Atheism is not the problem. That might come as a surprise to those of us who see it as an avowed enemy of faith. But in considering Romans 1:21, we wonder if there is any real atheism at all. The Apostle Paul tells us that “they knew God.” So the issue is not whether someone knows, but what they decide to do with that knowledge. Unfortunately many choose to “not glorify Him as God.” Scripture tells us that they then “became futile in their thoughts,” indicating the hyper active reasoning that begins to take place as they try to diffuse their own God-consciousness. Some settle on Darwinism as their refuge of choice.
This pathway, however does not lead to greater enlightenment, since the verse goes on to tell us that “their foolish hearts were darkened.” Nor do they become smarter, since the next verse says, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22).
It is not a failure to believe that is the problem (since we all believe, including the person who swears he doesn’t) but a failure to give God His rightful place of respect and honor. That is the beginning of a long road into darkness.