Science: Atheist chaplains?

Why is it that atheists often are seen as rational and logical while Christians are seen as desperately clinging to their beliefs when all the evidence is against them? It seems to me that some of the reasoning exhibited by atheists is anything but logical. For example, some of them are pressuring Congress to provide non-believing chaplains to serve members of the U.S. military who do not believe in God.

I am not making this up! Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers (MAAF), noting that 23 percent of those in the military say they have no religious preference, claims that existing chaplains are unable to provide the “positive outreach and support” unbelievers need. Therefore, he concludes, non-believing members of the military should have chaplains who share their lack of belief.

A chaplain who does not believe in God? To me, that sounds like the ultimate oxymoron. But this situation is no laughing matter. How would an atheist chaplain counsel, console and encourage an atheist colleague? Would the chaplain remind them that they are a cosmic accident, with no purpose other than what they decide to pursue? Would they find consolation and comfort in being reminded that they are only a product of their genes and that their brain doesn’t really have original thoughts, so there is no reason for them to have anxiety before going into battle?

Some of today’s atheists would have felt right at home in ancient Corinth. At the time Paul wrote his letters to the church there, Corinth prided itself on its liberal, freewheeling lifestyle. The city’s “anything goes” approach was adversely affecting the church, and Paul’s letters were wake-up calls to the members, reminding them of their responsibility to come out of that world and embrace Christian values.

Paul wrote, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18). He then admitted that he was one of those “fools for Christ” (4:10). I suppose that atheists today would say a hearty “Amen” to that! They consider Christians to be fools for believing in God’s existence and that Jesus Christ died for our sins.

But we are not the only fools. As Psalm 14:1 states, “The fool says in his heart that there is no God.” So both sides are fools. The question is—Who is the bigger fool?

Some atheists and other nonbelievers, seeing that they lack political influence, seek to bring unbelievers together under the common heading of “brights”—those with “a naturalistic worldview, free from supernatural and mystical forces.” Think about that—would atheist military chaplains encourage non-believing soldiers with affirmations that they are smarter than soldiers who seek comfort from God in whom these “brights” do not believe? It’s no wonder that many people see through the “logic” behind atheists’ arguments. Remember, that to be successful, atheists must prove that God does not exist. They cannot claim victory just because we believers cannot prove to their satisfaction that God does exist. However, we must also remember that exposing the weakness in the atheists’ argument does not, in itself, prove God’s existence.

We must be careful how we go about trying to prove that God exists. A common mistake is to claim that creation proves God’s existence by quoting Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” But this verse does not say that creation proves God’s existence. Rather, it says that if we already believe that God is Creator, then we are able to see in the creation something of God’s own nature.

A stronger proof of God’s existence is the life of a believer who is being transformed—a person who, in relationship with God, through the Holy Spirit, is sharing in the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ.

It is often said that there are no atheists in foxholes. Like all people, when unbelievers find themselves in fear or torment, they need a reason for hope. They certainly don’t need an atheist chaplain who would reinforce their unbelief (as in the cartoon above). What they need is a caring believer who will offer the comfort and unconditional love that come from the one Source of eternal hope. More than anything else, such comfort, hope and love may get them wondering if perhaps God really does exist.


Author: Joseph Tkach

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