The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
-- Psalm 14:1
Gee ... how often have we heard THAT one, eh? For those who are tired of hearing it, may I refer you to Phil Zuckerman, PhD, currently of Pitzer College, and his piece, Zuckerman on Atheism. Dr. Zuckerman does not appear to hold with Psalm 14, and he has considerable research to back up his position.
I personally have long wanted a concise and authoritative answer to that biblical attack on atheists. Dr. Zuckerman has provided such, complete with a full set of references which support his position. I gladly herewith share it with you.
I have read that Secular Student Alliance is one of the fastest-growing on-campus organizations in the US. I'm very proud of all of them.
I never had a chance to go to college, I joined an ice show instead...learned a LOT, very rapidly! Tee-hee! (I did see a few ...maybe 4 or 5 out of 36...of the "kids" cross themselves backstage just before the opening number, but it never semed to make a difference one way or another.)
Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman notes that many of the Psalms were "explicitly prayers that God will inflict horrible judgments upon the author's enemies" (God's Problem, p. 115). That probably includes this one. The editors of the Oxford Study Edition of the Bible say that the "fool" is a person who decides to act as if there is no God, i.e. to sin, and is not an atheist. One should note that the specific passage condemns all men as wicked and vile, that they all act as if there is no God. The God here is clearly Yahweh, the god of retributive punishment, and not the Christian god. The writer is invoking retribution against the enemies of his tribal god. Sadly, all this is lost on the simple-minded who pluck such quotations and use them willy-nilly.