The opposite of fear is not courage, but hope. Courage is what it takes to walk through the valley of the shadow of fear, while hope is a candle that "lights up the darkness" in the valley, as Bob Marley put it. And the difference between atheists and Christians may all come down to their different ideas about hope.
For the Christian, hope rests almost exclusively in the belief that God loves us like a father and ultimately wants the very best for us, and is even willing to die for us to make sure we have it. That hope comes with the belief that we have nothing to fear from death; for death is simply a doorway to eternal life, thanks to the fact that we are all in part responsible for the brutal murder of Christ (hooray for us!). Salvation, then, is ours, if we will but simply believe it, by believing in God. And for the Christian, this means necessarily believing in Christ. And for the Catholic, it means obeying God by obeying His "hand-maiden," the Catholic Church, no matter how many sins it may commit.
By extension, all of the rules and regulations that Christians or the Catholic Church create and impose are seen by Christians as the necessary guardrails that line the narrow road to heaven. They are described as "road-signs" by the Christians, even though atheists see them more like an electrified fence, or even a series of cattle-prods.
For Christians, these road signs and guardrails are not simply the means by which we can find a cure for the fatal human sickness of original sin, they are also the only means of reaching heaven. Take down the signs or the guardrails, as they see it, and people will begin falling in droves from that narrow road, into the gaping maw of hell below. Hell, in this respect, is a threat that is used to keep people on the narrow road, and continually building up and reinforcing the guardrails on either side of it. (The Christians see themselves like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, in this sense, "You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!")
As Christians see it, then, all of the "sins" and evils in the world come down to people not worshiping God enough by defending the "rules" they believe come from God; rules that must be followed like a road map, by everyone, in order for people to avoid hell, prevent evil from spreading in the world, and ultimately keep hope alive. The Christian believes they must do whatever it takes, in this sense, including martyrdom if necessary, to keep hope alive, by keeping their beliefs alive - no matter what. For only by holding onto their beliefs, regardless of how bloody, illogical, or contrary to scientific evidence those beliefs may be, are they able to hold onto their ideas of hope. Their hope, then, is basically intellectually and emotionally inseparable from their beliefs.Yet this is not necessarily the case with Atheists.
For the Atheist, hope is not about wishing for an eternal life in paradise with a God who is cruel enough to drown everything and everyone on the planet, and then orchestrates the brutal murder of his own son in order to atone for the sins of the imperfect humanity he "intelligently designed" to be so sinfully stupid they could be counted on to murder the son of their own God. Anyone who puts their "hope" in such a fantasy, even if it all makes perfect sense to them, is still focused on the wrong thing, as Atheists see it.
To put it another way, we can compare the difference between atheists and Christians to people on the Titanic. The atheist hopes to stop the Titanic from sinking by understanding everything they can about the ship and the diverse differences of all those aboard, so they can work together, save the ship, and ultimately each other. Christians, on the other hand, feel that praying to the almighty shipbuilder and obeying the rules set out in the ships manual about how guests should comport themselves while aboard, is not only the best way to understand everyone on the ship, but is the only real way to save the ship from sinking to a watery grave. And even if they are wrong, and the ship sinks, they believe their prayers and obedience to the rules will ultimately "save them," by raising them from the dead like Lazarus when they eventually reach Davey Jone's Locker at the bottom of the sea.
The Christian believes that their plan of action is such an obviously the better plan, in fact, that the only people who cannot see how obviously better it is, must be either blinded by the devil or just spiritually stupid. After all, for the Christian, everything in the world confirms their plan is not only the right one, but the only one - especially atheists! The Atheist, however, finds it difficult to tell if the Christians are joking or simply insane. "Where is all of this "evidence" that these Christians claim "proves" such a belief will actually work?," the Atheist asks, "And who is this "almighty shipbuilder" that they continually talk to in their head, both individually and collectively, and ask to help us out of this mess? I mean, isn't he the same guy who built the ship this way, according to these Christians, and thus put us in this mess in the first place?"
Also, the Atheist understands that, while half of the Christians on this Titanic planet seem to want to help save the ship and each other, the other half seems to want to sink it by starting Armageddon, because people haven't been following the rules which were written in stone by the shipbuilder. Half of these Christians want to sink the ship, in other words, simply because they want God to drown all of the passengers who are Atheists! And since Christians believe that only a person who "believes" in their God and their religion can go to heaven, for the most part, their desire to sink the ship is not only an attempt to get to heaven, it is also an attempt to savor the revenge of murdering Atheists.
Indeed, for the Atheist, the brutality of Christianity comes from an emotional addiction to the bribe of heaven and the unhinged and irrational fear of the threat of hell. After all, who among us would be willing to throw themselves into eternal hell for the sake of saving all of humanity? Indeed, even Christ is said to have only visited that horrible place for three days, before he decided to get the hell out of there. Hope for the Christian, therefore, means saving the Titanic by forcing everyone to accept their beliefs, so that God won't scuttle the Titanic in a righteous wrath, the same way he allegedly did with Sodom and Gomorrah. Hope for the Atheist, however, is that we will one day learn to put aside such ridicules beliefs, and work together to save each other, and possibly the whole world.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
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