Recently I found myself watching a debate between Doug Wilson and the now deceased Christopher Hitchens. I must admit, I couldn’t help but be impressed with Hitchens. His knowledge of history, science, philosophy and literature was impressive. Obviously I don’t agree with the conclusions he draws, but he was clearly a brilliant man. As I watched Hitchens and Wilson, it occurred to me that no matter what Hitchens labelled himself, in all reality, there are no atheists. Think of what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!
We live in a very secular culture, and yet most people still call themselves “theists.” In other words, the majority of people still believe in a personal God, who created and sustains all things. So what are we to make of the minority who call themselves atheists? According to God’s word, they are deceived having “exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” Evidently they are blinded to reality, and have become “futile in their thinking.” They refuse to see what is “clearly perceived……in the things that have been made.” Deep down in their heart of hearts, they know that there is a God, who created and governs all things. They just refuse to accept what is so obvious and clear and plain to see. As the Psalmist puts it, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). God has stamped his signature upon this whole universe and upon the confines of human heart. You simply can’t miss it! You can’t miss Him! Therefore, as another Psalm puts it, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” Scripture doesn’t mince words – everyone who denies the existence of God and the reality of God……is a fool.
I don’t accept the notion that there are atheists. No one can stop a person from using that label, but it is not a truthful statement. Having said that, let’s do all that we can to point everyone to the truth of Christ’s gospel, including atheists. Bottom line…..people need the Lord. We have a message, we have a mission, and we need to pray that God would open the hearts of those who are blinded to the truth. Paul’s words to the Colossian believers are a fitting way to conclude: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person ” (Colossians 4:5-6).