Published by www.usatoday.com
This Easter it seems that atheists have a lot to rejoice about. According to the latest poll released by the U.S. Census Bureau in its American Religious Identification Survey, the number of self-proclaimed atheists in America has nearly doubled since 2001 — from 900,000 to 1.6 million.
In a nation that once prided itself on its Judeo-Christian heritage, one out of every five Americans now claims no religious identity whatsoever; and the number of self-proclaimed Christians has declined by a whopping 15%.
Yes, those who believe in nothing seem to be winning more and more converts every year.
The superstition of atheism.
Of course, it’s not quite fair to say that atheists believe in nothing. They do believe in something — the philosophical theory known as Materialism, which states that the only thing that exists is matter; that all substances and all phenomena in the universe are purely physical.
The problem is that this really isn’t a theory at all. It’s a superstition; a myth that basically says that everything in life — our thoughts, our emotions, our hopes, our ambitions, our passions, our memories, our philosophies, our politics, our beliefs in God and salvation and damnation — that all of this is merely the result of biochemical reactions and the movement of molecules in our brain. What nonsense.
We can’t reduce the whole of reality to what our senses tell us for the simple reason that our senses are notorious for lying to us. Our senses tell us that the world is flat, and yet it’s not. Our senses tell us that the world is chaotic, and yet we know that on both a micro and a macro level, it’s incredibly organized. Our senses tell us that we’re stationary, and yet we’re really moving at incredible speeds. We just can’t see it.
But the most important things in life can’t be seen with the eyes. Ideas can’t be seen. Love can’t be seen. Honor can’t be seen. This isn’t a new concept. Judaism and Christianity and Islam and Buddhism have all taught for thousands of years that the highest forms of reality are invisible and mysterious. And these realities will never be reducible to clear-cut scientific formulae for the simple reason that they will never be fully comprehensible to the human mind. God didn’t mean them to be.
No less a genius than Albert Einstein once said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience in life is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: for his eyes are closed.”
Too many people go through life today with their eyes closed. They miss out on the mysterious because they’re so fixated on what they can see and smell and touch and taste and hear. They’re so steeped in the “superstition of materialism” that they’re totally blind to the existence of another world — a radically different world than the one they’re familiar with, but a world nonetheless: a world of miracles, a world of grace, a world of angels, a world of diabolical warfare, a world where the highest values are completely opposite from those of our secular society — where weakness equals strength, sacrifice equals salvation, and suffering equals unlimited power.
Wishful thinking? Really?
Atheists, of course, claim that all of this is absurd. Christianity, especially, they say, with its belief in Easter and the Resurrection, is nothing but “wishful thinking” — the product of weak human psychology; a psychology that is so afraid of death that it must create “delusional fantasies” in order to make life on Earth bearable.
But is it wishful thinking to believe in hell, the devil and demons? Is it wishful thinking to believe we’re going to be judged and held accountable for every sin we’ve ever committed? Is it wishful thinking to believe the best way to live our life is to sacrifice our own desires for the sake of others? Is it wishful thinking to believe that we should discipline our natural bodily urges for the sake of some unseen “kingdom”?
And while we’re at it, is it wishful thinking to believe God wants us to love our enemies? For goodness sake, what kind of demand is that?
If human beings were going to invent a religion based on wishful thinking, they could come up with something a lot “easier” than Christianity. After all, why not wish for a religion that promised eternal life in heaven, but at the same time allowed promiscuous sex, encouraged gluttony, did away with all the commandments, and forbade anyone to ever mention the idea of judgment and punishment?
Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense? And yet, atheists persist in this ridiculous notion that human beings “invented” God merely because we’re afraid of death and want to see our dead relatives again. Amazing.
But atheists can scoff all they want. They can write all the bestselling books they want. No matter how hard they try, they will never succeed in making Christianity “a thing of the past.” And they will never succeed in snuffing out that faith in God that all human beings naturally possess; a faith that is ingrained in our minds, hearts and souls forever. Why?
Because aside from all the logical arguments for God’s existence and all the miracles and all the truths contained in Scripture, one simple fact remains: 2,000 years ago, on that first, quiet Easter Sunday morning, Christ did rise.
Anthony DeStefano is the author of the Doubleday book, The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons and the Spiritual Realities that Surround Us.