There’s an old joke about a police officer who was walking his beat one night when he came upon a man, apparently drunk, crawling around on his hands and knees on the pavement under a streetlamp.
“What are you doing?” asked the officer.
“Looking for my keys,” came the reply.
“Where’d you lose them?” returned the constable.
“Over there” answered the other, gesturing toward a shadowy area outside the halo of the streetlamp.
“Then why are you looking here?” demanded the bemused policeman.
“Well,” said the man, looking up at the officer, “the light’s better here.”
I am sometimes reminded of the unfortunate man under the streetlight when I am engaged in discussion with atheists. It’s not that they are intoxicated, but that they insist on conducting the search for God where He cannot possibly be found, using a method that is guaranteed not to find Him.
Most atheists I talk to are materialists, who insist that we can’t reasonably argue for the existence of God unless we can detect his presence using the tools of science. This is, of course, a very narrow and limited understanding of “reason” (and one for which they have a hard time coming up with a reasonable defense). They either can’t or won’t accept that the Creator of the universe must logically be outside his creation (just as an artist cannot be inside his own painting). Science can only detect things that are part of the natural universe. If God is truly God, then finding Him through scientific inquiry is as useless as looking for lost keys thirty feet away from where you know you dropped them.
Unless, of course, you don’t want to find anything . . .