Outlawing Atheism in Egypt

Outlawing atheism in Egypt

Outlawing Atheism in Egypt

Richard Hollerman

Atheism has been defined as “disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.” It is to be distinguished from being an agnostic, defined as “one who believes that there is no proof of the existence of God but does not deny the possibility that God exists” (The American Heritage College Dictionary).

Thus, the atheist firmly says that he or she knows that there is no God (or god), in contrast to the agnostic who merely says that there is not sufficient evidence to decide on God’s existence. Both of these positions are false, but we wish to deal with the first (atheism) here. Of the over seven billion people on earth, there are about 136 million atheists and 692 agnostics. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2016.) Thus, combined, there would be fewer than 10 percent of agnostics and atheists in the world.

We’ve recently read an article entitled, “Parliament in Egypt wants to outlaw atheism” (Fort Worth Star Telegram, January 6, 2018). The article says that “it is already against Egyptian law to ‘insult’ or ‘defame’ religion, and blasphemy arrests are on the rise.’” The new law would not criminalize defaming religion (in its many forms), for this is already against the law, but it would additionally criminalize “the act of not believing in God” (ibid.).

Amro Hamroush, the head of the Egyptian Parliament’s committee on religion, said, “It must be criminalized and categorized as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions.” The government has a plan to “confront and eliminate” atheism.

The article goes on to state that one can be put to death for expressing atheism in 13 countries of the world. These countries are: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (Ibid.). You will notice that all of these countries (except for Nigeria that is both Islamic as well as “Christian”) are Muslim.

Outlawing atheism in Egypt

What can the Christian say about this development?

First, we know that it is illogical to deny the existence of God. As Paul the apostle says, “That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). Thus, the atheist is “without excuse” before God in denying His existence. The fact that there is a Creator (the Biblical Creator) is so clear from His creative works that it is irrational to say that He doesn’t exist. As the psalmist says, only the “fool” says, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).

Second, God doesn’t want people to be forced to outwardly confess that He is God. This is a fact that God wants all people to acknowledge of their own choice. God’s Word says that “he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). God calls on people to believe in Him (and in His Son, Jesus Christ), to acknowledge Him, and to live for Him—but He doesn’t coerce them to confess His existence.

Third, this new Egyptian law (and the laws in the 13 Muslim countries) does not require that people believe in the true and living God of the Bible. Rather, when they speak of “God,” they are referring to a Higher Power and personality who created. Generally Muslims think that “Allah” is the God who exists and must be worshipped and served. They are not referring to the God of the Bible who has a Son, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross to bear our sins, after which He was raised from the dead, and will return in power and glory. Thus, we, in no way can endorse such a law, especially since it doesn’t acknowledge the “living and true God” of Scripture (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

Fourth, under the laws of most of these Islamic countries, followers of the true God of the Bible could be persecuted mercilessly and even killed! If a Christian were to speak against Muhammad as a false prophet and speak against the Qur’an “Allah,” and affirm that Jesus Christ is not only Prophet but also God (John 1:1-4, 18) and Creator (Colossians 1:16-17), in radical Muslim countries, the Christian could conceivably be put to death! In fact, as they interpret the Qur’an, unbelievers (in Allah) are to be murdered. Is this what we want?

Fifth, while it is interesting that these countries, including Egypt, are condemning atheism since it is patently false, other countries are embracing atheism and agnosticism because of their secularist and naturalistic views. Belief in any sort of God and church-going in Europe is at an all-time low! We refer to places like Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, England, Denmark, Iceland, France, and other nations, where only 3-5 percent of the people are professing “Christians”—and this would refer to state churches and Catholicism, not to genuine Christians. Further, Communist countries such as China, promote atheism as their official position.

Outlawing atheism in Egypt

Sixth, in light of Egypt’s rejection of atheism, we are made to wonder how this country and the other Islamic nations would confront other countries that do not support the “Abrahamic” religions (Judaism, Christianity, or Islam). What would they do with Hindus who hold to some 330 million false “gods”? What about Buddhism that rejects the idea of “God” but that worships the human “Buddha” himself? What about other world religions who hold to a plethora of deities who are not true but are clearly false? Would they persecute and kill those who hold to these false religions if they discover that the religion’s adherents dwell among them?

As we ponder Egypt’s legislation against atheism, we can at least affirm that they have rightly concluded that atheism is nonsensical and an offence against their society. They have seen what a lack of belief in God can do in ruining a country and destroying morality and order, and they don’t want anything to do with it. This is good, as far as it goes! But what good is it for a people to acknowledge the existence of God but then be separated from Him eternally (Matthew 25:41, 46)?

On the other hand, the Christian must recognize this as an attempt by unbelieving people who reject the truth of Scripture to solve a societal problem with carnal means. The follower of Jesus must reject and oppose this sort of decision. God calls on us to come to Him in faith and repentance; He doesn’t force anyone to blow the knee to Him!

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