The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, wrote:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Let’s just get the point. Paul had it completely backwards. Anyone can look at the world around them and see immediately that God has not been perceived in any way whatsoever. Everyone looks at the natural world and either sees it for what it is, or for what they want it to be. It can mean very different things to the Christian than it does to the Hindu than it does to the Atheist (though I would argue that the atheist is closest, despite knowing there is still much to learn). Nothing about it is plain or consistent at all… if it were, why all the confusion?
But the crux of the matter is the fact that Christians enjoy using this verse as an argument that even atheists don’t really deny the existence of God. We may claim that we do, but deep down, we all know the truth is that God (not just any God, but the Christian God) exists. This is my counter-argument. I would say that not only is this view entirely wrong, but that the exact opposite is in fact true. It isn’t atheists who actually believe in Christianity. It’s Christians who don’t believe in it.
Here are 10 reasons why this is the case.
#1 – They Cherry Pick the Bible… and Still Don’t Follow the Parts They “Believe”
No Christian follows every command given by God in the Bible. I challenge anyone reading this to find me one who does. But if the Bible is God’s perfect word, why wouldn’t they want to follow it in its entirety? It’s because it’s impossible to do so. Instead, the Christian determines which parts best line up with what they already believe.
But even after they have chosen the perfectly pruned sections that the Christian incorporates into his or her own personal doctrine, they don’t actually demonstrate it in their day-to-day lives. For example, some Christians (not all) would say that the majority of the law in the Old Testament is superseded by the new covenant of Jesus. So those people should at the very least adhere to the direct teachings of Jesus and Paul. However, when was the last time you saw a Christian actually go and sell all of their possessions and give everything to the poor? When was the last time you saw a pastor tell the women in his church to make sure and cover their heads before entering the sanctuary? These things almost never happen, because even Christians don’t really buy it, despite claiming that they do.
(As an aside, Christians actually have no basis to claim that the New Testament supersedes the Old. In fact, Christ himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” – Matthew 5:17-18)
#2 – Christians Don’t Understand Their Own Dogma
Concepts such as the Trinity are so nonsensical that there is no agreement on how it actually even works. Even within Protestantism, different denominations can’t come to a single agreement on how it works. And those that do ascribe to a particular interpretation are generally unable to explain it. Explain in layman’s terms what it means for the Son to be eternally begotten and for the Spirit to eternally proceed. It’s complete nonsense, and even theologians have to throw their hands up and call it a mystery that no one can ever understand. And if they don’t understand it, they must not truly believe it, because it is impossible to believe in something one doesn’t even understand.
#3 – (Most) Christians Aren’t Evil People
Much of what the Bible says about the nature of God and how we are to live our lives can only be described as evil. God asked a man to murder his own son to test his faith. God sent a pair of bears to maul 42 innocent children for making fun of a prophet’s baldness. God ordered the merciless slaughter of infants. And this is the God that the Bible wants us to believe we should worship? No decent human being would let this being within a mile of their kids, much less worship him. For them to do so and adhere to his teachings, they would have to be purposefully evil. Thankfully, most Christians don’t, and aren’t, even if they say they do.
#4 – They Still Sin
Christians sin willfully and knowingly, despite also supposedly believing that God is constantly watching them even while they are doing it. How many Christians (including many pastors and church leaders) have engaged in secret long-term affairs, knowing they are directly breaking a commandment? How many lie to their families, or cheat on their taxes, all while the God of the universe and their creator and savior is looking over their shoulder? It’s because they don’t actually believe anyone is watching what they do in secret. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it.
#5 – No One Truly Considers the Implications of Hell
Just stop for a moment and think about a person actually being burned alive in torturous agony forever and ever. If I actually believed this would be the fate of someone I loved, and by getting them to turn to God that I could save them from it, I would do everything in my power to preach to them and try to convince them to turn back, and I’d do it constantly, every minute of every day, until my dying breath. But no Christian does this. There are people in their lives, even some very close to them, that they are supposedly certain will end up in Hell. Yet they do virtually nothing to save them from it other than maybe an occasional empty platitude about their concern for their soul, if even that much. The truth is, they don’t actually think anyone will truly end up in eternal torture. Their behavior would be very different toward those around them if they did.
#6 – The Gamble of Their Children’s Eternal Souls
Christians know there’s a reasonable chance that their child will turn away from God when they get older and end up in Hell. Yet, even knowing this, they consciously decide to have children anyway. Any moral person, knowing that such a fate is even a possibility, would spare them such a fate by never having them in the first place. If there’s even a fraction of a chance that your future child could one day end up in eternal agony, why would you ever take that risk?
#7 – God Doesn’t Exist in Their Imagination
Christians have no difficulty imagining a world without God. Virtually any secular media, a great portion of which is consumed by Christians, never mentions God at all, and they never think about God existing in those universes when they consume it. When they watch The Walking Dead, are they concerned about why God allowed the zombie apocalypse to occur? When they read 50 Shades of Grey (and believe me, they do read it), are they concerned about God’s judgment for all the naughty sex the characters are having? Of course not. Given the freedom to shed that aspect of themselves, they cut it away in a heartbeat.
#8 – Christians Won’t Test God
No Christian is willing to put God to the test, even though many in the Bible did exactly that. They say that it’s not something they’re supposed to do, but is that really true? Don’t numerous honorable characters from the bible do this, such as Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and even Jesus? He said to ask and it will be given unto you. It is not testing God to ask him to do something well within his supposed capabilities, especially if it would further his cause on Earth to unbelievers (and make no mistake, it certainly would). And yet no Christian would dare such a thing. Is it because they think it is somehow taboo or blasphemous, or is it actually that they don’t believe God is there to be tested in the first place?
#9 – They Fear Death
Despite “knowing” that they should look forward to death, since it will immediately bring them everlasting life, they still fight it with every breath they take. They do everything in their power to mitigate the possibility of dying, and when it comes close, they fear it. My Grandfather died a few months ago, after a lifetime dedicated to the ministry. He preached for decades about the reward awaiting us in heaven for our belief. But when he was in his final days, he admitted to my mother that he was scared. Why? How could that be? Maybe it’s because he knew deep down that death really is the end, and he never gave himself a chance to come to terms with it. He didn’t want to die, and if there had been any viable options afforded to him to stay alive even a few years more, he would have taken them. No Christian looks forward to death, even though they should. That alone is remarkably telling of what they truly believe.
#10 – Christians Don’t Believe in True Miracles
A Christian never prays for or expects a true miracle. The things they pray for are always within the realm of natural possibility. For example, a Christian will pray for vague “healing,” but will never pray for something to happen which cannot occur naturally, such as for an arm or leg to grow back, or for someone to come back to life after being dead for several days. Why is that? Certainly God is capable of regenerating a person’s arm. He certainly can bring someone back to life, or make the sun stand still in the sky for a day, as both of these are things he already did once according to the Bible. But would any Christian ever pray for God to make the Sun stand still and actually believe God might honor their request? Of course not. Because Christians know such a request would never be honored, because in their heart of hearts, they know God is not there to answer in the first place.
The (Real) Good News!
If any of these reasons apply to you, or even if all of them do, it’s okay. It doesn’t make you a hypocrite. It makes you a rational, thinking human being who has simply been misled, usually by the people you trust the most. And it isn’t their fault either, because the same thing was done to them. Indoctrination is a powerful tool that can be nearly impossible for most people to break. Don’t be ashamed for believing something when you never knew any better, and don’t hold it against those who taught you those beliefs in the first place.
Now though, there is no excuse. There’s a better way to live than with the constant struggle of fighting against the fundamentals of reality and logic you know to be true, and that better way is to finally accept them and discard the faith that has held you back for so long. You don’t have to struggle any longer. Accept what you already know: that there is no God, no Hell, no supernatural beings of any kind. It’s time to start living your life as you already know you should be. All you have to do is wake up and take that first step.