Religious people constantly face criticism for “blind faith” or for putting hope in things that can’t be seen or proven. And that would be understandable, if not for those widely-held scientific theories such as the “Big Bang” or “evolution.” People who do not believe in a divine “Creator God” usually accept one or both of these explanations as to “how we got here.” But atheists conveniently overlook the fact that their criticism of “faith” is equally true for their own beliefs: they can’t be proven. Sure, they’ll point to evidence they can see and touch and measure, but scientifically speaking, in order to be “proven” it must be recreated in a laboratory, and last I checked, neither evolution nor the Big Bang has yet to pass that test. As far as evidence, I can just as credibly attribute everything I see and hear and taste and touch around me to a God who created it all. On this, we’ll agree to disagree. What unites humanity is the deep-seated quest for the meaning of it all – our purpose, our destiny, why any of us are here. This desire/dilemma is universal, and though we may disagree about how we got here, we all desperately want to know what we are supposed to do now that we are here. However, addressing the question of “why” inevitably brings us back to the question of “how.”
I’ll start with the religious doctrine of a “divine creator,”[i] which to me is as real and true as the grass under my feet or the heart beating in my chest. I believe that this world – and any other world – had a beginning, when God spoke it into existence. Whether that looked (to a fly on the wall of the cosmos) like swirling clouds of gases and particles or involved a “BANG” is no more relevant than it is determinable. The important thing is that I know my God designed, built and currently sustains his creation for intricately detailed and infallible purposes to be fulfilled. As a Christian, I am compelled (actually, commanded) to live every day with the certainty that I am supposed to be here, now, and for a reason. Admittedly, in the nitty gritty of life, it’s difficult to always identify exactly what I’m meant to be doing or why, but I am thoroughly convinced that my God knows and directs my path according to his plans. My existence has meaning and purpose, and an all-powerful and loving God will see that even my missteps are useful in his grand design.
As for the scientific sort, they have altogether rejected the idea of a “creator” but also undeniably (though perhaps secretly) seek meaning and direction in life. Unfortunately, this is contradictory at its root. Let me illustrate. While driving home from work one day, you merge into a lane without seeing the large SUV in your blind spot. You are seriously injured and the other driver is killed trying to avoid the collision. Your best friend visits you in the hospital and says, “what did you mean by wrecking that car? Did you want to kill that driver? And what did you plan to do in the hospital?” If this sounds absolutely mad, that’s because it should. You didn’t mean to kill anyone or hurt yourself or total your car: it was an accident. Similarly, if you believe that we – people, plants, animals, and everything else on earth – just exploded into being due to some one-in-a-gazillion coincidence of gas and particles combining by accident, then there can be no further discussion of “the meaning of life.” We are just glorified space dust and nothing more. There are no rules (other than science), since dust has no morality. Our existence is a runaway train that can have neither purpose nor order, and our lives are just a series of accidents – some happy, some tragic, but all unplanned, unavoidable and ultimately pointless. Fun stuff, right?
It’s known as existentialism, and if you read any of the philosophers who avow it, you’ll notice unmistakable signs that they also ache to be proven wrong. No one honestly wants to believe that life is meaningless, so why does anyone do it? I think some people affirm existentialism because they want to live selfishly and without accountability. Others are afraid of being “duped” by religion – what they would claim is a false-hope. But for most, I suspect they have bought into evolutional science without ever considering what it actually means for their lives. They would assert that they have individual purposes (based on what nebulous principles, I couldn’t guess), but the end result is that when they are unsuccessful or suffer or die, there can be no conclusion other than that their lives were miserable failures. There is no second chance, no redemption, no greater plan: space dust blows about on the winds of fate and chance, and when it dissipates, that’s the end. Makes for a great children’s story, doesn’t it? Millions of non-religious folks can tell their kids before bedtime that tomorrow is a new day, with pain and sorrow, death and destruction, sacrifice and loss – accident after accident – and then they die. Sweet dreams, kids!
Nobody wants to be naïve or hopeful without merit, but that’s usually because they can’t convince themselves it isn’t simply feel-good fluff. I have heard it said that religious people – with belief in a sovereign God – are just puppets on a theocratic string, but even to acknowledge that would be giving partial credence to the existence of a God. They have argued that they would rather be in control of their own destinies than to affirm a divine Being. Yet what is evolution but a scientific puppetmaster? You are merely part of a grand science experiment, with no discernible hypothesis and no say in the matter. Love, trust, hope, kindness, and all other virtues are only chemicals and dust on a whim. If the atheists are right and I am wrong, then when I die, I will know nothing of it and the worst they can do is stand on my grave proclaiming my foolishness (which they may do to their hearts’ content with my expressed permission). I will have lived my life full of hope and faith and belief in something eternal, and much greater than myself, and even if this be all, I will have lived more richly due to my ignorance. But if they are wrong, not only will they have foregone real, defensible purpose and meaning in life, but they also stand to face that Creator whom they denied, and to lose more than they could have ever imagined. Their tombstones will read: “Here lies an atheist – who lived for nothing but surely died without being taken in.”
As long as I have breath, I will declare that there is a God, who designs purpose for all of his creation and who will not be thwarted by those who refuse to accept him. I will believe that there is meaning even for the atheists, although it cannot be for their good since they won’t serve God’s purposes willingly. One can swear that there’s no such thing as “wind” because they have never seen it, but that will never affect its reality or the way it flutters the leaves and cools your skin on a hot day. Live with hope – tangible, foundational hope that doesn’t require a trick of the mind to believe. If your heart longs to know why you’re here and how your life can be meaningful, seek the God who created you and everything else and who has loved you enough to convince you of that very thing.
[i] It should be noted that I only believe in God the Creator as he is set forth in the Bible – nothing more and nothing less. The purpose of this particular blog, however, is to point out one of the many flaws and lunacies of believing in no God at all. If you happen to read this and are left feeling overwhelmingly empty, ask me about my God and how he can change all that in an instant.