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Atheism 2.0, a kindler gentler atheism that no longer throws stones. On the contrary. This brand of godlessness recognizes the value and worth of much of what religious people do. What people of faith actually believe is still reprehensible and foolish, but much of the community, morality, transcendence, & fulfillment that results is to be desired, and stolen if possible. The wise atheist will put down his gun, pick up his pencil and study the techniques that people of faith have honed over the millennia in order to obtain these desirable results, without the nuisance of belief in a religious system.

What I don’t understand is how an atheist is able to conclude that he is not a person of faith, and someone else is. All of us are people of faith. In the case of Atheism and Christianity, both sides have to place their faith in a very unlikely story. Each story is counterintuitive in places, completely unprovable, certainly miraculous, and fundamentally beyond human comprehension.

Story #1 - Atheism -- Matter is eternal, time plus chance equals the human race.  There is no transcendent reality outside of matter, and ultimately all is meaninglessness. -- There are huge leaps of faith that need to be taken in order to embrace this story.

Story #2 -- Christianity -- God is eternal. God’s creativity, love and good purposes equals the human race. Matter is only a tiny part of a transcendent reality that  fills up the universe and gives reason & purpose for existence. Nothing is meaningless. There are huge leaps of faith that need to be taken to embrace this story.

The question is where do these stories lead? Which story is best able to answer the challenging questions that life brings.

This is where atheism falls behind, in my opinion. If the stuff of earth is all that matters, if all there really is, is just a short painful journey towards dust, then how should I live? The call from my Atheist friends goes out. Be kind, be loving, treat your neighbor nicely, build true community, but why? Because, by doing so you’ll make the world a better place. You’ll make it easier for your progeny. You will be happy. But who the hell are you to tell me what “loving” looks like? Why should I treat my neighbor nicely, have you met him? What do you know about my happiness? If life is truly about the survival of the fittest, then what matters is lasting as long as I can, for as well as I can.  Things like kindness, courage, sacrificial love become optional at best. "No no’s" like lying, cheating, and stealing become optional as well - and all options are on the table when it comes to sex. Ones moral compass, becomes whatever it needs to be in order to survive for as long as I can as well as I can.  And this brings me to the fellow who talked his girlfriend into kidnapping an eight year old child so he could rape her and kill her. Turns out he wasn’t happy with his girlfriends choice in children -- the child wasn’t young enough for his liking -- but he made do, and now the little child is dead. My assumption is the vast majority of our world regardless of an orientation towards God or no, would conclude that this is wrong. I agree, but what could be the reason? Why is it wrong? What can the atheist say? It hurts our society, it’s against the laws we’ve made, It caused lots of people lots of pain and you shouldn’t do that. If ultimate truth ultimate right and wrong does not truly exist outside of our own determinations then what? Truth will be determined by the most powerful, or by the majority. That’s a scary place to be. What if the most powerful decide that unwanted children whether inside the womb or outside the womb should be discarded? What if the majority decide officially that value is based on performance, and since those that under perform, for whatever reason, are pulling down society they should be eliminated? What if the majority decide that it’s helps them “live as well as they can” by carrying out sexual fantasies on children? Flexible morality, and fluid truth have reaped horrific consequences in the past, and are so every day in our world. But it should be no surprise if Atheism is the story we follow. This story tells me that I have no transcendent value, that all ultimately is meaninglessness, that right and wrong are whatever I imagine them to be, and that my own survival is fundamentally what matters. This story doesn’t answer my questions, it does not speak to the longings of my heart, it doesn’t help me know truth, and, in my opinion, does not set the world spinning in the right direction. If this is our story, we shouldn’t be shocked when people do what they do to little girls.

What if there was another story? A story that says all humans no matter their gender, orientation, color, age, socio economic status or ability are intrinsically valuable. Value that comes from the belief that all of us have come from God’s good hand. This story tells us that the stamp of the Divine is imaged on everyone, and therefore everyone is to be treated with love and respect. But everyone is not. Why? The human, smashed the stamp of the divine that was in him. God was not to be trusted it was decided, and mankind forged ahead on his own without God. The breaking of that relationship between the human and God is the explanation for all that we perceive to be bad in this world. There is beauty in our world because God’s image, though cracked and broken remains, but the badness is pervasive. The sun wants to shine but there are clouds everywhere it seems. But this story, breathes hope into a hopeless situation. God see’s our plight, The creator loves his creation. The human needs justice and mercy, but there is no way to merge the two and make peace. But then God comes to us - God wants to welcome us back into the Divine romance. God becomes flesh, on the cross, he brings justice and mercy together and the way of peace is made.

This is a grand love story. It helps us understand that we are valuable, we are loved. That the human life is precious. It helps us to see that God has a moral order. God knows what we need to do to be a happy society -- we are to follow those guidelines, and when we self absorb, and seek happiness our own way, we can see why trouble always follows. However, because these guidelines do exist we can call people to them. There is a right and a wrong after all. Justice becomes real, but so does forgiveness. The way of peace is made for all through Jesus. This story gives us hope for a brighter future, and hope for today. Our hope is not in us, it is in God. The one who loves us, & rescued us, and will one day restore us.

Two stories. Each equally implausible. Each out of reach by empirical evidence, each to be embraced by faith.

Which one will you believe?