In Defense of the Faith |

Hunt, Dave

Contradictory Concepts of God—Which Is Correct?

Question: The oldest and most popular concepts of God are either pantheism, the belief that everything [i.e. the universe] is God, or polytheism, the belief that there are many gods.... Why is the Bible so adamant against these beliefs, and why does it so severely condemn what it calls the pagans who have...held these beliefs...long before Jesus Christ came along?

Response: Pantheism is really the same as atheism. Obviously, if everything is God, then nothing is God, because the very term has lost any meaning. Pantheism leads to numerous contradictions: God would be the emptiness of a vacuum as well as the substance of matter; He would be sickness as well as health, death as well as life, evil as well as good. Furthermore, if the universe itself is God, then there is no outside reference point from which the universe can be evaluated and given purpose and significance. Nor is there any hope of changing its downward course or that of mankind.

Nothing has meaning or value in and of itself but only as some personal being has use for it and values it.... A car has no meaning in itself, no purpose unless there is someone to drive it. The most costly diamond ring has no value unless there is someone who wants to buy and own and wear it, and so on. Obviously, what is true of every part of the universe is equally true of the whole.

According to the law of entropy, this universe is running down like a clock. Left to itself and without some outside Intelligence of infinite power rescuing the universe from its certain doom, all of man’s personal and corporate dreams and schemes will one day be like sand castles washed out into a cosmic ocean of nothingness. The entire universe will be approaching absolute zero, and all will be as though it had never been....Without a Creator who had an eternal purpose for His creation and who is able to reach in from outside (not with reincarnation or evolution but with resurrection and new creation), neither the universe nor man in it could have any ultimate meaning. Pantheism can offer only meaninglessness, hopelessness, and ultimate despair....

In academia...ecotheology (the old pantheism) is now [respected] by some highly educated people....Georgetown University professor Victor Ferkiss, says it “starts with the premise that the Universe is God.” Ferkiss seems to think that the pantheistic worship of nature will “prevent the environmental exploitation of the Universe.”

One can’t worship both the creation and the Creator. The Bible says there are serious consequences that come from worshiping the creation instead of the Creator (Rom:1:18–32). One’s conscience becomes dull, and mankind falls prey to all kinds of evil and cruel behavior because there are no morals in nature....

Historian/philosopher Herbert Schlossberg reminds us, “Animals do not act morally or immorally; they only act naturally. A system of ethics that says human beings ought to base their behavior on nature...justifies any behavior, because nature knows no ethic.” Nobelist Sir John Eccles agrees: “The concepts of injustice, unfairness...the obligations to honor, to respect...are intelligible only within a moral context and to moral beings. In the mindless universe of mere nature...there is neither justice nor mercy, neither liberty nor fairness. There are only facts.”

The temptation to worship the universe seems to be an occupational hazard for atheistic scientists. Their arguments against God betray an...adoption of pantheism both as an excuse for denying the infinite Creator (to whom man would be accountable) and an attempt to find another basis for purpose and meaning.... A compendium of atheism titled 400 Years of Freethought, published in 1894 explains the cornerstone of the rejection of “all authority” and “the conquest of nature.” Athiest Carl Sagan [now deceased] became very reverent and worshipful in the presence of the Cosmos, which he credited with having spawned us and all life.... He says it makes sense to reverence the sun and moon! On what basis? And how is that different from bowing down to a piece of wood or stone as one’s god? What could the sun or moon have to do with morals, with purpose and meaning, with love and beauty?

...If one God is stronger or has more authority than the others, then none of the rest of the gods can really be God, so we are back to monotheism. As the Bible says: “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord....For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone” (Ps:86:8, 10).

If there are many gods, to which god should one pray? To one’s favorite? On what basis is it a favorite?...St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers to whom millions looked for protection, has been removed from the Catholic pantheon. It is now admitted by the Church that Christopher was a myth and that any power he seemed to have wielded...was obviously a delusion. So it is with all the gods of the world’s many religions. In fact, they are worse than myths; they are representatives of Satan and his minions. Behind each idol is a demon using it to draw people away from the true God, as Paul states: “The things which the Gentiles [pagans] sacrifice [to their gods] they sacrifice to devils and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils” (1 Cor:10:20–21).

There is no compromise with God. At stake is the eternal destiny of every person who has ever lived or will ever live. Suppose a certain man convinces a large group of people to give him their possessions and to follow him to what he promises will be a veritable paradise on earth—and instead he leads them into a swamp where they are all swallowed up in quicksand. Should he not be prosecuted as a liar and murderer? How much more serious is it to promote false gods and to sell tickets to heaven that actually take people to hell!

— An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 43-47) by Dave Hunt