When it comes to our eternal fate, the average atheist likes to practice creative book keeping. When he’s attacking hell, he plays up the claim that no decent man could bear the thought of his loved ones in hell. Heaven wouldn’t be heaven unless all our loved ones our heavenbound. The joys of heaven would be overshadowed by the nagging thought that some of our loved ones are missing from the roll call. We sit there, starring at an empty seat across the table.
When, however, he’s making a case for the meaning of life on secular terms, he whips out a very different balance sheet.
If we’re candid, what does life amount to if secularism is true? In that event, life is a conveyor belt which carries row upon row of captive humanity to certain oblivion. When you’re young, there’s a buffer between you and the black hole of all-devouring time. Passengers between you and your impending oblivion.
When you’re young, you can see the black hole at a distance. It’s so small because it’s still so far away.
Passengers indulge in various games of distraction to take their minds off the black hole that looms a little larger and a little nearer every time they look up.
As the conveyor belt continues its steady and inexorable progress, they play bridge, poker, Monopoly, croquet, Mahjong, a Mozart minuet, read a book, text-message, or whatever else they can dream up to divert attention away from the relentless and ever-mounting body count of time.
As you get closer, you can see over the heads of the next few rows. You begin to make out row after row disappearing into the black hole of nothingness. Generation after generation vanishes on contact.
The black hole grows larger, the buffer grows smaller. Instant by instant, the leading edge ceases to be. Then the row just before that. Then the row just before that. Without exception or interruption.
The conveyor belt never stops or slows down or speeds up. With pure efficiency and mathematical precision, time annihilates absolutely everything and everyone its path.
Nothing escapes the universal holocaust of time. People and trees, cats and dogs, stars and pyramids, lovers, mothers, brothers, fathers, and friends. Everything is swallowed up in the insatiable appetite of time’s lethal efficiency. Exhaustive and inexhaustible, it leaves no remains. No teeth or bones.
Yet the average atheist assures us that atheism is liberating. Death is nothing to fear. Indeed, morality is what makes life worthwhile.
Somehow, the saint is unable to forget the doom which may or may not await some of his loved ones, but the atheist is able to forget the doom which awaits each and every one of his loved ones. Somehow the atheist is able, or so he says, to live life to the full, yet the Christian is unable, or so he says, to do the same in this life, or the next.