Meaning (Part 1) – Why Does It Matter If God Exists?

Actor Joaquin Phoenix:
“I don’t believe in god. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t believe in soul. I don’t believe in anything…To me it’s a pretty preposterous idea.”

Actor Bruce Willis:
“Organized religions in general, in my opinion, are dying forms. They were important when we didn’t know why the sun moved, why weather changed, why hurricanes occurred.”

WHO IS GOD?

In these blogs, we will refer to the term “God” as a being who is:
1. spirit (i.e., an immaterial being),
2. eternal (i.e., has always existed and will always exist),
3. omnipotent (i.e., as to all things that are “logically possible”),
4. omniscient (i.e., again, as to all things that are “logically possible”),
5. perfectly good (i.e., always does the morally best action), and
6. the creator of all things. 

PASCAL: WITHOUT GOD, LACK OF MEANING AND ESCAPISM

Shortly after he became a convert to Christianity in 1654, French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal described the “human predicament”:
“As he looks around him all that man sees is darkness and obscurity. Through science, man sees that he is merely an infinitesimal speck lost in the immensity of time and space.  He finds himself suspended between the infinite microcosm within and the infinite macrocosm without. Uncertain and untethered, man flounders in his efforts to lead a meaningful and happy life. A person’s condition is characterized by inconstancy, boredom and anxiety. His relations with his fellow men are warped by self-love; society is founded on mutual deceit. Man’s justice is fickle and relative, and no fixed standard of value may be found. Despite their predicament, most people incredibly refuse to seek an answer and lose themselves in escape.”

ATHEIST RUSSELL: WE SHOULD BE DESPAIRING

British atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell believed that we must come to terms with the fact that the world is a terrible place:
“Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

SARTE: IF GOD DOES NOT EXIST, EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED

Atheist existentialist Jean-Paul Sarte (“Sart”):
“Dostoyevsky once wrote: ‘If God did not exist, everything would be permitted’; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.” 
Jean-Paul Sarte in Existentialism is a Humanism

Sarte again:
“Life has no meaning, the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”

WITHOUT GOD: A LOSS OF MEANING, VALUES AND PURPOSE

Atheist and existentialist Albert Camus (“ka-MOO”) compared our lives to Sisyphus in Greek mythology. Sisyphus was an arrogant and deceitful king in Greek mythology who was sentenced by Zeus to repeatedly carry a boulder up a large hill and continually watch it roll back down the hill for eternity. Camus said that we must learn to accept the fact that our lives are much like this: frustrating, monotonous, laborious and repetitive. Camus concluded that life was “an absurdity” full of Sisyphean tasks. Camus went on to define “absurdity” as a loss meaning, values and purpose.

DAWKINS: LIFE HAS NO PURPOSE

Atheist zoologist Richard Dawkins expresses a similar view to that of Sarte and Camus:
“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference . . . DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”
Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 133.

HUMANITY’S INCLINATION

William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies to illustrate that people are essentially, by nature, barbaric:
A group of schoolboys are marooned on an island. Ralph, the civilized, elected leader eventually loses every boy except his second in command to Jack, the bloodthirsty hunter. Ralph is puzzled by the fact that there is such a bloodlust in every boy, until one day when he hunts for a boar. Ralph is eventually drawn into the bloodlust himself, to the point that he helps the boys kill Simon, a member of their group. This plunges Ralph into despair that he too is prone to barbarism. He weeps in despair over what he has become.

ATHEISM’S WORLDVIEW

Again, the question is “Why does it matter if God exists or not?” Most of the answers we’ve heard so far give us just a brief glimpse into the atheistic worldview, and they are as welcome as a bucket of ice water:
• Russell said the world’s a place of “unyielding despair.”
• Dawkins said we’re simply “dancing to our DNA.”
• Sarte told us that anything is permitted.
• Golding told us that we are essentially barbaric.
• Camus said that life’s “absurd” (i.e., life has no meaning, values or purpose).

THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW

We hope that by reading these blogs you will come to realize that the Christian worldview is not built on an illusion. There is good evidence to believe that God exists and that he provides us with meaning, values and purpose.

The above atheist authors appear to be saying that without God, these three things do not exist. As Christians, we would tell you that with God, meaning, values and purpose are available to you!

Blaise Pascal said that despite the above facts, it is human nature that people refuse to seek an answer. Most people pursue various forms of escape and never really grapple with issues such as the question of God’s existence.

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