Saturday, July 3, 2010

Against the wind


Yesterday I went for a little 20 mile bike ride. The first ten miles was extremely difficult as most of the ride was uphill and against the wind. Several times along the ride, during the initial ten miles, I was extremely discouraged and thought about giving up. Curiously, while riding, I was thinking of how the first ten miles was a lot like life. I thought of the implications of life without God.

As a atheist, one has no purpose, hope, or meaning. When hard times come, the atheist has no one to confide in, but friends here on earth. The atheist has to view life with all of its problems as the best that he or she will ever experience. When facing death, the atheist has only a gloomy picture of what awaits. According to an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, "Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation." [1] The point is not to show the falsity of atheism, but merely to recognize the logical outworking of leading a life without hope. As an atheist, everything one does is ultimatly for not.

Many years ago, Blaise Pascal made a famous wager. He reasoned that if you believe in God, and I don't, and God does not exist, then we both gain or lose nothing at death. But if you believe in God, and I don't, and God does exist, then you have gained everything, while I lose everything. The argument is in no way a proof for God's existence, but it points out what is at stake if God exists.

If God is real, then the Christian truly does have something to live for. If God is real, the Christian can live a life that has purpose, meaning and ultimate hope. If atheism is true, then all this world has to offer is despair. Mary Anne Vincent has stated that, "An atheist’s most embarrassing moment is when he feels profoundly thankful for something,but can’t think of anyone to thank for it."

We will always face the winds of problems in this life. If God exist, then a purpose also exists for everything that happens and the Christian is assured of a time when the problems of this world will disappear (Revelation 21:1-4). One day, on the Christian worldview, the winds and hills of life will be reversed, just like it was for me on the final ten miles back home. Unlike my bike trip, the Christian can look for a Godly tailwind throughout eternity, and that makes a big difference in living on this planet.

1. Article on religious affiliation and suicide attempt

2 comments:

Bob said...

“As a atheist, one has no purpose, hope, or meaning. When hard times come, the atheist has no one to confide in, but friends here on earth.”

No. An atheist has no ABSOLUTE purpose, hope, or meaning. An atheist has plenty of the ordinary kind, just like you or any other believer. And when hard times come, the atheist leans on precisely who the believer leans on—family and friends.

You’ve probably seen the TV clips of people being interviewed some time after a disaster (like Katrina). In response to being rescued, getting temporary housing, getting food and clothes, some of them say, “Thank you, Jesus!” Hey—how about thanking the people who actually did something for you?!

The real difference is that the atheist values the truth enough to follow it where it goes. The evidence for a God is paltry; why cling to it? The atheist has ups and downs in his life, just like the believer, but he has no need to rationalize the world to fit his superstition. Why not drop those superstitions and simply go where the facts lead? C’mon in, the water’s fine!

Shelby Cade said...

Hi Bob,

I agree that we all need to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Many Christians, I feel, blindly accept Christianity without knowing how to defend the worldview. Likewise, many atheists accept atheism blindly. You can't just knock Christianity or accept atheism without giving reasons for why one should do so. How do we know that atheism is not a superstitious belief?

The point of the blog was to show that on an atheistic worldview, you can never argue that anything you do in this life has an ultimate purpose or meaning. I would add that on the Christian worldview the water is just perfect. :)