panelarrow

Atheist Tuesday: The Unbeliever’s Great Hope

| 37 Comments

Two days after the Christian’s holiest and most hopeful day, Resurrection Sunday, the atheist, too, has a great hope.

This hope grants atheists rest at night, peace for the future, and no repercussions for the past. What is this hope?

The atheist’s great hope is that God is not real, Jesus is still dead in the grave and that the resurrection never happened.  Why is that a hope for them?

If they’re right, they will not be held accountable for their sins, like the Bible says (see John 9:41), there will be no judgment of their life, like the Bible says (see Hebrews 9:17), and there will be no future condemnation in Hell, like the Bible says (see Mark 9:42-48).

Is it any wonder why, when faced with the dire consequences as outlined in the Bible, that unbelievers have made God’s Word “the most banned, burned, banished and vilified book in history”? “It’s been criticized for 2,000 years, yet is has an incredible way of outliving its enemies.”

The Roman emperor Diocletian, for example, issued an edict demanding every Bible on earth be destroyed, along with the people who owned them. But within twenty-five years, Diocletian was gone and Rome was paying for the publication of more bibles.

The French skeptic Voltaire predicted that within a hundred years of his death the Bible would be a forgotten book. Within fifty years of Voltaire’s death, however, the Geneva Bible Society was using his house to publish Bibles for Europe.

Bernard Ramm wrote, “A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put.”

Today the bible is more widely translated, published, and read than in all previous centuries combined. By its teachings weak people find strength, worried people find peace, confused people gain answers, and intelligent people grow wiser.

So you see, dear atheist friend, your hope is actually no hope at all, but a denial. A denial of truth. What you cling to is false hope, one built on sand, a vapor in the wind.  You may reject the Creator despite all evidence, yet God will have his way, ultimately, and your hope will perish, as have all unbelievers before you, as brute beasts. (See Psalm 73)

But a believer’s hope is in Jesus, risen from the dead, providing forgiveness to all who repent and call on his name. As he said, “…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, KJV)

*****

Image courtesy of The Friendly Atheist.
Quotes from Robert J. Morgan in the introduction to the New King James Bible.

37 Comments

  1. Great article Steve
    Had a good chuckle over Voltaire’s house being used for printing Bibles after he predicted the Bible would be a forgotten book.

  2. I love being told what I supposedly think, especially when it’s completely wrong.

    Seriously?

  3. It boggles the mind that annihilation strikes anyone’s mind as a kind of “hope.” That conclusion of the atheist led me to seek Christ.

  4. Good one Steve –

    Hey Nohm; long time no see…

  5. “Today the bible is more widely translated, published, and read than in all previous centuries combined. By its teachings weak people find strength, worried people find peace, confused people gain answers, and intelligent people grow wiser. ”

    This is a interesting statement. So it’s agreed upon that you use the Bible to target weak people, worried people, and confused people. And if you do not fall into any of those categories and don’t follow your specific belief or Bible you must be wrong and will go to hell. Sorry to disappoint but not everybody is weak, confused, or worried.

    I can’t agree with the fact that an intelligent person would grow wiser by just reading one bible or following on belief though…i would assume that a intelligent person would explore more religions and beliefs than just one. Perhaps learn about many different religions and not necessarily go head first into the first one he comes across.

    My only questions to you Steve: Somebody is scared of death and confused in life and they believe in something….why must they only believe in your beliefs? Why can’t they find comfort somewhere else? Why do you and your followers constantly tell people they will still burn in hell even though they are good people just as lost as you were once? They just decided upon another religion or belief.

  6. Hi Wayne Dawg, hope you’re doing well.

    Bike wrote: “It boggles the mind that annihilation strikes anyone’s mind as a kind of “hope.”

    Yeah, me too. Maybe it’s because no atheist I know has hope of annihilation, and mind-reading actually doesn’t work.

  7. Steve, reality isn’t based on what either you or I hope to be true. And the reality is that there is no good evidence for your God. Arguments from incredulity, arguments from ignorance, arguments from authority are really not good evidence. I mean, would you accept those sorts of arguments in support of other gods?

  8. Eh Steve I don’t think there is a ‘hope’ for annihiliation, merely an acknowledgement that we do not know what comes after we are dead. We could become a different sort of consciousness or cease to exist entirely. The problem people have with the latter is that not a single person alive today can fathom oblivion or what it means to not be conscious in some manner. The belief in transitioning to a hire state of being is a hallmark of virtually ALL religions, it offers solace and a sense of continuity and security to life. Atheists that are truthful will say that they don’t know, the religious will say that they do, but where they get their source for that information usually relates to whatever their holy text or cleric has told them. The hard part is that we have no way of testing metaphysical claims to know which religious view of the afterlife is the correct one, I mean you don’t practice Ancestor Worship do you Steve? And even if Christianity’s view of the afterlife is correct what is the advantage of having eternal life?

  9. Hi Steve,

    “Believe” and “hope” mean two very different things, don’t you agree?

    In your post, and in Bike’s comment, you guys are talking about “hope”. That’s my issue.

    I think the problem is that you guys believe in what you prefer, while I believe in what matches reality and works. Therefore, I think the problem of equating “belief” and “hope” deals with your projection.

    Your entire post talks about someone who isn’t like me or any atheist that I know, Steve.

    (For the record, I will not be rotting in the ground; my body is getting donated. Also, all an atheist is is someone without a belief in one or more gods; we don’t have any common view on souls or what happens after we die. Having said that, yes, most atheists “believe” that we don’t have a soul and there is no evidence of an afterlife.)

  10. So Bubba, you just believe what you believe because it makes you feel better? The cessation of existence isn’t pleasant, but it’s the most reasonable post-death explanation we have. It’s certainly not a good thing, but the centuries before you were born weren’t too bad, were they?

    And Steve, it gets worse! The Great Atheist Hope (henceforth known as GAH) is for all gods to not exist. What good does your [G]od’s non-existence do me if Allah is real? I’m still doomed! It’s a weird coincidence that many gods punish people for disbelief. Almost as if they’re trying to scare believers into worship. Funny coincidence, eh?

    I’ll just let Nohm rip into the rest of your article. I can hear the Muslim equivalency argument chewing you up already…

    Om nohm nohm nohm…

    • Reminder folks: If you don’t capitalize God’s name. I trash your comments. Last warning.

      Nohm: You better “hope” there is no Christian God.

      perdita, To me, all of creation is evidence enough.

      Vintango, The advantage of eternal life for starters: No more crying, pain, suffering, disappointment, death… or atheists! Shall I go on?

  11. You’d think with the all powerful deity behind them, that their mind reading skills would improve over time, at least slightly.

  12. God is capitalized when used as a name, but not capitalized when used as a category. You wouldn’t write, “your Daughter,” you would write, “your daughter.” “Allah” in that sentence was used as a name. The word that also means deity wasn’t being used as a name.

    “perdita, To me, all of creation is evidence enough.”

    Evidence for what? Islam? Catholicism? Sikhism? How do you know it’s a creation? Did Slartibartfast make the fjords?

  13. Steve, your blog so feel free to delete, but please give some guidance here. I think that was just good grammar on Garrett’s behalf. For example: “your god” or “the Christian god” as opposed to “God/Jesus/Allah”. If you were talking about Hindu gods would you capitalise?

    I’ll post separately addressing your post now.

  14. Steve mind-read and came up with:

    “The atheist’s great hope is that God is not real”

    Perhaps you could mind read again and answer why would we hope your deity in particular isn’t real?
    Do you hope leprechauns are not real? (Think about all that gold you could have had!)

    I’m not sure what the next part is trying to prove, do you mean to say that because the Bible has lasted a certain amount of time it is true?

    Keep in mind Buddhist texts are older than the bible and have survived numerous censorships including a couple of modern day cultural revolutions over in Asia.

  15. Thanks for the clarification on capitalisation. I’ll use deity/ies to avoid confusion.

  16. @Steve

    How do you KNOW this though Steve, can you point to specific passages in the Bible about whether there will be crying, pain, suffering, or disappointment? I mean I know there are small descriptions of heaven in the Bible, “Buildings of pearl” (So there’s a lot of oysters in heaven?) “Golden streets” (So gold exists in heaven?) and trees with healing fruit (You can get injured in heaven I guess?) But if we are ALL not good people and need to be saved then when we get to heaven, what is to stop us from reverting to type. I mean acceptance of the gift is your ticket to salvation, Dahmer is in heaven now, I’m sure he’s left every single demon behind in his mortal life, but has his mind, his consciousness changed in some way that makes him ‘better’ than his mortal self? And what about people you cared about in life that don’t make it into heaven? Going back to something earlier, what if your kid falls in love with a Jewish man, converts to Judeaism and doesn’t make it into heaven…. just burning away in hell, would that not be agony if you were separated from someone you truly loved that you knew was suffering forever in torment while you were living it up in heaven… for trillions… upon trillions… upon trillions of years? I mean what would you actually do or accomplish with that time?

  17. “The Only God, Jesus, and the Christian God, must be capitalized.

    Don’t care about the other gods.

    Helpful?”

    – Somewhere the holy man who runs “Stone the Krishna” is raging. Or Dancing.

  18. Steve,

    When you said that I hope for certain things, that’s you mind-reading.

    When you said that I hope for certain things, that I don’t necessarily hope for, that’s you doing failed mind-readings.

    Therefore, yes, you’re mind-reading. And failing.

    Do you want me to provide quotes? Can you honestly not see that you’re doing it?

    Here’s one example: “The atheist’s great hope is that God is not real”.

    You keep telling me that I hope that.

    Do you like it when people tell you what you supposedly think when they’re wrong?

    No, of course not.

    It would be like me saying to you “Steve’s great hope is that Allah doesn’t exist and that Steve will not be judged by Allah’s standard.” And if I did it constantly. Over and over. Without understanding that I cannot actually read your mind.

    Lastly, Steve wrote: “Nohm: You better “hope” there is no Christian God.

    Or else what? He’s gonna beat me up?

    For the record, I view “hoping that there is no Christian God” to be utterly silly and useless. I can’t say that at any time have I ever hoped that there is no Christian God (hah! As if there’s just one.)

  19. Steve wrote: “perdita, To me, all of creation is evidence enough.

    Okay, but why should that be evidence for me or perdita? And why is that evidence of a God? And why is that evidence of your God?

    These questions have not be given sufficient answers.

    Hand-waving and special pleading are not sufficient answers.

  20. Should I start calling him Yaweh to avoid confusion?

  21. Or I can do YHWH if you wanna kick it old-school.

  22. This post is a lie…

    And the comment Steve made is also a lie…

    “No mind reading at all.

    Just the truth.”

    As others pointed out, to use Nohm’s words, when you said that I hope for certain things, that’s you mind-reading.

    To go even farther, I would say that I wish you were right, and that death would not be the end. Hence, you could not be farther from the truth…

  23. Man – busy one today. Let’s rush through and see if I can catch up.

    The atheist’s great hope is that God is not real, Jesus is still dead in the grave and that the resurrection never happened.

    No, technically, there’s a difference between “hope” and “lack of belief.” This has already been batted around a lot already, but basically, you’re equating a passive state (the lack) with an active emotion (hope). Apples and oranges.

    It’s the difference between a rock in a stream, and a fish swimming around that same river – you’re saying “Look, they’re in the same place! And they’re both wet! They must be identical.”

    Nonbelievers don’t tend to spend a lot of time fretting and saying “Golly, I hope there’s no God!” Just because you’ve internalized the concept, why do you assume everybody else did?

    If (the atheists are) right, they will not be held accountable for their sins… there will be no judgment of their life… and there will be no future condemnation in Hell

    Can we talk about Gandhi for a second? What happened to him? No sins to speak of, a life easily judged… and God just said “Burn, you heathen!”

    Doesn’t seem kosher to me (so to speak).

    Within fifty years of Voltaire’s death, however, the Geneva Bible Society was using his house to publish Bibles for Europe.

    Sorry, but that’s an urban myth.

    And incidentally, Voltaire, like most of America’s “Founding Fathers,” was a deist, and a strong advocate for the separation of church and state. Jefferson could have been cloned off of the man (maybe from a rib bone?)

    Voltaire also wrote “It does not require great art, or magnificently trained eloquence, to prove that Christians should tolerate each other. I, however, am going further: I say that we should regard all men as our brothers… are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?”

    So, you know, there’s that.

    You may reject the Creator despite all evidence

    You keep saying there’s “evidence,” but never seem to come up with anything that can stand up to scrutiny. It’s like God said “I give you minds to think and the curiosity to question. But I require that you do not use them.”

    Seems… rude, somehow.
    _________

    @Bathtub – Steve can’t admit to mind-reading. “Suffer not a witch to live” and all. (See also Leviticus 20:27)

  24. Steve, your blog – your rules. I just wish you wouldn’t assume insult if we forget your rules and use correct grammar. Do you have a problem if we use lower-case deity when referring to a category?

  25. The atheist’s great hope is that God is not real, Jesus is still dead in the grave and that the resurrection never happened.

    Did you ever have the experience of listening to someone tell a story about someone who has the same name as you? It’s… disorienting, especially if you come in at the middle of it. I mean, it sounds like they’re talking about you – they keep using your name – but the story they’re telling never happened to you, and maybe involves story-you doing some things that real-you wouldn’t have done.

    Listening to you talk about atheists is a lot like that.

  26. Michael, I completely agree, and it’s one of my primary fascinations with Christian and Islamic fundamentalists. I call it “failed mind-reading”.

    I’ve been studying this behavior for years now and the closest I have to an answer is “projection”, but even then I’m certainly not sure that’s the correct answer.

  27. I tend to think of it as a matter of relying on the map to the exclusion of looking at the terrain. The Bible does indeed offer some explanations for why people might not accept the Good News, and naturally Christians who find that puzzling are going to look at those answers. The problem is that if you take (modern) unbelievers at their word, it quickly becomes apparent that those aren’t the only explanations – or even the most common reasons given.

    So the believer must decide whether:
    A) the unbelievers are lying about why they don’t believe,
    B) the explanations given in the Bible are incomplete or out of date (which is not impossible; when the Bible was written, Christians were an extreme minority within a predominantly polytheistic culture),
    C) the Bible is right, but the unbelievers aren’t aware of it – which raises a whole host of other, related problems. (There was an article at airo recently suggesting that “Atheists Hate Jesus, But Some Don’t Realize It”. I submit that if it’s possible not to realize it, then you aren’t using the word “hate” in any recognizable way.)

    I think there are some other factors in this, and I’m sure there are other ways that Christians can (and do) deal with these questions. Also, obviously, I don’t know anything about Islamic fundamentalists. But that’s my current theory on the subject.

    • I read your post. I have a question for you. Who are you to say what the believer must decide?

      Brother Richard

  28. Richard, I think you misunderstood.

    Michael was listing out the options as he saw them. It’s not “must decide” in a “you have to do this now!” kind of way, but in a “the answer seems to have to be one of these options”.

    Do you agree with A, B, or C above, Richard? Or is your opinion something else?

    When Steve and I went through this before, he finally told me he thinks ‘A’ is correct.

  29. I’m sorry; I don’t mean “must” in a commanding (or even absolutely descriptive) sense. It’s not my intent to tell anyone else what to think, let alone what they think already.

    I simply mean that given the radical, fundamental difference between the reasons the Bible gives for why unbelievers don’t believe, and the reasons unbelievers themselves give for why they don’t believe, those are (broadly speaking) the only options I see.

    Do you disagree that disbelievers describe their reasons for disbelief in terms that are completely different from the terms the Bible uses? Or do you disagree that this difference illuminates a conflict between what the Bible appears to say and what appears to happen to real people? Or that the people who take note of that conflict tend to explain it in one of the three ways I just outlined?

    I’d be particularly interested in hearing if there’s a better option, a fourth option, to explain that apparent conflict; but I’m open to anything you have to say on the subject.

  30. Hi everyone, theists, atheists, and all others. Just FYI, I have attached an article titled “God or god?” It states when God is used, and when god is used, and the grammatical rules regarding their usage. I hope this helps everyone.

    http://atheism.about.com/od/doesgodexist/a/capitalization.htm

    Check it out. Yes, God should be capitalized to be grammatically correct, when referring to him in a spefiic way, such as “God is on our side, or God is omnipotent & omnicient”, while God is used in other ways, such as “Christians believe in a god”.

    P.S. I am a Christian, and believe in God, our saviour. I find it quite baffling how so many non-believers can often say “how could your god let bad things happen to man?”, while when GOOD things happen to the world and to them or others, then God has “nothing to do with it”?

    Check out THE PASCAL WAGER! Very interesting.
    Peace and Love to all humanity, whatever your faith or belief is. Let God be the judge, not people judging other people.

    God is Love!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.