Psalm 53:1, There Is No God

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

//Please forgive me for taking a break from commentary to climb on my soapbox a moment. It’s important to me to be tolerant of various religious beliefs, including atheism, so, naturally, this is not a verse I much appreciate. But I sure hear it a lot.

The verse continues, They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. Reading this, it’s hardly surprising that outspoken atheists Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris complain that atheists are unfairly despised.

Yet, my forays into religious forums repeatedly run into a problem, and this is where atheism tends to develop its bad rep. In my observation, the angry and the derisive most commonly fall on the unbelieving side of the line (this should come as no surprise). The very angry are also the most vocal, as they spew venom at every pretense of religion. And, as if rejecting God provides license to do so, their ridicule is often spiced with childish vulgarities.

They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. Nonsense, of course, and we all know better than to read verses like this out of context. The vast majority of atheists politely back up their reasonable beliefs (non-beliefs?) with a very well-developed moral responsibility to “do good” … and we know it’s an honest and sincere one, without the carrot of eternal reward.

I’m certainly not insinuating that only atheists go on the offensive; regardless of religious affiliation, we can try to understand and befriend those who are hurting, without tolerating their methods. Just as peaceful Muslims must denounce the radicals of their religion, and progressive Christians must speak out against the inhumane teachings of certain fundamentalists, so must atheists calm down their own embarrassing contingent if they wish their non-beliefs to be respected.

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