God, in common grace, has given us three institutions to hold back the flood-tide of evil that would otherwise overwhelm creation.
The state restrains evil so we can all live in a civilized world. The state makes laws and enforces them. Both atheists and theists can do this together and reap the beneifts of good laws.
The family is where we learn values, shape character, and we are lovingly cared for in a personal way. Both theists and atheists can work to make their families better.
The church is where we become restored in order to make our world better, where we learn how to do life better, and provide a new beginning for people who want to live for something bigger than themselves. Both, the atheist and theist can benefit from the church: the atheist should be able to find churches who would free them up to discuss their non-belief and the theist, to learn in helpful dialog, as well to offer a compelling worldview; and both of them together, organzing to change our world into a better planet.
All people benefit from these institutions; they are gifts from God. Common grace is God’s provision for the welfare of everybody on planet earth.
As grace agents, we are called to help sustain and renew His creation, to uphold the created institutions of family and church and government because these are the tools that God uses to hold back the floodtide of evil. We are to pursue science and scholarship, to create works of art and beauty, and to heal and help those suffering from the results of the Fall (Colson, How Now… xii).
Because we (atheists and theists alike) are made in God’s image, we are capable of some great things in the area of mathematics, science, technology, philosophy, the arts, sports, medicine, construction, and serving causes that change people’s lives, and so on and so forth.
And we don’t have to be an atheist nor a theist to do this; it’s simply an expression of who He made us to be!
Commenting over on another blog where the “suffering” question is being considered, I write:
“Of course, God has done something about suffering; He created you and I. In The Fall, a flood-tide of evil was released on the human race. Without God-ordained institutions (the family, the government, and the church), this flood-tide of evil would overwhelm the Creation. Granted, all of these institutions have their flaws, but imagine living in a world where lives could be taken (and the government was not there to intervene), where children were abandoned (and the family would not nurture), and where no one stewarded the larger story (and the church failed in its primary mission – to orient the world to this story). You see, God has done something about suffering.”
And now, it’s time for us to do something about it too. Don’t just hold a belief or adhere to a worldview. Be a belief. Be a worldview. Don’t just go to a church. Be the church. Change a world – together. Debate suffering a little less and alleviate some of it – a little more.