And some are beginning to admit it.
Raymond Tallis does not believe in God, nor does he believe in eternity.
Nevertheless, he cannot rid himself of them, at least, of eternity: “The concept of eternity raises questions about what kind of beings we are, where we fit into the order of things; more specifically whether we are perhaps so fundamentally different from other creatures that a different fate may await us when our hearts stop beating and our supply of tomorrows gives out. These may seem dangerously heretical thoughts for an atheist, but the very existence of the idea of eternity keeps the door of its possibility ajar” (“Temporal Thoughts About Eternity,” Philosophy Now, July 14, 2015).
The knowledge of God in the heart of unbelievers, and the sense of the Law of God (Rom. 1.18ff; 2.14, 15), while they may be vociferously denied, are only suppressed and never eradicated. The Christian’s duty is to understand the deep psychology of his unbelieving neighbors and to appeal to the knowledge of God, God’s Law, and eternity by every possible means.
In Surprised by Joy, then atheist C. S. Lewis remarked that committed atheists need to be careful about what they read, lest their beliefs come under trial they cannot survive.
He is exhibit 1 in the case that requires us to jostle and try, as often and as lovingly as we can, that door – already ajar – of the knowledge of God in the hearts of our unbelieving neighbors.
This is the everyday work of Personal Mission Field, and we may expect it to bear fruit, if we will persevere in talking with our neighbors about things they know but deny, and which others are just now beginning to consider all over again.