The fact that man has historically used this or that form of the word “god” to explain the universe around him is proof that he has obviously concluded that a power exists greater than himself.
The Bible has something to say about this very subject. I would like to paraphrase the apostle Paul from the first chapter of the book of Romans starting in the eighteenth verse. “The anger of God is made freely accessible from heaven against all men who willfully hold down the truth because that which is known about God is evident to the unbelieving world. The existence of God was made obvious to all men since the foundation of the world.
This declaration of God’s existence is ongoing to this very day. Since the beginning of the world God’s qualities, His eternal power, and His divine nature have been clearly observed by everyone, being understood through what God has created. Unbelievers are without a defense if they attempt to reason that God does not exist. Even though they surveyed God’s existence, they did not honor Him as God nor were they thankful toward Him. Instead, they became fruitless in their wild speculations and their irrational hearts were further darkened by their sins. Professing themselves to be intelligent beings, the unbelievers became fools instead by replacing the majesty of the immortal God for an image in the form of perishable man and other created things.”
Paul later speaks of unbelievers who have God’s law intrinsically written on their hearts since birth which is evident by the fact that they have a conscience. Even a man who insists he is not a believer in God has inner thoughts that are sometimes condemning or at other times praising his or her own behavior (Romans 2:15). Although the Bible teaches that original sin has affected man’s ability to reason accurately (Romans 8:7; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 4:17, 18), he still retains some knowledge of God, of the Lord’s natural order of things, and of the difference between good and evil. On occasion the unbeliever shows some regard for virtuous, good outward behavior. These are all proofs of God’s existence that mankind has in his or her natural sensibility. But our story does not stop here.
Next, other Scripture passages teach us that the created things of the world have a distinct, yet continuous dependence on its Creator. This means that the things in the world, especially the world itself, are not God, nor any part of God, but something absolutely distinct from God. The creation differs from God, not merely in degree and magnitude, but in its essential properties. God the Creator is self-existent (Psalm 102:25). God is self-sufficient, infinite and eternal (Psalm 102:27); the world and its inhabitants are not self-sufficient although they sometimes act as if they are (Psalm 102:26).
We are dependent on God (Isaiah 42:5); everything except God is finite and temporal. It is only by God’s grace that we have the ability to live and move and exist (Acts 17:28).
The universe is not the existence-form of God, nor is it the phenomenal appearance of the ambiguous Great Absolute. God is not the divine “Idea.” God is not the great “All.” God is not a mere cosmic force as it presented to us in the Star Wars movie series. God is not simply the life or soul, or inner law of the world that some explain as “god,” but the Lord as a Person enjoys His own eternally complete life above the rest of the world in absolute independence above all other things. The Bible therefore clearly draws a distinction between God and the creation (Acts 17:24; Psalm 90:2; etc.). The God of the Bible is a Personal Being, a Somebody, not a some-thing.
Additionally we say that man has the capacity to verify God’s existence because our Creator has made Himself known through the things He has created around us. The expansive celestial spheres that soar above our heads broadcast the pristine splendor of God. The sun, moon, and stars and, currently, we see, the complexity of molecular life are a book of indictment written to the inhabitants of earth (Psalm 19:1f). One of the advantages I have as a person who became a Christian later in life over someone who became a Christian in their younger years is that I am able to vividly recall thinking to myself as an unbeliever, “I know God exists, but I will pretend and hope that He does not.”
Unfortunately there always were, and is, and always will be those who actually hold back the evidence of God’s existence from themselves as I once did. The Bible identifies self-deceived men as those “who suppress the truth through unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Literally we would read the original Greek text this way, “…men who are constantly attempting to restrain the truth by their sin…” The truth about the Creator is always available but this truth is assaulted by the sin in the heart of the man. There is a constant attempt to hold back the truth of God, bury it or obliterate it if that were even remotely possible.
In the second and third chapter of Romans we read that the irony of this entire situation is that in spite of these continuous, but futile, attempts to eliminate any knowledge of God, the opposite effect occurs when men themselves become assaulted by the truth of the existence of God. This includes a self-inflicted guilt owing to man’s own sense of right and wrong. The Lord Jesus Christ said “that light comes into the world but men love darkness rather than the light because of their evil deeds” (John 19:1). In Psalm 14 we read “the fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God,’” and this verse goes on to elaborate on the corrupt nature of man.
Sinful men basically do not want to know of a God Who has fixed a moment time in which He will call his creatures into accountability by raising them from the dead. Men therefore postulate that no God exists, or sometimes he invents a god who can tolerate his sin (as I once did). Man in his natural state clearly avoids the true voice of the True God, but the wrath of God still waits for him nonetheless. As man looks at creation, marveling at its design, the eternal power and nature of God are clearly exposed. Man can know that God exists from the observation of what God has made, and God therefore renders him inexcusable.
Everybody on the face of this earth has experienced God’s wisdom, His power, and His generosity. In every moment of our existence we have perceived His handiwork. Even as a deaf, mute, and blind girl, Helen Keller had no capacity to communicate until Ann Sullivan spent endless hours, weeks, and months to unlock the communication barrier. When Ann attempted to tell Helen about God, Helen’s response was, “I already know about Him – I just didn’t know His name.” For this reason, the general disclosure of God’s creation all around us is the very foundation upon which the Lord will judge and someday at a time of His choosing condemn the unbelieving man. God judges fairly, justly with equity, for the simple reason man is without an excuse.
“An atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.” – Adrian Pierce Rogers