… Now stop worrying and enjoy life. This is the slogan from the atheist bus campaign – although it’s been in the news for a while, it is starting today. It was brought to my attention my Anne-Marie’s excellent blog post earlier today.
I always found this statement to be quite funny. “Probably” no God? Most atheists I’ve talked with on the matter are more convinced than that. Although I believe the original wording was supposed to say something like ‘almost certainly’ but for some reason they had to change it. The other thing is, it implies that people who do hold religious conviction are worrying and not enjoying life. That doesn’t seem to be my experience – but maybe I’ll come onto that.
It does seem ironic that the bus campaign should be starting now, when we are in the midst of a financial crisis. The slogan brings to mind the parable of the rich fool. This parable tells the story of a man who was rich in this life, but spiritually poor. He selfishly stored up goods for himself, and didn’t worry about God.
Does this sound familiar? I think a lot of the problems we’re in have come from greed. Too many individuals and companies have acted greedily, trying to make as much money as possible. Storing up goods for themselves. The thing is, I think this is a consequence of not believing in God and “enjoying life”, as the bus campaign puts it. OK, so the financial crisis is a very exaggerated version of it, but it still remains that if there is no God and no accountability then people can pretty much behave exactly as they want and there are no repercussions other than what you might have in this life. So, really, if you’re the right kind of person you can get away with murder (sometimes literally), and there will be no justice.
I don’t think a message like that is going to go down too well in the current climate. And it certainly doesn’t provide a reason for us not to worry and enjoy life! But this is what I found interesting: immediately after the parable of the rich fool, Jesus says these famous words:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”
That’s strange! People of religion are apparently worriers and don’t enjoy life. But Christians are told not to worry! That God will provide! (Surely a much more appropriate message given the financial situation). Of course, we are not promised riches, or lots of material goods – but we do at least have the hope of heaven, and that justice will be done (“will not the God of all the earth do right?”).
Jesus came not to make us feel guilty and force us to do things we don’t want to do. He came to liberate us, to give us hope. I think the Christian message is the most powerful message in the world, and it’s more relevant than ever. Hope is a powerful thing, and I think the atheist bus campaign is rather underestimating it.
Hmmm, this blog post has ended up being a tad different to how I envisioned it. Guess that’s why it’s a bit rambling and incoherent… like every other one of my blog posts :p Apologies to Anne-Marie for nicking her idea.