Isn’t it obvious? It’s all the atheist’s fault! Some goober named David Lebedoff has an article in the Strib that claims that the whole source of the problem is all those amoral, atheistic people who don’t believe in an afterlife.
If you only go around once, then the main thing is to have fun. If you start by admitting that from cradle to tomb it isn’t that long of a stay, then life is a cabaret, old chum, and so, by the way, is Wall Street. There is a bumper sticker favored by some of the recently rich that proclaims “he who dies with the most toys wins.” This is indeed the moral philosophy of those who believe that death is the final closing bell. Materialism, hedonism and Stairmasters are what people do until the clock stops ticking.
I had no idea that Wall Street was run by atheists, or that the government was run by atheists, or that Christians and Jews and Moslems were never, ever interested in material possessions (I just knew that whole Prosperity Gospel thing was a weird confabulation of my imagination).
But, speaking as a fairly strong atheist, I have to protest. The absence of an afterlife means that this life is all I’ve got, and I’d like to live it well — there are no do-overs or second chances. I don’t have the excuse that “God would never allow harm to come to the planet” or “Jesus will forgive my sins and let me live in paradise”. If I screw up now, that’s all there is. I also share normal concerns that even after I die, I want my kids (and grandkids, if such should happen, although I’m much too young for that yet) and friends to live good lives. Not believing in a magical afterlife doesn’t change that, and actually tends to make things like preparing for the future, being a good steward of my resources, educating future generations, etc., even more important.
Mr Lebedoff is a victim of a failure of comprehension. He doesn’t understand atheists at all, and he imagines in his simple-minded way that we’re all mindless hedonists rushing to burn out fast.
By the way, that phrase, “he who dies with the most toys wins”, makes no sense to most atheists. He who dies is dead, full stop. Toys don’t matter at that point.