Atheist display is nothing more than a public scolding

It’s difficult to ignore the big story from our state that made the national news. No, not the one about Jim McDermott sending the “Impeach Bush” Christmas ornament to the White House as Seattle’s contribution to the national Christmas tree. I’m talking about the other warm, holiday story from Olympia. The one about the atheists’ “holiday” display in the capitol building that Governor Gregoire has refused comment on. (I’m waiting to see how she can blame Bush for this, myself).

In our hip desire to be inclusive, somewhere along the line we forgot that hate speech and antagonism should be discouraged. Governor Gregoire has allowed for an atheist display in our capitol building that is nothing more than a public scolding that mocks people of faith during this season of Christmas and Hanukah. The “display” is simply a sign that says, “There are no gods, no angels or devils, only reason. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition and hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

This is not a symbol and to the best of my knowledge, atheists do not have any “holy-days,” so I am not sure why they were even considered for a display during Christmas and Hanukah time.

If atheists have a day during the year honoring one of their heroes, by all means they should build a statue and have a ceremony. They are not Wiccans, so calling it a “Winter Solstice” should have no special significance for their beliefs against a creator. Their only intent is to express their disdain for people who do have faith and who do express it this time of year.

I do take note though of their gross inaccuracy of religion being something that “hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” How does that explain the millions of people who have been served by Christian organizations, such as World Vision, a Christian organization that has people literally in the thick of horrendous and dangerous situations in the world, all in the name of being servants of the poor? It was the Catholic Church after all that preserved the Western world during the dark ages, by organizing what we now call “cities,” into community hospitals, libraries, food stores and orphanages. It was religious faith that inspired the abolition movement against slavery and it was Martin Luther King Jr.’s faith as a Baptist preacher that emboldened him to lead the Civil Rights movement.

From Handel to Mozart, the greatest works of music were inspired by deep faith and the desire to worship worthily; as were the greatest works of art and architecture, such as mosques in Istanbul, and cathedrals like St. Peter’s Basilica and Notre Dame.

How do atheists explain the extreme persecution and torture that early Christians were willing to take rather than renounce their faith? Or what about the Christians who risked everything to protect Jews from Nazis? If I were relying only on reason, I would make my daily decisions based on what gave me the greater immediate gratification. What is the purpose of doing the noble thing, the self-sacrificing thing, if it weren’t for a greater good beyond myself? How is it a rational thing to sacrifice something of my own comfort for someone else’s benefit? How is love for another human being even rational?

If I were an atheist, what precisely is that “greater good?” Atheists pretend that there is some objective, agreed upon definition of “good” and “bad.” Who defines good and bad when there is no religious appeal to something greater than ourselves? I believe that even people with no professed faith have an instinctual need to recognize something greater that is beyond themselves. They may not want to call that something God or even supernatural, but atheists have never offered a satisfactory answer for this timeless human need.

I would like to discourage my fellow people of faith and reason from over-reacting to this pitiable display from the atheists. I think their behavior is a sign of something quite explainable, called sibling rivalry.

Paul Vitz, a Catholic psychiatrist wrote a book called, “Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism.” His thesis is quite simply that atheism, which has only existed on our earth for the past century and a half, exists among people who feel orphaned and resentful.

It’s the oldest story in the world that goes back to Cain and Abel. Two brothers are raised with the same faith and each brother chooses the path he will take. One brother notices that God seems to favor the other one more, though no evidence is really offered for this. The brother eventually is blinded by his envy and hatred of his brother that he actually murders him. Envy is a wrathful sister to the emotion of jealousy. Jealousy merely wants what another has. Envy seeks to destroy what another has. Atheists will come up short in their attempts. They cannot destroy faith. It’s weathered far worse attacks than their simple protest signs.

I think Christians should continue to do what probably irks the atheists most of all: pray for them and love them. It’s the reason for the season after all.

Federal Way resident Angie Vogt: vogt.e@comcast.net or www.soundupdate.como

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