The Psychology of Atheism

January 16, 2014 admin

question-sign“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 men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

If we were to conduct a “person on the street interview” posing the question, “Why do Christians believe in God?” what responses would you expect?

If my experience is any indication – I suspect yours too – we would hear the following: Christians believe because they were conditioned being raised in a religious home; or, they believe because they lack the courage to deal with the reality of life; or, being born in North America, they are culturally predisposed to faith in God; or believers are really just superstitious and really want God to be out there somewhere.

As a Christ-follower, I’d have to declare my own bias: I do want God to exist. That’s part of my worldview.

I believe that life would be meaningless without God, and like believers in every era, faith in Christ deals with my existential guilt. Additionally, in the Scriptures I recognize that God has an overarching purpose for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

But none of those beliefs proves the existence of God.

However, what does provide evidence for His existence is the creation we witness every day – its order, beauty, function, and complexity silently but forcefully declaring the certainty of His all-powerful sovereignty, His necessary Being, His eternal existence, His righteous “otherness”. Every day, the physical universe provides each of us a panoramic experience of the goodness and character of God, or hint at, as another version states, “all the things that make Him God” (Romans 1:20, New Century Version).

Paul says that there is really no such thing as an atheist – one who denies God’s existence. For those who insist that He does not exist, Romans 1 infers this alternative: they know differently, but they too have a bias: God is the greatest hurdle to that person’s self-determination.

In other words there is as much psychological pressure for the atheist as there is for the theist.

The ugly little secret of atheism is this: the “faith position” is not so much intellectual, but psychological – a problem of the will. And as a result, the one who denies God is guilty of twin sins that cause God’s anger to boil over: suppressing the truth about God, and refusing to thank and honour Him.

Takeaway: Am I prepared to engage in conversation with those who identify themselves as atheists? Can I push the point of God’s existence by way of common sense arguments? Robin Collins, PhD says it this way: “These are inflationary times, and the cost of atheism has just gone up.”