Psalm 53 paints for us a portrait of the practical atheist. And the picture is not pretty. From a theoretical and intellectual point of view, we must realize that atheists don’t exist from God’s vantage point. Romans 1:18-20 reminds us of this- “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who told the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” The reason that mankind rejects God is not an intellectual one. It is not a lack of evidence or information. It’s not a brain issue- rather, it’s a heart issue. It’s a submission issue.
Notice Psalm 53:1a- “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” When David speaks of the fool, he is speaking of the “practical atheist”. The fool is the one who, like all men, knows God exists, because He has revealed Himself through His Creation, but who chooses to suppress such knowledge because he refuses to acknowledge and submit to God. A fool knows that there is a God, yet “in his heart” acts as if God doesn’t exist. Statistics say that there are approximately 3% of the United States population that are “self-described” atheists. However, we know from observing the world around us that the percentage of “practical atheists” is much greater. Most people would never say, “I don’t believe God exists” with their lips, yet most people live their lives as though God doesn’t exist. They rarely think about Him. They never thank Him. They order their lives with no thought of God. Psalm 53:1b says, they are “corrupt”… “and have done abominable iniquity.”
The “practical atheist” is described by God as a “fool”. He refuses to acknowledge God and lives as if there is no God. He doesn’t obey God, and therefore, doesn’t understand God or seek after God (v. 2). We understand that, apart from the grace of God, nobody seeks God. However, the “fool” does not respond to God’s drawing and convicting influence upon his heart. The “fool” does not call upon God (v. 4) and lacks the fear of God (v. 5). This is the portrait of the “practical atheist”.
Even as Christians, we must be careful that we don’t become “practical atheists”. When we begin to go about our days with no thought of God or consideration as to whether our actions please God, we are going down a path that God’s describes as foolish. We expect the practical atheist to live with no regard for God. But, as God’s child, we must never be guilty of such a tragic way of life. We must declare God’s existence with our lips and lives.