Imagine you were one of the two miners trapped alive in the Beaconsfield mine collapse. You sense that rescue may be near. You perceive faint glimpses of communication from the outside world.
But your mate plays down your optimism as blind faith and misplaced hope. He takes a purely evidence-based empirical view of your shared new world, trapped almost a kilometre underground. From his perspective, one of his colleagues is already dead, and there’s insufficient reason to believe anything other than imminent demise through further collapse, starvation or exposure. He tries to convince you to give up hope of rescue.
Sounds like Richard Dawkins arguing for atheism, doesn’t it?
My adaptation of the Beaconsfield tragedy is hypothetical. Both Todd Russell and Brant Webb were, in fact, optimistic believers in their developing rescue as it unfolded. Their optimism helped them to survive their ordeal.
But my imagined scenario highlights the futility of arguing for atheism. Atheism, if true, offers no hope relative to its alternatives.
Theism, if true, offers unlimited hope, love and happiness.
Atheism offers no satisfying solutions to the deep questions of life – its origins, meaning, purpose or destiny.
Why expend energy articulating ideas that extinguish hope, meaning and purpose?
Perfect love allows freedom to believe that faith in God is futile. It even allows freedom to promote those beliefs, no matter how dark and sad they may be.
But why promote darkness and sadness over light and happiness (see John 1:1-14)?
Part of the answer is that the common picture of God has been so badly distorted from reality so as to make atheism attractive in comparison.
Like the erroneous doctrine of eternal hellfire. That one piece of distortion makes the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin look like child’s play. And God an absolute tyrant.
There are many more deceptions about God’s character, too. Their chief source? Ironically, the Christian church.
Back to my imaginary scenario at Beaconsfield. The trapped miner arguing against hope for rescue may have had good reason to mistrust the rescuers based on past negative experience. And that would make his pessimism more understandable, though still not justifiable.
How? Let’s follow my imaginary scenario just a bit further. Imagine that in the weeks leading up to the Beaconsfield mine collapse tragedy, your pessimist miner friend had tried to improve safety standards and culture at the mine. But the mine safety manager’s response was to show a blatant disregard for personal wellbeing. Instead he pursued vindictive vendettas for the purpose of his own career development. Under this scenario, his pessimism entirely makes sense!
But the good news is that God is love (1 Jn 4:8)! Just as the rescuers at Beaconsfield were actually working for the best interests of the trapped miners, so too God is good! In fact, perfectly good.
He truly does have your best interests uppermost in His heart and mind (Rom 5:8). When you realise the depth of His love for you, your life will make perfect sense (Jer 29:11). Your happiness will be unlimited (Jn 10:10, 15:11).