Thursday, November 3, 2016

How Do Atheists Encourage The Dying & The Suffering? (Evaluating Atheism’s Response To Pain)

            How does atheism respond to pain? Does atheism offer meaningful comfort to those in pain? This is a critical aspect to consider so to validate the truth claim of atheism.

            Atheists claim that their worldview is factual. Christians and other theists, by positing God’s existence and value, passionately deny this truth claim.

            A mere propositioning of a truth claim does not confirm the proposition as truth. Hence a statement that atheism is true does not necessarily confirm it to be as true. A truth claim ought NOT to be systemically contradictory i.e. atheism as a worldview should not contradict itself.

            If atheism cannot console atheists, it contradicts itself. Learning how atheists console or encourage those in pain will crucially determine atheism’s constructive relevance in painful situations and meaningful value to those in pain. If atheism is not of value to those in pain, then it would considerably weaken and negate atheism’s truth claim.

            At the other side of the coin is theism and most especially, Christianity, which asserts that the chief end of man is to enjoy and glorify God. When a Christian enjoys God’s presence, he, most certainly, will not voluntarily be in a permanent state of depression1 or sadness. (Depression or sadness may be a temporary phenomenon in a Christian life.) Therefore, Christians would predominantly be peaceful and joyous for they are constantly experiencing and enjoying God’s presence in their life.

            Suffering challenges God’s intent for a man to be joyous. But it is the sovereign God who allows suffering upon the vulnerable man (cf. Job 1: 10; Isaiah 5: 5). Hence, it is incumbent upon God to offer peace and comfort to those believers who are in pain, yet call upon HIM (Philippians 4: 4-7).

            If atheism is factual, it should ensure that its adherents are peaceful and joyful in all situations of life; even the suffering atheists should be peaceful. But peace is not the default attribute of a person in suffering – be it a theist or an atheist.

            Since peace is not innate in man, peace that leads to joy should be offered by an external source greater than man. But atheism ignores or chooses to be blind to the most powerful external source that can ever be – God. Therefore, learning how atheists console and encourage each other would be a valuable means to discern either the truthfulness or the deceit of atheism.

            Atheism operates within the paradigm of rejecting God and enabling man. So instead of asking how atheists console each other, we could ask what atheism offers to its adherents that would be valuable and meaningful for encouragement and consolation of the atheist in pain.

            For the sake of this discussion, I have considered an article from Huff Post written by an atheist striving to write comforting and meaningful words of consolation to a suffering theist.2  


            When the theist lost her father, the atheist strived to console her by saying that she is the epitome of her father and that she should be encouraged about it, “…we're alive through our offspring. You are physically an embodiment of your father's biological and genetic essence. This includes everything from how you look to many of the behavioral and personality traits you have. In other words -- and this is not an exaggeration -- your father is literally alive through you, as mine is through me. For me, knowing that is incredibly powerful and comforting.”3

            If the departed person was a parent, spouse or a friend who loved us deeply and unconditionally, then how does the knowledge of he/she living in me comfort me? I know I live, but then I loved the departed person because he/she loved me unconditionally. When that person is dead and gone, I would miss his love for me.

            (A Christian, on the other hand, knows that God lives in him and that he/she is the image of the living and loving God. God’s love for us far exceeds that of any other person’s love. Hence Christians go to God during times of bereavement, for only God satisfies the yearning of our souls.)


            The comforting atheist continues to console the suffering theist, “I know that we continue to exist through the earth…As part of this huge reservoir of terrestrial carbon, we die and become part of the earth, which gives rise to new life, as it once gave rise to us. That is also very powerful to me in a more collective, worldly sense.”4

            When we die, our physical bodies decay; this is what this atheist refers to as becoming a part of the earth. But earth does not produce new life! Humans are born of humans. The earth, other than the fact that it provides a habitat for our existence, does not play any role in the birth of a baby. So this consolation is meaningless.

            (A Christian believes that upon death his body would decay but his soul would exist in the presence of God. The knowledge and the reminder that I and my loved ones would be living in God’s presence after death will be greatly encouraging and satisfying.)


            In other words, atheism believes that we cease to exist after death. If that were to be factual, this life is all that we have to make sense. But this life does not make any sense. I see evil thriving and evildoers prospering; justice seems to aid only the rich and the powerful. The evil in this world is depressing.

            There is no consolation in ceasing to exist, especially when atheism offers neither a solution nor justice for the prosperity of evil and the suffering of the good. Hence, the knowledge that evil would be unpunished and justice would never be rendered to the suffering people of this world, which is the entailment of atheism, greatly intensifies the depression.

            Non-existence is more painful to consider than existence. If you are offered an option between life and death would you not choose life over death? Anyone would choose life over death, if at all that option is offered to them. In other words, existence is exceedingly superior and greatly desirable than non-existence. If this be the case, how would non-existence console an atheist?

            Atheism has no proof that we cease to exist after death – let’s not even go near the validity of the “Near Death Experiences!” Atheism’s primary proof is that there is no news from the other side of life; hence atheism considers an impossibility of life after death. Silence from the other side of life does not necessarily mean a lack of proof. Hence the belief that we do not exist after death is based on conjecture predicated on pure flights of atheistic fantasy.

            (Christianity relies on the objective truth of the Bible and believes that God would annihilate the Satan and punish the evildoers thereby serving justice. Moreover, the knowledge of the fact that a perfect heaven (sans evil) awaits a Christian is good enough to forget the perils of evil in this world.)


            The comforting atheist says that we could continue to exist in other universes, since we are a part of multiverse. Atheism rejects Christianity for the lack of satisfactory evidence. But atheism does not offer satisfactory evidence of a multiverse or humans’ existence in the multiverse to anyone, let alone an atheist, while asserting that we are a part of a multiverse and may exist in several universes.

            Cosmologist George F. R. Ellis, virtually known as an eminent cosmologist who knows more about cosmology than any single living person, strongly debunks the idea of multiverse.6

            Speaking at the conference to debate whether string theory is science, theoretical physicist David Gross asserted that multiverse is not even a potentially testable theory, “…Much more troubling, he says, are concepts such as the multiverse because the other universes that it postulates probably cannot be observed from our own, even in principle.”7

            On one hand, atheism demands satisfactory evidence for the presence of God, but on the other hand, atheism believes in a concept that is bankrupt of evidence. Therefore, atheism contradicts itself, for any consolation predicated on our existence in the multiverse is meaningless.

            (Christianity offers greater evidence for its veracity than atheism or even the multiverse theory. Death to a Christian is the gateway to heaven or an eternal life with God. The belief that we would live when we die is a stunning consolation to anyone in death bed or in pain, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies…” (John 11: 25, NASB, Emphasis Mine).)


            Both the atheist and the theist have people to comfort them. But people cannot satisfy the longings of our soul. Our intangible soul longs for enduring comfort and answers when we are in pain.

            While in pain, loneliness adds greater pain if there is no proper comforting mechanism. When I am lonely, only a perpetual source of comfort would save me.

            There are moments of acute loneliness in our lives. I could be alone while in company of people or when am in my vehicle or when am in my bed (there may be a spouse or a child by my side, but I still am alone when I am in bed and pondering over my pain and problem at hand.)  But by rejecting God, the atheist deprives himself of the source of perennial comfort and encouragement.

            (The Holy Spirit is the perennial comforter of Christians (John 14:16). A Christian, when he prays to God, is comforted mightily by the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the soul of a Christian who remains in Christ will be at peace and will yearn for God more than people.)


            Meaning to life ought to be discovered and not invented. The sovereign and transcendent God, who creates and sustains, can alone offer credible meaning to life.

            When atheists reject God, they bankrupt themselves of the overarching meaning to life and begin a series of fictitious inventions of comfort that are utterly hopeless. When one loses sense of the real meaning of life and death, there remains only emptiness harshly revealed through vain and empty words of apparent consolation that is devoid of any sense or true meaning to console a person in pain.

            Can the atheist comfort those in pain? They surely can utter words that they think would bring comfort to the others. But do those words offer comfort? No, not by any chance!

            Does Christianity offer true comfort? Yes!

            Those who go to God would be comforted. True comfort is found in God alone, for the Lord Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28, NASB)


Websites cited were last accessed on 3rd November 2016.

1We are not considering depression linked to medical problems.









Ben Wallis said...

I'm not sure how you got the idea that atheism needs to be consoling or comforting in order to be true. Where is the alleged contradiction you think you see? And, why do you think that in order to be factual, atheism must require its adherents to be peaceful and joyful? Sorry to say, but that's a nonsequitur.

It seems to me that you are laboring under the false impression that reality has to be nice and rosy. But reality is often a harsh mistress. You aren't justified in concluding that atheism is false just because you find it undesirable. That's just wishful thinking.

Raj Richard said...

Atheism is false because God exists. Consolation is not a primary premise to debunk atheism. The contradiction is here...

1. Atheism (or any other religious worldview) should innately enable its adherents to be joyous.
2. Atheism fails to offer happiness to its adherents.
3. Atheism contradicts itself.
4. A worldview that is systemically contradictory cannot be a valid worldview.
5. Atheism is invalid.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Ben Wallis said...


Thanks for the response. However, I do not understand what you are trying to say. I still don't know what contradiction you think you see in atheism.

Even if you are correct that atheism somehow leads to unhappiness, that doesn't mean atheism is false. Just because a certain philosophical view is bleak doesn't make it incorrect. A bleak view can still be 100% true.

Of course, I don't think it's true that atheism is bleak or unhappy. It is completely neutral on the subject (much like bare theism is neutral), and leaves plenty of room either way. There are many atheists---such as myself, for instance---who lead very happy and fulfilled lives. Even terminally ill atheists like the late Christopher Hitchens found plenty of room for happiness.

Raj Richard said...

Ben, it's a pleasure exchanging thoughts and convictions with you. Thank you for engaging me on this theme.

As I said before, atheism need not be falsified via the attainment of peace and joy. Atheism can be falsified primarily because there are more than reasonable evidences for God's existence.

Let me try to explain the contradiction in another way...any religious worldview ought to offer peace and joy to its adherents. That peace and joy is an entailment to the truthfulness of that worldview.

Think about this....Even now, you are trying to assert the truthfulness of your convictions and debunk the truth claim that I am positing. Why do you strive to affirm the truthfulness of your worldview? One reason is because the notion that you are on the side of the truth offers you happiness - happiness that you are sailing in the right boat. Am I not right?