1. The fool speaks about God (v. 1).
- In this passage, the part “There is” is not present. So in the Hebrew the passage reading, “The fool says in his heart, ‘No God!’
- What is a fool? Psalm 14 and 53 make mention that he is one who says there is no God, but Romans 1:18-23 goes into more detail. Those who deny the existence or influence of God have not done so because they just did not know nor have enough evidence. They did so because they “suppressed the truth.” They had evidence of his “eternal power and divine nature” clearly, and are without excuse.
- The result is that they failed to “honor God or give thanks to Him.” They may have been thankful, but they were only thankful in the nebulous sense, not realizing or being so self-appropriated that they did not believe thankfulness needs an object. They rejected the Creator for being in awe of creation.
- One may ask, “Wait, I know some very moral atheists!” As do I, but even acknowledging a sense of common morality among the cultures should give us pause. Where did this common sense of morality come from? Some would deny that this comes from an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God that’s represented in the Bible—but it is a question worth addressing. If there is no overarching moral standard that a Creator lays out that we all in our consciences believe regarding even the notion of a right or wrong, then how do we have that notion to begin with?
- That notion is not because of lack of evidence, but because of suppression, a lack of honor, and a failure to thank the God who made and wired. Since we have to worship something, we go to the created order. Ultimately, the god that we worship becomes us. We worship something that brings us absolute ‘truth,’ which is why the atheists deny one absolute truth for another to live their lives around.
2. God speaks about the fool (v. 2-3).
- The fool looks up, shakes his fist to the sky (figuratively or literally) and says, “There is no God! You have not made yourself known.” It’s foolish and worthy of pity.
- Yet, God is looking down on a creation where Psalm 8 can come into play: “What is man that you are mindful of us?”
- Those who deny God may (but not always) feel a sense of liberation, and feel they may have more ‘education’ and knowledge because they aren’t trusting in that which they cannot see, but only trusting in what they themselves can observe.
- Yet, they are missing a tremendous piece of the puzzle. Notice the parallelism in verse 2: “To see if there are any who understand // who seek after God.” Many atheists and agnostics will say, “I will search the created order to find evidence of a God, then I will seek after him.”
- In reality, the burden of proof is not on us, but on them to prove no God exists, no miracles could be performed. Simply saying, “There’s no God to speak, to pray to, the Bible’s a sham, miracles are illusions by charlatans” is not enough. One’s conscience can be so seared that any notion of the supernatural will be categorically dismissed because of a presupposition in their minds that “I believe in super natural things (from a molecular to a galactic level) but not supernatural things (God, resurrections, angels, etc.).”
- Atheism is a belief system—they run by faith that no God exists. They themselves show an arrogance in being all-knowing both in time, space, and eternity. They arrogantly and foolishly believe there is no one to pray to, when they only rely on their limited scope (believing they are ‘big enough’ to have the whole scope).
- This is where the corruption comes in. They live in an arrogance, a self-righteous worldview of believing they have enough authority and sit at a significant vantage point==when in reality “they do not understand.”
- But what about the moral atheists—no one does good, not even one?
3. Why is he called a fool (v. 4-6)?
- Atheists will disagree that they are in great terror—at least those who speak on the outside. I wonder though, for those who will find themselves alone at night in the darkness, alone with their thoughts, without the fueling of other like-minded atheists who feed their hatred of God and all the things and people who belong and confess Him—are their consciences so seared that they really have convinced themselves there is no God, or are they screaming louder and louder to try to convince themselves of something their heart and souls are saying otherwise?
- In 21 years of ministry, many have come to me and told me of their struggles with authorities in the home and in the church, and it gave them a crisis of faith that was projected onto God. Why? All have said in various ways, “I’m having trouble with this earthly authority (father, mother, pastor, etc.), and it makes me question the love and care of the notion of a Heavenly Father.” When that seed begins to be planted and take root, then the ‘evidence’ of what is seen will trump any possible evidence of what is not seen. And it’s understandable—we must be sure that we who are in Christian authority in the house of God and in our homes are living out the gospel.
4. The salvation that comes for God’s people (v. 7).
- Salvation has come out of Zion—Jesus Christ (Romans 9:1-5). We can rejoice because we all, either theoretically or practically, were/are atheists. Are we living as if God does not exist? The empty tomb serves notice that a loving, holy, and just God does indeed exist. Let us not take advantage of His patience (Romans 2:4-5), for while it is great and He puts up with the many foolish both inside and outside the church, His patience is not unlimited. Turn to Christ, trust in His good work upon the cross. May the terror God gives to the atheist lead them to the terror Christ took at the cross to alleviate the terror of eternity to come!