Atheist Hope

From The Daily Dish (again), comes a superb reply to the charge that atheists live meaningless lives.  First the charge:

So, yes, religion has to answer for the crusades.  And atheists have to answer for having no meaningful words of hope to provide in crisis.

And then the reply:

Excuse me? Just because the reader has witnessed people with faith drawing strength from that “belief [in their] existential choice” does not mean that people without faith have no strength to draw on. My entire family is atheist. We’ve weathered the death of my mother and grandfather in car crashes, my father’s death from cancer, three divorces, one cousin going blind while caring for three special-needs kids, and my own struggles with infertility — without once any of us needing to deliberately set aside rationality or reason in order to be comforted by an imaginary friend.

We lean on one another. My father died when I was in grade school. My mother didn’t tell me he was in God’s hands. She told me that she loved me and that she was hurting too, and that together we would survive. When my mother was killed, my grandparents didn’t tell me that “everything happens for a reason.” They told me they loved me, that they were grieving their daughter (she was their daughter-in-law, but they loved her as their daughter), and that I always had a home with them. My aunt is going through a rough divorce after 40 years of marriage, and she says “we won’t ever get over this. But we will get through this.”

If people who believe in a deity take comfort from that belief when they’re suffering, more power to them. But I greatly resent being TOLD that because I don’t believe in the Bearded Sky Fairy that therefore my way of coping with suffering MUST by definition be inferior, empty, hollow, and meaningless. It works for me, and it works for my family. Kindly give me the same respect that I afford you as a theist and don’t assume that because you don’t understand or agree with our method that it must be stupid or useless.

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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