Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Practical Atheism

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'"
Psalm 14:1

I did chapel this morning for the high school students. We read Psalm 14:1. Who is this verse talking about? A friend of mine is in a philosophy of religion class at Auburn University. He says that they mostly debate the existence of God. This is fine except that the discussions can get rather out of hand. Sadly, the Christians act just as abusive and disrespectful as anyone. My friend dislikes the class for this reason.

Too often, we use the Bible as a weapon against people we disagree with. It is the sword of the Spirit, after all. This verse is a case in point. It plainly says that those who say there is no God are fools. We assume this verse is about the atheist who wrote the latest best-seller blasting belief in God. We assume it's about the guy in our philosophy class. Maybe it is. But maybe there's more to it than that.

Notice the fool in Psalms doesn't speak with his lips, but with his heart. What is our heart? It is more than our affections. Our heart is our thinking, feeling, believing, will, and all our loves and hates wrapped into one. It is the center of who we are. How do we know what is in our hearts? Jesus said that our hearts will overflow into our speech and actions. Our hearts cannot stay hidden forever. Give it time, and they will leak. This is where belief or disbelief lies. Here is where the true atheist is found out.

There is such a thing as practical atheism. The practical atheist will probably say that they believe in God. They will attend church and fellowship with Christians. But practically, in their everyday lives, they live as though God does not exist. Our hearts will tell on us. If you can go days without thinking about talking to God apart from rote prayers, you might be a practical atheist. If you can make daily life decisions without considering God's direction, you might be a practical atheist. If you can wield the sword of the Spirit without ever allowing it to run you through, you might be a practical atheist. Who is Psalm 14:1 speaking of?

May we have wise hearts that acknowledge and surrender to the living God.


  1. That is beautiful and right on, Brad. It spoke to my selfish side, I must admit. But I am so thankful we have SUCH a loving and patient Father. And oh, by the way, have I ever mentioned that you are one of my favorite preachers of His Word? His blessings upon you today.

  2. Thank you, Mrs. Ronda. Blessings upon you as well.