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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Why Are There Atheists?

“In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are,    ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm10:4)

What drives an otherwise intelligent person to become an atheist? Having been an atheist for many years earlier in my life, please allow me to share some personal observations with you on this topic. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “atheism” as “Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.” What is this willing “disbelief” driven by? The desire to be personally in control and accountable to no one is a powerful motivation for suppressing the truth about God in your life and the lives of others. (Romans 1:18 ) We prefer to establish our own standards of righteousness.

The sin of atheism is all bound up in the wickedness of pride. We see our lives from the perspective of wishing to be the center of all things. If I am to be the center of my universe, then I cannot tolerate the existence of a god who looks down on me. Pride sees only its own reflection in the mirror and that is enough. A man who is so self-infatuated certainly cannot abide a deity to whom he is accountable. William E. Henley spoke of such a person when he penned the words, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

Thus, pride drives men to “suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21) Atheism requires a cycle of continuous ongoing self-assurance. The sin of pride provides the impetus required to deny the existence of god.

Therefore, atheism is the result of the sin of pride and must, itself, inspire further sin. Atheism is not a morally neutral position. Once you have denied God, you have denied the moral foundation of the rights and dignity of man. Alexander Solzhenitsyn writes: “If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men had forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.'”

Proverbs 16:18 warns us “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Is it really better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven? Atheism demands that the prideful answer be, “Yes!” Such a viewpoint, however, has very unhappy consequences in this world and the next. The throne of atheism must one day be abandoned before the mortifying judgment of the one omnipotent God. Divine justice will demand that, “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:11)

7 Responses

  1. Actually, it’s quite possible to believe that morals are well-founded even without a god(s).

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  2. Even the philosophy of “objectivism” falls short of well- founded morality because of the absence of an omnipotent law giver.

    1. There must be universal moral law or moral disagreements would make no sense.
    2. A universal moral law requires a universal Moral Law Giver.
    3. A universal Moral Law Giver must be absolutely good since the source of all good must be absolutely good.
    4. Therefore, moral law – in order to exist – requires the existence of an absolutely good Moral Law Giver who is God.

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  3. Premise #1 fails, I’m afraid. Consider – does there have to be an absolute standard of value for economics to make sense? You make chairs, I grow corn. I trade you some corn for a chair. By our own measures, we each have traded something of lesser value to us for something of greater value to us. We each have more value by our own measures. And yet, economics makes sense…

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  4. The value of a product is based on a mutually agreeable exchange. The value of the product increases or decreases depending on the circumstances of the economy (capitalism is good). The market adjusts to the relative circumstances. However, moral values must represent absolute truth and cannot be dependent on the circumstances. The word of the buyer and seller are based on moral law. The agreement represents truth. If moral law is not absolute, then there is nothing wrong with the buyer shooting the seller and taking what he wants. Since there is no truth there is nothing wrong with what the buyer does.

    Even capitalism only works when there are agreed upon moral laws that carry sanctions. Moral Law is above economics which can only function rationally when morals are absolute. To base moral law on a relative value standard like economics is to make moral law itself relative. Moral law must represent absolute truth or discussion is meaningless. Absolute universal moral law requires a universal law giver.

    By the way, I visited your site and found it to be very interesting.

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  5. Sorry for the delay replying, things have been busy.

    The point of bringing up economics is that, even though many different people have their own idiosyncratic values, which as you note can even change over time, you can still make a decent science of it. Economics isn’t meaningless despite involving absolute truth at every step – or really at any step.

    Moral values do change over time – slavery was once universally regarded as acceptable, and now is abhorrent in almost all civilized areas. We now recognize things like the right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers as critical to ensuring justice. This is because circumstances change. Cutting open someone’s chest, alive or dead, was once ghoulish and horrifying – a desecration or murder. Now, my mother-in-law will be having open-heart surgery next month, and every single medical student has to dissect a cadaver to become a doctor. Circumstances do change morals.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t things that don’t change. What it means to be human hasn’t changed for over a hundred thousand years, and that does have some inevitable consequences for how people ought to behave to each other – for their own interests (which include interests like love, of course). I never said there was “no truth”. For example, can you produce a flying carpet, or is the law of gravity a truth?

    It’s not an “absolute truth”, but it’s not clear that we actually have any of those available. There are certainly things that are effectively certain, even if they are not strictly, absolutely True. The sun rising tomorrow in the East, for another example.

    (Thanks for the kind word about my site.)

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  6. There are many people who don’t believe in absolute moral truth, but they make statements such as “The world is getting worse” or “The world is getting better.” But how do you know there has been improvement unless you know what is “best.” Moral judgments imply an absolute moral standard. Moral disagreements are useless without an absolute moral standard that the argument can be measured against. Opposites cannot both be right. Moral absolutes cannot be denied without affirming a moral absolute.

    Since moral ideals exist, they must come from thinking about absolutely perfect moral ideals. These absolutely moral ideals exist only in the mind. Therefore, it is necessary to postulate an absolutely moral mind that is capable of thinking of absolute objective moral truth. This mind must be the Supreme Mind, which we call God, because absolute objective moral truth can only be created by the Creator of the life in which it is to be practiced. Absolute moral truth must exist in order for morality to be practically defined.

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  7. SamuelAtGilgal,
    I really appreciated your article. It is a good one which we all need to hear. You have a clear thinking mind.
    Thanks.
    T.A.

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