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THEOLOGY > God > God's Existence > The Aloneness of Atheism  


To reject God’s existence is to commit oneself to intellectual and moral isolation, which inevitably brings mental pessimism, emotional despair, and an encompassing sense of hopelessness. Literature abounds with personal experiences and contemplative thought where such themes are recounted and stated. A comment by Berkhof is appropriate:

In the last analysis atheism results from the perverted moral state of man and from his desire to escape from God. It is deliberately blind to and suppresses the most fundamental instinct of man, the deepest needs of the soul, the highest aspirations of the human spirit, and the longings of a heart that gropes after some higher Being. This practical or intellectual suppression of the operation of the semen religionis often involves prolonged and painful struggles (Systematic Theology, 22).

Typical of the "painful struggles" is the modern experience of Professor Bart Ehrman, who was raised as a Christian but who was filled with fear after rejecting the Christ and “an all-powerful God”:

When I fell away from my faith—not just in the Bible as God’s inspired word, but in Christ as the only way of salvation, and eventually from the view that Christ was himself divine, and beyond that from the view that there is an all-powerful God in charge of this world—I still wondered, deep down inside: could I have been right after all? What if I was right then but wrong now? Will I burn in hell forever? the fear of death gripped me for years, and there are still moments when I wake up at night in a cold sweat (Ehrman, God’s Problem).
Equally tragic was the experience of the French philosopher, Theodore Jouffroy, who abandoned belief in God:

I knew then that at the bottom of myself there was nothing left standing, that all I had believed about myself, about God, and about my destiny in life and that to come, I now believed no more. This moment was frightful; and when towards morning I threw myself exhausted upon my bed, it seemed to me as if I could feel my former life, so cheerful and complete, die away, and before me there opened up another life, dark and dispeopled, where henceforth I was to live alone, alone with my fatal thought which had just exiled me thither, and which I was tempted to curse (Orr, Christian View, 67ff).

Gollwitzer observed with clarity and penetrating insight: “There is nothing beyond theism but atheism” (Existence of God, 47). And with atheism comes utter aloneness.

Holy, holy, holy is YHWH of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!
Isa. 6:3

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