The Atheist’s Motive

Recently, I read the book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Hal Moore and Joe Galloway. In attempting to gather additional information about Hal Moore the man (as opposed to what is presented in the book), I found out that he was a devout Catholic. In an interview with Raymond Arroyo circa 2009, he stated about his time at West Point:

…The only reason I got through West Point was going to mass almost daily and praying to God to help me get through West Point. But I’m proud to say that I graduated at the top of the bottom 20% of my class. … I was very dumb in mathematics, which West Point was [1]Their academic program was built on science and mathbased on in those days and I had to study late at night until two or three o’clock in the morning, and I went to mass every morning at 6:30, and that’s when you had to fast the night before, you couldn’t eat before communion, but I went to mass every morning at [2]…and finished the 20 minute mass…seven o’clock by Father Murdock and that got me through West Point. And all through my life, I have tried to keep fresh in my mind, that the whole purpose of life on earth is to qualify for life hereafter in heaven, with our father in heaven.

Hal Moore, Christian

As a reformed Christian, I have to point out that it is at odds with Scripture for anyone to believe that he can qualify for eternity with God, hence, the need for and sufficiency of Christ alone (think of the thief on the cross, what works did he perform to spend eternity with God?)[3]The Puritan divine, John Owen, put it: “Poor souls are apt to think that all those whom they read or hear of to be gone to heaven, went there because they were so good and holy..Yet not one of … Continue reading, but that doesn’t mean that Hal Moore wasn’t a Christian: it merely means that some of his labors might have been for the wrong reason. But I digress…

As I read over that quote today, I thought “What a wonderful testimony. How would this statement appear from the perspective of the [4]A rare bird indeed, for what transcendent motive does the atheist have?honest atheist?”

…The only reason I got through West Point was understanding that my life has no meaning nor any purpose, other than what my wet computer brain manufactures for me from moment to moment, and that ultimately, when the heat death of the universe occurs, everything that I or anyone else has done will have no meaning and no purpose. But I’m proud to say that I graduated from West Point due to studying late at night until two or three o’clock in the morning, and by arising each day at 6:30 to spend 20 minutes or so contemplating how worthless all of my thoughts and actions are from an ultimate perspective, and how beautiful it is that an indeterminate amount of time, mixed with an indeterminate and unknowable sequence of random mutations, all superintended by the mysterious ‘natural selection’ (thank God nobody that I have such cogent explanations for how I got here!) had brought me into being, and it was those beliefs that got me through West Point. And all through my life, I have tried to keep fresh in my wet computer brain, that there is no purpose whatsoever to my life or any life, and that in the end, the atoms of which ‘I’ (knowing that there is no ‘I.’ I just can’t help myself!) am comprised will dissolve back into the unknowable chaos from which they arose, and I have sought to share that belief with everyone I meet. (Why do I do this? I don’t know, for were I consistent in my thinking, I’d recognize that there’s no point…)

Hal Moore, atheist

One of these quotes is beautiful, inspiring, and life affirming. One of them is ugly, discouraging, and pernicious. The astute and sober-minded reader, I’m sure, can tell which is which.

Notes and References

Notes and References
1 Their academic program was built on science and math
2 …and finished the 20 minute mass…
3 The Puritan divine, John Owen, put it: “Poor souls are apt to think that all those whom they read or hear of to be gone to heaven, went there because they were so good and holy..Yet not one of them, not any one that is now in heaven (Jesus Christ alone excepted), did ever come there any other way but by forgiveness of sins.
4 A rare bird indeed, for what transcendent motive does the atheist have?