Where are the atheist songbooks?
|November 11, 2010||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
Is there, anywhere in the English-speaking world, or in the entire world for that matter, one book of atheist songs written by atheists to express the wonders of their world view, and to show how happy their atheism has made them? I don’t believe there is.
This is most interesting. There have been thousands of Christian songbooks written over the past 250 years or so, all of them filled with many more individual songs, songs in which Christians express their hopes, joys, fears, sorrows, and sense of wonder at the creation. Why are there no song books from the atheist side?
Some atheists like to brag and boast that they have such a majestic view of the universe, in contrast to the view of the universe as the product of a supreme creative mind greater than the universe itself which is only its creation – yet there are many Christian songs expressing wonder and awe at the universe in a manner no atheist has yet come even close to attempting, let alone equaling.
One well-known Christian hymn begins (I write from memory, having sung these many times over the years):
Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul my Savior God to thee
How great thou art, how great thou art . . .
When morning gilds the skies
My heart awakening cries
“May Jesus Christ be praised . . .
To give a third example, I remember the words
All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all . . .
These three songs alone have been sung innumerable times by thousands upon thousands of Christians. When do atheists come together and sing about their majestical concept of a cold, dead, empty, silent, purposeless, meaningless universe in which we live for a brief moment for no real reason and then are snuffed out and vanish into nothingness?
Maybe I can help the atheists out with the following words. Perhaps some rock and roll star can put them into something that sounds vaguely like a song:
Here today and gone tomorrow,
Pointless joy and useless sorrow,
Such is life, dull and demeaning,
In a cosmos void of meaning.
Man is just a little speck
Of chemicals – but what the heck!
Today I’ll eat and drink and play
No matter what those religious kooks and intolerant fanatics might say.
I hate them! They’re so intolerant!
How happy I am to be an atheist!
I’m sure my world view is the best.
Reality is no more than what I decree.
I’m totally confident there’s nothing but what I can see.
Empiricism, skepticism, humanism, Communism –
Well, forget that last one –
I see the world through a plastic materialist prism.
I know there’s no God because of the evidence,
The evidence being my lofty and superior intelligence.
Granted, it needs some work, but something is better than nothing.
Now, the fact that Christians have something to sing about while atheists do not (according to the empirical evidence of no atheist songbooks), is no proof of the truth of Christianity or the falsehood of atheism. It does, however, raise the question – why doesn’t the atheist world view stimulate musical creativity?
Can it be that the belief we are only animals in a purposeless universe kills something within the human soul? Is it a coincidence that the best music and painting of earlier, much more religious periods, is so gracious, refined, elevated, and uplifting, while the serious music and painting of today are mostly vulgar noise and ugly, senseless trash?
I do know of one atheist song – John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Imagine there are no possessions, no wars, no religions, no countries, he warbled, no heaven, no hell – just people enjoying life, eating and drinking, maybe smoking a little pot, having sex with all and sundry, maybe listening to Beatles and Rolling Stones albums. What a wonderful world that would be . . . at least for those whose souls are dead and who have no higher dimension to their spirits.
Many atheists like “Imagine,” but I used to be a big Beatle fan, and John was my favorite. Because of this, I happen to remember that he sang these words on the “Let it Be” album: “Jai guru deva, om, Nothing’s gonna change my world, nothing’s gonna change my world.” Wrong, John. On a Plastic Ono Band album after the break-up of the Beatles he sang “Yoko and me, that’s reality.”
As I see it, the lyrics to “Imagine” are equally real and equally valid. The man should have stuck with “I wanna hold your hand.” Then he could have avoided the preposterous situation of being a rock star in a deluxe apartment with piles of money in the bank singing about a world with no possessions.
Granted, many Christian songs aren’t very good. Many don’t have appealing melodies, and their lyrics don’t show any real literary ability. I’m a Christian and I don’t enjoy singing a lot of them myself – but it needs to be asked: “What is it that makes even ordinary people with no special talent write so many songs? What is it that puts music and poetry into the hearts of people who are not gifted musicians or talented poets?” They write songs, by the way, that people get together and sing seriously because of the meaning, not songs that are just entertainment. Many of the songs last, and are sung for decades, even centuries.
Parents are pleased with their child’s drawing irrespective of whether it is good art or not. In the same way, God is pleased with the songs of his children even if they aren’t very good – and some Christian songs are very good. They have deep meaning and appealing melodies, meaning that atheists are blind to, and melodies they are deaf to.
It is certain that atheism will never produce any magnificent works of architecture, painting, and music that will inspire people for centuries. This is because such useless fripperies are of no benefit to soulless little lumps of matter engaged in a brief and pointless struggle for survival that began by chance and ends in nothingness.
One of the Psalms says “Sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.”
I confidently await that day when the entire earth will be full of songs of praise to God for all of the wonderful things he has done in the past, is doing, and will do.