A while back I read a famous story by Roger Zelazny called “A Rose for Ecclesiastes.” In that story a human man (from Earth obviously) falls in love with a Martian woman and must talk all the women of Mars out of giving up on life. So he reads them Ecclesiastes and show them that this depressing book that has no belief in a good future was written long ago, yet here we still were, advancing and making a better life for ourselves.
So I decided to re-read Ecclesiastes for my scripture study. To my suprise, I found that its underlying message (at least to me) was actually about the meaningless of life if (and only if) we exclude God from the equation. When understood in that way, it seems far less pessimistic and far more hopeful. In fact Ecclesiastes to me is a very strong argument for belief in God.
Skeptic Martin Gardner claims that only religious people can write really good pessimistic literature because they don’t really believe any of it. He claims atheists have no where to run, so they aren’t as likely to like pessimistic literature. I personally believe this is true of the author of Ecclesiastes.