That’s a comment that atheists make fairly frequently in order to feel better about themselves and to diminish the effects of their mind numbing, soul destroying philosophy. "Unlike xians, I don't have any delusions about some future in the sky so I make the most out of this one life that I have to live."
Personally? I think that statement is pretty accurate. The Bible, especially in Revelation talks a lot about “those who live upon the earth.” It’s referring to those who draw their value, and worth and security and sense of belonging from the things that this life can offer - money, power, looks, relationships, etc. It’s referring to those who deny that there is anything more going on in life than what meets the eye.
Now, you can say that an atheist loves h/her life specifically and be fairly accurate. To say that they love life in general can only be said if you ignore the high suicide rate, the low reproduction rate, the high rate of abortions, the push for euthanasia, illegal drug use, excessive use of alcohol and high risk sexual behaviours that are so prevalent in the atheist community. So, good for you guys. You really do love your life. Allowing other people to live if their existence will put a crimp in your life-style? Mmm, not so much.
On the other hand, it’s not that big a deal. Barring a mental illness, virtually anyone can love this life. What’s much harder to do, while being exponentially more important to the well being of this planet and its inhabitants is the ability to set aside one’s life, to reign in one’s corrupted self-love and self-serving bias in order to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. On an atheist blog that was attempting to encourage fellow non believers to play catch up in the area of serving the needy, one young atheist lamented, "Can't I just fuck around and watch tv if I want?"
. Empirical evidence shows that atheists, like Buddhists are good at loving this life in a manner that “improves” their personal lot in life while remaining pretty awful at loving those less fortunate.
. Empirical evidence shows that God, working in the lives of Christians, allows them to prove their love of this life by loving those from whom the rest of the world turns its gaze.
Of course the first thing an atheist will ask is, “What empirical evidence are you talking about?” Fair enough. Let’s start with a survey that was done by someone at the University of Alberta last year about this time. It lists a number of virtues that I see as being so closely related, that the reasons for supporting or rejecting any one of them are reasons for supporting or rejecting all of them. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of the above virtues. The findings were as follows.
Kindness (Theists 88%, Atheists: 75%),
Courtesy (Theists 81%, Atheists 71%),
Concern for others (Theists 82%, Atheists 63%),
Politeness (Theists 77%, Atheists 65%),
Friendliness (Theists 79%, Atheists 74%), and
Generosity (Theists 67%, Atheists 37%).
There were numerous attempts to falsify the results, even though most atheists who wrote in actually agreed that these things weren’t as important as Christians seem to think. In the end, however, it was just a survey. It’s not what atheists would call hard evidence. That’s ok. As it turns out, there’s lots of other evidence to prove the point. In fact there is far too much information to include even in my traditionally long posts.
The evidence indicates that per capita charitable giving by atheists and agnostics in America is significantly less than by theists. According to a study by the Barna Group:
“The typical no-faith American donated just $200 last year which is more than seven times LESS than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults FAILED to contribute any personal funds in 2008, that compares with 32% among the no-faith adults.”
With the apparent rise in the number of individuals who claim no faith, it will be interesting to see what this will mean for those who serve the poor and outcast.
Arthur C. Brooks wrote in Policy Review regarding data collected in the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS) (data collected by researchers at universities throughout the United States and the Roper Centre for Public Opinion Research):
“The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money and 23 points more likely to volunteer time. And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practising a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behaviour. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions.”
ABC News reported the following in respect to atheism:
“...the single biggest predictor of whether someone will be charitable is their religious participation. Religious people are more likely to give to charity, and when they give, they give more money: four times as much. As well, the giving goes beyond their own religious organization: "Actually, the truth is that Christians are giving to more than their churches," he says. "The religious Americans are more likely to give to EVERY KIND OF CAUSE AND CHARITY, INCLUDING EXPLICITLY NON-RELIGIOUS CHARITIES."