Atheists reject God’s moral law because they do not want to be held accountable.
Whether accusing God of some inconsistency or denying his existence, the atheist’s intellectual problems are often a smoke screen hiding the real issue: the atheist’s desire to escape the responsibility that the existence of God involves him in. By denying the existence of God, the atheist is absolved of his sins without incurring the smallest act of penance. After all, if there is no ultimate right and wrong, then there is no personal right and wrong. All is permitted so long as society is not outraged. Without the moral law, hedonism becomes the purpose of existence. But if such is the meaning of the universe, what motivation can there be for me to go to work in the morning, or to love my wife, or even to be alive? If I did not believe that God existed, I know I would behave in immoral ways because I wouldn’t be kept from doing them by a moral sensitivity. Many atheists have chosen not to believe in God, not because of intellectual reasons, but because they want to live life free of God’s moral laws.
In his novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) points out the reason that atheists reject God. “Without God and immortal life […] all things are lawful then, they can do what they like.” The same character, Dimitri, goes on to say:
It’s God that’s worrying me. That’s the only thing that’s worrying me. What if he doesn’t exist? What if [atheists] are right—that it’s an idea made up by men? Then if he doesn’t exist, man is the chief of the earth, of the universe. Magnificent! Only how is he going to be good without God? That’s the question. I always come back to that. For whom is man going to love then? To whom will he be thankful? To whom will he sing the hymn? [Atheists] laugh. [Atheists] say that one can love humanity without God. Well, only a sniveling idiot can maintain that.
The truth is that everyone knows there is a God and the people who claim there is no God have suppressed the truth because they want to continue to sin. The Apostle Paul writes of those
…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. (Romans 1:18-20).
All creation points to the existence of God. If this was not enough, He also wrote His law on the hearts of every person, giving them the moral compass of the conscience as further proof that He is there. Yet, even with the evidence in front of them and inside of them, people suppress the truth and deny God’s existence because they prefer to do what is wrong rather than repent and change. So Paul continues:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful… (Romans 1:28-31).
It’s one thing when we want to hang ourselves, it’s a more terrible thing when God hands us the rope. To those who want to sin, God does not hold them back. Ultimately, sin leads to spiritual death: “…those who practice such things are deserving of death…” (Romans 1:32). But the good news is that “the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
When I think about good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice; when my conscience tells me that I fall short of my own moral standard; when I realize that God is good and wants to help me be good, the truth comes home all the stronger:
God is THERE!
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About the Author: Dr. Daniel King is a missionary evangelist who has traveled to over seventy nations in his quest for souls. His goal is to lead 1,000,000 people to Jesus every year through massive Gospel Festivals, distribution of literature, and leadership training. Because of his experience and research on evangelism, he is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in mass evangelism. As an evangelist, he has a deep interest in using apologetics to convince skeptics that God is real.