A colleague forwarded me a news article the other day written by James Dao of The New York Times. My friend kept his own comments brief. “This is not a parody,” he wrote. I was intrigued. After all, this was the Times, not the Onion, why would he need to qualify it in that manner?
The piece was titled, “Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military.”
I quickly understood the context of my friend’s note.
“Strange as it sounds,” Dao wrote, “groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military.”
Existing chaplains are generally opposed to the idea, for obvious reasons. If atheism is the absence of religious belief, why would they want someone who doesn’t even believe in God, in any form, to assume a role within their ranks?
I think the request itself points to a deeper truth:
Our hearts were designed and created to believe in something – something beyond ourselves and beyond this world. If we don’t believe in God, that longing to believe remains unsatisfied. Yes, it may find some relief (at least temporarily) in secular humanism or something else, but the internal appetite for answers and more importantly, true meaning, will not be satiated until our hearts find Him who made us.
And so ironically, by merely requesting a seat at the chaplains’ table, I believe atheists are, inadvertently and perhaps even subconsciously, acknowledging a hunger for the very God they claim doesn’t exist.