Darrow Miller and Friends

What Atheists Are Missing

Karl Marx

There are no atheists, only idolaters.

As is the custom at our Sunday worship, we recite the Nicene Creed – a statement of the orthodox faith crafted by early church fathers.

The opening lines confess that

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

As I repeated these words for the umpteenth time, that line, of all things visible and invisible, came alive in a new way.

Of all things. Not some things. Not a few things. Someone once said, If you draw a circle on a white board that encompasses “all things” what is left outside the circle? Nothing! All things means all things.

And what does “all things” encompass? The visible and invisible!

But for a non-theist, an atheist, what does “all things” encompass? The visible! When the secular materialist draws a circle around “all things,” they have only accounted for “some things.” Sadly, they have cut themselves off from at least half of reality. They have cut themselves off from all things visible and invisible.

We should weep for our atheist friends; they are missing much of life.

atheists reduce humanity to level of animalsWhen we deny God, everything that has its existence in His existence disappears. We are left with a material, mechanistic view of the universe, where all is explained and reduced to material terms. Love, the mystery of life, miracles, human significance, morals and real moral decisions, a grounding for art and creativity, beauty, truth, goodness … all these disappear. All these become an illusion produced by electro-chemicals in the four pounds of flesh we call our brains.

Humanity is reduced to mere animal existence where death and survival of the fittest define reality. Or worse yet, the atheists have no basis for objecting to sex with robotsmachine. Perhaps this is why we are so interested in robots who “act like humans,” robots we can have sex with, because we see no difference between ourselves and machines.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky effectively captures the conclusion of the lifeless world in The Brothers Karamazov: “If you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be immoral, everything would be lawful, even cannibalism.”

There are no atheists … only idolaters

Reality consists of the seen and the unseen. All people live within the presence of the unseen, but many either consciously deny the existence of the spiritual realm or do not know what to do with it.

The apostle Paul describes this in Romans 1:19 -23.

… since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

As Paul analyzes this phenomenon, this rebellion against reality, he notes that the rebels do not cease to worship. Humans were created to worship. But instead of worshiping the living God, the God-deniers worship images of their own making. They worship images of mortal man or of other creatures.

To say it differently, there are no real atheists. All acknowledge some god. All worship something.

Again, Fyodor Dostoyevsky captures this through the voice of one of the characters in The Brothers Karamazov:

To live without God is nothing but torture…. Man cannot live without kneeling …. If he rejects God, he kneels before an idol of wood or of gold or an imaginary one …. They are all idolaters and not atheists. That’s what they ought to be called.

There are no atheists, only idolaters. This is Paul’s point, indeed.

The gods of our own making are small. They are no larger than our own imaginations. But the “one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible” stands outside the circle of all things. His is infinite and eternal, and His imagination is greater than the heavens and the earth, greater than all He has made.

We may stand in awe and wonder of the Creator God. We worship Him as we hear a newborn baby cry, as we witness a blazing sunset, as we see the heaven’s night. We may thank Him as we experience love, as we appreciate the breath we have just drawn, as we hear a beautiful symphony or feel the drops of a refreshing rain on our parched skin.

But what of our friends whose lives and minds are bounded by only the seen world? G.K. Chesterton has captured the sadness of this: “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.”

pity the atheists they have no one to thankWe thank you, the one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

  • Darrow Miller


See this related post: Sabbatical Reflections – Sehnsucht

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).