Faithless courage


I've seen this video going around Facebook, so I thought I'd share my thoughts about it.  Nelson talks about how his faith helps him handle difficulties.  That's great.  That's wonderful.  People who find strength or support in their own faith, go ahead and have that faith.  If it helps you through hard times, that's excellent.  I have no problem with that at all, in fact I think it's good.  Do or believe whatever you need in order to get through the hard times in life.

But, Nelson takes a condescending tone throughout much of the video.  He implies that anyone without faith, without a belief in Christ, is fearful.  Yes, there are lots of fearful people out there.  But, there are just as many religious people who are scared as there are irreligious people.  And, I would be willing to bet that the woman on the plane who was hysterical was also a Christian.  I don't think believing or not believing in a certain deity will make one more or less likely to have panic attacks in stressful situations, such as impending death.

I don't have any faith, but I am also not afraid to die.  I can't word it as Nelson does (that I'm ready to meet my maker) because I don't believe that anything awaits me after this life.  I don't believe I have a maker to meet.  But, I do not fear death.  If I were facing impending death, I would not panic.  I would be calm and collected, just as Nelson describes himself being.  Nelson says that we need an eternal perspective, but I think all I need is a long-term perspective.  I live my life the best that I can, and so if I were to die now, I'd be content, knowing that I did my best in life and left the world a better place than I found it.

I believe in continually improving myself.  I don't delude myself by thinking that I'll ever be perfect, but I know that it's quite possible for me to continue to be better, and that is one of my goals.  I want to be a better teacher, a better boyfriend to Conrad, a better friend to all who know me.  I don't need to rely on an imaginary being for strength to overcome trials or to help me be a better person.  I have within me the power to improve myself, and I have friends and family who can help me through hard times, when I need that help.  I don't think it's the gospel of Jesus Christ that grants that help and support, I think it's true love--loving parents, loving siblings, loving friends, and a loving spouse.

If faith were necessary to have hope in life, to improve oneself, to get through hard times, then irreligious folk wouldn't live very long.  It doesn't stand to reason to claim that faith is necessary in order to face the future with confidence.  It might help you.  It may make certain things in your life easier, if you believe that there is a deity somewhere in existence who is watching over you and protecting you.  And to claim that your faith helps you in hard times is perfectly acceptable.  But to claim that those who do not have faith cannot have such peace of mind is a fallacy.  An analogy would be that you get nutrients from eating an apple every morning and that it gives your body vitamins that it needs.  You can go ahead and assert that your body benefits from the nutrients in the apple, but to say that all people must eat apples in order to gain those same benefits is flawed, since there are many other sources whence those vitamins can be obtained.