Are You a Practical Atheist?

Living Like You Believe God is Real

It is my observation that many people are practical atheists. I know this sounds pretty extreme, but from dealing with hundreds of people over the years, I maintain that it is true.

The popular image of atheists is that they are extreme or even belligerent people. Perhaps the image that comes to mind is of a person devoted to a purely secular way of life who gets upset when religion is mentioned. Or maybe you think of an outspoken crank crusading against the public acknowledgment of God.

But atheism has more than one face.  Militant atheists –the kind who believe in no deity-- are fairly rare. Most people profess some form of theistic belief. A good many actually have a fairly standard concept of God and Jesus as they are taught in the Bible. For practical purposes, however, some of these folks function as atheists simply because they live as though faith in God had little or no connection to daily life.

So, I repeat my assertion that many people who profess belief in God are actually atheists from a practical point of view. God doesn’t really count for anything substantial with them. He gets nothing from them in terms of what they truly value: time, money, devotion. If they throw him a few bucks now and then or give up a couple of hours on a Sunday once in awhile, they feel God should be satisfied.

Practical atheists feel that their lives are their own business and that, unless they specifically call on him, God should respect that privacy. Only when a crisis comes is there some focused thinking about God and some kind of attempt to contact him.

The Bible tells us, however, that we actually owe God our very beings. If not for him, we would have no existence. It tells us that the reason we are estranged from him is because of our own choices and attitudes. It also gives us the incredible news that Jesus came to offer us forgiveness and re-connection with God. It promises us that, far from being indifferent to our need of him, God is eager to give us restored relationship and eternal life.

Another irony I have observed is that some of these practical atheists even attend church. I can only conclude that they have fallen into a confused logic, believing in God theoretically while living as though he were irrelevant. Either the God of the Bible exists or he does not. If he does not exist then, “ drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” If he does exist as the Bible describes him, then life has no real meaning without him and every aspect of our lives must be lived in light of who he is.

Michael Bogart For more articles like this one, check out my website:

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Comments 4 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for your interesting view adn I believe in God but I don't believe in any church. I pray when I want to and need to. In a church I wouldn't be able to concentrate like at home.

RicoSuave profile image

RicoSuave 6 years ago from Kirksville, Missouri

Hello, I am actually an atheist myself and not in the sense that you are describing as a practical one. I believe in no deity whatsoever, but at the same time I am no sort of militant atheist. I don't get upset at the mention of religion, in fact it is a main study of mine in school right now. I am incredibly interested in it as a whole I just don't practice it. You may not be saying what I feel like you are saying (that atheists other than those practical atheists are the in-your-face, 'I hate religion' atheists) you are sadly mistaken good sir.

mbogartministries profile image

mbogartministries 6 years ago Author

Hi Hello Hello-- You represent a lot of folks who are theists (believers in God) but who aren't formally connected to any church or creed. What religious texts of scriptures are you using in your informal worship? M. Bogart

mbogartministries profile image

mbogartministries 6 years ago Author

Hi RicoSuave-- Thanks for your comment.I was not implying that all atheists are in-your-face. Atheists come in all shapes, sizes and attitudes, just a religious people do. I am glad you are enjoying your study of religious beliefs or non beliefs. I have taught Comparative world religions for nearly 20 years and find the subject more and more fascinating as the years roll by. M. Bogart

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