Why Atheists Are ‘Fools’
They say there are no atheists in the foxhole. Maybe there are a few, but there are fewer when death is certain. And none once the final curtain falls.
God’s Word declares, “The fool hath said in his heart ‘there is no God’” (Psalm 14).
For three decades, until his death in 1953, Josef Stalin was the mass-murdering atheist dictator of Soviet Russia.
He was also a fool.
In his 1994 book, Can Man Live Without God, famed Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias recounts a story he heard firsthand from British Journalist Malcom Muggeridge “that stirred [him] then and still does even yet.”
Muggeridge had collaborated with Svetlana Stalin, Josef Stalin’s daughter, on a BBC documentary about her God-hating father. She recounted his last act of defiant rebellion against the Creator: “As Stalin lay dying, plagued with terrifying hallucinations, he suddenly sat halfway up in bed, clenched his fist toward the heavens once more, fell back upon his pillow, and was dead.”
“His one last gesture,” observed Zacharias, “was a clenched fist toward God, his heart as cold and hard as steel.”
Thankfully most atheists are not monsters like Stalin. Many are well-behaved citizens in good standing, some quite charming and even thoughtful. At the same time, in my experience with atheists, I’ve encountered more than once an inexplicable, incongruent and visceral hatred for the very God they imagine does not exist.
The apostle Paul long ago explained how this could be. Regardless of whatever they may tell themselves and others, the truth of God’s existence “is plain to them” because “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” (Romans 1:19-20).
Yet excuses they make.
Psalm 19:1 likewise observes: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
The manifest intentionality and fine-tuning of all creation reveals design of breathtaking complexity. The Creator is of incalculable intelligence and infinite splendor. As I see it, atheism provides a case study in willful suspension of disbelief.
Wouldn’t the atheist “suspend belief”? you might ask.
No, the phrase is properly “suspension of disbelief.” It is defined as “a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.”
In the case of the atheist, the unbelievable notion they choose not to disbelieve is that somehow everything came from nothing, that God does not exist, even as knowledge of His being is indelibly written on every human heart and proved by all He has made.
Be they theist, atheist or anti-theist, on this nearly all scientists agree: In the beginning the universe was not. There was no time, space or matter. There wasn’t even emptiness, only nothingness. Then: bang! Everything. Nonexistence became existence. Nothing became, in an instant, something and our inconceivably vast and finely tuned universe governed by the laws and constants of physics and chemistry flowered into existence.
The cosmos was not.
And then it was.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Eric Metaxas notes:
The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces — gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ nuclear forces — were determined less than one-millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction — by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000 — then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp. … It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?
Secular materialists claim that we can’t attribute fine tuning to a creative intelligence — that such explanation is a “God of the gaps” explanation and, therefore, must be banished from the realm of scientific inquiry. They demand that anything beyond the known natural is off-limits. Atheists attribute all of existence to, well, nothing. It just kind of happened. Genesis 1:1 of the materialist bible might read: “In the beginning nothing created the heavens and the earth.” Even in the material world, that’s just plain silly. Nothing plus nothing equals something? Zero times zero equals everything?
Their fallback is to suggest that, against the evidence of cosmology, our universe has yo-yo’d in and out of existence for eternity past or something. Or that, wait! There are gazillions of unseen universes, and ours is one of the fine-tuned ones, and … quantum randomness or something to get things started! Yeah!
And yet despite all these smoke and mirrors, the evidence goes right on pointing strongly to the conclusion that the cosmos could not have existed for eternity past, that it is burning up, winding down as entropy does its slow work, and no slowing of the cosmic expansion and any subsequent collapse (if any such reversal is even in the cards) can reverse the inexorable work of the second law of thermodynamics.
And so where does this leave us? Cosmology itself suggests that there was a non-natural time and place before natural time and space. That which preceded the natural was, necessarily, “beyond the natural” and, therefore, was, is and forever shall be “supernatural.”
Reader, meet God.
In short: the Big Bang blows atheism sky high.
Fred Hoyle is the atheist astronomer who coined the term “Big Bang.” He once confessed that his atheism was “greatly shaken” by the undisputed scientific evidence supporting suggesting that the universe had a beginning and was fine-tuned. He said that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.”
Albert Einstein was not a committed theist. He wavered and made conflicting remarks about God. But he is often dishonestly characterized as having been an atheist. In fact, he described God-denial as foolishness, and once said, “The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who – in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’ – cannot hear the music of the spheres.”
“I’m not an atheist,” added Einstein. “The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”
Illustrious NASA scientist (and agnostic) Dr. Robert Jastrow (1925-2008) put it this way: “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Yes, with time and chance, even science may eventually catch up to God’s Word.
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).