Is Life Absurd Without God? A Reply to WLC’s Influential Article

For me it turns into a hellish experience after a rainy weekend. :sunglasses:

1 Like

@NLENTS and @Patrick,

What about a heaven where you actually had to do something - like design your own little corner of the cosmos in a celestial version of Minecraft, making sure that any worlds you built from the raw materials available to you had sustainable ecosystems? Or what if you had to help people, even in heaven? (Just because there’s no suffering in heaven doesn’t mean people don’t need each other.) Or what about a heaven which offered endless opportunities to learn and increase in wisdom?

3 Likes

I don’t see how that follows. My point there is that WLC is now a productive, functioning member of society as a Christian, but he basically claims that he would not be if he were an atheist. Even if you don’t think that his argument applies to everyone, the majority of people, or even many people at all besides WLC himself, the point still holds. Even if atheism results in more happiness for many individuals, the point still holds for the case of WLC.

So this whole discussion and the dueling articles are all about what is better psychologically for WLC?

1 Like

That sounds better, certainly. But my beliefs are based on evidence, not my hopes and desires.

3 Likes

See Speaking of CSI

I hear ya. (And, sadly enough, I’ve even stood next to pastors on the stage who were about to introduce me as guest speaker whose tone deaf “sound emissions” were absolutely overwhelming. I was trapped, so I found myself basically lip-syncing.) However, to understand the Biblical text in such contexts requires an appreciation of hyperbole in those cultures. I don’t know of any major theologian who assumes that eternity is one endless choir recital—except in the sense intended by the text where it is a mental state of continual praise to God.

I realize that that doesn’t necessarily make the prospect of such an eternity more appealing to atheists but I’m just speaking to how that ancient culture conveyed such ideas.

And as @vjtorley has so aptly described, that is exactly what some theologians have written about an eternity with God in the New Heaven come to the New Earth. (I use that atypical wording because the Bible doesn’t actually say that Christians will spend eternity up in heaven per se. Revelation 21 and 22 describe a New Heaven which has sort of come down and merged with the New Earth, aka the New Jerusalem. God’s people spend eternity in that New Jerusalem as part of the new order of things where God dwells with his people in that New Earth.)

5 Likes

Making some pretenses to be an engineer, a sculptor and a musician, and having done some software development, I fully expect comparable activities or better, not to mention hiking in the mountains.

2 Likes

Hugh Ross often speaks of what he thinks life will be like in the eternity of the New Heaven and New Earth. He speaks of such things as not being bound to relating to one person at a time but having the ability to be in many places at once. I don’t see many of those speculations as anything but harmless imagination—but I give him credit for thinking outside of the theology box (so to speak.) The Bible is short on specifics so I don’t see any problem with such what-if’s, as long as his audiences don’t confuse them for revelations from the Biblical text. (There’s much about Hugh Ross that I greatly appreciate. I don’t agree with his criticisms of the Theory of Evolution but I am still a big fan in many respects. He is so consistently gracious and Christ-like, especially when dealing with those who oppose him. He’s also been very helpful in telling his own story of life on the Asperger’s spectrum. I’ve referred many people to his videos on that topic.)

2 Likes

I don’t know if I personally endorse all of WLC’s article. So my engagement was based on what I personally endorse about it, which is that if indeed WLC (and other Christians) have a critical psychological need for religion, there’s nothing that obliges an atheist to criticize choosing to believe in religion as “lunacy”. That’s all I’m saying.

3 Likes

Pascal the first one to suggest it that I am aware of, but others have talked about the ‘God-shaped hole’ in each of us:

Why don’t you do all those things now while you are alive?

1 Like

Oh I agree that it’s not lunacy either way. I don’t join the chorus of atheists who say that religion is a mental disorder and all of that BS. I think I have a clear picture of why people believe and the value that belief holds, having previously been a very active believer myself. I have never once tried to “witness” to a believer and convert them out of their faith. I have no interest in ever doing that.

In fact, I might go so far as to say that individuals on both sides essentially already do what WLC is imploring. Either belief or non-belief causes cognitive dissonance (or psychological pain) and so we choose the other. (Or, rather, the other chooses us. I actually don’t think that beliefs are really a choice.) But to claim that belief is the rational choice simply because it provides purpose and a way out of a life of perceived futility - that’s true only insofar as one feels that way. So what’s the big reveal here?

As I see it, WLC has provided insight only into his own psychological reasons for belief (fear of permanent death), and the defense of this as the only rational choice fall short. He even specifically invoked Pascal, whose wager hasn’t impressed any atheists since Hume. This goes back to @Rumraket 's point. This whole line of reasoning only makes sense if you already accept the proposition in question. When it comes to reason and rationality, there’s no “there” there.

7 Likes

Um, time is finite? (And I have and still do, to one extent or another.)

1 Like

That’s just an excuse. Make time to do things that will make you happy. Make a bucket list and then do some of them.

1 Like

Good grief. That’s just an unsupported accusation with evidence to the contrary. (And with advancing years come some other limitations.)

I hope you read other material a little more completely, because you totally missed this:

This too sounds creepy. What kind of insecure deity requires constant praise? This is God as Donald Trump.

2 Likes

Fathers like to be appreciated, speaking from experience.

Anthropomorphism spin alert.

2 Likes

(Since fatherhood began with the Ultimate Father, mine wouldn’t be an anthropomorphism. :slightly_smiling_face:)

1 Like