by Kenneth Justice
~ It’s been an interesting week to say the least. Apparently an atheist dude didn’t care for my <article> in which I questioned if atheists have harmed our culture by taking away our hope in someone (or something) being out there; the atheist dude was rather eloquent in their comment on my blog yesterday when they wrote, “Fuck you and Fuck you blog!”.
Apparently spelling isn’t the dude’s strong suit since their comment would have come across more effectively had they added an “R”, as in “Fuck you and you fuck your blog!”
Let’s pause for a moment and look at what I wrote the other day that caused my atheist reader(s) to be unsettled,
“having hope that someone (or something) is out there, has been central to humanity throughout our history. It gave us a sense of purpose in our darkest hours, and it gives us hope that our lives are not the fleeting moments we spend on this earth”
So what did I say that was so offensive? Isn’t it true that throughout the annals of human history; people have generally believed someone (or something) was out there; someone they could have hope in?
Isn’t it true that since the rise of atheism and agnosticism over the last few hundred years, that a greater sense of hopelessness has risen? I mean, don’t the two add up; if one doesn’t believe there is anything else but this life, than doesn’t that mean you don’t have hope in an afterlife?
This isn’t to suggest that atheists can’t have any hope whatsoever, the simple definition of hope reads, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”. So with that understanding, anyone, whether they are atheist, Christian, or Jack Reacher, can indeed have hope; an expectation and desire that something will happen, and in the context of my article, that the world will become a better place.
One of my favorite bloggers, Nerd in the Brain, a proud atheist, wrote this, partially in response to my article,
“Honestly, I’m an atheist with a tremendous amount of hope for this world, but I’m feeling a bit like my current company (online and off) is intently attempting to chip that hope away…while simultaneously blaming me for the loss”
Her heart really came through in her post and if you have time to read it, you will definitely be blessed by taking a moment out of the day, her article is titled, “An Atheist With Hope”, and for the most part I almost entirely agree with everything she wrote.
The confusion regarding my article the other day comes from a simple premise; perhaps my atheists friends don’t realize the perspective from which I was writing;
—) I’ve worked with the homeless at shelters and in the jail system as a social worker for the better part of 10 years and for many of them; their lives are awful and are never going to get better. They are doomed to a substandard existence, I have written about them extensively.
If there is no god, no afterlife, and nothing after we die. Then most assuredly; the atheist worldview offers no hope for these people. In fact, I have sat with many of these people and l listened to them cry rivers of tears as they told me, “Kenneth, at least I have the hope that the next life will be better than this one”.
You see, it’s an interesting little quirk of statistics that the more affluence and money people have; the more likely they are to be atheist. A recent study by Gallup found that as a nation rises economically, religiosity decreases <Article>, while on the other hand, the poorer a country is, the more likely they are to have higher rates of religiosity.
—) What hope does an atheist offer the child born with AIDS in Africa thanks to an infected mother?
—) What hope does an atheist offer to the women and children raped and slaughtered by Boku Haram as they lay there dying on stretchers with human aid workers?
—) What hope does an atheist offer to the hundreds of thousands born in North Korean concentration camps, children who will live and die awful lives of desperation and torture?
Gentle reader, I do not dispute the fact that atheists can have hope. Of course they can; they can have hope that scientists will cure the continent of Africa of AIDS and Ebola, they can have hope that North Korean concentration camp prisoners will one day receive their freedom, they can have hope that the millions of men, women and children who live on the streets will one day receive a better life……..but what hope do you offer these people now, as they lay dying?
Guess what; hundreds of millions have died, having lived utter lives of wretched sadness. Hundreds of millions of people have died having never enjoyed a nice little vacation along the oceanside, or a ski-trip to Aspen. Hundreds of millions have died by the hands of rapists, murderers, child molesters, awful disease, and more.
Where is the hope for these people if they do not have someone out there to believe in?
Yes gentle reader, you live in the comfort of your warm home. With heat, and food on the table, an automobile in the garage. Come spend the week with me while I’m hanging out with the homeless and you try and tell them that there is no one out there; that they have no hope for a better life after they die. Try and see if your words will be received with warmth and love. Try and see if these people who are suffering will see how wonderful loving you think you sound.
No, gentle reader, atheism offers no hope for the suffering. Atheism offers no hope for those who Boku Haram butchered. Atheism offers no hope because atheism stands proudly in it’s assertion that there is no god, there is no one out there, there is no hope for a better a life.
Yesterday I spent a few hours with a homeless person who believed he was a wizard. We shared coffee together and talked about god and the afterlife (that was what he wanted to talk about). He talked about how awful his life has been since his mother died. He talked about sleeping on the streets this winter and how cold it is. He talked about the incantations he performs every morning for the people he meets, “I cast spells on people to make their lives better” he said. And finally he said, “Life is rough, but at least I have the hope that things will be better in the next life”.
So there it is, as simple as I can say it; what hope does the atheist have for these people? The people you generally don’t see because you have been blessed to live a life that hasn’t forced you to huddle under a bridge for warmth.
I used to be a hypocritical Christian. I used to be a little prick Christian who thought he knew it all. I preached from a pulpit of arrogance and pompous religiosity just like so many of my fellow Christians. I was apart of a Christian world that was as disconnected from real life as you could get.
Then I started volunteering at the jail. Then I started working at the homeless shelter. Then I started working at the rehab clinic. Then I started spending hours every day hanging out with all the homeless people in my community. I started seeing the joke that so much of Christianity has become. I have written about the problem of hypocritical western Christianity so much on my blog that some people think I’m decidedly anti-Christian!
But dear reader, dear atheist reader. It works both ways. You too are apart of a culture that has alienated itself from the people at the bottom. You go on vacations, you drink your lattes, and you live a life that keeps you hidden from the people at the bottom. But you are more than welcome to come sip coffee with me anytime you want; and see what it’s like drinking coffee all the way down here at the bottom.
Categories: Culture & Society