“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” —Psalm 14:1
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus illustrated the unpredictability of life with his now-famous metaphor, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” He might have been reading the news:
- Skippy is recalling 161,692 pounds of peanut butter because of possible contamination with stainless steel fragments.
- Bruce Willis is retiring from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a language disorder caused by brain damage that affects a person’s communication ability.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is unexpectedly retiring.
- A massive pileup caused by a sudden snow squall on a Pennsylvania highway involved eighty vehicles and left six people dead.
- Singer Tom Parker passed away from brain cancer at the age of thirty-three.
- Americans will be able to choose a gender X designation on passport applications starting April 11.
- Yesterday was the international “Transgender Day of Visibility.”
In contrast to the constant flux and chaos of our fallen world, the Bible proclaims of our Maker, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God!” (Psalm 90:2). But fewer Americans than ever seem to agree.
Secularism continues to grow in the US. According to Pew Research, roughly three in ten Americans have no religious affiliation of any kind. Younger generations are less engaged in church than their parents; many committed Christians are not active in a local congregation.
On this April Fool’s Day, let’s consider King David’s admonition in Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” His observation applies not just to atheists and secularists but also to committed Christians in ways we may not fully appreciate today.
“The most dangerous period since the Soviet Union collapsed”
Our secular culture increasingly insists that personal authenticity is the path to flourishing, defining authenticity as “a feeling that people interpret as a sign that what they are doing in the moment aligns with their true self.”
Historian Carl Trueman calls this viewpoint “expressive individualism.” He explains that it enables a person to believe they are “a woman trapped in a man’s body” or that an unborn child is an organism encroaching on a woman’s life she is therefore free to remove. As I note in The Coming Tsunami, Christians who disagree are stigmatized as outdated, intolerant, oppressive, and even dangerous to society.
And yet, we might ask, how is this radical secularism working for us?
Consider this statement by the Wall Street Journal editorial board: “The world is entering the most dangerous period since the Soviet Union collapsed, and perhaps since the 1930s.” The editorial focuses on geopolitical dangers, but we could add the opioid epidemic and other “deaths of despair,” deepening political sectarianism that threatens democracy, and the escalating crime rate in the US.
“I think we are ready to listen”
In response, an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News caught my eye: “I’m an atheist, but between COVID and nuclear weapons, I’m ready to give God a try.”
Josh Selig is a ten-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and director. He writes: “We’ve entered a pantomime of our own lives. More often than not, it feels like we’re pretending. Pretending to live. Pretending to work. I read an article that said more people than ever are quitting their jobs. Perhaps it’s because our jobs no longer seem important. Not much does. All of our ceremonies feel unceremonious.”
He then tells God: “Although I check daily, there are no answers in my newsfeed, in my inbox, or on my phone. So, I’ve come to you. If you don’t exist then, of course, never mind. The joke’s on me. But if you do exist, and I suspect in your own way you do, then I hope you’ll get back to me.”
Selig concludes: “I’m here. We are all here. And, finally, I think we are ready to listen. Hope to see you on the mountain one day.”
Secular reasons for spiritual engagement
An atheist indeed has good reasons to “listen.” Contrary to American secularism, religion is growing dramatically around the world. Ramadan begins tonight, a month of fasting in Islam that is just one example of religion’s pervasive attraction for billions of people. (For more, see Shane Bennett’s article on our website, “4 things every Christian should know about Ramadan.”)
Even secular writers agree that “on average, religious people are generally happier, healthier, and live longer” and that “religious people are more likely to feel that they belong to a community.” Numerous studies show that the rituals and social bonding inherent in religious engagement are vital to flourishing.
The health benefits of religion are clear as well: a comprehensive Harvard study found that people who attend religious services weekly or more are 16 percent less likely to become depressed and show a 29 percent reduction in smoking and 34 percent reduction in heavy drinking.
For secular reasons alone, Psalm 14:1 turns out to be right.
Why Scottie Scheffler plays golf
Scottie Scheffler poses for photos with the trophy after winning the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
However, the best evidence for biblical faith is its transformative effect on those who embrace it.
Pro golfer Scottie Scheffler is an example. Now ranked #1 in the world heading into next week’s Masters, Scheffler was profiled in Golf Digest after winning a difficult tournament last month. He explained how he keeps his composure under pressure: “I don’t place my value in golf. It’s kind of a tough balance because I spend so much of my time trying to improve and to be good at this game.
“You’ve really got to look at the motivation for why I play. For me, I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s why I play golf. I’m out here to compete because that’s where he wants me. He’s in control of what happens in the end. So just really staying the course and staying faithful and letting him be the guidance for me versus anything that I do.”
When secular people like Josh Selig see the way our truth has changed our lives, they may consider making it their truth. When they do, they meet the Truth (John 14:6).
Is the Truth your truth today?