What is Bigger and More Incomprehensible than the God of Christians?
In a recent TIME magazine article, wherein senior staff writer David Van Biema interviewed renowned atheist Richard Dawkins and theist Francis Collins, Dawkins made a comment about the existence of God that revealed a serious flaw in his case against Creation and Christianity. Although he believes the idea of “a supernatural intelligent designer” is “refutable,” he speculated, saying, “If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed” (quoted in Van Biema, 2006, 168:55). Thus, every “God” ever conceptualized by mankind is simply too small and too comprehensible for Dawkins.
It certainly is the case that gods of various religious groups of the past and present have lacked size and intelligence. The gods of ancient Egypt were exposed as counterfeit when the God of Israel demonstrated His superiority over them. He brought 10 plagues on Egypt, executing judgment “against all the gods of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12; Numbers 33:4), that (among other things) man might “know that Jehovah is greater than all gods” (Exodus 18:11, ASV). In Elijah’s day, Jehovah God revealed His supremacy over Baal on Mount Carmel when He sent fire down from heaven, totally consuming Elijah’s sacrifice (1 Kings 18:20-38), while the sacrifices of Baal’s prophets lay quiescent. Then, “[w]hen all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God’” (1 Kings 18:39). Furthermore, the millions of Hindu gods of the past and present also lack sufficient magnitude and intelligence. They are lifeless, powerless, man-made idols that both atheists and theists rightly refuse to acknowledge.
To conclude, however, that no one from any religion has ever proposed a God that is of adequate size and mystery is simply untrue. What about the God of the Bible? Considering that approximately two billion people on Earth claim to believe in this God (see “Major Religions...,” 2005), Dawkins no doubt had the God of Christians in mind when he said, “If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.” What (or Who) could be larger, mightier, and more incomprehensible than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God that Christians worship and serve?
The God of the Bible is omnipresent. The psalmist proclaimed: “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me (139:7-10, NASB). Try as he might, no one can hide from God (Jeremiah 23:23-24). He is everywhere. His eyes “are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3). “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13, emp. added).
God not only is omnipresent, He also knows everything. Numerous passages of Scripture clearly teach that God is omniscient. The psalmist declared that God “knows the secrets of the heart” (44:21) and that “His understanding is infinite” (147:5). Of Jehovah, the psalmist also wrote:
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether (139:1-4).
“God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20, emp. added). Not only does He know the past and the present, but the future as well (Acts 15:18; cf. Isaiah 46:10). There is nothing outside of the awareness of God. What’s more, at the end of time, He “will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14, emp. added).
Perhaps the most awesome attribute of Jehovah is His unlimited power. He is “God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1). Nothing is too hard for Him (Genesis 18:14). As Job confessed to God, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (42:2, emp. added). By simply speaking, God can create that which is visible from that which is invisible (Hebrews 11:3; cf. Genesis 1), and can turn the physical into the celestial (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). He can turn water into wine simply by desiring it to happen (John 2:1-10). He can miraculously heal a paralytic by merely willing it to “be done” (Matthew 8:13). He can raise a man from the dead simply by commanding him to “come forth” (John 11:43). The God of Christians is omnipotent.
What more does Dawkins need from a god? By definition, the God of the Bible could not be any bigger, more powerful, or more intelligent than He already is. Jehovah is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. In addition, He is eternal (cf. Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 102:27; Revelation 1:8). He is from “everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). What could be “bigger” and “more incomprehensible” for finite humans to grasp?
Nothing is bigger than God. Nothing is more powerful than God. And no one can rationally fathom a being more intelligent than God. As far as being “a whole lot more incomprehensible,” the psalmist addressed God’s unfathomable intelligence, confessing that “[s]uch knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it” (139:6, emp. added). God said: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.... For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Centuries later Paul praised the “depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God,” exclaiming “[h]ow unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33, emp. added). Indeed, there are “the secret things” that “belong to the Lord our God,” which we will never know this side of eternity, and perhaps not even on the other side (Deuteronomy 29:29). Thankfully, the one true and living God did reveal a substantial amount of information about Himself through nature, and much more through the Scriptures (Romans 1:20; Deuteronomy 29:29), that we might “have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
The God that the prominent, militant atheist Richard Dawkins said would exist, “if there is a God,” actually does exist. Sadly, Dawkins and millions of others simply have “refused to have God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28, ASV), for which “they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
“Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents” (2005), [On-line], URL: http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html.
Van Biema, David (2006), “God vs. Science,” TIME, 168:48-55, November 13.