Atheists and Christians are as different as night and day, right? Well, they actually have a number of things in common. Here are three examples, along with clues in the natural world that reflect the supernatural power and love a Christian experiences through faith in Jesus Christ.
1. A cosmic authority problem.
Thomas Nagel used this phrase in his 1997 book The Last Word. Nagel wrote, "I want atheism to be true and am uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time."
Randal Rauser points out that Nagel "nowhere suggests that all atheism can be attributed to a 'cosmic authority problem.'" But it clearly influences many atheists, just like it influences Christians prior to conversion. And guess what? Christians don't instantly lose all their authority issues the moment they are converted. It is a daily battle against self, and some days go better than others.
Human beings by nature are not fond of being told what to do. This goes for children, teenagers, men and women. Generally speaking, a new nature is required before a person begins to have peace with being told what to do. It simply isn't in us to enjoy that sort of thing. It's as if our divinely designed internal wiring has been infected with a virus. Sadly, sin has done a real number on all of us.
Even the apostle Paul recognized an ongoing battle in his own life as a believer. He wrote, "So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (Romans 7:25) In other words, Paul recognized that his old nature was not improving. The improvements were coming in his attitude and behavior. It is daily challenge for the believer to say "No" to any thoughts, desires and actions that go against God's law.
Regardless of what you believe about Christ, you tend to have an issue with authority just like everyone else. But once Christ enters your life, you are enabled to "get in the flow" with this godly approach: "Submit yourselves, then, to God." (James 4:7) And "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Eph. 5:21) A new nature is needed in order to joyfully humble yourself before the Lord and others to the glory of God. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." (2 Cor. 5:17)
CLUE: While it's true that all children by nature tend to rebel against rules in their home, it is also true that millions of children receive tremendous love and protection from their parents who establish rules for the family. When children in those homes learn to rest in the love and trust in the wisdom of their parents, the home can become much more like heaven than hell. A similar thing happens when a person begins to rest in the love, forgiveness and wisdom of Christ.
2. A commitment to live, and even die if necessary, for an evidence-based worldview.
Atheists and Christians, like many others in the world, have no interest in committing their lives to a blind faith. Such a worldview has no evidence to support it, and is therefore a shot in the dark. Atheists and Christians are committed to living, and even dying, for what they have come to believe is the central purpose of life on earth.
For the believer, this means basing your life upon the historical facts and overwhelming evidence for Christianity. I addressed certain aspects of this issue in the following articles:
CLUE: People don't die for a lie if they know it's a lie. The apostles would have had to interact with the risen Christ and been fully convinced of His resurrection. Otherwise, they would have remained fearful and confused due to the death of their Teacher, rather than bold proclaimers and willing martyrs for their risen Lord. Christianity would never have gotten off the ground without plenty of eye-witness testimonies supporting Christ's resurrection from the dead. (see "The Messiah's Critics Couldn't Produce His Body.")
3. A longing to be loved unconditionally.
I doubt you would find an atheist or Christian who did not long to be loved unconditionally as a child. And this universal longing continues not only into the teen years, but also throughout adulthood. Christians of course point to Christ after discovering the ultimate answer to this longing. It is based on a personal relationship with our Creator and Savior.
CLUE: In the natural realm, the love of mothers for their children is no minor miracle. It points to a higher love as it reflects God's unconditional love. I address this issue further in the article, "The Unconditional Love of Mothers Deciphers Religion."
In addition to having these three things in common, atheists and Christians also all have an immortal soul, sin and guilt before a holy God, and the need to be born again through faith in Jesus Christ. (see John 3:1-18) I sure hope you will seriously examine the claims of Christ and the promises contained in God's Word. You see, many of those who reject Christ's clear offer today find their hearts becoming even harder toward the Savior, and their minds closing even tighter in response to the evidence for the Christian faith. Therefore, it would be extremely wise and disciplined for you to keep an open mind concerning your need for the risen King. That is, unless you are perfect and without sin.
It has been said, "It's not where you start but where you finish that counts." And where you finish my friend will ultimately depend upon what you do with Christ and with the love and grace the Lord poured out on the cross 2000 years ago. It is the only event in human history, along with Christ's resurrection, that has the power to change your life today, tomorrow and forever.