George Ricker www

The short answer is “it can’t.”

That’s not because of any deficiency in atheism. It is because atheism is simply the absence of god-belief. It is not the opposite of religion but is the absence of theism.

Atheism simply represents a starting point for considering life and the universe without gods. The atheist may find hope and comfort in many places: human concerns, friends, family, the joys of work and pleasures of all kinds.

Life without gods is not at all the joyless existence that some religionists make it out to be. I was a Christian for most of the first half of my existence. Since escaping the influence of gods and religions thirty-plus years ago, I have found my life to be more productive, happier and more fulfilled in every way.

Posted: March 28th 2009

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Eric_PK

When I was a christian, I didn’t find a lot of hope and comfort in religious beliefs. You are supposed to worship the OT god, who is really just a big bully. The “eternal life” gig sounds pretty good when you first hear it, but is lacking specifics. And I didn’t get comfort from the fact that god would be just as accepting of somebody who (for example) murdered 15 children as long as they asked for forgiveness.

However, I’ll accept your premise. The answer to your question is simple – if there is no supernatural source of comfort and hope, you are stuck with the natural sources – yourself, and other people. I would much prefer a group of people who were less happy but more focused on the here and now rather than more happy but focused on the hereafter.

The rigorous definition of that is humanism, and the majority of atheists that I’ve met are humanists (though they may not self-define themselves that way or belong to any humanist organizations (American humanist, council for secular humanism, etc.))

Posted: December 12th 2008

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Stefan www

For me this question is easy to answer: My hope and comfort comes from optimism. The knowledge that every rainfall is followed by sunshine.

I recently read the Greek creation myth. At the end of it, Pandora opens a mysterious box and what comes out of it is all the evil, the pain and the suffering in the world. Pandora screams and her husband Epithemus rushes home and closes the box. But it’s already too late, all the bad things have already escaped.

Later that night, they hear a whisper from that same box:

“Let me out, I am hope.”

Pandora and Epimetheus released her and she flew out into the world to give hope to humankind.

—

I had to cry when I read that story for the first time.

Posted: June 21st 2007

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logicel

Theism, with its non-evidential basis of using faith to comfort, can offer what seems to be wonderful solutions for difficult situations such as the death of our loved ones, by wielding very popular and potent, make-believe responses. In the case of our human mortality, blissful eternity is offered with no evidence whatsoever.

Atheism can not and will not compete with religion on this level of magical make-believe.

However, atheism allows us to embrace reality in all of its fullness, encouraging us to discover and make our own meaning in the natural world. It applauds humanity in its courage to face natural reality and live within its limits.

Richard Dawkins expresses this viewpoint on page 1 of The God Delusion:

I suspect – well, I am sure – that there are lots of people out there who have been brought up in some religion or other, are unhappy in it, don’t believe it, or are worried about the evils that are done in its name; people who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents’ religion and wish they could, but just don’t realize that leaving is an option. If you are one of them, this book is for you. It is intended to raise consciousness – raise consciousness to the fact that to be an atheist is an realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one. You can be an atheist who is happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled.

Posted: June 1st 2007

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