To despair means to be hopeless; to have no hope; to give up all hope or expectation. I saw hopelessness displayed in full force a couple weeks ago as I was driving toward Coast Highway. While at a traffic light, I was reading the bumper stickers on the car in front of me. One of them had a drawing of a small child on his knees, hands clasped together, looking up. Next to the drawing were the words: “Nothing fails like Prayer.” Next to it was another bumper sticker that read: “The Next Logical Step is Atheism.”

To believe that there is nothing but this material world we live in — that there’s no God and no “us” beyond this life — is true despair. If we are a series of cosmic accidents that will cease to exist — a creation with no creator — then we have no purpose and our lives are absolutely meaningless.

In the early14th Century, Dante Alighieri wrote about the afterlife in an epic poem called The Divine Comedy. In the part about Hell, called Inferno, he described an inscription over the entrance to Hell, which reads, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

That sign also describes the hopelessness of atheism. The advertising of despair. The blatant shout to the world of believers, stating, “I HAVE NO HOPE, SO HOW DARE YOU HAVE ANY!”