“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1).
TO DISMISS GOD FROM OUR DECISIONS IS A MOST FOOLISH THING TO DO. The reality of God is the most massive truth we’ll ever encounter, and the most consequential. It is folly to omit this truth from our thinking, as if we expected it to move out of our way.
Some individuals disregard God by adopting the intellectual position that He does not exist. These have thought the matter through and come to the conclusion that there is no God. In their conduct, they may live as if there were a God and may even adhere to a certain spirituality, but their position, at least philosophically, is that a personal God does not exist.
If God does exist, such a denial is obviously unwise. But many of us disregard Him in a way that is no less foolish. We do this when we simply conduct our lives without taking God into serious account. This is a more practical kind of atheism. We pay lip service to a God who perhaps exists, but we believe this God can be safely set aside in the actual conduct of our day-to-day affairs. He has no real impact on our lives. In Psalm 14:1, it is this kind of fool who is described. He says “There is no God” not so much by his dubious philosophy, as by his disobedient lifestyle.
There is a sense in which this kind of atheism is more arrogant than any other. In Psalm 10, for example, we are shown how presumptuous it is to disregard God: “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts” (v.4). “He has said in his heart, ‘I shall not be moved; I shall never be in adversity’ ” (v.6). “He has said in his heart, ‘God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see’ ” (v.11). “He has said in his heart, ‘You will not require an account’ ” (v.13).
When we live in this manner, we trivialize God in the most blasphemous way. Unlike the atheist who believes there is no God to be dealt with, we believe we don’t really have to deal with the God who does exist. We think that, for all practical purposes, He can be ignored. But if God is our Creator, our disregard only shows us to be foolish. It does nothing to diminish Him.
“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word darkness on the walls of his cell” (C. S. Lewis).