Recent polls have shown that over 85% of Americans believe God exists. Many consider that to be proof the majority of Americans are godly and righteous people. However, it does not take much observation and consideration of American life and culture to recognize that many people in this country believe in the existence of God, but live their lives as practical atheists.
What is a practical atheist? The term “atheist” is one who is “against theism” i.e. he or she does not believe in Deity. The term “practical” has a number of meanings, among them: “practicing, suitable for everyday use, virtual.” Therefore, a practical atheist is one who verbally promotes the existence of God, but practices an everyday lifestyle that denies the admission. Consider some ways one can be a practical atheist.
Practical Atheists are Unconcerned with God’s Word
If one were to believe that a Supreme Being created all things and is responsible for my very existence, and that he has taken the time to communicate to me information about who he is and what he expects; one would be considered wise and prudent to take the time to read and understand what has been given. Yet, most people do not have even a primitive understanding of the Bible. Their admission of belief in God is worthless because they do not know why they believe in Him, what he has commanded them to do, or what he has said to mankind. There are many atheists who know more facts about the Word of God than people who claim to believe in God, because they have at least taken the time to examine things about the book, even though they misapply and contort its passages to their own devices. The first sign of practical atheism is the lack of desire to understand God’s Word.
Practical Atheists Believe God ‘s Commands are Just Suggestions
The practical atheist will tell people he believes in God, until such a time as the laws of God conflict with his own desires and beliefs. This is often seen with social and moral issues such as sexuality before marriage, homosexuality, drinking, modesty, and the like. Many people want to believe in God, but consider the laws of God too stringent upon their lifestyle. So, while they profess to believe in God and love him, they also pretend that his expectations do not exist, or feel that if they ignore them long enough they will simply go away. This apathetic attitude toward God is one of the leading evidences of practical atheism. If people really believed in God, they would be willing to put his commands at the top of their priority list.
Practical Atheists Have No Convictions
When people are practical atheists, their foremost opinion is that everyone’s opinion is equal and acceptable. They do not care what anyone else believes, says, or does; their only concern is that everyone get along. This mentality is often seen in those who want to proclaim “God is love,” and then exhibit their version of “love” in ways that God finds abhorrent and sinful. It is this mentality that causes people to accept the moral relativism that assures all beliefs are equal and without rebuke; you can worship any way that you like, preach any doctrine you like, and practice any morality you like, just make sure you accept theirs with the same “love and understanding.”
The individual with even a minimal knowledge of God’s Word understands that this simply does not fit the true and living God’s perception of acceptability in life. There is right and wrong, wise and foolish, good and evil. There are things for which we must stand, and things against which we must fight. An individual who does not believe such is nothing more than a practical atheist.
Saying you believe in God is not enough. True biblical faith is more than just belief; as the inspired writer put it, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). If we truly believe in God, we will constantly seek out his will, obey his commands, and fulfill his expectations to the best of our ability. If we do not believe in God enough to do that, we are nothing more than practical atheists.