Summary: Who is a fool? The one who worships a living Saviour? Or the one who says he needs no god? The message is a presentation of the reasonable position of worshipping Christ who conquered death.

“Fools say to themselves, ‘There is no God.’

They are corrupt and commit evil deeds;

not one of them practices what is good.

“The LORD looks down from the heavens upon humanity

to see if anyone shows discernment as he searches for God.

All have turned away,

together they have become corrupt;

no one practices what is good, not even one.

“Will those who do evil ever learn?

They devour my people like they devour bread,

and never call on the LORD.

There they are seized with terror,

because God is with those who are righteous.

“You would frustrate the plans of the oppressed,

but the LORD is their refuge.

May Israel’s deliverance come from Zion!

When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,

Jacob will rejoice, and Israel will be glad.” [1]

I was overseeing a church plant in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia during the 1980s. At that time, I advertised the titles of the sermons each week. Marge was a veteran newspaper editor on one of the oldest papers in the Province, and she agreed to work with me to present catchy advertising copy. April 1st fell on a Sunday that particular year and the ad we planned invited people to come celebrate “National Atheist Day” on April 1st.

I was not prepared for the response from the community. Normally, we would have one or two phone calls resulting from each ad. We would see a new family perhaps every other week whom we could identify as having come because of the ad. This time, however, I was receiving several phone calls each day. Most of those phoning identified themselves as Christians; and most callers were berating me for being mean-spirited and unkind. Quite obviously, the mere act of identifying those who presented themselves as atheists as “fools” struck a nerve.

For most of these calls, I simply asked a few questions—Do you attend church? Have you ever invited a neighbour to consider Christ? Have you ever knowingly told a friend of your experience of grace? The answers I received were generally disappointing. Though most said they attended church, if only sporadically, none of these callers had ever invited another to share a service of worship. Not surprisingly, none of my callers had ever spoken to a friend or a neighbour to tell them of Christ and His salvation. If they had a testimony, they didn’t share it.

One phone call made a profound impression on me, however. Though this particular individual who was phoning didn’t give her name, it was obvious that she was a younger woman. She was quite agitated when I answered, immediately launching into the reason she had phoned. “I don’t like what you said in that ad. I’m an atheist and I’m a good person.”

“Who told you you were a good person?” I queried.

The caller was clearly taken aback, but she quickly recovered and sputtered, “My parents told me I was a good person!”

“And who told your parents that they were good people?” I asked again.

Somewhat hesitantly, she offered, “Well, their parents.”

“And who told their parents that they were good people?” I probed again.

“Look,” she said, clearly exasperated, “I know what you’re getting at, but we are good people—society says we’re good people.”

“And how does society know what is good and what is evil?” I probed more deeply still.

Somewhat engaged, she responded, “Society determines what is good and what is evil. Whatever society says is good is what is good.”

“Okay,” I began, “then it was a good thing to kill Jews in Germany in 1939. German society decided that it was good to kill Jews, so killing Jews can be a good thing.”

My caller was horrified as she now rejected that reasoning, “Oh, no! That wasn’t good. I’m Jewish,” she stammered.

“But, if ‘good’ is whatever society says is good, then you can’t argue against what German society collectively agreed was good at that time. No matter how reprehensible it may appear to us now, it was ‘good’ by your definition.”

“Oh, I’ve never thought of that in this way,” she said, thoughtfully. “How do you determine what is good?” she asked, emphasising “you.”

“Good is fixed by the One who gives mankind life. He created us; and He established the standard of ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God who determined what is good and evil. To reject Him and His standard is to subject yourself to a chaotic world in which the rules are constantly changing. Therefore, to reject God, to say that there is no god, is to open oneself to a world in which no standard can exist. That is a very foolish position.”

Our conversation did not continue much beyond this. The caller thanked me for my time, informing me that she wanted to think through our conversation. I hold to the concept that “Fools say to themselves, ‘There is no God.’”

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