If I Were an Atheist...
If I were an atheist, I would live every moment of my life doing whatever I felt like I needed to do to get the most enjoyment out of this “one life.” I would be led solely by my own personal desires. But I wouldn’t tell anyone that this is what I was really doing, because that might appear selfish, and I wouldn’t want people to actually think I was selfish, unless appearing selfish was beneficial to me somehow.
I would only tell the truth if it benefited me. And I would lie whenever I felt like I needed to in order to get what Iwanted, as quickly as I could, with as few repercussions as possible.
If I did ever get caught with the proverbial “hand in the cookie jar” (and I was an atheist), I would justifiably do and say whatever I could to get out of trouble. I would lie. I would use false flattery. I would intimidate. I would use physical force. Depending on the occasion, I might even explain that, logically, there is nothing evil or wrong with what I did, because there is no such thing as objective right and wrong, only what someone might subjectively perceive as such. I would explain that just because someone did not want me to “get in the cookie jar” doesn’t mean I couldn’t or shouldn’t. Nor did it mean it would be wrong—only that someone else didn’t want me to do something. But since I wanted to do it, then it was okay for me.
In school (as long as I didn’t think I would get caught), I would cheat as much as I wanted to in order to make the highest grades with the least amount of work. I would flirt and attempt to curry favor with female teachers in hopes of leniency and better grades. I would never help any of my classmates, since I would want to be valedictorian (unless I thought by helping others, I was actually improving my own situation even more somehow—such as by becoming more popular or attracting girls, which might become more important to me than having the highest grades in school). While a teenager, I would fulfill as many of my adolescent desires as possible, as much as possible, in any way possible (as long as the potential repercussions were worth it).
If I were an atheist, my sole motivation for working would be to get rich—to make the most amount of money, with the least amount of work, and to spend the money on the maximum amount of pleasure for myself. I would do or say whatever I needed to do or say to climb the ladder of success. I would not hesitate to lie and take credit for the work of others if I thought it would help me get what I wanted faster (again, with as few repercussions as possible). I would not make decisions based upon what’s best for others, or even what’s best for the company, but only what is best for me now—and perhaps in the future.
If I were an atheistic politician in a heavily “Christian” district or state, I would claim to be a Christian to get elected—after all, to atheism “the end justifies the means.” Since there is still a far greater number of theists in the U.S. than atheists, I would not admit to my atheism, except perhaps to other atheists behind closed doors. (If they, too, were taking atheism to its logical conclusion, they would clearly see my rationale for lying to the American people.) I would say whatever people wanted me to say in public and in private in order to get their votes and monetary support. Since most of the media seem more friendly to atheism and non-religion than to real, New Testament Christianity, I would count on the media to help cover-up some of my lies and inconsistencies. And, if and when one or more of my contradictory statements needed to be addressed publicly, I would basically do what I did as an unbelieving, undisciplined child—I would lie, flatter, distract, play the “poor me” card, or whatever it took to not take responsibility for my obvious lies (unless there was ever a moment that “taking responsibility” happened to be the best course of action for myself).
Again, I wouldn’t tell anyone exactly how I really felt about all of these things—not my parents, my boss, my friends, or my girlfriend. (I probably wouldn’t see the advantage of getting married.) I also wouldn’t tell my kids. (Actually, I probably wouldn’t want any kids since they cost too much money and energy, and if my girlfriend ever got pregnant I might encourage her to “abort the little blob of tissue”—again, if I were an atheist.) I wouldn’t tell anyone that I would be willing to lie, cheat, steal, envy, and even kill at any strategic moment, because I would want people to think that I was actually an authentic, gracious, courageous, honorable, honest, compassionate, respectable man of integrity.
I am not suggesting that all atheists act this way, but I am suggesting that if atheism were taken to its logical conclusion, it would look this way (and even far worse). And if I were really an atheist, I could see no logical reason not to act in accordance with all of my own fleshly desires. To quote Charles Darwin: “A man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution and reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones.”1 If I were an atheist, I would merely act like the evolved animal my school textbooks had always told me I was, and that I thought I was—guided by impulses and instincts to have as much good food, sex, money, pleasure, and power as possible (never really concerning myself with the needs of others). Life would always be about me, myself, and I. I would do whatever I wanted to do, since, to quote 20th-century atheistic philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist.”2
Although renowned atheist Richard Dawkins could never prove that life’s sole purpose is to perpetuate one’s DNA, he is right about one thing: in the world of atheism, “[s]o long as DNA is passed on, it does not matter who or what gets hurt in the process. Genes don’t care about suffering, because they don’t care about anything.”3 He went on to expound upon the atheistic worldview, noting: “This universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”4 Atheism, taken to its ultimate conclusion, makes for a very, very dark world—full of repugnant vices.
By the grace of God, I’m not an atheist; I’m a Christian. And though I have failed miserably in my life to live up to the flawless standard of my perfect, loving, and just Creator and Savior, by His grace and mercy I’m determined to follow His holy Word and His righteous example (1 John 1:6-10): to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:37-40). I’m extremely motivated to be an honest husband, a dedicated dad, a faithful friend, a hard-working employee, and a loving leader because I believe in, and I’m guided by, a power much higher, brighter, and better than myself.
I joyfully live a life of submission to Almighty God:
Because He created me.
Because, as the all-knowing God, He knows far more than I do, and thus I should listen to Him and not myself.
I seek to live according to God’s purpose for my life:
Because He loves me more than anyone else does; even more than my wife and kids, and my parents. (Why not listen to the One who knows me and loves me more than anyone else?)
And if that’s not motivation enough, consider that eternal life awaits those who embrace God and the salvation that He provides through Jesus Christ, while eternal punishment awaits “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
It’s true that many Christians continually live hypocritical lives, illogically engaging in the very acts that Christ condemns (and which the philosophy of atheism, when taken to its logical conclusion, approves). But such foolish, unacceptable, eternally damning hypocrisy5 by some so-called Christians doesn’t mean it’s not logical to be real Christians. Genuine followers of Jesus have as their deepest and strongest desire in this life—to live with the Creator and Savior of the world in the next life, and to see as many people as possible (even enemies) choose the same rewarding path, by the grace of God.
Who will you choose to serve in this physical life that we have on Earth? Yourself, or your Creator? How you answer this question will determine where you live forever in the next life (Matthew 7:13-14; cf. Joshua 24:15). [*For information on what the Bible teaches about how to be saved from sin and become a Christian, please read our free e-book Receiving the Gift of Salvation at apologeticspress.org.]
1 Darwin (1958), The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, ed. Nora Barlow (New York: W.W. Norton), p. 94, emp. added.
2 Jean-Paul Sartre (1989), “Existentialism is Humanism,” in Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, ed. Walter Kaufman, trans. Philip Mairet (Meridian Publishing), http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm.
3 Richard Dawkins (1995), “God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, 273:80, November.
4 Ibid., p. 85, emp. added.
5 Matthew 5:20; Romans 12:9; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:1.