01 April 2008

April 1: Happy (?) Atheists' Day — Plus....

by Dan Phillips
To the choirmaster. Of David.
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."
They are corrupt,

they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good
(Psalm 14:1)
It takes a particular kind of belligerent fool to look at creation and refuse to acknowledge his Creator. Confronted with an avalanche of evidence from without and within himself, he suppresses it all (Romans 1:18ff.). In his heart, he knows there is a God; so he shouts the louder, and bellows the more emphatically his assurance of unfaith — and is made a moron (ἐμωράνθησαν, emōranthēsan; Romans 1:22).

But he shouldn't have the day all to himself, should he?

What of the man who may or may not be "religious," but has simply settled down into his "comfort zone"? He hears warnings and rebukes, he knows that he doesn't actually exactly know 99.9% of the Bible, so he doesn't actually exactly know what's in it... but he just doesn't care? One day his span of grace will run out, disaster will overtake him utterly and without remedy (Proverbs 1:24-32), for "the complacency of fools destroys them" (v. 32). What of him?

Or what of the man so busy talking that he never listens, and never hears — not even the word of God (Proverbs 10:8)?

Or what of the man with the giant chip on his shoulder, to whom no slight is slight (Proverbs 12:16)?

Or what of the woman who uses her God-given verbal abilities to tear down her husband (Proverbs 14:1), rather than encourage and help him (12:4)?

Or what of that young man who (at thirteen, fifteen, eighteen, twenty) feels that he has amassed such deep and seasoned sagacity that the wisdom of the Fifth Commandment has little to say to him (Proverbs 15:5, 20)?

Or what of the man so in love with his straying from God that nothing can part him from it (Proverbs 17:12; 27:22), no matter how repugnant his defection truly is (26:11)?

Or what of the man so sure of himself that he doesn't even have to hear another's full sentence before answering him (Proverbs 18:13)?

Or what of the man who goes his own way and follows his own passions, and then blames God for the disaster that follows (Proverbs 19:3)?

Or what of the man to whom no voice is more persuasive, commanding, nor compelling than that of his own heart (Proverbs 28:26)?

Or what of the man whose greatest social guiding light is the imperative to "let it all hang out," fully venting every passion and temper and emotional storm that blows (Proverbs 29:11)?

What of the man who takes to the pulpit, but sees fit to use to communicate anything and everything but the Word of God, because he imagines that isn't his "calling" (Jeremiah 8:7-9; 23:29-32)?

Or what of the man who never gives thought nor effort to being ready for the coming of Christ at any moment (Matthew 25:1-13)?

Or what of the man whose car bears the bumper sticker "He who dies with the most toys wins" — and he believes it (Luke 12:16-20)?

Or what of the man who can look at the Cross of Christ, and still think that anyone can contribute anything to his salvation — except the sin from which Christ came to save him (Galatians 3:1)?

Or what of the man who can't begin to point to any specific Biblical wisdom nor direction for his daily life (Ephesians 5:17)?

Or what of the man who imagines that fruitless faith can be saving faith (James 2:20)?

Or what of the man or woman who hears the words of Christ, but does nothing about them (Matthew 7:24-27)?

Or what of the man or woman, religious or irreligious, who does not see radical submission to the person and Word of God as foundational to all of thought and life (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10)?

Ah, April 1st. Many are your celebrities!

God help them.

Dan Phillips's signature

65 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of Noah...(Mt. 24:37)

Daryl said...

Happy Atheists Day...

You're such a hater Dan. Jesus loves everyone.

DJP said...

Oh no, not me. I hate haters.

(c;

donsands said...

"He who dies with the most toys wins"

There's the bumper sticker of the 80's. I think.

Very well done post. I was thinking how impossible it really is to repent, believe, and then love Christ. It has to start with God. We are absolutely without hope, and dead in our foolishness and pride. "But God..." Eph. 2:4

Hadassah said...

What a lot of fools surround us. Great post!

DJP said...

"Surround us"? I suppose. The one that bothers me is that big honking one I just saw in the mirror, though.

Daryl said...

You hate...? Oh Dan, that's just not helpful, not helpful at all. This isn't really an interesting conversation anymore.

You gotta stop taking that Bible literally, it'll just cause division...and people might laugh at you.
...'cause they love Jesus, they just don't get you.

DJP said...

Wow{3}.

Daryl said...

"The one that bothers me is that big honking one I just saw in the mirror, though."

Oh...so you've got the same mirror I have then? I saw that guy this morning too...

Hadassah said...

I don't know what mirror you are looking in. All I see is glory being transformed to glory when I look in my mirror! ;-)

Lighthearted tone intended here. Please refrain from taking too seriously.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I do take it seriously, hadassah. That's what you SHOULD see...

Daryl said...

Hadassah...

Come on!! You can't believe that, what about where Paul says...oh, sorry, this is a lighthearted thread isn't it...

Happy Atheists Day!! :)

(Mr. Dialectic...I see both, one's just a little clearer to me...if you know what I mean)

Matt said...

Busy day at work today, Daryl?

Great post, Dan. My favourite part was the white teeth graphic beside the "What of the man who takes to the pulpit, but sees fit to use to communicate anything and everything but the Word of God, because he imagines that isn't his "calling" (Jeremiah 8:7-9; 23:29-32)? sentence. Whoever could they belong to?

Osteensibly, they belong to nobody in particular. If they did, then you'd really be a hater.

pastorbrianculver said...

Good post!! I have been reaching out to some atheist (and even some "professing christians") on my blog. Today is a day for them!! Unfortunately, that is all it is to them. It is a day. Not a day to give God all the glory, not a day to sing praises to His Name, and not a day to humbly walk with Him. Nope, it is just a day.
Thank you for this post, it was enjoyable to read!

Strong Tower said...

For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves!

ezekiel said...

DJP,

Aren't you glad that what He sees is a different picture? Now that is really Grace and Mercy.

Isaiah 61:10


10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Great Post!

DJP said...

MattOsteensibly, they belong to nobody in particular. If they did, then you'd really be a hater.

We have the smartest readers on the internet.

greglong said...

Please, Lord, let me be the right kind of fool.

1 Corinthians 3:18-23

greglong said...

"I pity the athiest who doesn't read this post."

Signed,
Mr. T

DJP said...

Today's Spelling Lesson

(tap, tap)

Attend, please:

An "atheist" is someone without (faith in) God; a (without) + theos (God)

An "athiest" is someone who is "athier" than anyone else.

That is all.

Thank you.

As you were.

Joel said...

DJP,

I think you mean James 2:20 (Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?) and not James 1:20 (for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.).

DJP said...

Argh; absolutely. Thanks, I'll go fix.

VcdeChagn said...

Next, on this episode of April Fools jokes that aren't

Flying spaghetti monster statue at tennessee courthouse.

http://www.crossville-chronicle.com/homepage/local_story_084161126.html?keyword=leadpicturestory

If I knew how to embed a url in blogger, I would.

Google "Flying Spaghetti Monster" and Tennessee Courthouse

Daryl said...

So an athiest atheist is someone who really REALLY doesn't believe in God, as compared the the run-of-the-mill atheist who just doesn't believe in God...

Matt...yeah, you got me, it's pretty slow around here...

chris said...

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is actually a Facebook thing. I believe their point is that if you have to believe in something "ridiculous" that you can't prove exists, you might as well believe in something whose weapons (wet noodles) would make wars much less deadly.

Any time someone makes something foolproof, fools go out of their way to prove their efforts insufficient.

frickfricker said...

I'm just not into doctrine.

I do believe in God... He's there with his guitar and forlorn lover look, brushing his dreads back and looking at me...
(Thank god modern praise songs can build a God I'm comfortable with!)

Whaddyagot for apatheticos?

DJP said...

I'm just not into doctrine.

Me neither. I think all that matters is to worship the virgin-born, fully-God and fully-man in one hypostatic union, sinless, incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, who lived a life of perfect righteousness, died under the wrath of God as a substitutionary atonement for guilty sinners, was buried, rose bodily from the grave on the third day, ascended to the right hand of God, and is able to save to the uttermost all who draw near to God through him.

Not doctrine!

Strong Tower said...

ff- here:

El Kabong

Stefan said...

The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" has been around for a while. Its proponents call themselves "pastafarians." (I'm not making this up!) Their intention is to ridicule the "myths" we religious types adhere to. (I suppose they're equal-opportunity scoffers at true and false religions alike, but it undoubtedly originated as a response to Christians.)

No matter. April Fool's or not, the nations may scoff, but the sovereign Lord will have the last laugh.

Marie4thtimemom said...

Alrighty then.

Ahem.

This verse jumped out at me in my reading this morning:

2 Samuel 14:14: Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.

Just thought I'd share that. Personally, I can't stand feeling estranged from the Lord for 5 minutes at a time; I can't imagine what an athiest's life must be like. Kinda sad and frustrating that they can't/won't see His arms open to them....

Anywho, carry on then.

The Doulos said...

So while were talking atheists (as opposed to athiests) let me pose a question. Which is the true atheist: the person who claims no belief in God, or the person who claims to believe in God but lives as if there is none?

I'm teaching a Biblical worldview class to adults, we talked about this last week. Surveys indicate that less than 5% of Americans claim the title of atheist. But a much larger percentage, including many of those with some sort of religious affiliation, live in such a manner as to be practical atheist.

So who's the bigger fool? The one who claims there is no God, or the one who claims there is a God and lives like a fool in spite of that claim?

Stefan said...

Marie:

The atheist probably doesn't care about it the way we do. I suppose there could be a profound existential despair, if they really actually stopped and thought about their condition; but I guess it doesn't normally happen, otherwise we should expect to see a huge revival.

Stefan said...

Dan:

What about the fool who thinks he believes in God—or some kind of transcendent deity—but tries to approach Him through every avenue other than the divinity of Jesus Christ?

That seems to be an increasingly common category these days....

Stefan said...

...The divinity of Jesus Christ, as set forth in Scripture, I hasten to add—and both the Old and New Testaments, at that.

DJP said...

The DoulosSo who's the bigger fool? The one who claims there is no God, or the one who claims there is a God and lives like a fool in spite of that claim?

I'd say the latter. Our fathers called them "practical atheists," if memory serves. I think that's the category most often (if not solely) in mind in the Psalms. View denied the existence of any gods whatever. "There is no God" really means "There is no God I have to worry about."

Rick Frueh said...

"So who's the bigger fool? The one who claims there is no God, or the one who claims there is a God and lives like a fool in spite of that claim?"

I'm declaring it a tie!

DJP said...

lol

Photo finish?

VcdeChagn said...

The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" has been around for a while.

Yes, but the flying spaghetti monster statue (deliberately not capitalized, because that's offensive to pastafarians :D )is NEW.

Me neither. I think all that matters is to worship the virgin-born, fully-God and fully-man in one hypostatic union, sinless, incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, who lived a life of perfect righteousness, died under the wrath of God as a substitutionary atonement for guilty sinners, was buried, rose bodily from the grave on the third day, ascended to the right hand of God, and is able to save to the uttermost all who draw near to God through him.

You forgot "But only those totally depraved, unconditionally elected, atoned for, effectually called, and perseverant sinners."

you're slipping. :D

Bryan Riley said...

Praise God He helps us all.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Atheist's have their own (un)holy trinity:

1. Friedrich Nietzsche(father)
2. Richard Dawkins(son)
3. Natural selection(spirit)

NoLongerBlind said...

Dan,

I like the post, but, I submit that today is also a day for those in Christ to "celebrate", at least according to 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

In other words, according to Paul's rebuke in chapter 4, verses 6-13, we should all gladly consider ourselves "Fools for Christ"!

Soli Deo Gloria

Cindy Swanson said...

Wonderful post...wish I had thought of connecting April fool's Day with God's definitions of a fool! As my late Texan pastor dad used to say, "That'll preach."

threegirldad said...

Today's Spelling Lesson

(tap, tap)

Attend, please:


"'i' before 'e' except after 'c' -- also in 'neighbor' and 'weigh'"

So much for mnemonic devices. As you were...

The Doulos said...

A fool is a fool is a fool. No need to create categories of greater or lesser foolishness. All the categories of fool we need are explained in the Scriptures, particularly in Proverbs as Dan has listed so many of here.

Or to paraphrase Forrest Gump: Foolish is as foolish does.

the postmortem said...

Dan,

In your post, you reference the word "ἐμωράνθησαν", transliterated "emōranthēsan" and made a parallel to to our English word "moron". You recognized Paul was using that Greek word referring to atheists, thus justifying your calling them "morons".

But is this correct?

My Webster's dictionary defines a moron as "a feebleminded person or mental defective who has a potential mental age of between 8 and 12 years..." (which is what I think people mean these days), Thayer and Smith define that greek word as, "to be foolish, to act foolishly". Feeblemindedness and stupidity (slow-mindedness) are both very different than foolishness, though often (and wrongly) understood to be synonymous. I don't think it's true that that Greek word means the same thing in modern English as it did in Paul's day.

In D.A. Carson's book "Exegetical Fallacies" he classifies this type of mistake as semantic anachronism: "when a late use of a word is read back into earlier literature". Interestingly, he makes his first example "dunamis" in Romans 1:16, since preachers often conflate it with the current meaning of the word "dynamite" when that (wasn't even created yet) clearly wasn't Paul's intent.

Getting back to the matter at hand...

In the context of what Paul is talking about in Romans 1, he's certainly not reprimanding the unbeliever for not being smart; he takes them to task for a foolish lifestyle of idolatry and unnatural sexuality. Is he not?

Thus, your opening claim that atheists are morons seems to me to be unnecessarily inflammatory. At worst, it runs the risk of calling someone else "raca", or empty-headed, when we should actually say they are foolishly wasting their life on evil pursuits.

RememberPolycarp said...

To "honor" their day, I wore my bright red t-shirt that reads:
"God does not believe in atheists; therefore, athesits do not exist". I thought today would be a good day to do some food shopping at my local Trader Joes store (a so. cal thing for those of you who might be unfamiliar with this chain); this particulalr store tends to attract a more left-leaning customer base for some reason, although there tends to be that feel, to some degree in all of them. I found myself engaged in three "conversations" about my shirt and my reason for wearing it today of all days (got a very nasty look from a gal boasting a PETA shirt...wonder why???). Hey, I was missional today--whaddayaknow!

DJP said...

The Postmortem — Of course you're right about the dangers of committing semantic anachronism. However, here it was a wordplay, and was not presented as a precise philological explanation — any more than Exodus 2:10. (This isn't my Greek blog.)

My Collins unabridged gives a first definition for "moron" of "a foolish or stupid person." That works.

And no, Romans 1:22 does not come in an immediate context of idolatry and immorality to the exclusion of the noetic effects of sin; see the immediately-preceding verses.

As to the rest, it's okay with me if it irritates atheists to find that their faith-position has made them stupid — morons, even. I don't find Scripture to be overly concerned with flattering atheists, idolaters, or other suppressors of God's revelation, or with protecting their feelings. In fact, I observe a good deal of taunting (cf. 1 Kings 18:27).

Stefan said...

It just occurred to me...we are fools for Christ, who preach the folly of the Gospel.

In Shakespeare's plays (e.g., King Lear), wasn't it the fool who saw the truth of a situation clearly?

Just a thought....

RememberPolycarp said...

Good point Stefan! It just may very well be that ol' Willie was familiar with this verse, and that he possibly (I say this with strong hesitation) held a secret desire to celebrate the Christian message through the use of all his "fools" in every play where they appear? Who knows. But, nonetheless, it is indeed a common thread throughout all of Shakepeare's works that the role of the fool is always characterized by an individual who is seemingly invaluable and/or irrelevant to the environment in which he resides, mocked, completely disregarded as having nothing worthwhile to say....and yet offers his hearers some of the best gems of wisdom. Some brilliant and profound words come from fools.

Again, great point!

terriergal said...

Whatd'ya mean, "fools"? Ya mean spontaneous generation isn't true????

:-P

Alex said...

Daryl,

Jesus loves everyone? I think you need to be careful, read Psalm 5:5
He HATES workers of iniquity! He wants them to come to repentance, but if these fools, as the bible describes continue in their stiff neck ways the wrath of God abides on them (John 3:36).

Strong Tower said...

One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless...

Addendum: fools are the 'spontaneous' generation

Strong Tower said...

And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!

My paraphrase: stupid fools (more softly, you big dummies), be believing all the prophets have spoken!

But the O! is emphatic, indicating amazing incredulity...

"It's just a flesh wound."

"A flesh wound, your arms cut off."

"No it isn't."

Bryan Riley said...

Alex,

I am glad this verse was true for me.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

the postmortem said...

Dan, I think it's a mistake to use Scripture for wordplay.

the postmortem said...

Prov 29:20 "Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him."

Marie4thtimemom said...

Polycarp,

Seriously, where can I get one of those shirts?!?

When I was in college, I had one that said "Don't be stupid" and on the back the verse w/ reference: "The fool has said in his heart there is no God".

Used to annoy lots o' folks in the dining halls of Syracuse University. We have Trader Joes here in MA, too. Good on you for the proselytizing.

Daryl said...

Ummmm...Alex?

(whispering so as not to embarrass anyone) that was a joke...

It's OK, jokes in the meta often get missed by on-lookers...

(In a normal voice)
You're right, of course, Alex.

Cris said...

It's not often one gets a chance to use this quote:

...so that atheism which consists rather in ostentatious words and blasphemies should be called speculative, but that which is rather occupied with impious deeds should be termed practical. Now while we admit there are many practical atheists, we deny that there are any speculative.
     Turretin, Institutes, V1, Third Topic, Question 2

Alex said...

Daryl,

A joke? Well thanks a lot you just mess up a good righteous indignation moment there:-). Thats what happens when you breeze through the comments section.
Brother I am sorry will you forgive me?

Bryan,

Amen! Blessings.

RememberPolycarp said...

Marie:

Google "cafepress" to get you to a tshirt site that equals Amazon in size and scope; then, in their search box, just type "atheist" and scroll through all of the selections. Note: the site is fantastic in terms of selection (vast), service, reliability, etc., but just be aware that they do not hold to any particular ideological positions because they are simply an online mall of sorts for various vendors. With a search like "atheist," be prepared for some highly offensive and hurtful remarks about our God.

Oh, I didn't know Trader Joes was also back east; I love that store for everything I want, but do not necessarily need, that fills my fridge! Such tasty food!

Marie4thtimemom said...

Thanks!! Will try that - yes, I've seen some INCREDIBLY mocking things (esp. in cyberspace) aimed at God, and at Christ in particular. I was reflecting on that this morning during my morning commute...how that must make Him feel. Imagine you've died for someone, only to be sneered at and have your name dragged through the mud for a couple of millenia. Now imagine you're God Incarnate, same scenario. Yet it never ceases to amaze and sadden me.

On a lighter note, amen on Trader Joes. Very good prices on nice European cheese and organic avocados....oh no wait; we have to keep those away from Phil.....tell you what, if we have a pyro-party, I'll make the guacamole this time and handle all the sharp implements. Phil needs his hands.

Bill said...

"When I was in college, I had one that said "Don't be stupid" and on the back the verse w/ reference: "The fool has said in his heart there is no God"."

When I was in the Navy stationed in Virgina I used to wear a t-shirt that had Buddha hanging on a cross with the title:
"What's wrong with this picture?"

It was quite the eye-catcher and led to some great opportunities to share the truth. It also made quite a few people mad.

Bill

reformed trucker said...

A couple of good quotes from the March/April Modern Reformation magazine "The New Atheism" issue:

"It amazes me to find an intelligent person who fights against something which he does not at all believe exists."
-Mohandus Gandhi

"Atheism is a crutch for those who cannot bear the reality of God."
-Tom Stoppard

"A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."
-Francis Bacon

Brooke said...

Sweet post! Very thought-provoking!