Shall I give you an example? Here’s one I’ve actually heard from atheists: “Christians don’t really believe in God, because the god idea is stupid. They only go to church because they’re afraid of death/need social reassurance/were brainwashed.” Another permutation of that is that since the god idea is stupid, the only people who believe in a god are the really stupid people.
It’s a somewhat popular sentiment because, face it, once you’ve seen the illogic of religion and become an atheist, it can be hard to understand how people can still fall for that baloney, and we struggle to make sense of their irrational decision. And then we come up with what seems a simple and obvious answer — nobody can seriously accept that zombie jesus/redemption by blood sacrifice crap, right? — that also has a kind of self-centered appeal (we must be the smart ones!) and it’s hard to resist.
But it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t help our case. Most religious people are completely sincere. They honestly believe in Jesus or Mohammed or Ganesha or whatever, and you’re not going to persuade them that those beings don’t exist if you take the easy and demeaning route of simply assuming they don’t believe already, and that your job is to tell them to stop lying. You know what taking that tack makes you sound like? Like Ken Ham. Exactly like Ken Ham.
Or like that Duck Dynasty pile of perambulating guano who announced that atheists don’t exist, because calendars. We need to be better than that.
But let’s focus on Ken Ham’s bad example for now. He has a long rant up in which he announces that atheists don’t exist, for a couple of reasons.
One is that the Bible says so.
The Bible clearly teaches there are no atheists:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18–21, emphasis added).
God’s Word clearly states that He has put the knowledge of God within each of us. We all know there is a God. There are no atheists! Also, the Bible asserts it is obvious from what we see around us that God created. The universe and life did not arise by natural processes as atheists believe and assert.
Argument from the Bible says so is no more effective against someone who sees the Bible as just another badly written book than is the argument from Twilight that vampires sparkle. You can yell at me that it is written all you want, I’m just going to have to tell you that your appreciation of the quality of your sources sucks.
But there at least two other arguments imbedded in there, too. One is that Nature is evidence of God, therefore if you believe in Nature, you have to also believe in God. This is an argument that does not follow; I believe in thunder, I have heard it and have empirical evidence of its existence, but that is not an argument that I have to therefore accept my lord and savior, Thor. He has not made the necessary connection between natural processes and a supernatural cause, and the entire history of science is about the gradual revelation of natural and material causes behind phenomena. Your arguments are getting blown apart step by step, every day — what reason should we have for accepting any part of your magical man belief?
But his worst argument is this one: like the atheist example I gave at the beginning, he assumes people are dishonest agents who are presenting false beliefs for wicked and petty reasons.
Their hostility against what they know to be true explains why atheists like Dawkins are so aggressive. They know God exists—the evidence is within them and all around them. But because of their sin nature, they don’t want God. They are at war with God. In fact, they want to be their own god, which is what the devil offered Adam and Eve in the Garden about 6,000 years ago: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Our sin nature is such that we want to be our own god and not submit to the God who created us. Like rebellious little children, professed atheists cover their eyes, and put their hands over their ears, and are really crying out, “No, I refuse to believe. There is no God. I evolved. I determine what my meaning and purpose is. I refuse to believe God’s Word. I will not submit to God.”
I have no desire to be a god. I am satisfied to be my own human being, and my ideal world would be one where everyone had the opportunity to be themselves, and where no one had to submit to any oppressor, no matter how well-meaning or imaginary.
I also don’t think we’re the ones with closed eyes and ears. We’re not the ones saying one book has the whole story, and that we can close our eyes to the evidence of reality that shows where the book is wrong.