If There Is No God...
It has become acceptable, even popular, to make the brazen claim that there is no God. The problem is that nobody can live that way. We live according to transcendent realities that cannot be studied under a microscope but we know are there and we know are true. Things like love, morality, and purpose–these are what control and define us all our days, but for these transcendent realities to be true, there must be a transcendent cause.
That is not to say that there must be a God for us to live according to these things. It is to say that without God (an ontological foundation) these things are mere illusions, therefore our lives are illusory.
The leaders of the new atheism (guys like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens) try to offer a reality void of God yet still possessing the transcendent truths that a God provides. Their books appeal to the mainstream public, but philosophers and serious atheists are extremely critical of them, and rightfully so.
This is why I have so much respect for intellectually honest atheists like Alex Rosenberg who espouse atheism in its most authentic form. His book The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions opens with his honest answers to life’s biggest questions…
Is there a God? No.
What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.
What is the purpose of the universe? There is none.
What is the meaning of life? Ditto.
Why am I here? Just dumb luck.
Is there free will? Not a chance!
What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There is no moral difference between them.
Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes.
What is love, and how can I find it? Love is the solution to a strategic interaction problem. Don’t look for it; it will find you when you need it.
Does history have any meaning or purpose? It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing.
His worldview is brutal, but at least it’s honest. And his words reveal why it may be easy to say there is no God, but it is virtually impossible to live it out. But if that is where you are, then I would encourage you to give it a try. Have the courage to follow your skepticism to its logical conclusions.
If there is no God, then there is no such thing as love. That intoxicating feeling of falling head over heals for another, that fierce adoration of a parent for a child, the sacrificial loyalty between best friends, these are but delusions. Love is only a word we have ascribed to the most fundamental of survival instincts. The neurons in your brain are firing off synapses when you look at someone that will be beneficial to the process of natural selection. Love is nothing more than a chemical reaction. We project love upon this existence, but in reality, love is illusory.
If there is no God, then there is no such thing as morality. The vileness of rape, the wickedness of ethnic cleansing, the evil of slavery, these are but delusions. Killing a lover is no more reprehensible than a black widow spider killing its. Sexual abuse is no more hideous than your dog jumping on your neighbor’s dog. Hitler was doing nothing wrong, if anything his actions make perfect sense and are very much in accordance with blind natural laws where the strong exploit and prey upon the weak. We project morality upon this existence, but in reality, morality is illusory.
If there is no God, then there is no such thing as purpose. The meaning of life, the idea of progress, the reason for living and carrying on, the concept of history as linear and moving toward a goal, these are but delusions. We are meaningless matter, on a meaningless planet, within a meaningless galaxy, among billions of meaningless galaxies, within a meaningless universe. We project purpose upon this existence, but in reality, purpose is illusory.
Things like love, morality, purpose, and so many other intrinsic realities are nothing more than highly developed instincts, an invention of cruel, blind, and accidental natural causes, feel-good illusions that increase our chances of survival.
In fact, even your very freedom as a self-aware creature is a illusion. You’re nothing more than molecules and atoms obeying the laws of physics, a collection of neurons bouncing around and sending out synapses that control you in every way. Every thought, every emotion, and every choice is nothing but chemistry and physics. You are not making choices any more than rocks choose to be hard or fire chooses to be hot.
If there is no God, then humanity has been swindled. Everything you base your life upon, the essence of who you are in your personhood, that which is most intimate and important to you, the very things that control every second of your life, they are all lies. It’s depressing and miserable, but alas, there is no such thing as depressing and miserable. There is only meaningless. God help us. But there is no God.