"The fool hath said in his heart, There is a God”- Was famous error in the opening of Psalm 14 in a 1763 printing of the KJV – the printers were fined a huge (for the time) £3000 and all copies were destroyed.
One is bound to wonder whether it was a genuine mistake or a scurrilous unbelieving typesetter! If it was it might show that even in those days of widespread belief there were those who doubted.
Which is also what we can learn from the correct rendering – as Christopher Hitchens points out, the words of the Psalm are evidence that even in the dim distance days of pretty much universal superstition there were some who doubted that there really was a God.
You might well hear the correct rendering quoted at you by Christadelphians, if you let them know that you have doubts that there is evidence for the existence of God. I suppose you can’t blame them because evidently God thought that Psalm 14 was such a good part of his word that he repeated almost exactly in Psalm 53!
The Psalm goes on to explain:
“They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”
…and it goes on in much the same vein to condemn atheists as filthy workers of iniquity.
Is this true?
We are fortunate indeed to live in the 21st century where there are many more openly atheist people and societies so that we can study the relative happiness, goodness and success of the religious and the non-religious.
And guess what? David (or God, or whoever really wrote the Psalms) got it wrong! He was just bad mouthing the opposition – as many “people of faith” continue to do today.
There have been many sociological studies that show that societies that are less religious do better in terms of less crime, less unwanted pregnancies, higher levels of education, lower levels of prejudice, ethnocentrism, racism, homophobia, and greater support for women’s equality. In short the societies of the 21st century that are the least religious are also the best behaved and the happiest.