I've been coming across this sentiment a lot recently, in fact I've written about it several times in the past month, I wasn't planning on mentioning it again (at least for a while), but I had a bit of a realization today and thought it would be worth one more post.
For anyone who hasn't seen those other posts, I will often see Christians on twitter make proclamations about atheists "Atheists just want to sin", "Atheists are angry at God", "Atheists just want to sleep in on sunday", "Atheists really believe God exists deep down", and many other such things. I'm sure that these things are sometimes in jest (I doubt anyone really thinks that I'm an atheist so I can sleep in) but there are also plenty of times when it is completely serious, and in any case I'd rather not have those things go unchallenged.
So recently I saw someone post something along these lines and told him that I simply didn't think God exists and he was wrong about the motivation of atheists. After a short back and forth he told me that no matter what I say, I know that God exists. For some reason that sentence stuck with me, something about the finality of it. He's so sure I believe it, it's impossible for him to believe I think differently. There is nothing I can say to convince him. He either thinks I'm trying to fool him, or maybe myself, but there is zero possibility in his mind that I actually don't believe in God.
I had this rolling around in the back of my head when I was writing my post for 1 Thessalonians 5 where it mentions God bringing destruction on some people but others are destined for salvation through Jesus. I was about to write that it is completely unfair that some people will face destruction just for lacking belief in Jesus. This is obviously unfair because belief is not a choice. And then I realized that this might be the key to these comments that I keep seeing from Christians.
It is unfair, it's completely unfair, I think this is blindingly obvious to everyone. Suppose we are both told that Jesus is our path to salvation, you believe what you have heard and you go to heaven, I truly, honestly don't believe what has been said and for this 'transgression' I get tortured forever. This is very transparently an unfair system. However, suppose instead we both are told that Jesus is the path to salvation, you believe and follow Jesus and you get to heaven. I also believe, but I proclaim that I don't believe so that I can keep sinning and sleep in on Sunday or whatever. Somewhere deep down I believe that Jesus is my path to salvation but I find my sinful ways more important and reject Jesus for those reasons. Now maybe it is easier to justify my going to hell. In this scenario, on some level I have willfully ignored Jesus and passed up my ticket to heaven.
Does this sound reasonable to anyone else? I feel I am dangerously close to doing exactly what I am complaining about, that is assigning deep down thoughts to other people with no real direct evidence for it. Nevertheless my idea seems like it might have some merit.
[Addendum] For those who don't know, I write my weekend posts during the week and just have them go live on the weekend. Oddly enough, I wrote this post after I did 1 Thessalonians 5 but before I read 2 Thessalonians 1. In the second, it pretty much explicitly says that simply not knowing God is enough to get the wrath of God. So the thing that I proclaimed yesterday was completely and obviously unfair, I find in today's reading is the rule from God. So what is going on here? Am I projecting my ideas too much? Am I being unreasonable being disgusted by this? Because I do find this idea pretty disgusting.