The Unimportance of Atheism

I have virtually no interest in apologetics, but I do keep up with the arguments and literature, out of a sense of professional courtesy.  Of the prominent defenders of Christian dogma, William Lane Craig has always stood out to me as a fairly level-headed and reasonable guy (even though he continues to defend the ontological argument).  I was particularly impressed to hear him say recently that God doesn’t really care whether we believe in him or not.  All of our strident arguments for the existence of God, even when they are persuasive.

For the same reason, I do not believe it would make any difference in the world if God gave some clear sign of his existence, such as a message written in the stars.

Because our problem is not that we do not or cannot believe, but that we trust in the power of rebellious and false gods, theists and atheists alike.  Even many who affirm a belief in the resurrection of Jesus are “practical atheists,” in John Wesley’s terms.

In a world where atheism were simply untenable, idolatry would be no less prevalent and faith would not be no less difficult.  Unless God were a despot who made resistance to his will impossible and ordered the world like a cosmic North Korea (Christopher Hitchens’ misguided accusation against Christian theology), the decision to follow Christ would still put one against the order of earthly powers and governments; Oscar Romero would still have been killed while presiding over the Mass.

What do you think?  Is atheism any worse than “practical atheism”?  How would faith look different in a world where God proved his existence in a way compelling to every person?


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