Silly Atheists?

“The fool says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 53:1).”  However, in North American culture, USA Today reported that atheists are the fastest growing religious affiliation.  They had risen to a reporting 16% of people from 8%.  That is 100% growth.  The decline of traditional Christianity is well documented.  How can we take seriously, then, a passage which in effect says, “Silly Atheists”.  Atheists come in a variety of sizes and colours.  We are not talking about those who ‘don’t know whether there is a God’, we are talking about those wh definitely believe that there is no God.  There are those like Hitchens and Dawkins who are atheists because they believe that explanations of the universe are satisfactory without ‘the God hypothesis’.  The alarming growth is the number of atheists who just think the idea of God is stupid – period.  These are mainly young people, under 30, who come to the death of a relative or an ingrowing fingernail and think, “Ouch!  This really hurts.  Either God is a sadist or he doesn’t exist.”  Or it’s the person who would have to give up a life of partying and irresponsibility for the desperately dull morality of Christianity or any other religion.

How did we get here?  What did we do?  How do we stop the slide?  I have my ideas.  What are yours?

Psalm 53

For the director of music. According to mahalath.[b] A maskil[c] of David.

 1 The fool says in his heart,
   “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
   there is no one who does good.

 2 God looks down from heaven
   on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
   any who seek God.
3 Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
   there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

 4Do all these evildoers know nothing?

   They devour my people as though eating bread;
   they never call on God.
5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
   where there was nothing to dread.
God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
   you put them to shame, for God despised them.

 6 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
   When God restores his people,
   let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Questions

  1. What does God look for?
  2. What thoughts keep evildoers awake at night?
  3. How are wisdom and folly contrasted in this ‘wisdom psalm’?
  4. Why do fools today say there is no God?  How is it foolish?
  5. How can we raise a generation that does not think faith in Jesus is foolish?

Going Deeper

Stalin was an atheist.  His paranoia was legendary.  How does his disquiet reflect Psalm 53?

What is your reaction to the fact that Stalin trained as a pastor and then had 10, 000, 000 Russians killed in the name of Communist atheism?

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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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