All people have some form of religious belief: Calvin notes,
Yet there is, as the eminent pagan says, no nation so barbarous, no people so savage, that they have not a deep-seated conviction that there is a God. And they who in other aspects of life seem least to differ from brutes still continue to retain some seed of religion. So deeply does the common conception occupy the minds of all, so tenaciously does it inhere in the hearts of all! (p. 44, Institutes of the Christian Religion)When one reaches an extreme level of entrenchment in man-centeredness and sin, one throws off the natural understanding that there is in fact a God entirely and claims atheism. It is easy for people like Richard Dawkins and other atheistic secularists to maintain the non-existence of God, while they have life and breath. One well-known scientist, who maintains a weekly email list of science news updates, wrote:
I wonder, though, how many claimed atheists truly, if given the opportunity for reflection at the end of their lives, remain firm and steadfast in their rebellion. How many find that there are stirrings of angst and concern that they might be wrong in their arrogance? I'm not sure we'll know. Certainly those who steadfastly maintain their atheism aren't going to be willing to admit their fears when faced with grave illness or when sitting alone at night. I should simply be content to let sleeping dogs lie, and not peer into what I'll never have access to - their own private thoughts.