Posts Tagged With: meaning of life

If I were an Atheist

Believers

If I were an atheist, I would try to really believe it and live it. What do I mean? Well, first of all, most atheists would pull out their first debate card right here and retort “Atheism isn’t a thing to believe and live! It’s non-belief – it’s a non-identity!” This is their favorite first chess move, because they really do see themselves as neutral observers on a seemingly ungoverned universe. They believe they are making no positive claims about what is, only what is not, namely, a supernatural realm, gods, or a God.

This push of the pawn into the center of the chessboard seems strong at first glance, but with a little examination, it fails to deliver on its promise. First of all, no human being can escape a life of -beliefs-. We are all believers by nature, inescapably, because no person has all knowledge. If one does not have all knowledge, and if that one is going to make any, any claim about the universe that cannot be objectively known and proven, then that person is swimming in the realm of belief.

No atheist can avoid this life of belief without evidence. My atheist friend on Twitter confirmed this for me here:

Agnostics, not atheists. So what’s the reason to call oneself atheist (or as some do, anti-theists)? My guess is that for some, it’s the feeling of satisfaction, and for others, a lack of self awareness. To be “atheist” by self label is to be a bold unbeliever, to strike at the heart of the vast majority of one’s human family with a shocking “you’re all way off!” (which is a positive claim of belief, mind you)…

Yet this seemingly bold statement of unbelief is nothing more than a belief in a philosophical materialism – that is, a belief that all of reality is a physical phenomenon – and that everything can be explained in terms of purely natural origin and conclusion.

Among the many and fatal logical problems with this belief system is perhaps the most emotionally unsatisfying of them: the atheist is forced into the twin buzz saws of Nihilism and radical subjectivism.

And it was recently in an extended conversation with the same atheist as noted above that I pressed the problem of Nihilism. Here I will post a snatch of our conversation (with his permission) where I was pleading with him to see and embrace the implications of his atheism, hoping that to do so for any person would lead to the abandonment of said atheism. Have a look:

I’m in blue, our atheist in gray.

I remind you that in the cosmic scale of our existence, rape and murder are just things that happen given enough time and chance. Moral value cannot be assigned to these things beyond the subjective sensations of the individual primate, in this case, you.

You’re jumping WAY ahead

Let’s baby step through this.

I know how difficult it is to remain in the abstract, false world of philosophical materialism, but you’re the one who has the lock and key. Yet I keep finding you out here with me, arguing from the bases of true meaningfulness in the moral categories!

It’s like you’re a man arguing against the existence of numerical objectivity but can’t help wanting to discuss mathematics.

I disagree. I don’t see any reason why a moral framework cannot be reasoned out in the absence of a deity.

Just because there is no cosmic prohibition against certain actions does not mean we cannot figure out how the best way to treat others.

What that means, with respect and care for you, is that you cannot reason through your stated beliefs. You’re bound to borrow mine.

I can’t? That’s news to me.

“Best” implies a scale of “good” and “bad” – how do you get these categories from stellar explosions and future thermonuclear winter?

Because human beings have preferences. We can know what can be universally preferred and what cannot.

It doesn’t take an advanced degree to understand if someone steals from you, a negative outcome had accrued to you = bad

What if by some cosmic calculus you cannot fathom, stealing benefits the race? What if the death of certain groups is a feature of evolutionary progression?

What do you mean, “what if?”

Utilitarianism is not in the realm of morality.

It seems that when stars explode, several aeons later carbon-based bipedal protoplasmic organisms sometimes turn off each other’s biological functions in physical conflict. What does it matter to a blind, pitiless, indifferent universe?

It doesn’t matter to the universe. It’s not a sentient being.

I think this view helps make us more focused on morality than less.

And in your worldview, we are little eyeballs of the universe that appear for a fraction of a second, then disappear back into the abyss.

In a way, yes. Like I said yesterday, consciousness is a deep mystery and highly profound.

That we are actually the universe coming to perceive itself. It’s beautiful.

I’m trying with all my might to convince you of the implications of philosophical materialism. If it were me, I could see no problem embracing these things.

Which implications am I missing in your estimation?

Am I supposed to be dragged down into the dark pit of Nihilism?

You should be believing: Morality is *merely* a trait selected blindly by chance evolutionary progress.

Morality is an illusion that we pull over our eyes to stave off the true nature of our existence: unknowable, meaningless, extremely fleeting, and forgotten.

All sensations of meaning, love, and beauty are the desperate paroxysms of agonized, highly self-aware biomechanical robots, like us.

We’re dying. We’re about to disappear from all hope. All memory. We are atomic accidents.

What is a species’ benefit in a world that will be eaten by its own star?

What exactly is your problem with this fact?

I understand the desire to want to live forever. Man…you’re dark.[1]

These are the implications of philosophical materialism. Atheists & antitheists should be brave enough to embrace them, in my opinion.

Life is short. It’s precious. It’s special.

Precisely because of how fleeting it is.[2]

And it’s comforting to believe we’ll live forever, but it’s just not true.

I embrace those things.[3] I’m just not depressed by any of it. I’m energized by it. And I soak in every second of this amazing life.

[1] Note – he calls me dark for explaining the implications of his own worldview! [2] Really, this makes me very sad. He instinctively uses all the categories of a theist, because of course he is one by nature. He knows the value and beauty of life because he is not an animal, but rather a human being made in the image of his personal Creator. [3] The atheist “embraces” hopeless Nihilism in the same breath as he assigns meaning and value to life. The terminus of atheistic thought is pure contradiction.

So there you have an astonishing bit of honesty from our atheist friend. He sees my description of atheistic Nihilism, and “embraces” it (and the bold lettering is all my emphasis). Yet he tries with the other hand to force meaning, value, beauty, and a standard of goodness into the world.

Well sir, you can’t have it both ways.

If I were an atheist, I’d go for it. None of this “let’s make something nice out of a hopeless, meaningless situation.” No, if I were an atheist, I’d really live like there is no meaning, no external moral, no hope, no love. I’d pull off my best Jim Morrison impression (of course with far less success, ha). I’d be eating and drinking and filling myself with pleasures. I’d be the nothing I was born to be.

But you see, most atheists can’t be consistent within their claims. It’s too hard to do while living under the sovereign presence of our personal, unchanging Creator. We all have an awareness of His primacy and judgment. We know Him, and we fear Him.

Anyways, I’ll leave it off there. This is a really mediocre post with a need for wit or some unifying story that pulls you in, but if you got this far, I must’ve done something right.

Love to you all, including my atheist buds. Go easy in the comments, because I’m very reasonable to talk with.

  • Adam

 

Categories: Comparative Religions, Meaning Woven into Nature | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Grateful for the Art of Whitney Houston

1963-2012

As a child of the late 80’s and early 90’s, I inevitably grew up listening to the peerless voice of Whitney Houston being played in my home, Walkman, and at any given supermarket around Buffalo. Before I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to dance with somebody who loved me. I believe it is safe to say there are very few if any other recorded voices in history which were as marvelous as Whitney’s.

When I consider the works of a particular artist, especially regarding musical arts, originality and uniqueness are just about at the top of my list of criterion for how I judge quality. In this sense, Whitney did not invent R+B or soul music, but she was queen of the mountain in her class, doing it better than the others. I did love her style, and in memory of her life and career, give thanks to God for the lovely gifts He gives to the society of men.

It is singers and artists like Whitney who set the bar so high that I am made to feel like I am being cheated by the many wannabes out there pretending to have talent. Maybe that’s why my iPod does not have an extremely wide variety of artists…

Interpretation of her life and death

The media will inevitably molest the last fiber out of her death, prodding and poking into the deepest speculations of her psychology and downfall. I, on the other hand, will simply recognize that Whitney’s life and death illustrates biblical truth on a public, spectacle-laden level.

1) She was given a gift which brought her intense fame and success – a gift which was meant to awaken a worshipful thankfulness to God from her and from us the audience. I’m not saying her music didn’t do that, but sadly her lifestyle seems to have more so followed the Romans 1 darkening of the heart rather than the Psalm 107 enlightening of gratitude.

2) She was a mortal, a sinner like anyone else, and needed the same redemption as the lowest, most obscure peasant in India. No amount of talent or fame can lift a person above their need for the saving atonement for sin which Jesus accomplished at His cross, and in His resurrection from the dead. In this I do not judge whether or not Whitney trusted her life to Jesus at some point, receiving the forgiveness of her sins, but rather I recognize that her private life spoke of an unfulfilled longing for something more which all the money and fame did not provide to her. As C.S. Lewis said,

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

3) We can and should appreciate her art and talent, but never in a way that glorifies her, the creature, as it was all a gift and signs meant to point us to the glorious Creator – the greatest lover of music. The full meaning of music and the ecstasy we feel in listening to it is found in completing the equation: Beauty + the perception of beauty = joy and goodness unto thankfulness and worship of the Lord of the cosmos. God loves a cheerful worshiper, and He gives talents to men and women to then bring us the deepest, most satisfying joy of all; the joy of knowing and loving Him, being a vessel of mercy in the house of our Creator forever.

In coming months, I plan on delving into the art and interpretation of the cosmic meaning of another famous singer who died similarly to Whitney… my boyhood anti-hero Jim Morrison of The Doors.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: The Arts, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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