For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Romans 1:14-32)
Atheists are fools, as the Scripture says. So it is no wonder that they are chronically inconsistent. One of the greatest inconsistencies is the gap between their principles and their behavior. Let me explain.
No God-- No Morality
According to Atheism, the world has no meaning. There is no good or evil in the transcendent sense; for there is no personal Lawgiver who is Himself the source of morality, because He is himself perfectly holy. There is therefore no objective basis for preferring one behavior to another. Lying, stealing, unfaithfulness, blasphemy, idolatry, are just names for animal behaviors that have no real moral value--- no merit or demerit.
Some Atheists attempt to disguise this aspect of their philosophy; but some of the more candid admit it. Apparently they think we Theists are too stupid to realize that this means that no one should trust or take seriously anything they say; no matter how much passion or bluster they display in saying it. In avowing Atheism, they have disqualified themselves from taking part in civilized society, which depends on trust; for they can give us no reason at all why they should be trusted. They have no motivation for ethical behavior. On their principles, there are no lasting consequences to our actions: no future life, no reward for living a life of benevolence, nothing to fear beyond death for those who live in selfish disregard of others.
How Can They Justify Making Moral Judgments of Others?
Furthermore, they contradict themselves by making moral judgments of Theists and deploring us for spreading falsehoods! On their own principles, they have no right to do this! Why then are we encountering an increasingly aggressive atheism--- vociferous, angry, denouncing and demanding?
In the first place, they can make no claim that they are victims of discrimination or abuse. It has been centuries since Atheism was considered a crime--- more's the pity! On the contrary, they are usually the discriminators and abusers. The law, as currently understood and interpreted by the courts, protects them. No one is burning their books or heckling them when they speak.
And in today's morally permissive world, they are largely free to practice any of the sins of the flesh with impunity, to pursue their lusts and pleasures to their hearts' content. Yes, one could still get into trouble for crimes relating to property, and some forms of murder are still illegal. But we all have to live under those restrictions. Since Atheists are so much smarter than the rest of us, they should be able to find ways around those petty inconveniences, and often they do. Why not? There is no one to tell them these things are evil except those ignorant religious people.
Why Get Angry?
So what are they so mad about? They can make no pretense of a moral indignation. What is it to them if all the stupid people in the world have been exploited by religionists? So what! Religionists, in their scheme, are just animals acting out their animal heritage--- biting and devouring each other in a fight for survival. How can you blame them? Atheists don't care about that. So why are they so angry?
Why not leave well alone? Why not let the stupid people cling to their illusions and comfort themselves in a world that is, for most people, so very uncomfortable! It's not like Atheists have any comfort to give them, if they even cared to. Yes, they can say that there's no Hell to worry about, but there's no heaven either.
The Real Reason
This gives us a clue to their motivation. Atheists are people who do not mind sacrificing all hope of heaven if only they can thereby avoid the fear of Hell. It is plain therefore that they are people who have experienced oppression from guilt, and that have no aspirations toward a better life. They are people content to live like animals in a world red in tooth and claw, and to satisfy themselves with the world's guilty pleasures, if only they can live without guilt.
Aye, there's the rub! The only way they can escape the gnawing of their consciences is to convince themselves that their Maker is a figment of their imaginations, that God is not necessary to explain the world, that Theism is the fountain of all their suffering! By asserting the thing they want so very badly to believe, they hope to quiet the voice of God within. By converting others, they seek to strengthen and confirm the rightness of their view. By warring against the truth, and those of us who so maddeningly and effectively defend it, they are fighting to silence the voice of God without, in society. Their struggle to indoctrinate the world with godless evolution is their attempt to silence the voice of God in the created world.
All this violent activity results from the fact that God will not let them alone to enjoy their sin without guilt and fear. The irony is that it only multiplies their guilt, and leads to occasional severer outbreaks of conscience. Hence the agony of the Atheist, that drives him to strike out in frustration at everything that reminds him of God!
Atheists are hateful to God; but He often draws even Atheists to Himself. Christ died for all kinds of sinners even Atheists! We must therefore pity them, pray for them and preach to them the unsearchable riches of Christ. It is futile, however, to debate the existence of God with them. God's existence is as obvious as our own, and needs no arguments. If it were not obvious, men would not be without excuse; but Paul says that they are.
This is not to say that God's existence cannot be proved. It would be silly to say that something is obvious, but cannot be proved. There are numerous irrefutable arguments for God's existence. Rather, since their blindness is willful, the problem of their unbelief must be addressed some other way than by intellectual means. We must not give legitimacy to their doubts, as if they were merely a mistake. We need to reach their consciences, and to show them what and who they really are, and what they are trying in vain to do when they deny God. Taking as our guide Romans 1: 14-32, cited above, our apologetic method is as follows:
First, we must show them that they have no basis for anything once they rule God out of the universe. They have no basis for knowledge, for assertion of any kind, for choosing a particular behavior, or for living at all. The very meaninglessness of life, which they so brazenly assert, leaves them with no reason to live.
Second, we must show them that they already know there is a God, and that they know Him. If they didn't, they would not be angry with Him. If they didn't, they would not assume that there is such a thing as reason, as truth, as virtue--- all things which their actions show they do believe in.
Third, we must boldly tell them that they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness; and that the consequence of this is that they lie under the wrath and curse of Almighty God, and are in danger of eternal judgment.
Fourth, we must advise and urge them to flee to Christ, who is ready to save them from God's wrath if they will repent of their sins and trust in Him.
If we do these things, there is every reason to believe that God will extend His mercy to them, as He has to us! Patient, faithful, prayerful witness will be blessed of God in the long run. Let us pray for grace to be faithful in this, our holy calling.
Howard Douglas King
Revised December 9, 2014