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The Little We Know

by Ty Gibson

A rational appeal to the atheist

Intending no disrespect at all to the scientific achievements of mankind, I want to call our attention to the fact that the human data bank of knowledge is minuscule compared to all there is to know. After about 500 years of scientific advancement, those who know the most tell us we know very little compared to the vast ocean of unexplored reality. If what we know is measured against what we donít know, it is far more accurate to say weíre ignorant than to say weíre enlightened.

And the implications of our relative ignorance are significant.

This is one of the reasons why atheism is a bold claim that exceeds the boundaries of rationality. Atheism claims to know that God does not exist. But to say that God does not exist is a claim to know more than any human being can possibly know, by virtue of the fact that we simply donít know most of what there is to know. So, perhaps God exists just outside our very small informational orbit!

The claim to know that God doesnít exist is similar to a man claiming that there arenít any black swans in the world simply because all the ones heís ever seen are white, paying no attention to the fact that he has traveled no farther than his local park. He lacks knowledge, but he has gone a step further and added arrogance to ignorance by making the claim that no black swans exist simply because he hasnít seen one.

The person who claims to know that there is no God either has a very inflated sense of what they know, or a very small sense of how truly vast reality is, like the schoolboy who only knows basic arithmetic and so he canít fathom algebra, or like a blind person claiming there is no such thing as color, or like a deaf person claiming there is no music. The atheist would have us believe that they have searched all of reality, know everything, and can report with a straight face to the rest of us that Godís not there.

Think of it like this: If all knowledge is represented by the value of 100 percent, and if I were to ask you what percentage of all knowledge you possess, I would venture to say your answer, like mine, would be something like, ďVery little.Ē But then letís ask: How much progress has humanity as a whole made in acquiring all knowledge? Five percent? Ten percent? Probably not! It would be audacious to claim that we know even one percent of all there is to know. But letís be generous and flatter ourselves. Letís say we possess 50 percent of all possible knowledge. The question would be: Is it possible that God may exist in the 50 percent of reality we know nothing of?

The only rational answer we can give is, yes, of course. But if I say that God may exist somewhere in the vast realm of my ignorance, then I am not actually an atheist. The most I could say is that I am an agnostic. I just donít know if God actually exists. Whereas atheism is a claim that amounts to an embarrassing intellectual conceit, agnosticism is merely a claim to lack information.

But logic drives us a step further. If God actually does exist somewhere in the vast realm of reality I donít know, would I want to know? And what if that God happens to be infinitely good and offers me eternal bliss free from all the evil that presently haunts our worldówould I want to know of such a Godís existence? And again, the only rational answer I can possibly give is, yes, of course I would want to know. But if thatís my answer, then really Iím not even an agnostic, but rather an open-minded seeker for the truth.

So then, considering the fact that we humans know so very little of all there is to know, and realizing that it is only logical to confess that God very well may exist beyond our limited bank of knowledge, and acknowledging that if God does exist it is only rational that we would want to know of His existence, we must conclude that the only reasonable position for any human being to occupy is one of humble and honest investigation without bold claims to know God does not exist.

Which raises one more question: Since we cannot amass all knowledge by scientific investigation, is there another way of knowing if God exists?

Actually, there is: by personal encounter. God may be known, not the way a scientist discovers a protein or a planet, but the way a person comes to know another person. It is possible to know God by means of God revealing Himself in the realm of an individualís personal experience.

I know this may sound crazy if youíve never done it before, but if you want to be genuinely honest with the fact that you donít know enough to be an atheist, and if you want to know for yourself if God exists, get alone somewhere so you donít need to feel self-conscious or silly, and then, with an honest, humble attitude, get on your knees, and say something like this:

ďGod, I donít know if You exist or not. But if You do, well then, I want to know. So Iím opening myself up to the possibility that You are there and that You want me to know You. If You do exist and there is more to life than meets the eyes of science, of course knowing You would be the most amazing discovery ever. So here I am. Iím listening and watching as the days go by. Please reveal Yourself to me in some way, because I really want to know.Ē

Then get up off your knees and pay attention. Now, at least, you are humble enough to see things that elude the notice of those who claim to know more than they actually do.

Ty Gibson is codirector of Light Bearers and pastor of Storyline Adventist Church in Eugene, Oregon. A passionate communicator with a message that opens minds and moves hearts, Ty teaches on a variety of topics, emphasizing Godís unfailing love as the central theme of the Bible. His most recent work includes the video project and the [truth]Link Bible study series and Web course at Ty and his wife Sue have three adult children and two grandsons. This was a November 12, 2015, blog entry on the Light Bearers Web site. Accessed on November 23, 2015, from Reprinted by permission.

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