My neighbor told me yesterday that he does not know if there is a God. Ever heard something like that before? He started to talk about the folly and hypocrisy of all organized religion, the scientific evidence that the earth is far older than the Bible says, the fact that men, not God, wrote the Bible, etc.
How should we respond to such a person? We could argue all day long with them about many things. We probably would not get anywhere fast. So I have come to think that it is best to take a different approach. In dealing with such a person, I find that I often turn to the question, “To whom do you give thanks?” I ask them about where their life came from, who keeps it continuing each day, where the sun and rain come from that causes their food to grow, and things like that. Some people are pretty stubborn, I know, but deep down, we all know that we have received many blessings that we cannot claim any credit for. And most people will admit that, I think. I find that if I can bring people to recognize the fact that they owe a lot to someone else, whoever that might be, it will be a very important step in the hope of bringing about a change of heart and attitude. If a man will begin to accept truth that runs contrary to his pride, there is hope for him. We all have to give thanks to someone for the blessings we have. It is at the heart of all morality and religion and truth that we should be grateful and thankful to whomever provides these basic needs and wants to us. The pursuit of that person to whom thanks is due is a starting point of religion and righteousness.
This is supported very much by a statement in the first chapter of the book of Romans in the Bible: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks” (Romans 1:21). One of the basic starting points for sin is the refusal to give thanks for all that God has given us. We are all so dependent upon Him for life and all good things. We receive so much from His hand. It is great evil not to be grateful to Him, worshiping Him and giving Him thanks.
Perhaps we would be wise to bring this foundational point before men more often as a starting point for evangelism with men who say they do not believe in God.
““To whom do you give thanks?””
Other people who deserve my thanks. If something has happened by chance, I thank no one, because ‘chance’ isn’t a person.
You are correct. “Chance” is not a person. But what if “chance” is not the cause of our coming into existence, nor of our being blessed with food and clothing and health? I do not at all propose that we should give thanks to “chance,” but rather that we seek out to whom thanks is truly due for all the blessings that we have. It would be a great wrong to receive all these blessings and not to care about thanking the one who provided them for us.
“I do not at all propose that we should give thanks to “chance,” but rather that we seek out to whom thanks is truly due for all the blessings that we have.”
I would ask for good evidence that such a thing exists.
Otherwise, the only people to thank are other people or my own efforts.
That would be one way to approach it. But I would just propose to you to consider the very fact of the beginning of your life. Can you thank your own efforts for that great gift of life? Obviously not. You might then say that you can thank your parents, but do you really believe that any two people have the actual power to create a living human being by a mere physical act? Your parents did not make you alive. Who did, then? I cannot “prove” to you scientifically that there is a need to seek after another person who is the source of your life. But I hope that you will just think honestly about whether you truly can ascribe your existence to your own efforts or the actions of any other person you know. And there are many other such cases that are alike. Who is it that makes the sun to shine and rain to fall and crops to grow that you might eat? Is that by your efforts? Or by the efforts of any person that you know? Who, then, deserves the thanks? You will either have to personify “chance” (and you have rightly pointed out already that “chance” is no person at all) or find the true person to whom you owe so much thanks. Then again, there is always the option that most people take, which is to selfishly care nothing about giving thanks to whomever might be the source of all the good things I have in life. Oh that we would all be willing to see that we have need to give thanks to God for so many invaluable blessings in life! I wish that you, too, my friend, would do so, and that soon. May God work in your heart and open your eyes to this fact. I hope to be of help to you in any way that I can. If there are any sincere questions that you have about the truthfulness of what I am saying, I would be more than glad to continue discussing it with you.
“but do you really believe that any two people have the actual power to create a living human being by a mere physical act?”
Of course I do, thats basic science.
“I cannot “prove” to you scientifically that there is a need to seek after another person who is the source of your life.”
The fact you admit you cannot prove what you are saying is in anyway true should be a cause for alarm.
“Who is it that makes the sun to shine and rain to fall and crops to grow that you might eat?”
Wait what? Are you saying God makes the sun shine and the rain fall and we should worship him because of that? That’s pretty pagan pre-scientific era logic you’re using.
How did you end up with God? All you said was some things happen, therefore praise God. I’m pretty sure you missed a few steps in between
You can pose a questions to which there is no logical answer, such as “to whom do you give thanks.” If your parents, evolution of necessary organs to live on this planet and chance aren’t enough, then why make up an invisible sky daddy to be thanked for it?
If you are content to say that your whole existence as a person is due to such impersonal forces as “chance” and the evolution of necessary organs, then you will be left without anyone to thank. I don’t think you will ultimately be able to be content with such a situation, though. The discontent of humanity once they are left in such a position is startling evidence of the insufficiency of this answer. I, for one, certainly believe that there is a great need to give thanks to an actual Person. If you think otherwise, you will be left with the need to worship a mere impersonal force as the course of life and all the good things that you have. I will choose instead to worship God as my maker and creator, the giver and sustainer of life. I hope and pray that you, too, one day will find Him to give Him thanks.