The Expository Files.

"Atheism is a Cruel, Long-term Business"


"Atheism is a cruel, long-term business: I believe that I have gone through it to the end." - Jean-Paul Sartre.

A lack of belief will have an adverse effect on the unbeliever. It will not always be the same effects on all unbelievers. Some will become morbid and disillusioned. Others will become fatalistic and cynical.

But are there not happy atheists? Superficially, there are. Sometimes unbelief will show itself in a "happy, go lucky" attitude toward life. Not every atheist takes Sartre's gloomy perspective.

But in taking a closer look, we will find a very shallow, superficial happiness. There will be a lack of depth to human love and commitment. If your fellow human beings are here not by Divine plan but due to uncontrolled cosmic forces blindly rolling the dice, then love tends to lose its meaning. Human relationships are devalued when humans have no purpose.

They say about 90% of us believe in God in this country. But the term "God" covers a lot of territory in today's world. Far fewer than 90% believe to the point of their lives being effected. No one suggests that this statistic means that 90% of us are living like we believe in God.

Last century, German philosopher Nietchze issued this challenge: "Show me that you are redeemed and then I will believe in your Redeemer." While the belief or lack of belief of others ought not to have any bearing on what I do with Jesus, he does have a point. Many in high places profess belief in God, call upon the nation to pray during times of crises, invoke the name of God in various ceremonies, and go to church. But then they live immorally, engage in corruption, lie, cheat and steal.

I expect that there are probably fewer people that really believe in God than the 90% suggests. Too many of us who say we do live like we don't.

By Jon W. Quinn 
The Final Page
From Expository Files 4.9; September 1997