Theoretical Atheism
Psalm 53:1-3
The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that does good.…

We cannot converse with any human being without instinctively judging of his intellectual capacity. We cannot help assigning him a place either amongst those superior or inferior in intellect. But sometimes we meet with those who will believe what, to all others, is absurd; or disbelieve what, to all others, is evident. Such a man we designate as a fool. And they, also, deserve to be so regarded who, when convinced of the truth of a physical or moral law, yet act as if they knew that which they believe to be certainly false. They will learn wisdom neither from observation or experience. The profligate, the inebriate, the frivolous, are of these fools. The former class may be termed theoretical, the latter, practical fools. In proportion to our respect and reverence for a powerful understanding is our contempt for him who says "there is no God." Now, such denial of the existence of God may be either theoretical or practical. It is theoretical when we affirm that no such being exists, but practical when, admitting His existence, we act, in all respects, as though we believed that He did not exist. Let us speak, at present, of the first of these errors — the theoretical. It may show itself in either of two forms.

I. THAT OF ABSURD CREDULITY. For surely it is such credulity to believe an assertion when no evidence is brought forward to sustain it, and especially when, from the necessity of the case, the evidence, if it did exist, is beyond the reach of the human understanding. Now the Atheist declares to us that there is no God. What is the proof of his assertion? There is none. It is no proof to say that nothing exists but what manifests itself either to the senses or to consciousness. How does he know but that, among the truths which have thus far escaped his notice, one may be the existence of God? See this argument drawn out at length in Foster's Essays.

II. ABSURD INCREDULITY. Its unbelief is as unreasonable as its belief. For —

1. The idea of power, of cause and effect, is the universal and spontaneous suggestion of the human intelligence. We cannot imagine an effect without a cause. And that the Creator, shown to be infinite in power and wisdom, is also a holy God. We have ample proof that He loves virtue and hates vice. , from an observation of the works of creation and Providence, arrived at very nearly this conception of the Divine character. Now, the Atheist, in the face of all this evidence, affirms that there is no God. But this is to deny the existence of the elementary principles of human intelligence. And this Atheistic belief is absurd because it wholly fails in the purpose for which it is intended. He would seek to get rid of the idea of immortality and of future moral retribution. But we do exist, whether there be a God or not: why, then, may we not continue to exist? And there is a moral government, with its penalties and rewards, now: why may it not continue to be? Even if there be no God, that government is; why, then, may it not be carried on through eternity? Such is the absurdity of Atheism. It asserts that which cannot be known by any finite intelligence, and it denies that which cannot be disbelieved without denying the essential laws of human thought, and this for a reason which would remain unaffected whether Atheism be true or false.

(F. Nayland.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David.} The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

WEB: The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity. There is no one who does good.

The Folly of Unbelief
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