Atheists bark up the wrong tree
I read with interest in my local newspaper recently that atheists in Britain had complained about Christian messages being promoted on the sides of London buses, at the same time as atheists promoted their message on buses themselves. On the same day I read that the University of Cape Town had an atheists’ society boasting roughly 70 members.
All of which got me thinking about how incredibly tough life must be for atheists.
I would presume that, like the rest of humanity, atheists have their trials, tribulations, desires and challenges. I would also assume that somewhere inside their subconscious there would be an innate desire to pray for what they want to achieve, to have fixed or cured — and then having absolutely no-one to whom they can pray.
It must also be extremely difficult having to do everything themselves: Making the right decisions about family, business and life in general. Not being able to confide in anyone except other human beings. Not to have faith in a greater being and be able to say: “Look, I have tried as hard as I can to decide on what to do, now over to you…”
A great benefit of faith, I reckon, is never being alone; able always to upward-delegate tough decisions, then relax with a smile, knowing that guidance is readily at hand.
Atheism, it seems to me, is doing life the hard way. Perhaps playwright Tom Stoppard presented a reason for atheism when he described it as a “sort of crutch for those who can’t stand the reality of God”.
Just thinking about life and things that make it easier (besides not being an atheist, that is), I got to wonder just how much mankind has started to rely on technology — to the point where some people get so carried away that they stop using the brains that God gave them.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m a techno-junkie who just loves all modern gadgetry. But, as my father used to say: “Everything in moderation.”
I’m reminded of this delightful “modern-day parable” passed on to me by Mark Collier, the stalwart chairman of our parish finance committee and which proves, among other things, that some chairmen of finance committees do have a wonderful sense of humour.
A shepherd is herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a BMW charges towards him in a cloud of dust. The driver, a young man in a Prada suit, Gucci shoes, Dior sunglasses and a D&G tie, leans out the window and asks the shepherd: “lf I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?”
The shepherd looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing flock, spread out over an entire pasture and calmly answers: “Sure, why not.”
The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell laptop, connects it to his cellphone, surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location, which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that can film the area in ultra-high-resolution. The young man then opens the digital image in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds he receives an e-mail on his Palm Pilot telling him that the image has been processed and data stored.
He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulae. He uploads all of this data via an e-mail on his Blackberry and after a few minutes receives a response.
Finally, he prints out a full-colour, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturised HP Laserjet printer. He then turns to the shepherd and says: “You have exactly 1586 sheep.”
“That’s right!” says the shepherd. “Well, I guess you can take one of my sheep.”
He watches as the Yuppie selects one of the animals and looks on in amusement as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car. As he is ready to drive off, the shepherds says: “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my animal?”
The young man thinks about it for a second and then says: “Okay, why not?”
“You’re a consultant,” says the shepherd.
“Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie. “How did you guess that?”
“No guessing needed,” answers the shepherd. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked; and you know nothing about my business.
“Now please give me back my dog.”