The Futility of Unbelief

Written by Mark Farnham

On February 19, 2024

by jeff Mindler, Research Assistant

“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.” ~Romans 1:18-20 ESV

God is so clearly revealed and known in creation that men are without excuse for denying His existence. In Romans 1:18-32, the Apostle Paul doesn’t say that there are some reasons for belief and some reasons for unbelief and that the reasons for belief are stronger, he states without equivocation that what can be known about God is plain and clearly perceived, because God himself has made it plain and clear. It is because of this that unbelief is truly futile. While man attempts to suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness he cannot do so fully or consistently and is thus rendered without a defense for his unbelief. God’s revelation is so clear that unbelievers are literally without a defense for denying His existence. 

In our apologetic, we need to show the foolishness or futility of unbelief and the certainty of Christianity. We do this through a two-step procedure commonly called the Don’t Answer/ Answer Strategy. This strategy is drawn from Proverbs 26:4-5 which states, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” The first step is to not answer a fool according to his folly, do not adopt the foolish presuppositions of his worldview or you will become like him. Stand firm in the Christian faith without yielding for even a second. The second step is to show the unbeliever the foolishness of his unbelief by taking his worldview to its logical conclusions or answer him according to his foolish worldview. To do this, there will be internal contradictions within the unbeliever’s worldview that you will gently exploit and show to be in error. To see how this might work, let us turn to a practical example using the uniformity of nature and the problem of induction. 

When speaking apologetically about the uniformity of nature, we are primarily speaking of it in the context of the preconditions of intelligibility, those foundational elements of a worldview that must be true in order to make sense of the world and reality. The uniformity of nature provides a bedrock foundation for how people live out their lives and how scientists can engage in research. The uniformity of nature, simply stated, is that the future will be like the past. Laws of nature, logic, and the general conditions in which the world exists will continue into the future, thus providing a basis upon which scientific endeavors can be carried out. 

The major apologetic point to be made with this subject is to push the unbeliever to account for the uniformity of nature in his or her own worldview. Because many unbelievers will rely heavily upon science and the scientific method, this is a great point to pursue in discussion since the scientific method assumes the uniformity of nature. Challenge the unbeliever to make sense of or account for uniformity in a chance universe and be ready to spot viciously circular reasoning at this point as many will say that they base uniformity on the fact that the past has always been uniform and like the future. This is to beg the question and commit a basic logical fallacy. Only the Christian worldview can account for the uniformity of nature because God is the creator and providential sustainer of the universe. Asking the unbeliever to account for the uniformity of nature according to his worldview is to answer him according to his folly, helping him to see that on the terms of his worldview he cannot make sense of the world he lives in and ultimately why unbelief is futile. 

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