Head: It’s impossible to be an atheist

By Mark Wingfield

A recent Barna research study asked people across the nation some questions about their faith.

The metrics used in the research indicated which cities/regions in the country were most “post-Christian,” a term used to describe the loss of influence of a Christian worldview in a place where the Christian worldview used to have strong influence. Let me share with you something the study indicated that I believe to be important when engaging with non-Christians in the culture.

The study names the Springfield-Holyoke region of Massachusetts as the nation’s most post-Christian. Some of the numbers: When asked about Bible reading habits, 87% of the people living in the Springfield-Holyoke region indicated they had not read anything from the Bible in the last week. 65% answered that they had not attended church in the last week. 60% said they had never made any kind of commitment to Jesus in their lifetime. 47% said they had not prayed at all in the last week and 41% said religious faith played no significant role in their lives. While discouraging to read, the most significant statistic connected to the study is that when asked if they would define themselves as atheist, only 11% replied that they did indeed identify this way.

That means that even in the most post-Christian area in the country as determined by the Barna group, 89% still have a belief that there is a god, even if that belief isn’t in the one true God as revealed in the Holy Bible. Why is this number so high? I would like to share three reasons.

Our minds tell us there might be a god. For one, I believe most people are too smart to define themselves as atheists. An atheist is one who says, “There is no god.” That’s a pretty bold statement from someone who knows only a very small fraction of all the things there are to know in this universe.

Even the smartest, most educated person to ever live would have to admit he can’t know all that much. Can he know how many creatures exist in the depths of the seas? Can he ever say that we know for sure the number of insects crawling and flying through the rainforests on the Amazon River? Can he say without doubt what exists in space far beyond our own solar system or galaxy? Of course not. Can he then say with certainty, “I know for a fact there is no god?” Again, of course not.

Logically speaking, the premise of atheism can’t stand up against even the simplest scrutiny. Our senses tell us there must be a god. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

All a person needs to do is look around him and know that there must be a god. There is simply too much design and order in what we see around us to believe that such things could come to be without a grand designer. We taste a delicious meal, or watch a sunrise on the Skyline Drive, or feel the embrace of a child’s hug, or hear a soul-moving song, and we ask ourselves where did my ability to taste or see or feel or hear come from? Could that possibly be a random blessing from a mindless universe? And what about the objects of my enjoyment? Do I really believe a baby could be conceived and born and grow up to think and speak and love and reason simply by random chance? Surely, the answer is no. Our senses tell us there must be a god.

Our hearts tell us there is a god. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god’” (Psalm 14:1, 53:1). Why does this passage address the heart of man, and not his mind? Because in the very depths of every person, what we often refer to as the “heart of a person,” is the knowledge that God exists. He has put this knowledge of His existence within us. We can’t deny it. Over time we can try to convince ourselves there is no god so that we can live on our terms, but that is foolishness, for deep inside we all know.

In the end, even those 11% in the study can’t truly call themselves atheist. A person might be able to deceive his mind, deny what his senses reveal to him and harden his heart against God, but deep inside, that person know that God exists. You’ll never convince me otherwise.

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Mark Wingfield, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grottoes, is a columnist for The News Virginian. His column is published Saturdays.

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