Before we commit to something, if we’re wise, we weigh the consequences. Before we take a job, we consider the pay, the hours, the benefits, the commute, the effects on our families, and the relative enjoyment and fulfillment we will find in it. Sometimes we take one because we’re desperate, and anyone who has done so knows about how well that works. When we date and marry, if our friends are wise, they ask us if our romantic interest is good for us, if they’re fun, if they fulfill us, if we can see ourselves with them over the long haul. We’re often too enamored to ask these questions ourselves, but this is what the voice of wisdom would say.
It concerns me that there is another decision which the bulk of the population makes wholesale without wise consideration of the consequences, and that’s the decision to live life without God. Whether by tacit negligence of explicit rejection, we choose to do life on our own terms without God. I wonder how that decision might go if we weighed the consequences as we do with a profession or a partner.
Without God, we come from nowhere. We are not designed. We have no purpose. When we talk about living a meaningful life, we really can’t mean “meaningful” in any traditional sense, because without an origin, we aren’t made for a purpose. We are, in stark terms, an accident, blindly wrought by inanimate forces of nature, a marionette of physics. If we were sensible about this, we would never have reason to get out of the bed in the morning, because there is nothing for which we are made.
Similarly, we’re not going anywhere. From the dust we come and to the dust we return. As a result, there’s obviously no goal. Again, meaning must be crucified as a twisted prank of evolutionary forces. The most basic of purposes – making the world better – is a stupid waste of time. The world is going to perish in the eventual heat death of the universe, long after human life is gone, with no one left to remember it or appreciate it. Self-awareness will have been a cruel mistake. Raising our children is an arbitrary pastime. Accomplishments are trophies thrown in the fire. With nowhere to go, we have absolutely no reason to live.
Realize the tectonic implications for politics and ethics. Any rules we have to govern human life are arbitrary constructs. Might does make right, by sheer virtue of the fact that no one else can. Values like civility or fairness or justice are tools of power for the manipulative to use to force a gullible (and religious) lower class into behaving and working to produce luxuries for the rulers. Voltaire was right – if there is no God, he must be invented to keep the peasants in line. Nietzsche was right – if there is no God, values are the whims of the strong. If there is no God, the only real morality is anarchy, and complex political systems to reign that anarchy in are just stalling techniques to help the rich die in peace.
Without God, the obvious consequence is that we have no past, no future, and a horrible present. This in no way proves that there is a God, it simply, and wisely, lays out the consequences of casually ignoring the possibility that He exists.
8 thoughts on “Life Without God”
I’ve yet to wake up in a cold sweat fretting over the meaningless of existence. In fact, my on-line experiences lead me to conclude that theists are more obsessed with existential nihilism in the absence of God than non-believers. Why is that? Do you honestly believe that worshiping a celestial dictator is the only path towards meaning and fulfillment? If so, that’s rather sad.
And an alcoholic is not nearly so worried about his problem as his family is. In fact, through denial, he has decided just to forge ahead until he finally crashes, whereas his family has a more healthy sense of future consequences. Who is being more realistic?
The miracle is the only thing that happens, but to you it will not be apparent,
Until all events have been studied and nothing happens that you cannot explain;
And life is the destiny you are bound to refuse until you have consented to die.
-WH Auden, For the Time Being
You actually can get all of those things without a god. You just have to form them for yourself, and don’t get them handed to you by someone else.
Much better that way, in my humble opinion.
No, actually you cannot. You obviously would have no origin and no destination, and the rules we have in the meantime are arbitrary. You would have to make a case that in some way that there is a meaningful alternative.
“You obviously would have no origin and no destination”
Sure I do. My origin can be traced back at least as far as the beginning of human history, and farther still thanks to science. My destination is up to me.
“and the rules we have in the meantime are arbitrary.”
Not arbitrary to me.
“there is a meaningful alternative.”
Meaningful to whom? Because it is meaningful to me.
“Not arbitrary to me” is in fact arbitrary. You’re affirming my point – the best you have is a subjective experience which is utterly meaningless. Your destination is to return to the dirt, and your only origin is dirt, both of which render anything you do with your life utterly meaningless. Thinking your passing experience is meaningful is like saying an airline steward is having a meaningful experience serving drinks as the plane crashes.
“which is utterly meaningless”
“render anything you do with your life utterly meaningless”
Not meaningless to me. Not meaningless to my family, or those I impact that survive me.