The absurdity of life without god

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

[..] Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? [Eccl 3:19-20, 22]

It’s not always that I start my posts by quoting bible verses unless am writing about the bybill. I hope you can already guess where this is going, but if you can’t, it will become clear in a very short while. In his article, you have ruined my life, professor Craig, Adam is writing a letter to WLC praising the apologists for presenting atheists with unassailable questions.

He tells us

Before I go any further, let me say that you are and always have been my favorite living philosopher. I have seen every debate you have ever recorded and put up on the internet. I watch all your lectures and talks (Closer to Truth, youtube, etc.) I think you are the epitome of what a philosopher should be.

and I am immediately flummoxed. I know people’s choices are at best irrational. I can’t tell you why I prefer vanilla ice cream to strawberry. I will not hold a man to his preferences but if Craig is your best philosopher, it is time you take a brief pause and examine if your brain is still with you.

In the absurdity of life without god, Craig has set himself a task; Why on atheism life has no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose, and why this view is unlivable. It is my intention to show that Craig’s argument are fallacious and based on unsound reasoning. Before I go ahead, I will let it be known that I am not a philosopher, and if am not as eloquent as Craig, you can only blame my teacher of grammar.

The verse 22 above tells us that man should rejoice in his works, for that is his portion. No truer a verse has ever been written by man. I think if there was a time god could have told men about the netherworld, this was the occasion. If the author was this book was also inspired by god, then either at this point god had not decided on an afterlife or he simply forgot to mention it.

Craig writes that if god does not exist then man’s life is absurd. He continues to write

If God does not exist, then both man and the universe are inevitably doomed to death.

which is true whether there is a god or not. The scriptures talk of end times of the earth[universe] and all that is in it. There is death everywhere in scripture. It isn’t true to only associate death with godlessness. The most important question I think isn’t asked by Tillich but by Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus.  The question to me is what to do in an absurd world. Is suicide justified in an absurd world? Camus tells us the body has a head start. You get around to living before you start thinking. Were it the other way, there would be more deaths from suicide than there are.

Craig writes

There is no God, and there is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose.

Man creates god, in his image, then imagines god to live forever and while at it imagines he will live forever with the god he has created in an imaginary world he created at the same time. Craig or no other apologist has told us what god is, why god is and whether it is inconsistent for god to exist and there be no immortality. It is my considered opinion that those who don’t understand what being alive is are the ones who keep yapping there is no value or ultimate significance. Besides are things only valuable when they have ultimate utility? Nobody starts eating a doughnut thinking this thing will end. You know that while it last you will savour the taste and that is it.

Craig asks

Does it really matter whether he ever existed at all? His life may be important relative to certain other events, but what is the ultimate significance of any of those events?

and in retort we must ask does this question apply only to adults or does it cover those babes who died at childbirth, stillbirths and so on? What was the meaning of their brief existence? It really doesn’t matter whether a person existed or not. To each person and his immediate circle of influence, that life is important. He could be the sole breadwinner and if he was to become stiff, life would be meaningless for those who depended on him.

He continues to ask

Suppose the universe had never existed. What ultimate difference would it make?

to which I respond in two ways: one it wouldn’t matter and two we wouldn’t know. It is not a question that wouldn’t bother us in the least for we wouldn’t be there to ask it.

I want to know by a show of hands those here who wouldn’t go for holiday because it will at some point end? Are things only valuable/ meaningful when they are permanent? What is this obsession with permanency?

I feel insulted as a member of the human race when Craig writes

The contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the researches of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good men everywhere to better the lot of the human race–all these come to nothing.

how could this be when each of these actions made life livable for a time for our race? Why shouldn’t peace be good even if it is temporary? Isn’t it better to make sure there is food security to men where and when it really matters? In the afterlife that Craig thinks gives life meaning there will be no working. Let man work to provide for his means. No deity, no amount of prayers is going to do that.

Imagine a scenario where all your fucking life, all you have to do is worship some king. Imagine still there is no sleeping[ I haven’t heard of this about heaven] what meaning would such a life be? Has Craig really thought about what he will be doing for eternity with god? Or in the depths of his heart he will ask for a weekly tour of hell to see where those who didn’t make the cut get roasted? Man needs to live for now for his life to be worth living.

If there is no god, then it all depends on us and life then becomes precious for then it becomes clear that it is short-lived. It is the knowledge that life is short that makes believers hold to it even by whiskers. They would be dying in drones if they really believed they will live beyond this life.

I believe man’s first duty is to himself. I make no apologies that man is naturally self-centered. I further say that were it not for self-interest, nothing would be accomplished.

If there is a god, contrary to what Craig writes, there would be no way of discriminating between what is good or bad. Given Craig’s popular arguments, whatever god commands is right. God would, as most theists argue, be accountable to no one. All the commands would be arbitrary and to satisfy his whims. A morality based on god wouldn’t be workable. Our discussions on morality on make sense because we owe each other obligations. Were this not the case, the talk of good or bad would not even occur.

In any world, whether populated by a god or gods or not, morals would still be subjective. How would they  not be. In what sense would you be talking about morality. If one was to say a thing is good. Would the good be a property of the thing or a judgement about the thing?

Craig asks if there is no immortality, can there be ultimate purpose? The question to ask is who said there was an ultimate purpose in the first place? Apologists and men in general interest me. They think something, what Ubi called a mental image- then convince themselves that this is true of the universe. They are blind to the idea that all this is a mental exercise. They have no way of testing it against reality.

I think the words of this philosopher

“Human life is mounted upon a subhuman pedestal and must shift for itself alone in the heart of a silent and mindless universe.”

is closer to truth than all the yapping of Craig.

If god is dead, man’s life doesn’t become one of desperation. It becomes more valuable. There is no cosmic overlord waiting to punish you for infractions that itself couldn’t have stopped you from committing. Man becomes free to aspire to his highest potential. There is no longer a god waiting at the top of the Ziggurat to confuse man’s language. They sky becomes literally the limit. The grave is not a problem to the living nor to the dead for in the first scenario they are and death is not and in the second death is and they are not.

In the story of the madman that Nietzsche writes about, he is asking men to rewrite their values. Values that once depended on gods must now be rewritten for a new life. Man must create. It is not an invitation to despair but to creation to innovation.

Craig is not being truthful when he writes

Sartre argued that one may create meaning for his life by freely choosing to follow a certain course of action

but Sarte isn’t saying one has to create ultimate meaning. There is no absurdity in creating meaning in an absurd life. It is one of the responses to the question of suicide. Many people have killed themselves because their lives were no longer meaningful despite their still believing in god. No one is going to kill himself for the ontological argument but one will quit life the moment life becomes no longer meaningful.

Atheism makes no value judgement. It is a lack of belief in god[s]. Atheists are human beings and human beings make value judgments. There is no contradiction in a humanist making a value judgement. Why shouldn’t he? Why is he being denied the right other humans have? Why does Craig want to consider the atheist as less than human with fewer rights than the general population?

Craig brings up self-sacrifice and argues that it isn’t possible under atheism and I say it is not possible even under theism. He tells a moving story of a rescuer who loses his life helping others after a plane crash. He puts the question thus

But to die for others he did not even know, to give up all the brief existence he would ever have—what for?

and here is where you must forgive me for being a destroyer of illusions. First question we must ask is who was this man, what was his training? Once we answer that, we must remember that selfishness doesn’t mean we must live to enjoy the reward. The narrative of Jesus is a good example of this simple truism. He wouldn’t have died on the cross if he wasn’t going to heaven. Without heaven on the table, he wouldn’t have done it. This man who Craig is so moved by his story, had he lived, he would be the happiest man alive, a monument may have been erected to his name and a presidential medal of honour would be displayed somewhere in his house. Don’t tell me this isn’t a great benefit to him. If you say no, then am afraid you are not a student of man. You understand nothing about what drives him.

Craig finally lies that everyone creates purpose in life and to this he says means atheists are inconsistent. I have arrived at the conclusion that the likes of Craig have not thought well enough about what being alive is. There is no single thing called purpose. You don’t wake up just for a single thing. Life is rich in its many attractions and only a life devoid of these is meaningless and such people often kill themselves. When I read people like Craig, I get the impression that they think life should have a single purpose or it becomes meaningless.

Craig finishes his article by saying

what about biblical Christianity? According to the Christian world view, God does exist, and man’s life does not end at the grave. In the resurrection body man may enjoy eternal life and fellowship with God. Biblical Christianity therefore provides the two conditions necessary for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life for man: God and immortality. Because of this, we can live consistently and happily. Thus, biblical Christianity succeeds precisely where atheism breaks down.

and me wonders whether these are the only two possibilities in a world with different views towards death. Is Craig so blinded by his delusion to even consider Buddhism’s idea of Nirvana, a state of enlightenment where there is no rebirth or those cultures where there are no gods and immortality. It is unbecoming of a philosopher to be so shallow.

I am not questioning Adam’s atheism, but I think if Craig is his best philosopher and the reason behind his philosophy degree, he got a raw deal.

I know this post has been long, but I think Craig’s paper deserved a response.

Advertisements