Friday, February 8, 2019

If God does not exist, life is absurd

Image result for the screamer art

Edvard Munch - "The Scream" -

Isaiah, prophet in ancient Israel,  Isaiah 22:12-13 

"Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts called you to weeping, to wailing, To shaving the head and to wearing sackcloth. 13 Instead, there is gaiety and gladness, Killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, Eating of meat and drinking of wine: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.”

Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:32-33

"If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."

Albert Camus, French atheist and existentialist, The Myth of Sisyphus

"Here is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is

not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy."

The absurdity of life without God

What happens when people adopt a view of life that excludes God? In the three opening passages above we see the attitude and the outcome. Though Isaiah and the Apostle Paul wrote over 700 years apart from one another, their observations concerning the absurdity of life without God are identical. They each saw in their day the consequences that follow when entire cultures opt for living as if God didn't exist. The point of these excerpts is to show that if God did not exist, then the only alternative would be to "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die".

Albert Camus, a French atheist that was part of a movement in early 20th century existentialism called "The Absurdists", hits repeatedly upon the theme of "life's absurdity" in light of God's non-existence. The above quoted work of Camus - "The Myth of Sisyphus", develops how people try to function in a world they perceive as  without meaning. Camus defines "absurdity":

"What, then, is that incalculable feeling that deprives the mind of the sleep necessary to life? A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity."

For Camus, the key project of all human thought is to discover how to navigate between the impulse to kill oneself in the perception of life's absurdity and the impulse to live in revolt against the first impulse.

Whether we are talking of the "prince of the writing prophets", Isaiah, or the author of two-thirds of the books in the New Testament, Paul, or the prominent figure among French atheists, Camus, all three see what follows if we take seriously the belief in atheism. In the history of Biblical and philosophical thought, the consensus of believer and non-believer is this: if God does not exist, life is absurd. Such a startling observation can supply a powerful argument for God's existence.

What we're not saying about life's absurdity and the question of God's existence

Now let's make something perfectly clear: I am not saying that lack of belief in God means that one cannot discover meaning, value and purpose in this life. Many atheists and people who claim to have no belief in God are good parents and fine citizens. The issue at hand is not whether belief in God or lack thereof determines objective moral values and duties. Rather, the point made by these quotes is that if God did not exist, there would be no meaning, value or purpose to discover in this life. 

What we are saying with respect to life's absurdity and the question of God's existence

On atheism, we should not expect to discover such things as meaning, value and purpose. Atheism is incapable of simultaneously maintaining consistency and happiness. Per the atheist worldview, there is no meaning, value purpose, causes worth fighting for and value to life. Yet, atheists will still champion causes for justice, tolerance and the value of human life. Someone like an Albert Camus illustrated the contradiction that is atheism: assert that life is meaningless and God doesn't exist, while clinging to life, since living in revolt to such meaningless is the point.

A "non-absurdity of life" argument for God's existence

Authors such as the late Francis Schaeffer and theologian and philosopher William Lane Craig have illustrated how value, meaning and purpose are likened unto an upper story in a house, with man living in the lower story:

Meaning, Value, Purpose


Human beings

What can explain the impulse to spend years at university, preparing for a career? Or, what can explain mankind's insatiable desire to find his place in our vast and expanding universe? Is physics, energy, matter and chemistry enough to justify or provide grounds for the meaning, value and purpose of life?To find such a grounding, one must look outside the universe to it's Creator. If we were to construct an argument as to why value, meaning and purpose are only possible with God, it would go something like this:

Premise #1: If God does not exist, meaning, value and purpose does not exist

Premise #2: Objective Meaning, value and purpose exist as part of our world

Therefore: God exists

In the next post, we will expound further on this argument to see how well it does under close scrutiny. 

More next time....

No comments:

Post a Comment