How do we distinguish atheist and antichrist

In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: Dear Dave and Tom, I’ve been listening to you talk about what you call the new militant atheism. You’ve stated that it is an aggressive form of materialism, and it certainly seems that way. It makes me wonder though, since it claims to be anti-religion, how do you see it fitting in with what the Antichrist will bring about? How can an anti-religion prosper in a time that the Bible indicates in Matthew 24, will be dominated by religious deception?

Tom: Dave, we certainly have seen an aggressive militant atheism to the point where they are just going after religion, but doesn’t anybody recognize atheism is a religion itself?

Dave: Tom, how is it going to fit in? Well, the Antichrist will pretend to be Christ, I believe. And we’ve documented that. Just going back very quickly, "anti" is a Greek prefix. It has two meanings: opposed to or in the place of. Constantine was the first one who came up with it, but he called it Vicarius Christi, because he was speaking Latin. He called himself Vicarius Christi. Vicarius is the Latin equivalent of anti in the Greek. Vicarius Christi means "In the place of Christ."

Tom: The Vicar of Christ, as he is referred to.

Dave: Right. This is who the Antichrist will be. Now, look, atheism is out. These guys are not going to take over the world. A false Christianity will take over the world. Hinduism is not going to take over the world, or Buddhism, or Islam. And I have some ex-Muslim friends who've tried to persuade me that the Antichrist is going to be an imam; that this is going to be Islam. I don’t think so. Why would he be called Antichrist? [He should] be called some "thing," anti-something else. Tom, it’s a religious trip. And the religion is growing. They can’t get away from it, and you just said it: atheism is a religion. No question about it.

Tom: Let’s throw another term in there, Dave. They like to refer themselves as humanists. Now when you take a look at humanism, the Antichrist, to me, fits right in, because he sets himself up as God to be worshipped as God. But God is man; He’s the man/God. And He says that not only will he have signs and wonders—there’s another side to that. Dave, you remember C. S. Lewis. We don’t promote everything that he says but he did have some incredible insights.

Tom: And in The Screwtape Letters he talked about this materialist. The materialist magician - one who doesn’t believe in miracles but basically believes in psychic phenomenon and all these other kinds of things that come out of the human psyche. So, I think, these atheists, who are humanists, just fit right into the religion of the Antichrist, as far as I’m concerned.

Dave: Well, but they will become believers in the false Christ. The whole world will.

Tom: The man of lawlessness, as the Scriptures describe him.

Dave: Right. The whole world will be deceived. And there will be only those who open their hearts to Christ, who believe in Him, believe in the gospel. I believe the gospel will be preached during the Great Tribulation because we read of a great company in heaven. They have come out of the Great Tribulation, they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. They overcame the Antichrist. Well, in Revelation 12, where it says the whole world will be deceived by the devil. It calls him "that old serpent, the devil, the dragon, who deceives the whole world." But not quite everyone, because it talks about those who overcame him with the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony. They loved not their lives unto death.

And so out of this Great Tribulation there will be some believers - apparently a huge multitude! But the rest will be deceived, including the atheists and the Dalai Lama, and whoever it is, and they will all be united. We’re heading for a one-world religion - we know that - and a one-world government. And it will be under the Antichrist, who will be not only be the world emperor, but he’ll be the pope. I’m not saying he’s the pope; he’s not the Catholic Pope. The pope, I believe, will be his right-hand man, as was the pope was of Constantine. So if you want to learn a little bit about the Antichrist, you could study Constantine.He was the emperor of course, who supposedly became a Christian - but did not - and he was still a pagan to his death.

Tom:  And Dave, again, the idea that atheism is anti-religion -  on the surface. But you have many of these atheists, militant atheists, who believe in psychic phenomenon, they believe in the kinds of things that they think they can explain from a materialist worldview. But just like the Buddhist who says, "Oh, I don’t believe in God," right below that there are all kinds of gods and goddesses and demi-gods that they believe in, and they go through all of these religious rituals to appease these gods. So I think it’s the same thing.

Dave: The hardcore atheist though, the Dawkins’s and Harris’s and Dennetts, and so forth, probably don’t believe in psychic phenomenon, but they believe in something just as miraculous. Tom, they know the law of biogenesis: life only comes from life. And they tell you, "Oh no, although this universe, [through the] big bang, was sterilized a trillion times over, but what do you know? Out of this dead matter came life! So, they are mystics, in another sense, although they would deny it.