You’ve heard the old atheist canard regarding how the Bible is written by a bunch of illiterate sheepherders, so it must be devoid of all wisdom and has no value (literary or otherwise). If you read the Bible carefully, you find some of the greatest literature. There’s poetry that rends the heart. There’s stories of intrigue. There’s battles and prophesy. All of this is written from 66 different authors and the entire text points to Christ and his work on the Cross. That is an achievement in itself to have a book written over thousands of years that is cohesive.
Atheists really are not concerned with what the Bible says. It comes from God, so they spend their efforts to undermine Him. Proverbs 21:2 states it succinctly:
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
The unregenerate believes that he is good because he has devised his own moral code that he lives by. Even when he falls short of his own standard, those sins are regarded as one-offs. But to have a proper grasp on the idea of goodness, we need to have a firm understanding of wickedness. In matters of eternal justice, there are two places for the righteous and the wicked: heaven or hell. Silenceofmind explains, “[I]f a person does not understand the meaning or idea, or form of justice, then it is not possible to understand the meaning or idea, or form of Hell.” Essentially, the unregenerate decides in his own mind that this is unjust, therefore God is a bully, and they reject Him outright. At this point, the atheist is clinging to a fallacy. He is adhering to the argumentum ad baculum. The Threat of Force fallacy.
The problem is that one cannot grasp the wisdom of the Bible without the Holy Spirit. The atheist regards the Bible as rubbish, so while he may read it for trivia games and to indict God for being a big meanie, he cannot understand it as the ultimate author (God) intended if he is not born again.
It’s true that much can be gleaned by the atheist (like the Ten Commandments), but he thinks they are a quaint set of rules that are simple to maintain. “I’m good, I’ve never murdered anyone, I’ve never told any real lies, I’ve never stolen anything of consequence, I don’t covet my neighbor’s fancy car, I’m not committing idolatry when I place little Tommy on a pedestal, or I don’t idolize possessions though I have my credit cards maxed out.” The unregenerate mind cannot see his inherent badness. In fact, he is rotten to the core and he is blind to the fact that he is already dead. The unregenerate mind believes that he is good and his works are good, when in fact, he cannot keep even one law perfectly. James said it best when he said if you are guilty of breaking one law, you are guilty of breaking all of them.
The point is that the Christian knows he is broken and is in dire need of a savior. The unregenerate believes he is good because he rationalizes his sins. He is certain that he is in no need of a savior. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law. He didn’t come to make bad people good. He didn’t come to share some new philosophy. He came to make dead people alive.
Paul explains, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7 ESV)
That is why true understanding of scripture is elusive to the atheist.