The world is full of brilliant fools. James Merritt explores why God calls the atheist a foolish person.
I find it fascinating that of the 41,173 verses in the Bible, one-half of one verse is given to the atheist. Of the 774,746 words in the Bible, eleven words are given to the atheist. But big things do come in small packages, and in a short statement in Psalm 14:1, we learn some great truths about the reality of God. The Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’
Here we have what the atheist says about God: “There is no God.” Then we have what God says about the atheist: “fool.” Almost as if he does not waste his breath, God just simply mutters “fool.”
This world is full of brilliant fools. There are Ph.Ds in leading universities who can intellectually understand the theory of relativity, but spiritually they don’t know their ABCs. They see a car and they believe in a manufacturer, they see a portrait and they believe in an artist, they see a book and they believe in an author; but they see a creation and refuse to believe in a Creator.
You notice in Psalm 14:1 the words “there is” are in italics. In the Hebrew text the words are not there. What the verse actually says is, “The fool has said in his heart, no God.” This is the person who wants nothing to do with God at all. He has no use for God’s person, God’s principles, God’s people, or God’s purposes.
In effect, there are two types of atheists. There is the intellectual atheist, and there is the practical atheist. There is the person who believes there is no God; that is the intellectual atheist. But then there is the person who behaves as if there is no God; that is the practical atheist. There are far more practical atheists both in church and in America than you might even realize.
Now we understand why God called such a person foolish. If a person knew there were no God, and said so, he would be wise and even courageous for telling the rest of us we were wrong. If he did not know whether there were a God, and said so, he would at least be an honest skeptic. If a person is convinced there is no God, when actually there is one, he would merely be mistaken. But the reason God calls this person foolish is because deep down he knows there is a God, and yet chooses to believe and act as if there is none.
The foolish are marked by intolerance. “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread?” (Psalm 14:4) Not only does the unbeliever attack the person of God, he attacks the people of God. Secularists, humanists, materialists, and atheists absolutely hate the devoutly Christian people. The more you love God, the more this world will hate you. Jesus said in John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.” He then went on to say in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”
The foolish are marked by indifference. “And do not call on the Lord.” (Psalm 14:4) The reason why an atheist can’t find God is the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. They do not want to find God, because if they do it will change the way they live. Psalm 14:1 tells us the unbeliever does not see God, but verse 2 tells us why, because he does not seek God. You can see the power of God by the eyes on your face, but you can only see the person of God by the eyes in your heart. The reality of God is only truly known by faith.
It is true that when it comes to God in His reality, we walk by faith and not by sight. But that’s all right, because “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) I can say, without shame, I would rather live by faith than to die in doubt.
I believe in God. But more than that, I know God through Jesus Christ His Son, and I can say today, beyond any shadow of any doubt, my God is real.