Life Without God

AdamBefore 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.

No Origin

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.

No Destination

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.

No rules

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.

Book Review: “Hardwired: Finding the God You Already Know” by James Miller

J.W. Wartick - Reconstructing Faith

hardwired-jmIrreverent. That’s how I would describe Hardwired by James Miller in one word. Miller appeared unimpressed by Natural Theology, and perhaps even less impressed by current scholarly apologetics. Yet this is, unabashedly, an apologetics work. It’s just not the type that many readers would expect going in. Miller’s approach is presuppositional: that is, he sought to discuss the questions about faith by analyzing those things that people already assume or know.

Illustrative was his comment early on in the work. Miller was approached by a mother who was heartbroken over her son leaving the faith. She asked him, “‘How do I convince him there is a God?'” Miller’s answer is indicative of his apologetic method: “He already believes in God.” This startling statement forms the basis for the rest of the book. Miller’s approach revolved around showing people the God they “already know.”

How might one justify this outlandish…

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Everyone Knows God Is There

MMI knew there was a college guy out there somewhere settling into a dorm, scoping out the weekend nightlife, and generally not thinking about the fact that his flippant comment about church had brought his mother to my doorstep. She caught me on the patio after church almost in tears. She told me her son was in his first year at college and had given up on everything she had taught him about faith. Years of Sunday school instruction had amounted to firm agnosticism. So many childhood bedtime prayers had now resulted in an adulthood of sleeping in on the weekends. She described recent conversations and arguments and e-mails, which had concluded in a closed door.

“How do I convince him that there is a God?” she asked….

 

Read the rest here.

Certainly Agnostic

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Posted on the Christian Apologetics Alliance

When I offer an apologetics seminar that I call “Know Why You Believe,” I find that the skeptical attendees have a preferred label for themselves.  “So I’m an agnostic,” says the first person to raise his hand, and that is the preface to his question.  A few others nod their heads eagerly.

I’m not sure if I believe him or not.  But I’ve finally come up with a good, brief answer….

Read the rest here.

The Ground

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I remember reading about a man badly injured in a car accident.  When asked about the vehicle that hit him, he said, “I didn’t see the truck, just the crash.”  Sometimes we’re so panicked about the crash, we miss what hit us.

The Greek poet Epimenides saw things that most people miss.  He was hailed as a prophet, and legends about him supersede history – that he slept for 50 years, that he lived for 300, that before he died his body appeared tattooed, and that he saw visions.  However, what little we have of his poetry doesn’t suggest mystical visions so much as common sense.  I wonder if prophets are sometimes just people who saw what hit them.Image

He wrote a poem called the Cretica, The Cretan.  It was a poem about Zeus, king of the gods.  In it, the king of Crete tells Zeus that the Cretans have lied by building a tomb to Zeus.  However, King Minos knows that Zeus is eternal and needs no tomb, because “in you we live and move and have our being.”

Two things interest me about the poem.  One, he doesn’t charge them with a mistake; he charges them with lying.  Given the nature of the issue, I’m not sure who they could be lying to except themselves.  Two, his proof is not data to be analyzed, but existence on the whole.  In you we live, we are active, we exist.  Without you, someone has to explain life arising from inanimate matter, motion, and a universe that has somehow come to be.

Hasn’t it always been the case that when one claims that God is dead, whether a Roman centurion stationed outside of Jesus’ tomb or Friedrich Nietzsche stationed on the doorstep of the 20th century, we’re taking part in a grand self-deception that is corrected by reality itself?  God is the ground on which we stand, and I cannot deny him any more surely than I can stay in mid-jump.  Without God, there’s no reason why there should be a universe rather than not, and no explanation for how something came from nothing.  Without God, there is no explanation for the constant motion in which life is immersed, motion which pushes us, as Sartre said, inevitably towards moral crisis and commitment.  And without God, there is no explanation for how inanimate matter produced consciousness and mental properties, as even atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel has admitted.

The Apostle Paul quotes Epimenides (Acts 17:28) when he engaged the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill.  He’s proof-texting from their own library.  It’s as if to say, “You already know God is there.  Your own poets have said so.  Your own prophet would call you a liar for denying it.”

I think the charge of lying may be harsh, though technically correct.  I might use a different word for it.  It’s a coping mechanism.  The reality is that crashes are startling and leave us resentful of a fragile world in which they happen.  Denying the possibility of a good, overseeing father figure may be a way of voicing resentment.  It’s fear boiling over into rage.  But at the end of the deny, it’s still just a denial of reality.  Without God, there’s no one to be mad at.