A Christian blog recently featured a post titled “There Is No God, And I Hate Him,” and it got me to thinking about one of the things that believers often throw at us infidels. I commented there but want to develop it a little more here. The blogger complained about “evangelistic” atheists, writing (in part):
I mean really, what’s the point? If there is no God, then eventually the sun will burn up, our world will be gone, everyone will die and that’s it…
And we know what rhetorical brickbat is coming next, don’t we?
Detail of the “Pale Blue Dot” photo, showing Earth as seen from Voyager 1. NASA, via Wikimedia Commons
You’ve heard the claim from Christians—that atheism strips life of its meaning. No divine plan, no eternity, only the finality of death. How could you find joy in such a pointless existence? Why even get out of bed in the morning? This is a subjective question, but let me explain how I look at it. An analogy came to me while I was looking down from an upper-story window onto a snow-covered lawn.
Someone had trampled a message into the snow, “I [heart] U,” and I realized that while you probably couldn’t read the words from the sidewalk, you could see them perfectly from a fifth floor window. In fact, I realized the whole lawn could best be read from here. I saw neat lines of crisscrossing footprints and could tell where each walker was heading, and with what stride. I saw clumps of ornamental grass bent down under the weight of the snow… a feral cat disappearing leisurely into the bushes… a squirrel racing up a tree… a young woman talking animatedly on her phone, holding it with one hand and gesturing with the other, smiling, and then hanging up and walking on quietly, hands stilled… another squirrel racing up that same tree. Continue reading
By English: Frank R. Paul Русский: Фрэнк Р. Пауль. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
So you meet a guy in a mental hospital (never mind what you’re
doing there). You get to talking with him and he tells you—quite seriously—that he communicates with the aliens who control the universe and who designed this planet specially for him. He knows that the aliens have set out a purpose for his life, and it’s his job to discover what what they want him to do. This is important business—people’s lives are stake, lots of people—but he’s not afraid, because they’ve told him he is immortal and can never truly be killed.
So he’s pretty delusional. But let’s say you bring him back to sanity (oh, so that’s what you’re doing in the mental hospital!). What does he do then? Does he thank you?
No. He’s all depressed.
“My life has no meaning,” he complains. Continue reading