Thursday, December 5, 2013

Atheism: The Despair of Meaninglessness...

In this post, I'll be looking into a world view that dominates the academic culture of the United States of America, shaping the minds and hearts of millions of people during the most formative years of their life:  Atheism.  While the majority of the world's population belongs to one of the many world religions, the atheistic world view is becoming more and more popular, especially in the United States of America.  I see this world view having a strangle hold on the academic world as a major problem, but in order to understand why that's a problem, you have to understand what the atheistic world view is.    

Definition of Atheism:

According to Random House Dictionary, Atheism is "the Doctrine or belief that there is no God."  Atheism is also defined as "disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings."  This covers the two most common types of atheists:  Those who don't believe that there is a God because they feel there isn't enough evidence for one, and those who make the assertion/claim that there is no God.

Dr. Willaim Craig Lane does a great job of explaining the difference between these two types of atheists, as well as the background and problems with them.  

Atheists try to use science to disprove God.  Take Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous atheist and the poster-boy for Darwinian Evolution, for example:

"The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no."

Matt Dillahunty, co-host of The Atheist Experience, makes a similar assertion:  

“Either god exists or it doesn't exist. If a god does exist, it either interacts with the universe in some detectable way or it doesn't. If it doesn't, that god is indistinguishable from a non-existent god. That only leaves a god who interacts with the universe in some detectable way. But if science, which is the greatest realization of the use of our senses to, you know, detect things, hasn't found this god, that doesn't say much for individuals.

In short, the god you've created is, in fact, undetectable by science. The limits of science are not the province of religious knowledge. Where science is ignorant, so is religion. The only difference is that religion lacks the integrity of science.”

Dan Barker, a former christian preacher gone atheist, refers to science in a more subtle way:

"You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that  we are the ones that need help?"

The mistake that Dawkins, Dillahunty, and Barker are making is obvious:  They are trying to disprove a supernatural being by using science, which can only observe the natural world and is incapable of observing anything supernatural.  That is such blatant intellectual dishonesty that I have a hard time believing that people as smart as Dawkins, Dillahunty, and Barker would resort to something so childish unless they were intentionally running away from God.

What it comes down to is basically this:  classic atheism is the assertion/claim that there is no God.  Because atheists could not and cannot back up their assertion/claim with evidence that trumps the philosophical and historical evidence for the existence of God, they redefined atheism to make it into a psychological condition that everyone is born with.  By doing so, they believe that they never have to provide evidence that backs up their assertion that there is no god, and it always falls on the theist to provide scientific evidence that there is a god.        

Logical Consequences of Atheism:

If Atheism is true, and in reality there is no god, what are the logical consequences of that?  I like what Friedrich Nietzsche, the great atheist philosopher, said:

"You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist."

I also like the way Richard Dawkins put it:

"Humans have always wondered about the meaning of has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference."

First off, if there is no God, there is no mind prior to the human mind to define what is right or wrong, which means that the human mind defines what is right and wrong. What that means is that morality is completely relative, and is dependent on which individual, society or culture, or individual in power you're talking to.

A lot of atheists deny God's existence, but believe that a lot of the morals in the bible, such as murder being wrong, stealing being wrong, feeding and helping the poor, and the golden rule, are objectively true.  I like what Nietzsche said:         

"When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. Christianity is a system, a consistently thought out and complete view of things. If one breaks out of it a fundamental idea, the belief in God, one thereby breaks the whole thing to pieces: one has nothing of any consequence left in one’s hands. Christian morality is a command: its origin is transcendental, it possesses truth only if God is truth-it stands or falls with belief in God."

What Nietzsche is saying is that if God exists, then Christianity is a complete and logical world view.  If you take God out of the equation, then all the morals of Christianity that non-christians tend to agree with (such as murder being wrong, stealing being wrong, Pedophilia and bestiality being wrong, and the Golden Rule being right) are not true in any objective sense in reality.

In regards to what Dawkins said at the top, Dawkins is asserting that if there is no God, there is no such thing as humans having innate value or purpose.  We can go around assigning ourselves meaning and purpose in life, but like morality, none of it is objectively true; it's just our own subjective opinion.  

So let's summarize the logical consequences of Atheism:  If there is no god, then life is ultimately meaningless, morality is a joke, human beings do not have any innate value or purpose, and we all live for 60-80 years before we die and rot in the ground.  This is the despair of Atheism, and I liked Albert Camus' analysis of the despair of Atheism:

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide."

Albert Camus was intellectually consistent, and he realized that if atheism is true, and all the logical consequences are true, then the only question we really have to answer is, why not commit suicide?  Of course, like most human beings, Camus could not accept that and spent his life explaining how we should attach meaning to our lives, decisions, and relationships.  Eventually, Camus' insistence on attaching meaning to his life lead him to seriously explore Christianity just before his death.       

Pointless Rebellion:

One of the common fruits of atheism is a deep hatred for organized religion, especially Christianity.  

Consider the words of Bertrand Russell, the famous atheist philosopher:  

"I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world."

"There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths."

Karl Marx, humanist and father of communism, had this to say about religion: 

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

"The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion."

Dan Barker seemed to have a problem with God being a holy and righteous judge, and felt no qualms about judging God:

"How happy can you be when you think every action and thought is being monitored by a judgmental ghost?"

"I do understand what love is, and that is one of the reasons I can never again be a Christian. Love is not self denial. Love is not blood and suffering.  Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, consigning billions of people to eternal torture because they have offended your ego or disobeyed your rules."

Friedrich Nietzsche expressed similar thoughts:

"God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight."

The real question is, with what moral standard do the atheists use to judge God?  Is that standard even real in an objective sense?  If it is, where does it come from?  I like what C.S Lewis said:

“[As an atheist] my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.  But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?  A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line” 

If the standard you use to judge God (assuming that God even exists in the first place) is a subjective standard that doesn't exist outside of your own mind or society, then you have no right to judge God as having done something immoral.  

Of course, the problem with atheists burning with anger when they judge God is that they're essentially super angry at a fictional character, and most people don't use such strong language and emotion in judging a fictitious character.  When I see a villain in a movie or book, no matter how evil they are, I never get anywhere near as angry as atheists do towards God because I understand that the villains in the book or movie are not real; they are fictitious.     

However, if the standard you use to judge God is objectively true, then that logically means that there is some kind of god who defined the objective moral standard that you're using to condemn him, which is self-refuting if you're trying to assert that God doesn't exist.  

I have a special term for atheists that I created upon my analysis of their world view:  I like to call atheists rebels without a point.  In my observation of atheism, what is unmistakably clear is that they are rebelling against God, and they don't want to submit to him.  That's all fine and good for them, but where is their rebellion taking them?  What do they gain that submitting to God would not have allowed them to gain?  Does their rebellion make them better people in the long run?  If so, how do they define what a better person is?  If they reject God's existence in their rebellion, how can they know anything about anything?  Have they considered committing suicide?  If not, why?                                           


If atheism is true, and there is no god, then life is ultimately meaningless.  King Solomon came to the same conclusion in Ecclesiastes 1:2-11:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”  What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.  The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.  All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.  To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say.  The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.  What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.  No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.

Atheists tend to place a lot of value in the acquisition of scientific knowledge and wisdom.  King Solomon had this to say in Ecclesiastes 2:12-16:

"Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.  What more can the king’s successor do than what has already been done?  I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.  The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.  Then I said to myself, “The fate of the fool will overtake me also.  What then do I gain by being wise?”  I said to myself, “This too is meaningless.”  For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten.  Like the fool, the wise too must die!"

Following this logic, if there is no god, then working hard at earning a living and advancing in the workplace is meaningless, according to King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:17-23 and 4:13-16:  

"So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.  And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.  So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.  For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.  What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?  All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless."

"Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.  The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom.  I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor.  There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

While atheists try their hardest to deny God's existence in order to avoid submitting to him, they simply cannot escape the fact that they need God just as much as anybody else.  I like the way that Jean-Paul Sartre, the famous atheist philosopher, put it:

"That God does not exist, I cannot deny, That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget." 

Blaise Pascal, the famous christian philosopher, put it magnificently:  

"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."

King Solomon wrote the following in Ecclesiastes 3:11:

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

Since God has set eternity in the human heart, what logically follows is that the things of this life cannot fully and permanently satisfy us.  Think about it: whether it be sex, money, power, or work, none of those things ever bring you full or permanent satisfaction; you always end up having to go back for more of it in order to maintain the short-term satisfaction those things give you.  We human beings keep trying to fit things into that god-shaped hole in our hearts thinking that they can satisfy us, but until we submit ourselves to God and let him fill that hole, we'll never be satisfied permanently and fully in life.

With all this being said, the atheist, just like everyone else, has hope.  All they have to do to fill that god-shaped hole in their heart and find permanent fullness and satisfaction in life is to acknowledge God's existence, acknowledge that they can't possibly earn their own salvation, repent of their sins, put their faith in Jesus Christ, and accept salvation as God's free gift to us.  It is my hope that any atheist who's reading this will realize the despair of their world view, and will seek to live in truth and light with Jesus Christ for all eternity.       

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