Regarding Hope: The Atheist’s View

It is often said by believers of all faiths that to be without God is to be without a thing called Hope.

Hope, defined as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best, is far from foreign to me. I’d even go so far as to say that my life is more filled with hope now than it ever was when I believed in the god of Christianity.

When I was a believer my hope was in my salvation, something I believed to have been provided by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I had the hope that the things of this world would soon pass away and that there would be an eternity of God’s presence to endure. I had hope in the promise of a relationship with that god and in the idea that he wanted for me to experience his love and compassion despite my own depravity (and in the idea that he desired this same thing for all mankind.). I experienced the hope of an afterlife and hope in miracles while still living.

I know the hope that the Christian speaks of, I’ve experienced it, felt it, lived it…in fact I know from personal experience all of the elements that Christians or other religious folks may claim that the godless are not privy to, yet hope is by far one of the most prevalent elements of my life now – without god.

I have hope, I have lots of it. I feel that what I have now is far more tangible than what I had prior to my fall from grace.

People give me hope daily. Sometimes people take some of my hope away, but when we make progress toward a brighter future it is renewed. When we do good things to one another or fight for causes we deem just, I am overwhelmed by hope. When one of us spends his or her life’s work on developing cures for diseases and cancers it gives me hope that we care about one another, and that if we keep doing so eventually we’ll get to our next step toward a society that can be considered appropriate.

I have a hope that one day our species will find a way to cope with the problems of life without a need for religion and that also one day there will be social justice for all people. I have hope that at some point in the near future that technology will be developed that can provide nutritious food for all people and that we will use that technology to actually feed people. In the idea that our prejudices and our failures will one day be forgotten.

Out of curiosity I asked my Facebook fans if they as atheists lacked a sense of hope, I wanted to share their answers…anonymously of course:

DJ Said:I hope for things all the time. I mean I “hope” the Patriots go to the Superbowl this year. I hope I have fun on vacation. I mean these things aren’t exclusive to theism. I usually get pretty irritated when certain people claim you “can’t” have certain things without a God.

HD said:I tend to be cheerfully pessimistic about most things. I hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Never (certainly not in the past 40 years) had a need for a god to be hopeful.
CS Said: I have never met a hopeless atheist, but I have met many religious with false hope. They may think they have hope, but the downtrodden look in their eyes and the depression of their very being begs to differ. When deep down you know your hope is meaningless, how could you possibly feel anything but despair?

I do hope for all kinds of things though, be it a better economy, progress, more freedom, and so on.

TC said:Oh I have hope. I’m optimistic and hopeful every day 🙂 Don’t need a god to do that 🙂

GW said:God is lack of hope. I don’t want to be a tiny part in something else’s plan. I don’t want to be judged on unknown criteria.
  • BigDaveyB

    The hope Christians talk about is hope of defeating death and the grave.
    Christians believe in the resurrection. We hope in Heaven (not floating on clouds but a tangible place) and in eternity. This is the hope we hold on to. It is a hope that an atheist cannot have.
    Here is a statistic that you might want to check out instead of taking my word on it: 10 out of 10 people WILL DIE. Some of you might not live past this year. If you say that the thought of dying does not come to your mind then you are a liar. Look in the mirror. Your body is decaying slowly until it will finally give out and your heart will stop beating. If you are lucky, you will not have to go through the slow, painful death of cancer or some other disease. Some of us will die quickly "before our time".
    Every day is one day closer to our death. I look forward to that day. I do not look forward to the process of dying but in the end result.
    If it is true we are accidents on this piece of rock and that nothing we do makes any difference then why bother arguing weather there is a god or not? Let the Christians believe what they want since it doesn't matter.
    "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you will die."

    • ian

      We would love to. Most atheists agree, do whatever you want, believe whatever you want. But the problem we have is in the faithful, piously touting their religion as truth, stuffing it in our face, berating us because we believe differently, demand that our culture resemble that of their book and then get angry at US when we fight back. Christians (and all other religions) have been jamming this BS in our faces. So don't get angry when we fight back.
      We'd love to let bygones be bygones. Believe what you want and waste your day with prayer. We'll go do something useful.

  • Tolerance for the beliefs of others includes allowing them to believe what they want without using subtle or not-so-subtle attacks on that belief such as ian's comment above; "Believe what you want and waste your day with prayer. We'll go do something useful."

    I have found with many atheists that they are very condescending to us lesser beings whose tiny intellectual exercises hardly compare to their great understanding of things. Should I retaliate with the same careless lack of grace and condescension that ian used that would be labeled as demeaning and lacking respect, and well it should. But ian's remarks should also be labeled as disrespectful and demeaning as well. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    The love of Christ constrains genuine Christians to love beyond mere human love because it is commanded by God that we "love our enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for those who despitefully use you." In obedience to that Christians will turn the other cheek when smitten however heavily or lightly and continue on loving those who attack them whether subtly or overtly.

    As far as hope is concerned, our hope is in Christ, and as for me personally, my greatest joy is found in knowing that one day I will be in his presence and behold him who died for me. The other things promised to Christians pale in comparison to that one thing as they should for all true believers. Eternal life is an added blessing, as are a mansion or a crown or crowns and the absence of sin, death, misery, sickness and etc. but Christ is all in all to the Christian and the most priceless treasure in existence.

    I know that my redeemer lives. I have done miracles in his name because of his power that works in and through me, and I am more sure of eternal life than I have ever been of death or any other thing I know of. Respect that. I respect your right to deny what I believe and even to mock what I believe if you wish. I only ask you respect in return. I hope you can give it.