“Probablemente, Dios no existe. Deja de preocuparte y disfruta la vida” (Probably, God does not exist. Stop worrying and enjoy life).
Thus runs a campaign slogan posted in some public buses in Barcelona, Spain starting January 12 this year. The campaign, says Alba, a Spanish national paper, is sponsored by the Cataluña Association of Atheists and the Union of Atheists and Free-thinkers. Barcelona goes a week behind London where the campaign has been spread in various cities. It is being financed through private donations that had reached at press time more than 3,000 euros. Its viability, continues the report, depends so much on voluntary donations.
According to its organizers, what they are trying to do is to “raise the sensibility of some atheist citizens, non-believers and freethinkers in general, about the necessity to come out in the open, manifest themselves and be proud of their own convictions, and to claim for the same recognition of the rights and freedom recognized in other citizens for the mere fact of having or manifesting religious beliefs.” Even atheists, nowadays, are claiming for the recognition of their rights! Since when were their rights suppressed?
* * *
What a rare topic to start the New Year 2009, right? But if this column – Cogito (“I think”) – which has gone away for Christmas vacation (my apologies to the readers) – should be true to its name, this topic really makes us think.
First, the atheists begin the New Year with courage and determination to manifest their conviction: that God does not exist. Can we, Christians and Catholics alike, not do the same, that is, begin 2009 with courage to show the world that God is love?
St. Josemaría Escriva had a slogan which helped him a lot in his priestly ministry and apostolate. He called it DYA (Dios Y Audacia): God and Audacity. The atheists have audacity, but they don’t have God. We have both!
* * *
Second, that the slogan uses the word “probably” where it could have said directly that “God does not exist” calls our attention. We are not saying that perhaps the atheists are beginning to doubt their conviction. What we see is not a categorical denial of God’s existence, but a practical one, meaning, people who live their lives as if God did not exist.
Why is it so? It is because it is difficult to deny categorically the existence of God. It is impossible to prove that God does not exist using rational arguments. But it is easier to prove that God does not exist in one’s life by living a bestial behavior. And this is the invitation of the slogan: “Stop worrying and enjoy life”.
God’s existence is never a source of worry. On the contrary, it is a source of strength and security. Conducting one’s life in God’s presence and doing the will of God is never a cause of unhappiness. On the contrary, only those who learn to spend their lives in God’s service are the truly happy ones. As the Psalm says: “Laetatur cor quarentium Dominum” (Blessed is the heart that seeks the Lord). Happiness without God is misery.
* * *
Lastly, I think, that the atheists started the campaign in Barcelona at the beginning of the New Year is more providential than bad-timing. I believe that under God’s Providence, there is no such thing as coincidence.
It is as if God is telling us: start the new year with the best consideration man could ever reflect – the truth about God’s existence. That God exists is so evident to us that oftentimes we take it for granted. It is an invitation for all of us to consider the presence of God in our lives.
Have we already thanked God enough for the blessings we received in the past year? Have we already asked Him pardon for the sins and mistakes we have committed in the past? Have we already prayed for more graces in this year that just begins? If yes, then our slogan for this year – to counteract the pro-atheist one – should be this: “Gracias, Dios mío; Perdóname. Ayúdame más” (Thank you, my Lord; Forgive me; Help me more).