Claim: “You are a fool if you do not believe in god”

foolFranklin Graham, son of the more famous Billy Graham and also CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has written an article in which he claims that those that do not believe in God are fools.

Since he has a quote from the bible that says this is so, then I guess it just must be true … right? … because the bible is never ever wrong about anything ever … er, well perhaps not.

So anyway, here is a small sample to get your blood boiling …

The Bible tells us in several places that only the fool says that God does not exist.

“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1). That Scripture is repeated verbatim in Psalm 53:1, and the same sentiment is expressed in numerous other biblical passages.

Despite the witness of an ordered and remarkable creation (Rom. 1:20) and the universal witness of an internal conscience, a growing number of influential people are blatantly and forcefully scorning and mocking the Christian faith and followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is quite fascinating that he is prepared to behave like this.

[Edit: The above sentence is a correction applied to replace my previous incorrect assertion that the bible only says this in 1 place]

He does also go on to observe that most non-believers are academics and since they do not believe, then they are “fools” and to justify this stance the evidence he then proceeds to present is a series of more bible quotes. Nothing else pops up, just bible quotes, and then finishes off with “Bow to Jesus now or else”.

Yes indeed, his punchline is that there is an all-knowing (so he should know what you need to be able to believe), and an all-loving god, who will burn you in hell forever if you don’t just believe on the basis of exactly zero evidence that he is real, and you are a fool if you don’t.

Why did he write this?

The context here is that this is an article within an outlet for Christians, and not non-believers, so clearly this is not an article designed to convince anybody of anything that they do not already believe to be true. So why is he writing stuff like this in such an outlet? Well, perhaps because this is his job, as CEO of the Billy Graham Association, he needs to be seen to be active, and so having an article like this is a bit of self promotion and also a reminder to the believers to keep the donations flowing and so he is simply ticking boxes inside the heads of all those that believe.

OK, so why does the term “fool” get tossed about so easily?

It is rather common for humans, regardless of the stance they take, to label those that do not believe exactly what they believe, “fools”, or to use alternative similar terms, “idiots” or “stupid”. Yes, the religious label those in other beliefs as stupid for being gullible enough to believe such nonsense, and those that do not believe as “fools”, and many within the non-theist community will also label those within the theist community as “stupid”.

So who is right?

When it comes to the deployment of this specific label nobody is.

In reality smart intelligent well-educated humans will often embrace some truly weird ideas as truth. We can of course assume that when presented with specific facts that falsify a specific belief, humans will change their minds. In reality some will, but many don’t, so clearly there is some rather complex psychology in play here.

We live in a world that is awash with lots of claims that are embraced as truth, yet for all of these there is no evidence at all – ghosts, psychic powers, astrology, lake monsters, UFO’s, and of course religious claims.

So are those that retain weird beliefs “fools”?

I’m suggesting that they are not, and that they are simply human. Those that retain weird beliefs are generally immune to facts, not because they are foolish, and not just because they lack critical thinking skills, but also because they are so heavily invested in a specific idea emotionally and perhaps also culturally that they can’t easily let go.

As for those that do label those that do not believe in a god due to the lack of evidence as “fools”, well, I get it, the bible says so, and so it must be true from their viewpoint. As for the bible itself, it is simply not that simplistic, because what is often forgotten by such believers is that Jesus is quoted as saying in Matthew 5:22 that those that go around calling other people “Fools” will go to hell. But then again that is the bible for you, it often tends to contradict itself like that.

3 thoughts on “Claim: “You are a fool if you do not believe in god””

  1. I cannot call anyone who believes in or does not believe a fool.
    However I’m an Agnostic and sometimes the babbling of religious people gets very old and very tiresome.
    However there is always some exceptions to everything.
    I believe that what I have read in the Qur’an had in very many ways exempted it’s self from our Constitutional rights of the first amendment.
    From what I have read in the Qur’an in many places it not only allows but DEMANDS of Muslims we would in fact be giving them constitutional
    right to murder, rape and much more. If the Qur’an demands it then are they not violating their laws of religion if they do not kill the Kafir’s?
    So giving them the right to practice their religion is giving them the right to rape and kill and marry nine year old girls etc?

  2. I am not quite sure I understand your assertion that Graham is “blatantly” lying, or your assertion that the Bible only says this in ONE place. Graham references Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1, BOTH of which clearly state, “The fools says in his heart there is no God.” By my counting, that is two times. And just one point of clarification: though in English the words are translated as “fools,” in the original languages (Hebrew in the Old Testament, and in the case of Matthew 5:22–which you reference–Aramaic), they do NOT mean the same thing. There is no contradiction here–just a failure on your part to dig beneath the surface of your bias to discover what the words really mean.

    • Hi Rocky,

      Ignorance can be fixed with the addition of some missing information. In this case you are in fact correct and I am indeed wrong – the bible does indeed repeat that phrase twice and not simply once. So I learn something new.

      What remains intact and quite independent of my own opinions and thoughts is the observation that there are people who label others “fools” for not believing things that have no evidence, and quote the bible to justify that stance. This is on par with quoting Harry Potter to validate the existence of wizards. To those that believe it perhaps grants some from of emotional satisfaction, but to those that don’t, well let’s just say that it is not exactly a strategy that wins hearts and minds.


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