A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a STUPID ATHEIST, nor an irreligious libertine.
The above declaration is read at the induction ceremony of a first degree Mason. I am not a Mason (No good Catholic can be) but I ran across this quotation in my reading and I have always admired the brashness of it. (Especially in light of the atheistic proclivities of Grand Orient Freemasonry.) Christians would think it terribly unkind to call an atheist "stupid" but unfortunately the reverse is not true. Being of a contentious sort myself, I think that we should "tell it like it is" and frankly, I find atheism to be the STUPIDEST idea I have ever heard.
Atheism is fraught with many internal contradictions. It attacks the act of faith IN God by affirming an epistemically similar act of faith AGAINST God. It declares that ultimately, nothing is ultimate! (?) The meaning of life is that there is no meaning to life. Human beings come from nowhere for no good reason and end up as rotting corpses having served no purpose in their lives. This is described to us as the "rational" way of life which will lead all men to true harmony. But since there is no melody, how can there be any harmony?
Then there are the self-serving denials. While we theists have to live down a rogues gallery of notorious religious fanatics, atheists have developed a virtual cottage industry in denying that any prominent atheist rotter was a "real" atheist. Lenin may not have believed in God, Enver Hoxha may have totally a suppressed religion in Albania, Stalin may have mocked Christ, Mao murdered millions in the name of no gods, and Hitler denied any need for a Supreme Being, but you will be happy to know that they were really not "real" atheists! They actually were non-theistic religious believers! Of course, that is not what collective atheism said immediately after the October Revolution. At that time they were all for the Communists. It seems you can only tell a "real" atheist in retrospect when he doesn't screw up. The strange thing is that as far as I can tell, atheist leaders have ALWAYS eventually screwed up and we poor benighted theists have had to go in and pick up the pieces. It seems that our modern atheists have decided that "rational" people not only must not believe in God. They also must not believe in anything. There can be no over-arching principle that might be the driving force behind one's life because THAT would be a religion. If we take that to its logical extreme and learn from the mistakes of the atheists of history, that means that atheists need to eschew the principles of atheism itself! Otherwise they will turn atheism into a religion. But isn't that notion of atheism a commitment to an over-arching principle? Doesn't that mean that all forms of atheism are a form of religious faith? Not according to the "real" atheists. They try to make a distinction between "real" atheists and "religious" atheists. But isn't that just a form of self-deception?
In other words, atheism reinvents itself in each new generation as the belief in no beliefs! (?) They do this in the hopes that everyone will be stupid enough not to connect previous forms of atheistic malfeasance with "new and improved" atheism. Then they go on to repeat the same mistakes that atheists had committed in the past. This is intellectual dishonesty and anarchy brought to a whole new nadir.
Christian theism has always tried to maintain a rational basis for its beliefs and practices from the very beginning. With regard to atheism, the Bible says:
Psalm 10:4 In the pride of his countenance the wicked does not seek [God]; all his thoughts are, "There is no God."
To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools...
So our Masonic friends have basically got it right. According to the Bible, the atheist is a fool and a moral reprobate. But there is something even more than that.
The very First Commandment of the Decalogue in Jewish tradition is:
YHWH is your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
The next chapter expands this commandment:
"Hear, O Israel: YHWH is our God, YHWH is one ;
and you shall love the YHWH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart;
and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The point is that acknowledging YHWH as the one true God is COMMANDED of us. It is not an option. We are not merely permitted to believe in YHWH. We must do so.
Therefore atheism is not merely a foolish set of self contradictory ideas that leads to immorality. It is a sin against the first and greatest of the commandments. In short, atheism is a MORTAL SIN.
That is why the atheist must be rebuked. He is not being rational, or moral, or intellectually honest. He is committing the most fundamental of all sins and the one that make all forms of evil possible.
To commit a mortal sin is to act as if their were no God and no moral standard decreed by Him. It is functional atheism. Furthermore it is the stupidest act imaginable. Atheists themselves will try to argue that it is "better" to be an atheist. They thus acknowledge a hierarchy of values while at the same time denying that any such abstract hierarchy exists. The consistent atheist will admit that there are no moral standards and that anything goes which brings one personal satisfaction. But few atheists are consistent. Only people like De Sade, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Hoxha, Pol Pot, et cetera have lived consistently as atheists and their fellow atheists feel honor bound to condemn them.
It is this attachment to some sort of moral value, that is the last vestige of rationality in the atheist. Once the atheist abandons moral values, he has abandoned his reason and descended into both moral and intellectual stupidity. But it is so hard to get atheists to see this because they want to believe in something as long as it is not God. But any abstract idea such as right and wrong can have no universal epistemic value unless it exists in a mind. If there is a universal idea, there must be a universal mind: a Divine mind. And we are back to God.
The Reformed apologist Cornelius van Til stated it this way: Atheism presupposes Theism. I think he was right. Whenever someone thinks it is "better" to be an atheist than a theist, they are stating a universal idea that presupposes a universal hierarchy of values in a universal mind. They must believe in God in order to deny Him.
Atheism is the most serious of sins and it leads inexorably to all the other serious sins. as Jean Paul Sartre stated: If there is no God then all things are permitted. Yet "real" atheists go to great lengths to deny this. They need to listen to their own advocates to realize what they are really espousing.
Several years ago I was in dialog with an atheist on the web, and I asked him how he accounted for the existence of the universe. He told me that it "just was." I replied to him:
"I see. So this is what you are telling me:
Question: Why does the sun rise in the east and set in the west?
Answer: It just does.
Question: Why do people get malaria?
Answer: They just do.
Question: Why are people starving in Africa?
Answer: They just are.
Question: Why is there something instead of nothing?
Answer: There just is.
Essentially, you are copping out. The question "Why?" requires a comprehensive robust explanation for EVERYTHING and there is no final answer to it in the physical universe. The only sufficiently comprehensive answer to the question "Why?" is God. But in order to avoid admitting this, you have picked an ARBITRARY stopping point to forestall any further causal inquiry. Such an arbitrary stopping point can be set anywhere. Such a position represents the death of science, inquiry, knowledge, wisdom, and truth."
Theism gives us the most complete and intellectually valid understanding of the nature of reality. In grounds the existence of everything in a robust comprehensive cause that explains not only physical objects but ideas as well. Theism insists that things are as they are for a reason. Atheism ultimately can give us no satisfactory causal explanations. The idea of causation is one thing that makes man different from the animals. We can probe the depths of the ultimate causal question to its ultimate answer: God. He alone can explain why we are here. As such human epistemology is inherently theistic. As soon as we search for the reason why things are the way they are -- the ultimate act of rationality -- we are assuming a theistic worldview. As such, our reason OBLIGATES intellectually and morally us to believe in God.
So despite their protests, the atheists are stupid. They are guilty of intellectual and moral failings linked to their refusal to submit to any higher authority than their own preferences. But in their hearts many of them they know that there is a hierarchy of values and this is the one thing that can still save them. "The fear of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge." Until they realize that, they are not being intellectually honest, morally upright, logically consistent, or rational.