Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Cold Comfort of Atheism

As our television brought us images and news of the horrific events in Connecticut in these past few days, we have mourned and sat in shock like much of the country. My wife told me that she couldn’t believe how many times she heard Jesus’ name on the news in the days after the shooting. Normally, after tragedies or even a death is mentioned on television, people say something like, “our thoughts go out to them.” However, every moment where this phrase would have usually been inserted, a different phrase was uttered, “our thoughts and prayers go out to these families.” News anchors wore visible crosses around their necks, Roman Catholic priests, evangelical pastors and rabbis graced the various news channels giving comfort and trying to bring some sense of God’s perspective to all this. The town had prayer and memorial services that were aired on television and of course the President brought some good words a few different times regarding the tragedy and often mentioned and quoted scripture. What does this all mean? Where do we go in times of tragedy? Where do people turn? Even those who are not that religious very often seem to turn to God in hopes of comfort and peace. Many people come to faith in Christ in the midst of gut-wrenching tragedy and loss.

I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of comfort renowned and outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher were offering to people. What kind of comfort could they bring in light of their worldview? Well, I decided to check out their websites today. In the days after the tragedy, Bill Maher blogged about the Fiscal Cliff and some clip of a talk about gun control. Richard Dawkins posted stories about how the number of Christians is dwindling in England and Europe overall. Not a mention of the victims, not a mention of the tragedy, not a word of comfort to be found (by me) on their websites. I know that there are agencies and organizations of atheists that help people out in tragedies like hurricanes, tsunamis and the like. Yet, everyone in the news and in the press conferences with locals there in Connecticut mentioned that evil had visited that small town. If you are Dawkins, Maher or any of their other cohorts, you really can’t believe in evil, because you can’t really believe in an ultimate good. According to their worldview, everything is relative and at our core we are really just DNA seeking basic needs like food and the “need” to reproduce. Their worldview doesn’t seem to produce much comfort. Do they even care? Can they?

What a cold blanket this worldview offers in a time like this! To be sure, faith in Christ does not exist as some sort of cough drop for tough times. The point of the Christian’s relationship with Christ is not to merely make them feel better; instead our entire view of the world is rearranged. There is salvation and grace and love and forgiveness, but there is also a foundation. When everything else around us crumbles, we are not without hope and alone. Then again, our friends Maher and Dawkins would say that we are simply attempting to make ourselves feel better through believing in this “religion.” Someone once said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” The question of evil in the world plagues some people, but the fact is that the truth that God has given to us in the Bible explains our world. It was created perfect, sin entered, all was broken, redemption was promised, Jesus came to begin that redemption (which we prepare to celebrate at Christmas) and we wait for the day that He will return to finish His work. We currently reside in that anxious middle, knowing the work that God did in Christ before and knowing the work that He will do in Christ in the future. He will do it, because He said that He will.

To what or to whom do you turn when everything crumbles? May God do a work in the hearts of those that lost and may He bring many others to Him through this tragedy as they grieve and search for the fulfillment that they were created to receive from God through Christ.

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