Imagine this as a new Geico commercial: “Did you know that atheists make really lousy crisis hotline counselors?”
CALLER: I feel so depressed.
DR. RICHARD DAWKINS: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference” (River Out of Eden, 132).
CALLER: How bleak. This means my life has not real, objective meaning?
DR. BERTRAND RUSSELL: “Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation be safely built” (A Free Man's Worship).
CALLER: So, what makes life tolerable? It seems foolish to put my faith in flawed people.
DR BERTRAND RUSSELL: “Why should you suppose I think it foolish to wish to see the people one is fond of? What else is there to make life tolerable? We stand on the shore of an ocean, crying to the night and the emptiness; sometimes a voice answers out of the darkness. But it is a voice of one drowning; and in a moment the silence returns" (Autobiography, 287).
CALLER: So, how should I face death, which will destroy me sooner or later?
ROBERT INGERSOLL: “Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word” (Oration at Ebon Ingersoll’s grave, New York Tribune, June 4, 1879).
CALLER: Is there any fulfillment now in life?
EARNEST HEMINGWAY: “I’m as empty as a radio tube with the current off and the battery dead.”
CALLER: I have this nagging idea there is a God somewhere who could help me.
AUTHOR W. SOMERSET BAUGHMAN: "When I look back on my life...it seems to me strangely lacking in reality. It may be that my heart, having found rest nowhere, had some deep ancestral craving for God and immortality which my reason would have no truck with.” (The Chicago Daily News, January 26th, 1964).
CALLER: Can't science save us?
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW: "The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels which should have established the millennium have led directly to the suicide of Europe. i believed in them once...In their name I helped destroy the faith of millions of worshippers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith" (TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD, a play).
CALLER: I think I’ll try the Christian crisis hotline; they couldn’t do any worse than you atheists.