by Rev. Dustin Bartlett
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
- Psalm 14:1
This week, I had a conversation with an atheist. I wouldn’t have known she was an atheist if she hadn’t told me so. She asked me what I did for a living, and when I told her I was a pastor, her response went something like this:
“I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God, and I never will, so don’t try to convince me that there is a God and we can get along fine.”
My response went something like this:
Psalm 14 suggests that those who say, “There is no God,” are fools, but in my experience most of the people who don’t believe in God aren’t fools at all. In fact, they’re often just the opposite. Many of them are rejecting fundamentalist Christianity, which insists that the entire Bible be taken literally and that scientific views to the contrary be ignored. Being logical – and a little bit skeptical – seems very unfoolish to me.
Still others have rejected God because they’ve experienced the pain of having a church reject them. Christians can sometimes be a judgmental lot. If you don’t believe me, take a moment, go to Google, type in “Why are Christians so” and see for yourself how most people end that sentence.
If you’re an LGBT person who’s being told you aren’t acceptable to God just because of your orientation, rejecting the idea of God isn’t foolish; it’s self-preservation.
No, most of the atheists I’ve known in my life have been very reasonable, rational people.
I’ll tell you what does strike me as foolish, though: people who say they believe in God, but don’t act like it. That is, by the most literal definition of the word, incoherent.
How can a person claim to believe in a Creator, and then pillage and pollute what God has created? How can a person believe human beings were created in God’s own image, and then treat other people like they’re expendable? If you believe in the God of the Bible, that means giving money to the poor, homes to the homeless, welcome to the stranger, justice to the oppressed, and compassion to the marginalized. If people who take the name “Christian” aren’t acting like Christ, it’s not foolish to wonder if maybe they’re full of it.
That’s why the best argument for the existence of God isn’t an argument at all. It’s showing people the love of God by offering it to them. It’s giving rational people the chance to see and hear, with their own eyes and ears, just what God’s love can do. Even the most foolish of people will believe it when they see it.