Many persons, Christians inclusive, misunderstand the proclamation in Christian Scriptures, which declares (I paraphrase):
The fool says in his heart, there is no God (Psalms 14:1; 53:1).
The conventional interpretation of this declaration is:
Atheists are fools.
So then Atheists hate Christians, assert Christians are bigoted idiots. After all, one insult deserves another.
Consider, however, the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of those very verses, which now I render in full (words boldened in brackets mine in spirit of an amplified reading of Christian Scriptures).
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They (who say `there is no God’) are corrupt (do things that are morally wrong to others), they do abominable deeds (do evil that cannot even be spoken of), there is none (of those who say, `there is no God’) that does good (Psalms 14:1).
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They (who say `there is no God’) are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none (of those who say, `there is no God’) that does good (Psalms 53:1).
It is very clear from the enumerated Scriptures that it is a person who believes in ‘rightness of not doing good’, who believes in ‘rightness of doing of evil to a neighbor’ whom God declares a fool.
We see then that as inspired by the Spirit of God, that the word, ‘fool’ is not applied to a person who finds the notion of God intellectually challenging, rather is applied to a person who refuses to submit his or her morality to the spiritual reality that all men are created by God, as such are equal in intrinsic worth. For confirmation, consider the following Scriptures.
Whoso is covering hatred with lying lips, and whoso is bringing out an evil report is a fool (Proverbs 10:18).
For the fool speaks folly, and his mind plots iniquity (his mind plots evil against his or her neighbors): to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the Lord (to teach people things that make them hate the notion of God), to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied (to starve others of the basic things that they are most in need of), and to deprive the thirsty of drink (Isaiah 32:6).
Like a patridge that hatches eggs it did not lay is the man who gains riches by unjust means. When his life is half gone, they (the riches) will desert him, and in the end he will prove to be a fool (Jeremiah 17:11).
By the way, I have shown in a prior post that, viewed with a scientific lens, the term, ‘Atheist’ is somewhat of a misnomer.
The person whom The Father calls a ‘fool’ is not the self proclaimed ‘Atheist’ or ‘Agnostic’ who is loving, kind, and just in his or her dealings with others, rather it is the person who, regardless or not of belief in existence of God, declares that he or she is a law to himself or herself, that he or she can do to others any evil he or she devices in his or her heart.
But is God right, or is God merely engaging in name calling?
Well, if a man considers that, if he so feels like, he can rape a woman, but gets upset if his own daughter is raped, what exactly should God call such a man?
If a man considers it right that he abdicates on a contract, this subsequent to receipt of consideration, and regardless of presence of capacity for fulfillment of the contract, yet yells blue murder when he is stiffed by another, what exactly should God call such a man?
If a man steals another man’s assets, yet gets into a tiff with the police, this, because they seem unable to recover goods stolen from him, what exactly should God call such a man?
God’s characterization of those who reserve the right to do wrong to others as ‘fools’ is rooted in normativeness of cognitive dissonance that they themselves display in their everyday lives.
The Father of Jesus Christ has not referred to anyone who considers the notion of God to be intellectually challenging a fool.
Only persons who consider it their right to treat others wrongly are referred to as fools by the God who has revealed Himself in Christian Scriptures.
Why does The Father call such persons fools? Because in response to their worldview, He must ensure that the harvest of evil that they reap from evil actions always is greater than whatever evil it is that they sow.
If a person who proclaims himself or herself an ‘Atheist’ or ‘Agnostic’ is loving, kind, and just in his or her dealings with others, The Father is not upset, merely seeks to reveal truth of His existence to such a person.
How then does The Father relate to the ‘Atheist’ or ‘Agnostic’ who is loving, kind, and just in his or her dealings with others?
Typically, atheists and agnostics who are loving, kind, and just in their dealings are people who are afraid of demands that, were they to acknowledge His existence, might be placed on them by God.
These people have heard of Apostles Peter, Paul, and John, and consider their lives to have been filled with lots of challenges. In an effort to avoid arrival at demands from The Father that are taxing, they hide under the belief that God does not exist, or the belief that they are not sure of existence of God. Whenever The Father finds an atheist or agnostic who is loving, kind, and just, one whom He can use for His glory, and for his or her benefit, He reveals Himself to such a person.
Upon arrival at a revelation of reality of The Father, an atheist or agnostic has a choice, either to, ‘kicking and screaming all the way’, respond to The Father (e.g. C.S. Lewis), or to at that point, consciously reject reality of The Father. In summation, inclusive of how He has related to myself, and how He relates with those who are brought up as Christians, The Father relates to atheists and agnostics in, exactly the same manner as He relates to everyone else. Whenever it becomes expedient, and the timing seems right, He reveals Himself, and the person receiving revelation of The Father has then, at that time, a decision to make.
It is not demonstration of intellectualism for a person to reject truth of which he or she is convicted in the mind.
Atheists and Agnostics who are loving, kind, and just in their dealings with others are no more than persons who are fearful of exacting nature of spiritual demands that, were they to acknowledge His existence, might be placed on them by The Father.
The invitation from The Father?
Come, I pray you, and we reason, saith Jehovah (Father of Jesus Christ), if your sins are as scarlet, as snow they shall be white, if they are red as crimson, as wool they shall be (Isaiah 1:18, YLT)!
The evidence that The Father of Jesus Christ delights in reasoning with man, does not demand faith that is not reasoned?
Hear, O mountains, the strife of Jehovah, ye strong ones — foundations of earth! For a strife is to Jehovah, with His people, and with Israel He doth reason. O My people, what have I done to thee? And what — have I wearied thee? Testify against Me (Micah 6:2–3, YLT).
The goodness of reason and knowledge teach me, for in thy commands I have believed (Psalms 119:66, YLT).
Therefore, indeed, he (Apostle Paul) was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the worshipping persons, and in the market-place every day with those who met him (Acts 17:17).
As it is with The Father of The Lord Jesus Christ, so it is with all who, like Apostle Paul, truly arrive at knowledge of God.
With The Father and all who truly know Him, all interactions revolve around honest reasoning that is rooted in integrity, and hopefully in integrity of those who engage with them in reasoning over meaning and essence of life on earth.
This post is an adaptation of a portion of Chapter 9 (Eschatology of the Bible) of my book titled, ‘True Sanctification’, which currently is available for sale on Amazon.com.