Three Ways Atheists Reveal They Actually Believe in God

Even the most vocal unbelievers can’t completely escape the knowledge of God.

by Liz Abrams on May 3, 2022

Atheists claim to disbelieve in God. However, if one digs down deep, one finds that professing atheists can’t really escape the knowledge of God. And this is encouraging for Christians who want to share the good news with them. Here are three ways atheists cannot escape the knowledge of God.

1. The Atheist Bears the Image of God

The atheist, like every other human being, is created in the image of God. This means he is designed for relationship with his Creator, has an inbuilt moral sensibility, and will live for eternity in either heaven or hell.

Every person has the sense that death is wrong—that we shouldn’t just cease to exist. Death feels wrong because God didn’t design us to die; we die because of sin. Everyone at some point or another has the longing for eternity. It wouldn’t make sense for us to get that desire from an evolutionary process that requires death and suffering.

Atheists hold a variety of odd ideas that they think might enable humans to beat mortality. From uploading their consciousness to the cloud to putting their bodies in a deep freeze and awaiting the day when medical technology can revive them, some atheists try to think of any way possible to eventually get around the fact of death.

Christianity uniquely explains both why we innately feel death is wrong and why it is everywhere in creation. But even more importantly, the Bible tells us how to live forever with Christ in the resurrection.

2. The Atheist Borrows God’s Moral Standards and Logic

For Christians, the image of God gives every human being intrinsic value. But atheists have nothing that gives humans inherent value. If life is just nature’s way of keeping food fresh, universal morality makes no sense. The only moral law is to do whatever helps your genes make the jump to the next generation. Does monogamy help your offspring have a better start, giving your genes a more established path forward? Does polygamy give your genes more hosts in the next generation? Does promiscuity give you even more chances at reproduction? Does locking your wife up ensure that any children she has are yours? It doesn’t take that much contemplation to see that a purely evolutionary ethic would be horrific. A consistent evolutionist in this area belongs in a mental institution or prison!

Most atheists don’t go around murdering people—why? Many atheists would scoff at the question and claim, “I don’t need God to be good!” But their statement assumes that objective good exists. The only objective good that exists in an evolutionary world is that the fittest survive and reproduce. Why is it good to be faithful to your wife? Who gave us an inbuilt sense that it’s wrong to murder and steal? Theft and murder could be evolutionarily beneficial in certain circumstances!

Atheists also claim that science has disproved God in various ways. But the science they point to assumes a world that behaves consistently according to natural laws. Why do we assume gravity worked the same way 4,000 years ago as it does today or that gravity works the same on the other side of the Milky Way? The uniformity of the natural laws is so integral to our thinking that it’s hard to even ask the question. But it’s the very reason that the scientific method was born in Europe instead of in India, China, or the Muslim world, all of which were intellectually advanced in some areas.

Uniquely, Christians believe in a God of order. The God who is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) created a universe that is accessible to human investigation because it generally behaves in testable and predictable ways. Sometimes, God acts within this system in ways that don’t follow the physical laws, and we call those acts miracles—but miracles are, by definition, rare.

When you see an atheist borrowing from the Christian worldview, take that opportunity to point out how their worldview provides no foundation for intrinsic human value or for uniform natural laws.

When you see an atheist borrowing from the Christian worldview, take that opportunity to point out how their worldview provides no foundation for intrinsic human value or for uniform natural laws.

3. The Atheist Hates God

Atheists often display more than a “benign” unbelief. There is an overt hostility to Christians and things pertaining to the faith. It does not take much searching to find blasphemous literature and works of “art.”

The fact that an atheist’s disbelief in God sometimes becomes their entire identity shows that there is more to it than casual disbelief. Almost no one today believes Thor exists, but there aren’t any anti-Thor movements. The fact that this vitriolic attitude is reserved only for the God of the Bible is revealing. There are many people alive today who believe in the Muslim god, Allah, but atheists are not nearly as strident in their opposition to a religion that is, in many ways, much more restrictive than Christianity. When an atheist starts railing against how he perceives God has been unfair or wrong from his point of view, that is as ridiculous as being disappointed that the tooth fairy didn’t give him enough money under his pillow.

Lest we feel superior to the atheist who hates God, we should remember that we all were enemies of God at one time (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21–22), and the atheist who is honest about his unbelief is in many ways preferable to the person who professes Christianity but never lives it out.

Loving Atheists

It is understandable that some Christians see atheists as our enemies. They oppose us in the public square, attempt to convert our children to unbelief, and they say some unpleasant things about Christians. But Jesus said to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44)—how much more should we pray for and love atheists?

So, what do we do when we encounter atheists? First, we should obey Jesus and share the good news of the gospel with them, as well as pray that God will work in their hearts. We can open our homes and build relationships with them in the hope that God will reach them through us. We should openly talk about our faith and attempt to win them. And when an atheist starts trying to convert others, we should be ready to oppose and refute them.

Being used by God to bring someone to Christ is an amazing feeling, and we know that there will be many former atheists in heaven—some are even associated with this ministry! And that is usually because a Christian cared enough about them to engage with them and persistently share the gospel.


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