“Life sucks and then you die.” Or so said my coworker when she heard about my break-up with my boyfriend yesterday. I laughed, and she promised she would pray for God to take away my troubles. Another acquaintance tried to comfort me by saying I shouldn’t be afraid about finding another man in the future. God would provide, and we have nothing to fear.
Well, sometimes life does suck, being lonely is no fun, and once in a while I wonder if I will find a mate for the long haul who will be an amazing match for me. But am I afraid? Does being an atheist have anything to do with my heartache? I don’t think so, no.
Fear and Humanity
Do atheists fear the world? Is fear a bad thing? Would believing in God protect us from trouble and remove fear from our lives?
“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” —Oswald Chambers
There was a time when I thought that all non-Christians lived their life in constant fear. Fear of the future, fear of death, fear that they would be wrong in the end and have to face judgment.
[This] is a lie spread by Christianity in order to protect itself from unbelief. If believers think that without god there is only fear, they will be less likely to question their beliefs. … I don’t fear everything. I don’t fear god. I don’t fear death.
At first blush, I agree with his reaction to Chambers and those who quote him. I also spent my life thinking non-believers had no hope in life and no comfort in trials. When my father died, I thanked Jesus that I had him to help and console me and that I didn’t have to mourn hopelessly like non-Christians did.
I think I see what Ozzy (as one of my favorite authors as a believer, we’re on a nickname basis ;)) was saying in the sense that fearing God basically meant having a reverential respect and sense of incredible awe towards Yahweh’s powers. If you think your deity is perfect, good, loving, and can do anything for you that you ask for, then I can see how the world and our struggles might appear less daunting or intimidating. If I had Superman in my back pocket, I’d feel pretty safe.
Unfortunately, this view takes away the dignity and power and capability from the individual and places it all on an unknowable, untouchable, invisible being who doesn’t show up in tights and a cape when life goes awry. As believers, we do not teach ourselves to be able and influential if all we focus on is our inability and God’s super-ability.
I much prefer the humanistic point of view that we are empowered to do good, and to do it as best we can. Sure, there will be impossible obstacles to overcome along the way, and no, we won’t have an escape from struggle. But we will know that we chose to act, and we made the world a better place despite any fear or failure.
Life is hard, and some of it is frightening, but we need not bend to fear or tell ourselves that a supernatural superhero is going to come save us. We don’t need to be weaklings or self-deprecating. Even the most imperfect of us can do the most good. We need to work and toil together and hope for what’s real.
A Personal P.S.
I truly appreciate the kind tweets, emails, and texts many of you have sent in response to my broken relationship. I don’t often know how to reveal that side of my inner life to people—even my closest friends and family. Having virtual and long-distance hugs and kind words come from you really does make an impact on my feelings. Thank you so much. I’m very sad about things ending between him and I , but I am very thankful that we handled it like grown-ups and have split amicably. I’m sure this will be a good thing for both of us in the long run.