Madmen

3 10 2010

As far as I’m concerned, the biggest argument against atheism is that its foundational premise lies afoul of everything I know to be true about life. The people I’ve most admired in my life ~ those who have lived the richest and most honorable lives; the loves I’ve felt at the deepest and most satisfying levels; the writers, artists, and musicians whose works have most moved and inspired me ~ all of these have been connected in one way or another to God. Without God, in other words, nothing seems that beautiful, or makes that much sense. Let me rephrase that: Nothing makes too much sense. In a world bereft of God, love is nothing more than a neuro-chemical response to outside stimuli, a response honed by eons of social conditioning for the sake of the survival of the species; and humor is just a notch above a para-sympathetic nervous impulse; and caring for my daughter is simply natural selection with a little survival of the fittest thrown in at adolescence. In other words, everything is an accident and all outcomes are ultimately contrived.

Turns out, in a purely material world, that may turn out to be truer than we thought. Perhaps everything, at least from a purely physical standpoint — all the laws we’ve come to know and love and depend on for the last few centuries — may be based on contingent systems of temporary laws (that’s right, temporary laws. Google “the small change in the fine-structure constant a”). And to what end? Survival of the species? And for what great purpose? Mere longevity? In the yawning expanse of eternity, longevity is a non-starter. It doesn’t even amount to bad breath.

Furthermore, when the New Atheists come along and beat Christianity over the head because of the suffering it has caused, my first response is, You really want to play that game? Okay, so let’s take a quick peek at just how many lives have been zeroed out by self-proclaimed atheists since about as long as modern atheism has existed (which is but a fraction of the time Christianity has been around): Pol Pot, anyone? Hitler? Stalin? Mugabi? Mao? I mean, it’s not even a contest. And my second rejoinder falls somewhere along the lines of: Get in line… behind other Christians! Blaming the church for atrocities it has taken part in has been a cottage industry within the faith tradition since its inception. You can’t best Tertullian, or Augustine, or Luther, or Barth, or Pope John Paul II.

But that’s just shoddy argumentation, because comparing stats like that is akin to one murderer saying to the other, “Well clearly I’m not as bad as you since I only killed a family. You murdered a whole village.” Christians have long acknowledged the painful fact that terrible atrocities have been done in God’s name that shame the witness of Christ. Not all who say “Lord, Lord” will get into the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus tells us. The point is, atheists, in trying to impute religion as a whole, are simply hoisting themselves on their own petards with silly arguments like that.

Here, finally, is the rub. God never intended to be proven. He has always intended that our relationship to him would be based on faith, and to prove his existence would be to render faith moot. Jesus got that… he got that believing in him was the challenge. That’s why he said things like, “Blessed are those who do not see and yet still believe.” Think about it: if we could prove God, that means we could reach God by reason alone, and if we could do that, then guess where that leads? To the perfectly reasonable conclusion that we’ve just reasoned our way to God, which more than likely means we’ve created him in our minds, etc., etc.. I never expected to be able to prove God’s existence. That’s like asking me to prove that I love my wife. How would I do that? All I’m left with is anecdotal evidence. Nothing like a scientific hypothesis presents itself to me. Although, if love is nothing more than neurons firing off in my brain, I guess you could isolate the “love” area of my brain, wire me up to some machine, and then stick my wife in front of me and see if the proper synapses start firing away in my head. But then do you see what we’ve been reduced to? Lunacy. Idiocy. Brain experiments. I mean, really… is that the kind of truth you want to embrace? And is that what you mean by love?

If it weren’t so utterly nihilistic, it might actually be funny.

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