One hundred years from now we will be dead but it is entirely probable that our children may still be alive. I say “probable” and “may” because it really depends in large part to who wins the culture war. For simplicity sake, let’s look at the two opposing worldviews and see which one offers the best hope for our future.
Let’s say that religious fundamentalists win the culture war. Where do they think we will be in 100 years? The answer is obvious. They believe that Jesus will return to Earth soon and that “soon” is almost certainly within their lifetime. With that in mind, they don’t believe we will be around in 100 years.
In fact, they actually prefer that we aren’t here in 100 years. Every day that the apocalypse is averted is another day that Jesus hasn’t come down on a white cloud to restore the Kingdom of God. The Rapture will only occur after Armageddon. So why try to make peace in the Middle East when a. it is destined to happen and b. it would be a glorious sign that the End Times are truly upon us and the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Global climate change? Who cares, Jesus will be coming soon and all the good Christians will be spirited off to Heaven. Besides, God gave human beings dominion over the Earth and he has a plan. There is no way human beings can mess up God’s divine plan, right?
Sure this is silliness, but there are large numbers of Americans who actually believe this crap. They aren’t the tiny minority that many less-fundamentalist religious believers claim they are.
Now let’s look at humanist atheism. We are pretty sure that this life is the only life we have and that this world is the only world we have. Because we care about our offspring and our race, we want the world to continue on even after we are dead. We want our children to live in a better world than we live in today.
Ideally, we would also love to actually be around in 100 years to see what the world is like. So we want to not just try to solve the world’s problems and make the world better for our children and their children, but we would also like to make sufficient medical and/or scientific progress that would prolong our lives so that we can live better now and possibly live long enough to see what the world is actually like in 100 years. The idea is not only to survive for the next 100 years, but to actually make the world a better place to live in 100 years.
Humanistic atheists understand that the world will be here in 100 years no matter what. The question is, will be here too? The universe is indifferent to us, but we are not indifferent to the universe. We have to make sure that the Earth can sustain us, not the other way around. This is why global climate change is such a big deal to most atheists. I don’t really care if humans caused it or not; what I care about is can we fix it. If we can’t, then we will die. So if we can fix it, we should fix it. Not because we care about the Earth, but because we care about our own survival on this planet. The Earth will be just fine without us, but since we kinda need the Earth for our own survival, we should really get right on that global warming thing.
Where society is in 100 years depends almost entirely on which direction we choose right now. In order to move our society forward we have to stop these religious fundamentalists from setting our course. Are we going to let them dictate our politics? Are we going to waste our resources arguing about labels or on slight philosophical differences or are we going to work together and fight back.
- Getting To The 24th Century (skepticink.com)
- Not Held Up On Labels (skepticink.com)
- Why there is no such thing as a good Christian (examiner.com)
- Atheism 101: Why do atheists only focus on Christianity? (examiner.com)
- Richard Dawkins: Uncertainty vs. dogmatism (examiner.com)
- What humanist military chaplains can offer (Video) (examiner.com)