Letter to the Editor

    Look not to heaven for life’s answers

    Editor:

    While uncomfortably ignoring the latest shouting evangelist at Price Center and enjoying an “”Interfaith”” muffin on Library Walk, I realized that we atheists should speak up. Though we are many, with strong beliefs, our general silence may make us seem few or ashamed. And while I detest evangelism, I believe that broad views and open discussion of religion are only possible when all voices are heard.

    A recent religious pamphlet asks: “”Why is it that most people are not experiencing the abundant life?”” Look not to heaven for answers about earth. How many can have material abundance in a nation where CEOs make several hundred times as much as their workers? How many can have an adequate material basis for spiritual abundance in a nation where over 30 million live in poverty? How many can hope to escape this poverty when the child of a lawyer is 27 times more likely than the equally intelligent child of a janitor to have income among the top 10 percent?

    The handout continues: “”Do you ever wonder why religion seems to be the most controversial subject in the world?”” Look not to heaven for answers about heaven. Whatever its particular teachings, religion as a social and psychological force can help people find social acceptance and endure life’s day-to-day ills. In unscrupulous hands, it can also drive human beings to inhuman deeds. Religious fervor made the streets of Jerusalem run with blood in 1096; religious strife left half a million dead in Rwanda in 1994; and still religious intolerance drives people to kill themselves and others in Jerusalem in 2004. Is it any wonder then that we talk about it?

    College can be a time to ask and debate important questions. Many of the answers are more complex and grimmer than we may hope, but closer to earth than some would have us believe. And it is ultimately here on earth, in our hands, where the answers must lie.

    — Sean O’Rourke

    graduate student,

    computer science and engineering

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