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Ask the Religion Experts: What does your faith say about atheists?
"KEVIN SMITH is on the board of directors for the centre for Inquiry, Canada’s premier venue for humanists, skeptics and freethinkers.
Atheism is the fastest growing worldview in Western democracies. We are becoming so common that we are not like most people, increasingly we are most people. Religious leaders need look no further than their own pews. A 2011 Ipsos Reid poll found nearly 1 in 4 Catholics who regularly attend church services do not believe in God. Nearly half of Canadians are non-believers. It was encouraging to discover that 71 per cent claimed that religious people don’t necessarily make better citizens. Sadly, it’s the remaining group who thinks atheists are lesser beings.
It’s time they accepted us as part of the human tribe. Everyone has questions about the mysteries of life; we simply have different answers. If our detractors ditched the clichés and got to know us a bit better they’d find, regardless of differing beliefs, we fallible mortals are very much the same.
Rabbi REUVEN BULKA is head of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa and host of Sunday night with Rabbi Bulka on 580 CFRA.
Then there are the thinkers, who cannot get their head around the idea of God, and therefore reject the existence of God. They will ask for proof, a request that is impossible to fulfil. If foolproof evidence of God’s existence were readily available, there would be no atheists.
One may ask why God has so structured the world such that proof of God’s existence is not available, thereby opening the door to atheism. Perhaps because if there were proof, there would be no belief. There would be certainty. There is little virtue in embracing a certainty, and much emotion and commitment in embracing a belief.
The reality of atheism is a challenge to all believers to translate their belief in God into a way of living that is nothing less than noble and inspiring.
Rev. RICK REED is senior pastor at the Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa.
Someone will counter, “Why do some brilliant people deny the existence of God?” The Bible says the answer is not a lack of intelligence but a wilful decision to “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). At root, atheism is more of a heart problem than a head problem. Though God’s existence is as obvious as Mount Rushmore, some choose to close their eyes and not see it.
The good news is that God still loves all people, including those who deny His existence. The Bible says God sent His Son Jesus as living proof of His love. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection make it possible for doubters to become believers and fighters to come to faith.
Denying God’s existence is foolish (Psalm 14:1). Atheists may not believe in God but that doesn’t change the reality of His existence."
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