Is it even possible to be an atheist?
An atheist is someone who says “There is no God!” Hold on, not so… at least not according to the American Atheists (founded in 1963, www.Atheists.org). They are quite adamant about not letting others define who they are, which is very understandable, but one can’t help but see a contrast between what they officially state they believe and what they say in conversation and post on websites.
Taken directly off of Atheists.org:
“Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.”
“The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings.”
“…we contemplated god in its many forms and decided it just doesn't make an ounce of sense. This isn't a choice, it's fact - a logical proof. We are simply too logical to believe God is anything more than fantasy.”They initially said that they are not denying “god” or “gods” exist, they only lack belief is such a being. What? Later, they state that belief in god doesn’t make an ounce of sense and is just pure fantasy. So doesn’t that mean they don’t believe in a god (or “gods”)? If they don’t believe in a god, does that not mean they disbelieve in a god? But they said they don’t disbelieve in god.
Even with all that confusion, I will be taking this in a completely different direction. We could ask official atheist organizations to define as specifically and accurately as possible exactly what they believe. But maybe a better idea is to get fifty of the world’s leading psychologists to study the atheists over a period of ten years, then write a series of books and publish articles in the leading psychological research journals. That would certainly tell us what they believe, right? Well, I have an even better idea yet. Why don’t we ask God what He thinks? After all, He knows everything, right?
Since I am writing this from a Christian perspective, I do not feel, as a fallen human being, that I am in a position to tell God what parts of the Bible He actually inspired and which ones He didn’t. I accept as my starting point (my presupposition) that God exists and all of Scripture is inspired, as is indicated in 2 Timothy 3:16. Therefore, I believe that all the Bible conveys is true. I know the atheist does not accept this, but this is my starting point and everything that I personally believe must be rooted in, and consistent with, God’s Word. With that in mind, what does it tell us about the atheist? After all, what I might personally think about atheists may be of some interest to others, but ultimately my own opinions and philosophies really don’t matter… only what God tells us can be trusted with any real certainty. Here are a few things God says about the atheist:
- “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20) These verses tell us that everyone knows Gods exists, including the atheist, because God has made it plain to them. However, they have chosen to suppress the truth. Again, we could read every philosophy book that exists on atheism and conduct survey after survey in effort to determine what the atheist really believes and why, but God Himself is telling us that they know He exists. This should be our starting point. I’m not saying atheists admit He exists (they obviously don’t), but God says they actually do know.
- “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1) This is not name-calling. God is simply stating that those who say there is no God are thinking foolishly. Yes, they claim that God does not exist, but we just learned from Romans 1 that they know the truth, but are simply suppressing it.
- “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:22) They claim great enlightenment (e.g. “we’re just too logical”), but they truly are foolish.
- “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (I Corinthians 3:19) Even the most brilliant atheist on the Earth knows nothing compared to God.
- “But the natural [unsaved] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) The skeptic cannot on his own understand the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned. The issue of God’s existence is ultimately a spiritual battle and not simply an academic argument.
- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7) If appropriate reverence for God is the beginning of knowledge, then the atheist hasn’t really even begun to learn anything yet. If they are also fools (which is what Scripture states) then we also learn from this verse that they “despise wisdom and instruction”.
With this in mind, does it make sense for us to attempt to use science to prove to an atheist that God exists? Does God even ask us to defend His existence? The answer to both of these questions is “no”. Ultimately, we need to share the truth of God’s Word with those who say they do not believe in God, including what God says about their position. We also need to share the Gospel message or we will have nothing of any real substance to offer. We must also keep in mind to do all of this “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15) and to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). God promises us that His Word will not return void, meaning that it will accomplish all that He wishes (Isaiah 55:11). It’s up to us to share and up to the Holy Spirit to convict (i.e. it is not all about us winning arguments, which is usually nothing more than an exercise in futility, anyway).
Much, much more could be said about all of this and perhaps we will cover more in this area in future articles. In the meantime, if you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us any time. You can even arrange a FREE ENGAGEMENT or seminar at your church, school, conference or camp.
Author: Jay Seegert (Co-Founder & Principal Lecturer, Creation Education Center)