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Can an Atheist Have Hope in Something?
What Does an Atheist Have Hope In?
This hub is copied from a comment I left on another hub. I chose to make a hub out of it because I think it was a fair assessment on my view of the world. For those who choose to base their only hope on the chance of a god, it's often difficult to imagine any hope being possible without one. That is not the case - and this hub is my attempt to bring that hope to life and share my view of hope with others.
My story is a long one. I wrote a hub on it briefly, called "why would an atheist study the bible" that you can check out if you want. i was raised in the church but I've always had my questions. I was told that I shouldn't ask, and just trust in god. Eventually, that failed to be enough. In college, I was a history and biblical literature major with an emphasis on theology. The more I learned about the early christian church (or churches) who wrote the gospels, how the new testament was compiled and how prone it was to outright forgery, I started no longer believing in it. When I learned about the old testament, I realized that a god that would treat his "creation" that way is not a good god. I also came to realize that any supreme deity that would be capable of creating the universe wouldn't care one bit about being worshiped. The god of the bible seems to be an egomaniac. He likes the smell of burning flesh. He orders sacrifice. He commits genocide, degrades women, is okay with slavery and commands the death sentence for rape victims who do not protest loudly enough to be heard. That's not an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god. And any god who has the power to do ANYTHING that he wants would not resort to sending himself to earth in order to sacrifice himself to himself in order to appease himself for the rules that he himself created. It's backwards - it's bronze-age justifications for things that were unexplainable - much like the ancient Romans thought that Zeus was the god of thunder because they did not understand where else lightning would come from - so they invented a god to explain it.
Can You Have Hope without Believing in a God?
Looking Towards the Future
As far as hope for the future, I can only make one point. This life is the ONLY one that we know with certainty that we have. Since I don't have a belief in god, it is my intention to live this life to the fullest. I do good things for other people. I volunteer my time and make donations to charities - not because a god commanded me to, because I was promised eternal rewards or threatened with eternal torture if I didn't, but because it's the right thing to do for other human beings, regardless of what they believe or don't believe. I can't imagine throwing this life away and bending to the will of a god without any evidence that he exists - only to find out in the end that god wasn't real - and I wasted my only opportunity to live a life that makes me happy and fulfilled by just being me. The cost of Christianity is staggering. It teaches you that you're inherently sinful - that you're not worthy of god's love or forgiveness unless you accept his son. You're taught that god cannot love you just the way you are because there's something wrong with you and that you need to ask forgiveness in order for him to accept you. You have to obey his rules and likewise try to force those rules on other people who don't share your beliefs. You're taught that everyone you love is going to go to hell and be tortured forever unless they believe the same thing that you do. That's abusive behavior. There's nothing wrong with me. I'm a loving, intelligent, compassionate person - and I don't need a god to be that way.
Fallacies, Logic and Lies
Many Christians resort to the use of an argument entitled "Pascal's wager" and I wrote a hub on that as well. It states, basically, that having a belief in something on the chance that you're right is better than not believing anything at all - but that's far from the truth. Either a god exists, or one doesn't. That makes it equal at 50/50. Those chances diminish, however, when you consider that there have been thousands of different god claims throughout humanity - which means that there's only a slim chance that YOUR particular god belief is correct. If I die and realize upon my death that you and other Christians were right, fine. I would not worship the god of the bible. He can punish me as he sees fit. He seems to have set up a system that makes belief in him practically impossible for those who are skeptical and are incapable of blind faith. If he has gone to such great lengths to hide his existence from those who have truly sought him, refused to provide concrete evidence of his existence and/or hardened the hearts of those who would seek him but then couldn't, then it's no wonder that secularism and non-belief is the largest growing population in many Western Countries. I don't do good because I have fear of punishment after I die. I don't do good because I'm hoping for a cosmic, eternal reward either. I do good in my life and strive to live as openly and honestly as possible because it's simply the right thing to do - and if that simply isn't good enough, then so be it. Skeptics like me cannot be expected to give up on finding out the truth to choose to believe in something that we see no good justification for.
If a believer dies and realize that they were wrong and either a different god exists or no god exists, what's the cost going to be for them? What would they have given up in your only life in service to this god when you could have been living as good of a life without him? The hope I have as an atheist is simple. I was fine before I was born. I didn't exist, and I wasn't afraid. When I die, I'm going to be fine as well. I'll either continue to exist somewhere else, or I'll be gone - and if I'm gone, there's nothing to be afraid of - and I don't need a promise of heaven to make myself feel better about dying. Everybody dies. Not everybody truly lives.
Links to Other Hubs Mentioned
- Continued Difficulties Reconciling the Cost of Pascal's Wager
known as a last-ditch effort to appeal to the emotions of a non-believer, Pascal's wager is used in debates worldwide - but is it compelling enough to justify believe? There are many problems with the premise itself, and in the end it's simply ineffe
- Why Would an Atheist Study the Bible?
Why would a self-proclaimed atheist continue to study the bible? Why would they continue to investigate a claim that they don't believe? This is my story - and how I became an atheist in the first place.
© 2013 Julie McFarland