We live in an extraordinary world. In Western countries the ‘default position’ among thinking people is atheism. Men and women of high intelligence and wide education, intellectuals, celebrities, scientists, politicians commonly find no difficulty in believing that this marvelous and complex world arose spontaneously nowhere, out of nothing, and never! (I say never, because time cannot exist outside a physical universe.)   So try to imagine nothing, nowhere, never. Then try to imagine how it could come about that smart human beings actually find this a plausible explanation for the origin of everything.

Psalm 14 proclaims, ‘the fool hath said in his heart: there is no god’. Nowadays we are too polite (or at least too tactful!) to say of our agnostic friends that they are fools for their faithlessness. We also realize that though humans remain essentially the same, societies become more complex, and that with complexity comes alienation, fear and confusion. We are much more understanding, too, about the psychological pressures on our fellow beings – anger, resentment, disappointments, sorrow, depression, neuroses, psychoses, can all effect the ways we think and distort our vision of what believers see as reality.

Material wealth of a kind undreamed of by earlier generations is perhaps a more sinister factor. This life has become so extremely attractive to at least a substantial minority of people in the West that the thought of being separated from it is unbearable. Even more sinister is the sad truth that there are those who value their lives so highly that they would deprive others of theirs in order to continue to enjoy the delights of the world. To such people the idea of God and Judgement is unbearable. To such people only the visible material world matters, life must be as long and prosperous as possible, we should be able to choose our beginnings and our endings, and all for the sake of our supposed dignity.

Ideas are very powerful: our Western Society is grievously damaged by such ways of thinking about the world. St Paul said ‘if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable’. But we have a hope in Christ that transcends this life, and the most miserable of men (and women) are those who prefer the darkness to the light.