The Fool Says "In His Heart"
We have all heard that semi famous bible verse from Psalms 14:1 which says "The fool says in his heart, there is no God." And driving around various places you will see terrible stickers on the cars of professing Christian believers making jokes about atheists being fools and quoting this scripture.
However, I have come to see, that not all atheists are fools based upon the definition of this scripture, and some bible believing people ARE.
The key part of this verse are the three words "in his heart". For me these three words change everything about the meaning of this scripture. When the bible talks about the heart, it is not talking about how we think so much as about how we feel, about what is important to us, about what we care for and what we love.
I met an atheist once who told me that he wished God was real because it seemed wonderful and good, however he couldn't understand how this could entirely be possible because his mind struggled with evolutionary philosphies and other thoughts. For this man, his struggle was that he said "in his mind" that there was no God, but in his heart, he actually wasn't saying that, he was desiring that God is real. I beleive that this kind of atheist has a good chance of meeting with Christ and coming to see Him. Pray for him if you can.
However there are also beleivers who attend church regularly, tithe, pray and give to the poor, visit the sick and do all sorts of other things, but they have little love for God. These people serve God with an intellectual understanding that He is real and alive and that they must do things for him, but deep down they find no love or enjoyment in the Lord. These people "in their heart" love other things and prefer them over the Lord, finding them more enjoyable. If a chance came up to watch television rather than go to church, and there was no accountability, their heart would take them right to the TV set.
So the fool is not someone who believes there is no God. The fool is someone who acts and lives as if there was no God and instead places their own desires first. Of course many atheists (the majority I assume) fill both of these categories. Sadly many people who attend church regularly also fit the category of living and acting like there is no God in their hearts.
By the way, the Bible has an unique definition for the word fool, which is not the same one that we are acquainted with. So I'm not actually calling anyone a fool the way you are probably thinking. The bible term refers to someone who is morally deficient, or in other words, they live to please themselves.
Jesus summarised it like this in Matt 15:8. "These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far away." Hopefully that is neither of us.