew I was a Christian. “Would you read a few verses from the Old Testament, and then tell me who it reminds you of?” I asked.
He consented. I opened my Bible to Isaiah 53 and had him read the twelve verses. When he finished, I asked him again. “Who does that remind you of?” He did not hesitate. “Jesus,” he answered. He was not ready to accept Christ, but he did see clearly how belief in Jesus was well founded when one looked at the Old Testament scriptures.
As Peter wrote, we are not following “cunningly devised fables” when we put our trust in Jesus. We are following the “more sure word of prophecy” which has told us about who Christ is, where He would be born, how He would teach, that He would suffer and die, and that on the third day He would rise from the dead.
When people compare belief in Christ with believing in Peter Pan or the Spaghetti Monster, they are merely showing their ignorance. The problem is, ignorance is in abundance in these last days. That is why we should, as Peter wrote, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).