I find myself smiling wryly when I hear about the atheist (?) campaign to put slogans on buses saying, ‘There probably is no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life.’ Why ‘probably’? Are they afraid that unless they hedge their bets and concede that they might be wrong, they will find themselves face to face with a terrifying presence booming out the words, ‘Weel, ye ken noo!’
Of course, the churches are much to blame for the image of religion that is projected to the general public, which makes it all too easy to suppose that faith has to do with repression, fear, punishment and denial of one’s humanity. My heart goes out to decent atheists and agnostics who have been so alienated by this grim negativity that they miss out on the joy and liberation of committing themselves to the God whose service is perfect freedom.
The inclusion of that ‘probably’ suggests a vestigial fear of the God whose existence they deny; but it also places them on ground that many of us believers are happy to occupy. If only they realised that people of faith don’t have to be literalists, and that faith and doubt can, for many believers, coexist comfortably, then we might be able to talk to each other. Then we would all, together, not only enjoy our lives, but know the peace that passes understanding.