"What's the most you ever lost in a coin toss?"
I have not seen the movie No Country For Old Men yet, but I have watched a few scenes of it on Youtube, as well as reading some review and opinions on the film on various web sites.
One discussion in particular caught my attention, the topic being whether Anton Chigurh, the cold-blooded killer portrayed in the film by Javier Bardem, was an atheist. The discussion was raised by an e-mailer who opines that No Country For Old Men is:
"a modern classic, a deep meditation on the natural conclusion of atheism (the recklessly craven positioning of self for purposes of survival) and the believers who dare to exist for causes outside of self, an endeavor that "No Country" makes clear is noble indeed but corrosive to the soul."
As an atheist myself, I don't see it that way at all. While Anton Chigurh may be an atheist (apparently the novel by Cormac McCarthy on which the movie is based implies that he is), he definitely strikes me as being a sociopath. He feels absolutely no connection to his fellow human beings, going so far as to turn a gas station owner's clumsy attempts at making small talk with him into a potentially life and death situation.
Rather than being a "natural conclusion of atheism," Anton Chigurh is at best a possible outcome of atheism, and one that will be only chosen by a small few who reject the idea of civilization itself. And what do I consider civilization to be? The excerpts below from this post probably express it better than I ever could:
"Civilization is not a lifestyle, it is a way of thinking about our relationship to other people. In a civilized society, you act as though other people are as real as you are - that is, you assume that they feel pain like you do, and you endeavor to do unto others as you would have done to you. In a civilized society you believe that others have rights, just as you believe you do, and you attempt to extend them as justly and fairly as possible.
Civilization has existed in all of human history at one point or another - and if it has a definition, if you can sort out the societies that thought public beheadings were civilized from the ones that didn’t - it comes down to the notion that we have responsibilities towards other people, and th[at] other people have rights and responsibilities towards us."