As I have mentioned in previous articles, there are many reasons why atheists do not believe. There are legitimate reasons that cause people to question the reality of God: suffering, the death of a loved one, unanswered prayers, injustice in the world, being a victim of child abuse… All these ugly realities can raise serious questions about the existence of a just and loving God. Of course, it may not be fair to blame God for the evil that human beings freely choose to do. That would be a bit like blaming the police for people committing crimes. Nevertheless, there are wounded emotions that sometimes override rational perspectives and cause people to jump to unwarranted conclusions: God is to blame because, if he exists, he is omnipotent and could have stopped the evil. As I wrote before, part of the nature of God in humanity is freedom of the will, and for God to stop people from exercising their freedom, however badly, he would have to turn them into robots and destroy what makes them human. The freedom to love and do great good is the very same freedom that allows a person to hate and do great harm. Freedom exists, and is good in itself; the outcome depends all in how you choose to use it. If freedom were not a good thing, no one would have an objection to slave trafficking.
The "You Want the Truth? You Can't Handle the Truth" Gospel.
You are an atheist and you don't believe? There is a very simple reason why you don't and it has nothing to do with evil in the world or human suffering. It also has nothing to do with reason, science, or evolutionary theories. The reason you don't believe is that God has not given you the gift of faith. If God chose you to be saved you would believe, but because he has not chosen you, he has not given you faith. We live in a world where we have exalted our freedom and our rights, but we forget that God is the judge of human souls, and if God decides that your heart is bent towards evil and you will never change, he will not give you faith or allow you to believe. "What? What you say? God is judging me as evil?" Yes he is. "What have I done that is so wrong that God would judge me?" Well, the truth is you don't love your enemies. You hate Christians. You hate conservatives (or liberals). You are angry with people who don't agree with you. You hate people who believe in traditional moral values. (You are probably even burning with anger towards me right now with turmoil inside you over what I'm saying!) But God is perfect love and Jesus said:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.- Matthew 5:43-48
Now the truth is that no one has the ability to love their enemies out of natural human strength. Only God can love the unloveable, and only God can give you the ability to love those who hate and persecute you. The fact that you don't love your enemies is the only proof you need that you are evil, just like I am. The only difference between you and me is that I know I am evil and not worthy of salvation or forgiveness, and you don't. You see, God has set the perfect standard for love, and everyone falls short of that standard. To fall short of perfection is to do and be evil. Maybe it is not intentional, for we are visceral beings, more that just intellect. We are emotion and will. But even if it is not intentional, we still cannot love others perfectly. We cannot control our own heart, and so we fall short of God's perfect nature of love. And in God's eyes, falling short a little bit, is yielding to hate, and that, my friends and enemies, is evil. We are in an age when we have dethroned God. We believe that neither God nor any man has the right to judge us. We have made ourselves our own gods. No one wants God to be the judge of human souls, so we justify ourselves and make ourselves right in our own eyes. We say things like "I try to be a good person." Well, trying isn't good enough. Trying still fails to deal with the emotions and anger and hatred in our souls. And a little bit of hate is a poison that putrefies the whole. The problem God has with you is that you will not admit that your deeds and attitudes fall short of perfect love and because of that, he cannot help you. It is like the drug addict who boldly boasts that he doesn't have a drug problem: if he doesn't admit his need, he can't be helped. Admitting the problem is the first step towards recovery. So, if you are boasting that you do no wrong, and that no one has the right to judge you, not even God, then God holds you at arm's length and refuses to give you faith. Your pride is an offense to the living God, and on that basis alone, you are judged as unworthy.
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. – John 3:19-21
You say, "That's not fair. I'm no worse than any other person." That is true. You are no worse than anyone else, but you are no better either. The point is that it is not being good that makes you worthy of eternal life, it is being honest about your weaknesses and having true sorrow over the things you do and have done that are wrong. When you hate, when you hurt others, when you are selfish, when you cheat, when you steal, when you speak badly about others behind their backs, you offend God. You fail to love. You do evil. And the evil is in your heart, so you just can't change your behavior. It is in you and it is you. The only hope you have for your soul is a cleansing that comes from God's Holy Spirit who enables you to be and become what you could not otherwise be: loving, patient, kind, long-suffering, not returning evil for evil, but loving your enemies.
You say, "Well that is all just rubbish. There is no God, and all this talk of God is utter religious nonsense. Faith is a delusion." The truth is, you do not believe because God has judged you as unworthy of his salvation. If he found you worthy, he would give you faith and reveal himself to you. But because he has not, he must have found something evil in your soul which you refuse to give up or surrender. Most likely it is that you have refused to forgive others for what they have done to you. “For if you forgive men their offenses your heavenly Father also will forgive you yours, but if you do not forgive men their offenses, neither will your Father forgive your offenses, ” – Matthew 6:14, 15. Have you held a grudge and refused to forgive? God has put you on the outside of salvation, and has judged you.
You say, "I don't believe that. It is all hocus-pocus." You wander in the delusion of empty certainty. No wonder you do not believe, for God has hidden the truth from you so that you will not believe and be saved. This is what Jesus said about you:
I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.- Matthew 11:25-27
God has not give you faith because he has judged you as unworthy of his salvation. He sees into your soul and knows your thoughts and finds them unacceptable. But it is not just your deeds and thoughts that trouble him, it is your refusal to admit your need for forgiveness or admit your powerlessness over the thoughts and desires of your own heart. If you refuse to acknowledge your evil deeds, then you blind yourself to his love and the power of his salvation. You are blind and you do not believe, but think you are justified and right, for “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death,” – Proverbs 16:25.
The problem is that you do not get to judge whether or not you are worthy of salvation, for the Creator of the Universe has the right to judge you and judge the souls of all mankind. You boast and protest, but it does no good, for you are just a mere mortal and cannot contest against the power of the Creator. God is the sovereign judge of human souls and he is not fooled. He sees right through you and knows what is wicked in you. Your only way out is to confess your sins and ask for his mercy and forgiveness. Then you will be forgiven and be given the gift of faith and find salvation and eternal life. “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out,” – John 6:37. Come to Jesus before it is too late, or be lost in your pride and your sin.