The Atheist Delusion
Do you believe in God?
In our modern world, I've run into more than a few people who say they don’t believe in God. Richard Dawkins’ (author of the infamous "The God Delusion") is just one of many writers articulating a case for unbelief.
To be honest, on one level I actually admire the bold declarations of someone like Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens that openly embrace and publicly defend their atheism and engage in debate.
That’s a lot more admirable to me than the apathetic, nominal faith of some self-identified Christians. And in a sense, an atheist by conviction has more integrity than a professing Christian who casually denies essentials of the faith like the literal and physical resurrection of Jesus.
But still, atheism is either true or it is a delusion, in the sense of firmly maintaining a belief that contradicts reality.
It's one thing to have normal and healthy questions about God and wanting to understand arguments made for and against His existence. Many believers, including myself, went through a phase of strong doubts and questioning. We need to compassionately engage with open-minded agnostics and atheists with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Those who struggle to hold to any kind of belief beyond the material world need to be exposed to the universe of apologetic resources available today.
But it's another thing entirely for a hardened atheist to categorically assert that God absolutely cannot exist.
Psalm 14:1 is not shy about the matter: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’…” Obviously this can’t mean intellectual weakness because agnostics and atheists (and Christians!) are counted among the world’s greatest intellects.
So how can a brilliant atheist be a fool?
Because raw human intelligence and wisdom from above are not the same thing. A fool, according to Scripture, is simply one who lacks wisdom - which begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). As God defines the word, a fool can be a Nobel prize winner.
One angle in more deeply understanding what “God” means could be put this way: your "god" is the most important, most highly-prized, all-consuming and life-defining person or thing in your life.
With that perspective, there is no such thing as an atheist…just millions of false gods - and from the Christian perspective, only one true God.
Money may be the perfect example of a modern (and ancient) false god (see Matthew 6:24). As a false god, money tries to make many of the same promises that the real God does:
"I will provide for you."
"I will open doors for you and grant you great power."
"I will be there for you always, even when you’re sick and old."
"Live for me and worship me and I will grant your heart’s desire."
Like all false gods, money makes an excellent servant but a terrible god. The same can be said for the idols of fame, sex, beauty, power, achievement and even our work, family, friends, hobbies, etc.
Jesus said, “I am…the Truth. No one comes to Father except through Me.”
Do you ever worship a god of your own making? A god who can never ultimately satisfy?
In the end, saving faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). But Romans 1:20 tells us that even without faith everyone has true knowledge of God in a limited sense. In other words, you need faith to be saved but faith is not required to know that God exists:
"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."
But we would still be stumbling in the dark trying to know an unknown God if He had not in His infinite kindness condescended to reveal Himself in His Word.
No study of the natural world, no matter how exhaustive, would ever tell us that God is One in Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Only Scripture reveals what we could never otherwise know about the One who made all things.
Everyone worships something or someone. That's simply how we were made.
So the better question for anyone is really not, “Do you believe in God?” but rather “What God do you believe in?”