Not All Atheists Were Hurt; Most Are Simply Suppressing the Truth in Rebellion

skeptic

A common response among Christians who encounter atheists or skeptics is to ask, “I wonder who hurt them that they would reject God?” This thought reveals a basic assumption that only trauma could possibly be the cause of unbelief. And certainly, some people who have experienced trauma have forsaken belief in God because they felt abandoned by God, or could not reconcile their suffering with an all-powerful, all-loving God.

The root cause of atheism and skepticism, however, is rebellion, not hurt. Romans 1:18 reminds us that the unbeliever knows God’s holiness and his own guilt, and in response chooses to suppress the truth of God he knows. Trauma may play a part in rejection of God, but it also drives many people to God, not away.

Many people, having encountered signifiant trauma, have sought explanations for what they have experienced. They try to make sense of the evil or pain they have experienced, and find in Jesus Christ one who was innocent, yet voluntarily suffered the greatest evil and suffered the righteous wrath of God against sin on our behalf. They find in Christ one who can comfort them in their suffering, and who gives them hope of restoration of all that has been broken.

Those who turn to God in suffering often intuitively know that if God does not exist there can be no meaning in their suffering, there will be no justice brought to evildoers, and sorting out their lives in light of the suffering is entirely up to them. What a hopeless state!

When encountering skeptics and atheists, therefore, ask questions to discover how she is suppressing truth, not why. The why has been explained for us in Scripture as rebellion–not wanting God to be real, Christianity to be true, their sin to render them guilty, Christ to be the only way, and future judgment just around the corner. The how happens in a thousand ways and is the key to challenging them with the truths of the gospel.

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6 thoughts on “Not All Atheists Were Hurt; Most Are Simply Suppressing the Truth in Rebellion

  1. Amen and Amen!! Wow! Illuminating. Thank you. I recently read the story of Darwin. Basically, as you say, Darwin ‘rebelled’ by dismissing passages in the Bible he could not reconcile himself to. He ‘dismissed’ … “In the beginning God…” Mankind does that at their peril. Another pointer was the company Darwin kept, the great and the good intellectuals of the day. The LORD JESUS said it is difficult for a rich man to enter heaven… it’s the same for the gargantuan intellect… they see Christ’s disciples as weak, blindly following. What they don’t get is that we have seeing faith. They are probably envious of that 🙂 thank you for stirring me to respond. God bless – Ian from the UK

  2. It’s usually motivated by a moral choice or anger misdirected toward God. And such anger, as you note, may stem from hurt. Generally, it is a rejection of God’s sovereignty–His right to rule–and an embracing of self-rule. Yours is a clear and concise assessment, Mark. Thank you.

  3. I agree; yet it seems that many outspoken and militant atheists were harmed by someone with authority in the Church. When Jesus spoke about millstones tied around the neck and being thrown into the sea, I think he was thinking particularly of abusers who use the Church to find their victims. J.

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