We cannot be certain just how many atheists there are in the U.S. Some have estimated their numbers range from 3% up to 11% of the population, though it's hard to be certain simply because some may be uncomfortable admitting a disbelief in God.
But I wonder how many practical atheists there are? An atheist is one who believes there is no God. A "practical atheist" is a person who on one hand may profess a belief in God, but lives as if there is no God. The God they profess to believe in has no authority in their life. To say it another way; it is not in their mind that they reject God, it is in their behavior.
Recently, in the wake of the now former New York governor Spitzer's involvement with a prostitute, a high-price call-girl agreed to an interview with one of the major networks. When she was asked, "Was there anything you wouldn't do?" her response was very telling. She responded, "I'm not comfortable answering that, partly because my mom's going to hear this." This is quite amazing to me. This woman is more afraid of what her mother will think of her behavior than what God thinks about it. She quite likely would profess a belief in God, but the God she believes in obviously has no influence upon, nor authority regarding her behavior. This is practical atheism.
We should remember that the Bible states: "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believeand shudder!" (James 2:19, ESV).
Yes, even the demons believe, but that's not all - they shudder! This is quite appropriate considering who God is.
So is believing in God a sufficient response on our part? Should God feel lucky that we profess a belief in Him? Or is there an additional reaction to His holiness that we should have? Let's let Jesus answer that:
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28, ESV)
Pastor Van Morris