“Atheists plan large national convention in Utah next Easter weekend”





It’s obviously an in-your-face choice of venue and date, but I hope that Utahns in general, and Latter-day Saint Utahns in particular, will treat them cordially and with respect.


I know the arguments against theism reasonably well, and I don’t discount their force.  By natural temperament, as it happens, I’m more inclined to skepticism than to faith.  There are legitimate reasons for disbelief, though I ultimately find the reasons for belief more persuasive and find belief itself far more  satisfying.  What I’ve never understood, though, is how some people can seriously claim that atheism represents good news.  I can understand coming sadly to the conclusion that life is purposeless, that the cosmos doesn’t care, and that, at death, we and our loved ones cease to exist.  I simply can’t grasp why anybody would find this a message to be enthusiastic about.


The grave monument for Matthew Stanford Robison


See the obituary notice for Matthew Stanford Robison (1988-1999) here.


I simply cannot imagine a more glorious, joyous message than the one that is implicit in the grave monument shown above.  Certainly the message that we’re here briefly, pointlessly, and then rot, that all human relationships end in death if they haven’t already ended before, doesn’t quite compare.  And almost every other message or fact seems trivial nonsense by contrast.


My gratitude to Charles Steinman for bringing this to my attention.



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  • Bob L.

    I feel the same way, Dan.

  • LBRussell

    Do they know that the Baptists already had the same idea, oh, years ago? How much you wanna bet they do some proselytizing? That won’t be original either.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    As atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel points out in his new book, Mind and Cosmos, the idea that our minds are just meat computers gives us no rational basis to have any confidence in our own rationality, or the reality of the orderly structures that we perceive as the laws of the universe. While there are certainly many ethical atheists, it is not clear that there is anything about atheism that promotes ethical behavior.

    So what would an atheist missionary say as a door approach? “I am here to tell you that life is meaningless and our conversation today is pointless. I have no particular reason for wasting my short time on earth walking up Wasatch Boulevard to tell you this, other than the schadenfreude I get by ripping away the comforting illusions of other people.”

    • Lucy Mcgee

      In my opinion, atheism is not a philosophy, worldview or a basis for morals and ethics. I see nothing within atheism that points to meaninglessness. Atheism is simply the rejection of scriptural doctrine and/or dogma espousing a supernatural deity (in whatever historical form), on no evidence.

      I would assume that if you are an LDS Church member, you likely don’t believe in the various Hindu Gods, or in the prophetic words of Muhammad, or in the teachings of Buddha. Doesn’t your (possible) lack of belief in the deities of other world religions (with billions of adherents), not make you an atheist as well?

      By proselytizing your faith, couldn’t you be ripping away at the comfort of those who believe in a different deity? By discounting the value of people’s lives who happen not to believe as you do, aren’t you making a moral judgement that you have no right to make? Or does your religion allow this?

      • LBRussell

        I don’t think that disparaging someone’s current beliefs is an approved missionary approach. Besides we’re more in the camp that other religions have been-to put it mildly- beneficial (and still are) , that they contain much truth, too. I’d like to comment more but I’m not sure what wou mean by discounting the value of people’s lives. What moral judgements are being made? You make a lot of assumptions and don’t seem to familiar with our most basic doctrines.
        My original point is I will not be surprised if a contingent goes forth from the atheist convention–just to be a pain.

  • Jon

    Please note that the young man’s last name was Robison and that he died in 1999.

    • danpeterson


  • Kent G. Budge

    “What I’ve never understood, though, is how some people can seriously claim that atheism represents good news.”

    Because, as one of Dostoyevsky’s characters put it, “If God is dead, then anything is possible.”

    Of course, that isn’t really good news either, though I can see why some might foolishly think otherwise.

    • Lucy Mcgee

      “Anything is possible” is good news, when one realizes that our human civilization has forward thinking momentum, and will continue to offer more interconnected knowledge for a hopeful future for all of humanity.

      For example, the information age provides us with a planetary view, in amazing detail, of aspects of our existence unknown to most of human history. We can view our planet in real time using satellite data and imagery which massively expands our understanding of the forces that shape our world. Science is ever expanding our knowledge of historical data, and giving us insight into our history as never before. Several decades ago, no one could ever know of this:

      One can only imagine what the best religious minds would have done with such information.

      We the people have many choices regarding religion, possibly because our nation had divorced itself from a national church. The marketplace of religion is wide open on the American continent. Today, there are:

      Baptist in the Evangelical Tradition, Methodist in the Evangelical Tradition, Nondenominational in the Evangelical Tradition, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Anglican/Episcopalian, Congregationalist, Reformed, Anabaptist, Baptist in the historically black tradition, Methodist in the historically black tradition, Pentecostal in the historically black tradition, Holiness in the historically black tradition, Protestant in the historically black tradition, Catholics, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Community of Christ, Jehovah’s Witness, Orthodox, Metaphysical Christians, Jewish traditions, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Unitarian, New Age, Native American and those unaffiliated (agnostic, nothing in particular and atheist).

      Those who believe to know the truth, might consider that they are a minority among the many who also know the truth. There is always an abundance of good news offered by those who may hold the good news of others suspect. Perhaps it is time we all came together.

  • J. E. Fox

    As we go about our daily lives we should note that the great adversary has a very active and committed missionary force of his own. Yet they are still our brothers and sisters and even if they try to bring down others to their own Hell we still need to combat them with love. Thankfully, as I read other notes here I think we are doing a good job doing Missionary work by example if not by action.

    • Lucy Mcgee

      As we go about our daily lives, we should always understand that the vast majority of humans are seeking to live meaningful lives. Some of us do so without superstition and wish thinking.

      You may well believe that a dark force is lurking to corrupt humanity, but the data clearly show that human kind is becoming less violent, less superstitious, and more understanding and tolerant. Of course, in the process, some power structures will fall or become less relevant, and that’s a good thing.

      • Shawn Atchison

        Christianity and the Bible will never cease to exist. Faith in God will never evaporate. Atheists are pounding on an anvil of the Bible and the only thing that will wear out is their hammers. God, the Bible, Christianity, and faith are here to stay for eternity, thank and praise almight, Holy God.