“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” – Richard Dawkins
Can one who affirms such a view live consistently and happily with it? No purpose, no good, no evil… Really? What must the advocate of this belief sacrifice in order to be consistent? Here are three things that the honest atheist must accept on their worldview:
1. No Ultimate Meaning to Life
“The meaning in our lives is provided by us, we provide our own meaning. And we are here by accidents of evolution and we should enjoy our brief moment in the sun because this is all we have.” – Lawrence Krauss
Is meaning truly meaningful if we simply conjure it up? Does one’s own subjective meaning cover up the reality that life is objectively meaningless. In a word, no. What’s interesting about Krauss’s rousing, poetic statement is that he postulates that meaning is subjective, created by the individual but then immediately asserts that “we should enjoy our brief moment in the sun.” This begs the question; ‘why, Lawrence?”, are you saying that your own created meaning now in fact applies to everyone? Wouldn’t that make it objective? Pretending there is meaning in the knowledge that there is no objective meaning is simply lying to yourself.
Without a creator God there is no ultimate meaning to the cosmos, all events are meaningless sequences that will eventually tail off as the universe runs out of energy. The planets, stars and all life that inhabits them will eventually cease to exist, what difference would it make if they had never existed at all? The cold, indifferent expanse of space has nothing to say on this matter. Because man ends in utter nothingness, he ultimately is nothing. All his works both good and bad mean nothing, it really doesn’t matter how he chooses to live, there is no eternal God or immortal humanity to remember him or hold him to account. From nothing he came and to nothing he goes. No amount of wishful thinking changes this ultimate reality in a Godless universe. In order to live happily we often see the atheist borrowing from other theistic worldviews to affirm his objective purpose in life.
2. No Ultimate Value in Life
“If there is no God, everything is permitted” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Objective moral values and duties do not exist if there is no God. One’s view of right and wrong would be purely subjective and ultimately illusory. Saying that something is wrong in the absence of an objective moral code is like saying “I don’t prefer that behaviour.” If God does not exist then there is nowhere to anchor a transcendent, objective moral code. Right and wrong, good and evil cease to exist as objective realities and we’re left to make up our own minds and create our own moral code. ‘So what?’, the moral relativist may ask. Well, on the relativists point of view the white supremacist neo-nazi isn’t evil, he is not objectively wrong, he’s just living out his own subjective moral code. Without an objective moral standard anchored in a law-giving God you can’t condemn anything as objectively evil or objectively good. The holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the attrocities committed in the Soviet Union under Stalin; without God these aren’t objectively evil, just different expressions of relative morality. Remember Richard Dawkins’ has told us, there is no evil. Can anyone live with that? I don’t think so, at least not consistently. Despite affirming the non-existence of good and evil Dawkins spends a great deal of his time condemning the ‘religious indoctrination’ of children and discrimination of the LGBT community belying his faith in objective moral values.
Moreover, without a moral law-giving God there is no ultimate punishment for evil acts and no ultimate reward for good. Hitler simply slips into nothingness, there is no ultimate accountability for his annihilation of 6 million innocent Jews. His ultimate fate is the same as the altruist who’s life is given to those less fortunate than himself, there is no reward for ‘goodness’ either, just blind indifference.
3. No Ultimate Purpose in Life
Without God you are simply the product of random chance. A clump of carbon with the illusion of freedom of the will, who’s states of mind are simply manipulated by natural processes. The behaviours of this electro-chemical machine are not self governed by philosophical learnings but controlled by animal unction, social conditioning and the natural environment. What possible ultimate purpose could this godless animal have? What goals could it conceive of and why? There is no hope, no chief aim or objective there is only matter. All else is simply an illusion if there is no God. Without a creator God, mankind is simply another animal passing his time under the sun. What ultimate aspirations does the pig have? What progressive agenda do goats promulgate? Absurd, I know. So why, without God is man any different? He isn’t. On atheism, any thought to the contrary could be regarded as speciesism.
Only with God is there hope for mankind. Only with God can there be objective meaning, value and purpose to life. It’s impossible to live happily and consistently whilst denying the existence of God. Those who hold that ‘there is no God’ must dispense with any notion of objective moral values and duties and any ultimate purpose and meaning in life. That’s why the rational person ought to choose Christ and biblical Christianity as their worldview and lifestyle. The God of the Bible affirms the uniqueness of mankind, our ultimate purpose; to know Him and be known by Him, the objectivity of moral values and duties and that our choices have eternal significance. The natural outflow of the acknowledgement of these truths is joy.
Many are kept from realising the logical conclusions of their own worldview through borrowing from other worldviews in an attempt to live happily. We are all guilty of it. I believe that we need a touch from the Holy Spirit in order to reveal the ultimate truth of what lies in our hearts, I pray you know His touch. I will finish with Nietzsche’s chilling parable, “The Madman” in which he illustrates mankind’s failure to wake up to the consequences of denying God’s existence.
Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!” — As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? — Thus they yelled and laughed.
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves.
by Graham Phillips
The Absurdity of Life Without God – William Lane Craig (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-absurdity-of-life-without-god)
River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life – Richard Dawkins
The Parable of the Madman – Friedrich Nietzsche
Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air – Beckwith/Koukl