I know a man whom I frequently hear using the expression “I hope…” when talking about having money for bills or some other situation that appears to look, if not outright bleak, then at least dubious as to any measure of positive outcome.

I asked him once how he can hope when he doesn’t believe in the God who can satisfy one’s hopes, and he didn’t have an answer beyond a shrug. He just did things that way and didn’t really spend any time thinking about the why?

Atheists, who reject any assertion that God exists, or that there is any form of life to which we could be unwillingly find ourselves as a species subjected to due to our inferiority, and even appear as gods when we encounter them because of their vast superiority and advanced abilities… still use that word, hope, when talking with others.

“I hope I get that job.”

“I hope she says ‘Yes’ when I propose.”

“I hope tomorrow’s better.”

The examples of usage go on ad infinitum.

I mean, in the absence of a power great enough to fulfill one’s hope, you’re kind of just rolling the dice with the same odds that it took the precisely-necessary two bits of the Universe hooking up at the right instant to begin the process it’s taken— billions of years according to the theory of Evolution— evolving life to the point where talking monkeys have for themselves enough firepower to obliterate most living life on this planet a few dozen times, at least.

Let’s hope that maybe in a few million more years the talking monkeys will be better monkeys, less prone to killing their fellow monkeys for some of the stupidest reasons. And in a few billion more years, maybe maybe achieve the peace idealized in shows like Star Trek.

“I hope they find a cure to cancer someday.”

Sure, that must be comforting to the parents watching their child die of cancer in a hospital ward. Sucks to be you but hey, maybe someday evolution will roll its dice in your favor. Ya gotta hope, right?

Too bad that the young woman who was going to develop the cure for cancer just had her own existence aborted in the sterility of a conveniently-located neighborhood medical clinic specializing in human death.

Better luck next time.

It’s probably just me— but hoping seems baseless and useless unless there is a surety behind it— someone who can make it happen.

Because otherwise, it just sounds like wishful thinking.

Relying on the odds of a cold, random Universe presents with such futility that I can’t wrap my head around the notion.

Hope based on what?

I suppose it could be based on the possibility that a thing could come to pass, but then we’re back to rolling the Universe’s dice to see if it will randomly happen.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I get it; there are more than a sufficient number of causes to dismiss the existence of a Sovereign, All-Powerful, Invisible Man who controls this vast sphere of existence we fondly refer to as our Universe. I’m familiar with enough of them myself.

I get it.

I just don’t get the point of hoping in anything if Sovereignty is removed from the equation. Hope is reduced to wishful thinking at that point, from what I’m perceiving.

How do your odds improve to land the job if you hope you get it?

How do your chances improve that she will accept your hand in marriage if you hope she does?

I don’t get it.

Do you mean to say that you wish you would get the job, maybe? Are you making a wish to yourself then? Who are you talking to??

“I hope they approve us for that house.”

And if you’re hoping you’ll get the job or the house while another guy is hoping for the same thing, then what is revealed in which of you land the job or being approved for the house? That your hope was the one, and his hope wasn’t better or perhaps more deserving… sucks to be him, better luck next time?

Do you see the dilemma making this impossible for me try to wrap my head around?

Hope is reduced to a passé expression that no longer holds any real meaning.

At the risk of beleaguering the point, to whom does your hope ascend when it comes up in your heart— or does it just float out to the Universe and its indescribable improbability and randomness?

None of which is to say that I’ve been impressed with Gentile Christianity’s record, either. But I’ll save that for our next chat.

—Timothy B. Kline, October 5, 2019