“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” Psalm 14:1
We live in an age not unlike others before ours where skepticism and her offspring atheism and agnosticism fuel the worldviews of the day. If one were not able to observe the course of church history to note the recurrence of these views, often followed by times of refreshment or revival, it would be easy to get discouraged over the foolishness of the 21st century.
Though surveys may be unreliable and most are certainly unworthy of attention, a recent Pew Research survey revealed the rise of “religious nones” or those who identify as atheist or agnostic. The survey revealed that from 2007 to 2014 the religious unaffiliated had risen from 16% to 23% of the U.S. population, or roughly 55 million people out of which the vast majority (70%) were from the millennial generation (those born from 1980s-2000s). During this same period, those identifying as Christians dropped from 78% to 71% and one is left to suspect if the actual number of true Christians isn’t significantly lower than those who merely identify with Christianity in name only.
In the Psalm cited above, David, writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, conducts his own survey of the religious landscape and finds that the “religious nones” of his day were fools who were corrupt and did abominable deeds, summarizing that “there is none who does good.”
Calvin notes that the Hebrew word for fool conveys the idea of a “perverse, vile or contemptible person”. Commenting further, he writes
“all profane persons, who have cast off all fear of God and abandoned themselves to iniquity, are convicted of madness. David does not bring against his enemies the charge of common foolishness, but rather inveighs against the folly and insane hardihood of those whom the world accounts eminent for their wisdom. We commonly see that those who, in the estimation both of themselves and of others, highly excel in sagacity and wisdom, employ their cunning in laying snares, and exercise the ingenuity of their minds in despising and mocking God. It is therefore important for us, in the first place, to know, that however much the world applaud these crafty and scoffing characters, who allow themselves to indulge to any extent in wickedness, yet the Holy Spirit condemns them as being fools; for there is no stupidity more brutish than forgetfulness of God.”
The declaration that there is no God is not said to be in an outward response to a survey, but in the innermost, intimate part of a person, the heart. This is nonetheless blasphemy against an all holy God. In Mark 7:20-23 we learn that it is in the heart where all manner of evil arises
“And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Truly the heart, as Calvin has so famously noted, is an idol factory and it is here where the fool declares that there is no God. An outward profession of this, whether it be in blatantly associating with agnosticism, atheism, or an outright life in defiance to God, originates in idolatry and blasphemy of the heart. Perhaps without even knowing it those “religious nones” who participated in the Pew Research poll have committed nothing less than blasphemy against the very One who gave them life.
We live in an age where belief in evolution or denying the existence of God is seen as intelligence, far above the low-browed faith of Christians. The sad reality of sin is that it so corrupts and distorts that it causes the creature to worship itself rather than the Creator, which isn’t intelligence at all, but psuedo-intellectualism or foolishness.
Turning again to Calvin,
“They may not plainly deny the existence of a God, but they imagine him to be shut up in heaven, and divested of his righteousness and power; and this is just to fashion an idol in the room of God. As if the time would never come when they will have to appear before him in judgment, they endeavor, in all the transactions and concerns of their life, to remove him to the greatest distance, and to efface from their minds all apprehension of his majesty. And when God is dragged from his throne, and divested of his character as judge, impiety has come to its utmost height; and, therefore, we must conclude that David has most certainly spoken according to truth, in declaring that those who give themselves liberty to commit all manner of wickedness, in the flattering hope of escaping with impunity, deny in their heart that there is a God.”
The tragedy of this All Fools Day is not global warming, the political landscape, or the economy rather the increase of fools, those who say in their heart there is no God. Nothing short of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can remedy the malady of our day. Find a fool and share the Gospel, the research shows the search shouldn’t be too difficult.