April 22; Practical Atheism

2 Samuel 22; Psalms 14 & 53; 1 Samuel 26

I love reading God’s Word. I look forward every day to opening my Bible and reading what God says to me. I believe every chapter, every verse, every word is included in these precious pages for an eternal reason.

So when He inspired men to repeat a phrase, or an entire story, I sit up and take notice. I figure God must think there is something there He doesn’t want me to miss.

Today I read two psalms that are almost identical. Sources say it wasn’t unusual for musicians to adapt a song to their own style, much like contemporary artists who re-work hymns to their own styles. But why would God inspire men to include two versions of the same psalm in the Bible? I took a closer look.

Both psalms being with,”The fool says in his heart there is no God.” In reality, these fools are corrupt and vile.

I get that. People who deny the existence of God are flat out God’s enemy. How much more vile can a person be who refuses to acknowledge the Creator? That’s the definition of “fool.”

But the psalms go on and say God is looking for anyone who understands and seeks Him. They say things like, all have turned aside, all are corrupt, no one is good. Not even one.

Now wait a minute. Does the psalmist dare to put all people in the same category as a vile atheist? Even me? Say it isn’t so.

I went to some of my trusted commentators and read what they had to say concerning these psalms. The term, “practical atheism” was a common theme among the writers. Matthew Henry, on page 633 of his Commentary In One Volume, says this:

“Atheists, whether in opinion or practice, are the greatest fools in the world.”

Opinion or practice.

I guess you don’t have to verbally pronounce you believe there is no God. How you live might be expressing the same belief just as clearly.

The psalmists put people in two categories. Fools, and those who understand and seek God. I am reminded that Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. Hebrews 11 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

So I ask myself: Can I be a Christian and live like I’m not? Can I be a Christian and not read my Bible, pray, serve God, love God, and obey Him?

When I think about it, I don’t see anything in the Bible about God recognizing a mediocre, or a half-Christian. Scripture repeatedly tells us it’s all or nothing. If we’re not for God, we’re against Him. We can’t serve two masters.

God must think it’s important for us to consider whether or not we are in this with Him, or we wouldn’t be reading the same psalm twice. A fool says there is no God, either by speaking the words, or by living as though we think there is no God. A practical atheist is no less an atheist than one who proclaims “There is no God.”

So what might practical atheism look like in my life? Putting something or someone ahead of God in my life. Dishonoring God’s name. Not living a life set apart, not making disciples. Complaining, jealousy, selfishness, thinking myself more highly than I should. As I sit here and think about what practical atheism looks like, I come to realize that allowing any sin to exist in my life gives the message that I don’t really believe in God as He is presented in the Bible. Isn’t that what an atheist is?

I thank God for the latter verses of these psalms, and for the Truth of Jesus Christ. Because there was a time when I was corrupt, vile, evil, and lived like I thought there was no God. That is, until I accepted Jesus as my Savior and became His precious child.

Now, I want to live my life acknowledging the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. I want to live my life understanding and seeking Him, loving Him with all my heart, soul, and strength, diligently pursuing Him. I want to recognize sin in my life and repent of it immediately, understanding that God will not tolerate any sin.

What does your life say about God? That there is a God you love and serve, a God who you seek diligently above all else. Or does your life say that you don’t really believe in God even though your words say you do?

Practical atheism? That’s so foolish.

8 thoughts on “April 22; Practical Atheism

  1. clubschadenfreude

    Most, if not all religions, make similar claims about people who dare not believe their claims “Both psalms being with,”The fool says in his heart there is no God.” In reality, these fools are corrupt and vile.” What evidence do you have your version of the Christian god exists? Most Christians will claim the verses in Romans 1 that their god was the creator. Most, if not all, religions claim this too. how are we to know which god is the real creator?

    Practical atheism is coming to the conclusion that there are no gods because there is no evidence for them. You are an atheist too, sure that all gods but your own don’t exist. Now, why don’t you think they exist?

    1. cazehner Post author

      Thank you for your comments. I can tell you have given some thought to God and religion, which tells me God is doing a work in your heart. I’m excited about that. May I encourage you to read the Bible for itself, and ask God to reveal Himself to you? He loves to do that. I like reading the New International Version because it’s a bit easier for me to understand. The New American Standard is good, as is the Amplified Version. All the answers to your questions are in there. It usually takes me about a year to read through the Bible. But I believe if you give it a year with a sincere desire to understand it, you’ll get to know the God who loves you. You’ll get to know Jesus who died for you. And if you choose to reject Him after that, at least you’ll know Who you are rejecting. I’ve prayed for you since I read your comment yesterday. And I will continue to pray for you as God brings you to mind. I think you are on the verge of something truly amazing.

      1. clubschadenfreude

        You wish to claim that your god is doing something. I’ve asked these questions to many Christians over the years and this god has yet to show up.

        I was a Presbyterian and have read the bible from cover to cover twice, as a believer and as not. I prayed to this god to help me when I was losing my faith. As you can tell, there was no help given. Now, in the bible that we have both read, it says that your god intentionally prevents some people from accepting it, damning them for no reason other than its need to show its power (Romans 9). Is this just or fair to anyone?

        Since your god didn’t do anything, and since I did not find the answers in the bible, I am curious to know why you think that these are my results. I’ve given it many more than just a year.

        You also claim you have prayed for me. Many other Christian have claimed that same thing. And still nothing. Why would your god ignore your prayer and the prayer of at least a couple of hundred other Christians?

      2. cazehner Post author

        I hear your frustration. Let me start by addressing your interpretation of Romans 9. I believe you are referring to verse 15 where Paul quotes Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” You seem to think God is being arbitrary, like some ten year old picking his team for dodgeball. But Paul is addressing Jews who wanted to believe a Gentile had to become a Jew in order to be accepted by God. Paul is saying, if God wants to accept an uncircumcised Gentile into the family, He’ll accept an uncircumcised Gentile into the family whether you like it or not.

        Verse 18 is hard to hear. But it’s so important for all of us to understand God’s warning. Here it is: accept Jesus, and God will show you mercy. Reject Him, and your heart will hardened. God is being honest about this. With every rejection, a heart grows harder still. It’s like the parent who says to a child, “If you don’t obey me I will spank you.” It doesn’t say “I’m going to spank you because I feel like it.” God is saying, “If you don’t accept me, I will harden your heart.” It doesn’t say, “I’m going to harden your heart because I feel like it.”

        He hardens hearts of those who reject Him. BUT… I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That refers to the “whosoever” of John 3:16.

        We might not agree with it, but Paul is reminding us we’re not in charge. God can and does save the hardest of hearts that turn to Him. He always forgives confessed sin. That’s the point of Romans 9.

        Not knowing your circumstances, I can’t address your time in God’s Word, or your prayer concerning your faith. I don’t know what hoops you wanted God to jump through that He didn’t jump through. But just because He didn’t play by your rules doesn’t mean He didn’t “show up.” What makes you think He didn’t answer your prayer, or the prayers of the couple of hundred Christians who are praying for you? If you think about it, I bet you would recognize the countless times He has nudged you, maybe saved you from a close call on the highway, when you heard a song that spoke to your heart, or stood in awe of a sunset. The times you have longed to have that relationship with Him are answers to the prayers of those Christians.

        But God won’t force you to love Him. He can jump up and down right in front of your face, but He will always give you the choice. He might not be the God you think you want Him to be. But He is the God you need.

        I don’t expect my words to change your thinking. I still believe the answers were written to you by God Himself in the pages of the Bible. Please get it out and read it again, and ask God to break through the barriers you’ve put up. Even if you just read the New Testament account of Jesus’ life on earth. Don’t turn your back on Him when He is so obviously trying to get your attention.

        I will continue to pray for you. Make that a couple of hundred and one of us who are.

      3. clubschadenfreude

        Hello Connie,

        Like most Christians, you want me to believe that you and only you have the correct interpretation of the bible. None of you can show this to be the case in that no person calling themselves a Christian can do what the bible promises that baptize believers in Christ as savior can do. Perhaps you can explain why I should believe your version?

        Romans 9 does show that this god is indeed arbitrary. In Romans, Paul is addressing the members of the Roman church (as he does to the members of the Ephesian church, etc). He is not speaking to Jews, he is speaking to Christians (“7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.“) who believe that the Jews are wrong “n other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” In that you are trying to misrepresent what is in Romans 9, I have to wonder about your conclusions. In this ““I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” This god is not saying that it will accept anyone it wants, but that it will accept only those who it chooses, quite a different statement. “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?”

        You seem to be ignoring parts of Romans 9 wholesale. That isn’t surprising considering what it says.

        Again Connie, verse 18 and 20-22, don’t say what you claim. It doesn’t say “accept Jesus and you will be shown mercy” and reject him and your heart will be hardened”. It says that this god makes some people able to accept Jesus and makes some people unable to do so. It isn’t the action of the people who cause their inability to accept jesus, it is this god’s. That you would try to blatantly to lie about what is actually said is disturbing. Do you think I can’t read the bible and know what it says? This god isn’t saying “I’m going to spank you because I feel like it” it is saying that I’ve made you unable to behave and will punish you for what I’ve done. And it does indeed say “I’m going to harden your heart because I feel like it” (Romans 22). You have made up the precondition to accept Jesus. It appears no where in Romans 9. Paul is making the case that since the Jews rejected JC as messiah, then this god must have intended for this to happen, not that this god failed at convincing his supposed “chosen people”.

        You are right, 1 John 1 does say that confession of sins will get forgiveness, but that assumes that one accepts this god, believes in “sin”, etc. If we can’t ask for forgiveness because this god made it this way, then we are damned for no reason of our own. In that there is no evidence for your god, whatever Paul says is simply his opinion. You have done quite a job of ignoring the parts of Romans 9 you don’t like. This god intentionally makes people unable to accept it, so no, it doesn’t “save the hardest of hearts”, since it makes those hearts hard in the first place. No matter how you might wish otherwise, Romans 9:22 is in the bible.

        I am not surprised that you try to evade an answer on why your god doesn’t answer prayers of Christians losing their faith. You try a very common tactic of blaming the victim. You have to lie and pretend it is my fault that your god has failed. You also try to claim that it really did “show up” but funny how I didn’t notice this god doing anything at all. Hmmm, what makes me think that this god didn’t answer a prayer? Well, Connie, I’m an atheist so your god failed. And funny how the same thing happens when Christians like you claim to pray that I won’t be an atheist and decades later, yep, I’m still sure that there are no gods. Now we have you claiming that any possible occurrence is your god “nudging” me. You are reduced to making claims of any other theist, that any random act is “really” their god. No one needs a god, especially your version of you god, to like a song or find a sunset pretty. All of us non-Christians feel those things, some attribute them to other gods and some attribute them to our brains and how we evolved. And how many people, Connnie, are killed in car crashes that this god of yours doesn’t do a thing about? All you have is coincidence. And I have no “longing” for a relationship with a genocidal ignorant god. I’ve read the bible, I know how this god is claimed to be. So again, prayers have failed.

        Per Romans 9, yes your god does force people to love him, and if we are to believe the bible, controls people’s minds without hesitation. This god has not “jumped up and down in front of me”. IF I can’t notice this god, it is this god’s failure, not mine. And no, this god isn’t what I “need”. I get along quite nicely without it; billions do.

        Your words don’t change my thinking because you use the same arguments that any theist would use, and *you* don’t believe them. And when I read the bible again and ask your god, and it fails, what will your excuse be? Well, from what you’ve already written, you’ll try to blame me. You will try to claim it wasn’t your prayer that failed, it was somehow me being stronger than some god you’ve invented.

    2. cazehner Post author

      Once again I want to thank you for your comment. I certainly am aware that there are many religions believing they have the corner on the truth. But truth is either true or it’s not. So here is what I know to be true:
      God says this about Himself:
      I AM. (pretty self explanatory, I think. God doesn’t say I am one of them.)
      I am holy.
      I am compassionate.
      I am gracious.
      I am slow to anger.
      I am abounding in love.
      I am faithful.
      I am forgiving.
      (If I didn’t know anything else about God than these things, I’d want to follow Him)
      The Bible tells us God is Spirit. God is eternal. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator.
      The Bible has so many checks and balances, and extra-historical evidence that proves its accuracy.
      And the Bible tells us “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

      There can only be one truth. And if you believe the Bible, you can’t believe in any other god. Let’s say I’m wrong. That all religions are somehow true. That everyone will go to heaven, or no one will. I look at just what God said about Himself, and I still want to follow Him.

      I’m honest enough to know I am a vile sinner. I know that I don’t stand a chance against a holy God. But, unlike many other religions, the Bible tells me I don’t have to stand against Him. He wants me beside Him. He died Himself so that can happen. And I gratefully accept it.

      I have no problem with you calling me an atheist because I don’t believe in the gods of other religions. The answer to your question about why I don’t think other gods exists is, because I believe in the God of the Bible.

      Keep searching! The God I know is the God who will be found when you seek Him with all your heart!

      1. clubschadenfreude

        In your second post, you say you know the truth. What you have presented is your opinion that you know the truth and the truth is your version of what the bible says. Your god does say I am one of them, when he is speaking in Genesis “22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” Who is the “us”? What you don’t seem to realize is that the bible is a set of claims, but there is no evidence to support them. Allah says that he is holy, etc, does that make the Muslim’s god as real as yours? And as we all know, actiosn speak louder than words. This is the god that commanded the genocide of tribes, and then said that the young virgin girls should be taken as war booty for his temple and his believers. Is it compassionate to murder a girl’s family, Connie? Is it kind? Where is this god gracious, having manners and kindness? This god murdered all humans in the flood after it left humanity to fend for itself and took a tantrum when they did what his god made them to do. Is this slow to anger? Is this god’s murdering a man who touched his ark to keep it from falling “slow to anger” and who murdered two people for not giving it enough money, Sapphira and Anais? Is this love? And we also have the problem that we have this god failing the definition of love in 1 Corinthians. This god boasts repeatedly at Job and causes Job’s family to be murdered by supposedly its archenemy. This faithless god works with its supposed archenemy again to corrupt Christians after all non-christians are murdered by Jesus in Revelation (Revelation 19-21). This god is envious of any attention paid to anyone but it.

        You claim that the bible has checks and balances. It does not, but if you wish to claim it, can you show these? There is no evidence to support any of the essential claims in the bible; no flood, no genesis, no tower of babel, no fantastic palaces and temples, no exodus, and no jesus Christ, son of God. What we have are reports of what Christians believed but no contemporary reports of any of the events claimed. There is no evidence of 600,000+ people wandering around an area the size of half of Pennsylvania for 4 decades, not even one latrine has been found despite decades of looking.

        And that a book claims it is true doesn’t mean it is true. You rely on a presupposition that your god exists and that it had anything to do with this book full of contradictions and fantastic claims. You also fail in assuming that there are no other gods other than yours with your claim hat if your personal claim is wrong, then no one’s is.

        Connie, you might want to read your bible yourself again, as you recommended to me. You can claim to be a “vile sinner” if you want; there is no reason to believe it. I’m not a “vile sinner” though I’m sure you are sure I am. I am not afraid of something that does nothing, an impotent and evidently imaginary being that has to have humans excuse its failures. I can understand the desire to believe; people you trust told you this story was true and it is very tempting to believe that you have a magical friend that agrees with you and only you.

        Unfortunately, what you want isn’t always real. That you are an atheist is a fact. You want to believe that you and you alone are right. And again, you finish with an attempt to blame the victim, that it will be my fault if your god doesn’t appear since you have the out of “well, it must have bene because she didn’t seek my god with all of her heart.” That’s a lie you tell yourself.

      2. cazehner Post author

        Wow. What just happened here? If you are looking for a fight you have come to the wrong person. I will not be bullied into a war of words, especially with someone who is not interested in listening. You obviously think you have all the answers and want to use my blog as your platform. I’m just not going to be a part of it. I am sharing your replies today if for no other reason than to bring this full circle, as an example of what God was saying through David’s psalms. But I will not be sharing any further replies from you. You are right to say I am “blaming the ‘victim'” (interesting choice of words). Because you will be held accountable for what you believe. As will I. I will still pray that you let go of the hate, and accept what Jesus died to give you.

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