One of the most common jibes of atheists against religious believers is, “You folks are engaged in some serious fantasy-like wishful thinking. You believe in a magic fairyland beyond the clouds where everyone will one day live in blissful peace, and you believe you will go there one day. You believe in a Santa Claus like mythical being who is your big sugar daddy in the sky who will make you happy by magic. You believe in hell where all the bad people you don’t like will go and suffer terrible torment forever. You believe in angels who have wings like fairies who are your invisible friends and they help you and sit on your shoulder and whisper sweet nothings in your ear. But it’s all fairy tale, make believe wishful thinking! It ain’t necessarily so!”
OK. In fact, I hear what the atheist critic is saying and I have to grant the truth that in fact there IS a good bit of fantasy wishful thinking amongst religious believers. There is a good bit of superstition, projection, fantasy magic thinking and goofy supernatural nonsense.
But let’s just stop for a moment and look at what a serious Christian actually does believe, and we’ll see that there’s not really much wishful thinking involved. First and foremost, Jesus Christ says, “If anyone would be my disciple he must take up his cross and follow me.” Hardship? Self sacrifice? service of others? Ouch! That’s not really what I would wish for. Let’s take it further. Jesus says, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword. Unless a man hate his brother and sister and mother and father he cannot be my disciple.” What, love God more than my family? This is not what I would wish for if I were engaging in wishful thinking. There’s more. A Christian is supposed to tithe ten percent of his income? He is supposed to love and embrace the poor, the smelly, the homeless and the ignorant? A Christian is supposed to expect persecution, hatred, calumny and even imprisonment, torture and death for his faith? This is not what I would wish for. The disciple of Jesus Christ is commanded to love his enemy, forgive the one who persecutes him and give him the shirt off his back? This is anything but wishful thinking.
Now that we have disposed of the silly idea that Christians are all engaged in wishful thinking, let us check out the true wishful thinking of the typical atheist.
The typical atheist is a progressive. He believes that humanity is getting better and better on its own. But this myth of progress is a lot of wishful thinking. It is true that we have better technology and that we are making progress on some of the world’s greatest problems, but this must be set against the history of the last century: Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Two World Wars. Pollution. Apartheid. Genocide. Population Control by forced abortion. Terrorism. Bankers “earning” billions. The Gulag. Factory Farming of Animals. Destruction of the Rain Forest. Global poverty. Extinction of species. AIDS. Auscwhitz. Rwanda. Cambodia’s Killing Fields. North Korea. Communist Russia. The Cultural Revolution. Harvesting organs from aborted and shredded unborn humans. Global Terrorism. Ethnic Cleansing. 1% controlling the world’s wealth. Genetic engineering of unwilling humans. North Vietnam. ISIS, Forced sterilization….some progress.
The atheist rejects the existence of God and thereby rejects the belief that he will face God one day and have to give account of himself, his beliefs and his actions. Never having to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions? That’s wishful thinking!
The atheist rejects the concept that he has any objective moral obligation to consider the welfare of others. He might do good things in the world, and many atheists do, but he is not bound to. According to his beliefs he can do whatever he wants because there’s no ultimate consequence. Wishful thinking big time!
The typical atheist will reject the idea of hell–especially the thought that he might go there. Now that really is wishful thinking!