The Religion of Insanity
I was once a scientist. I worked in basic research for about 11 years. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Physics & Mathematics (University of Memphis), a Master of Science in Physics and a PhD in Physics (University of Michigan); these all took a total of 10 years to obtain. After completing my degrees, I worked at St. Jude Children’s Hospital for almost a year, before beginning my evangelistic ministry.
During my time in science I befriended a number of individuals of various faiths both at University and in the hospital. There were also a few people among my friends who were non-religious: whether they believed in God or simply had doubts, they did not attend any form of worship services I was aware of.
Then there were the atheists. They are fewer in number than our modern culture imagines them to be. Even in the hallowed halls of science they were a significant minority. Yet they dominated everything from interpersonal norms among fellow-scientists to the interpretative framework of entire research fields.
According to the United States census bureau, Atheism is a religion: a growing one at that.
According to this evangelist, it is a cult.
The importance of questions
In speaking of religion, we use “doubt” as a pejorative term. So-and-so is doubting their faith. This person is questioning their beliefs.
Moses asked God questions all the time. He sought answers from Jehovah, and He responded numerous times (Exodus 3; Exodus 19-20; Exodus 32-33). Often we read Moses bargaining and pleading with God to do certain things: to let someone else go in his place before Pharaoh; to forgive Israel after the Golden Calf episode; to guide them on their journeys through the wilderness. These questions and arguments were not written in negative tones in the scripture, but rather in positive ones. Questions and back-and-forth are not indicative of disbelief, but of reorientation within our bedrock trust of God. The personal questions demonstrate our willingness to seek answers from The Lord in the tough times, and not turn to secular wisdom.
Let me illustrate this with some commonly imparted marriage-counseling wisdom. When a husband and wife are arguing and fighting, this is not always a bad sign. It actually underscores that both parties are STILL emotionally invested in their relationship, and thus it is possible to keep discussing and eventually repair the issues at hand. Argument and vocalized disagreement can mean that a relationship is still viable, though temporarily troubled.
My reason for saying all this about doubts is that most atheists I encounter leave NO ROOM in their conscience for questions concerning core beliefs. There is a word for such vigorous belief that forbids all reasonable investigation: zealotry. Atheists are zealots. They disallow the ability to question or probe their fundamental dogmas (in an upcoming post I will attempt to describe problems within the atheistic worldview).
Cults often operate the same way. They disallow questions, and any believer who seeks answers outside of pre-designated leaders are shunned; some even face threat of violence. Listen to the testimonies of atheists-turned-Christian and you’ll find the same phenomena. Unquestionable beliefs held by people who are capable of extreme violence. That is a cult. That is insanity. That is atheism.
The Witness of those Before
A young British man had just taken a job as professor of literature at Oxford College. He was an atheist, and he was in turmoil. He hated belief in the supernatural, and was also fascinated by it. He attacked the thought of a higher power in writings, but secretly struggled with the philosophical framework that skepticism demanded of him. He felt limited and trapped. He later wrote that the newly developed Psychology of Sigmund Freud and its associated hardline atheism failed to satisfy him. It did not describe the world he experienced every day. There must be something else.
He began exploring classical literature (which, for the most part, modern education has dispelled from high school curricula). He found those authors gave a better expression of the human condition than his modern counterparts. But why? Eventually that proud atheist became a Theist – a believer in God. He explored the available evidence through reason and argument. He weighed the intricacies of the world’s various religions and, after careful search, arrived at only one: Christianity.
The man’s name? Clive Staples Lewis, a lifelong defender of Christian belief and a giant in his written apologetics.
“The fool hath said in his heart …”
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 14:1)
The word fool in Hebrew is better translated as lunatic. A crazy person. A mentally askew individual. Someone who is completely convinced of false ideas. A deluded man.
Someone who SEES things that aren’t there, and ignores the obvious sites around him. Someone unwilling to trust the witness of everyone near them PLEADING with them to pull them back into the reality they cannot escape all around them.
An insane man or woman. They remove themselves from the capacity to function in modern society. They have left the principles of reason and disregard the evidence contrary to their personal delusions and untrue views.
That is a fool. A lunatic. An atheist.