Loftus now describes what life is like without God. (To be fair, I’d think life without believing God exists. He has yet to experience life without God.) He gives us six points to discuss on this so my dear friends, guess how many blogs we’re going to have on this chapter. After 27 short blogs…..Nah! We’re going to go with six blogs.
Loftus does say that our lives have no ultimate meaning beyond this life. I agree that if atheism is true, that is the case. I’d say though that they have no meaning in this life. The only meaning that is there is the meaning that is created. That is not a real meaning though. It is a meaning imposed on reality that is in fact denying reality. It makes one think of those great lines in Bertrand Russell’s “A Free Man’s Worship.”
“Brief and powerless is Man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned to-day to lose his dearest, to-morrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power.”
And of course,
“Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins–all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”
To which the late Christian philosopher (Ah. A hero of mine. Always sad to refer to him as “Late”) adds that the only thing Russell needed to add was “And oh yes, have a nice day.”
Loftus doesn’t think though that this means he shouldn’t be a good person who seeks to be good to other people. One wonders if it means that he should though? One wonders even how we got this idea of good? Is good a meaningless idea? If all that we see is that which can be described only in material properties, then yes, good is a nonsense concept. There is no good. Things just are.
One point Loftus wishes to respond to is that our morality has declined due to our having rejected Christianity. Now Loftus does accept that we are in a decline. One indication of this is that we are producing many narcissists in the West.
The irony of this statement is enough that I’m tempted to pause for an hour.
Loftus says though that this is because Christianity was a myth that united us and we just need something new to unite on. He thinks human dignity, freedom, and Democratic Capitalism should unite us.
Paging Stark. Paging Rodney Stark.
Sure! I have no problem with those! I’m a strong Capitalist for all who don’t know, but what is the basis for those beliefs? It’s not enough to just say that humans have dignity. Why should I believe such a thing?
Loftus also claims that the enlightenment has been breaking it apart piece by piece. I find that amazing since we’ve actually been finding more and more confirmation since the Enlightenment such as the plethora of biblical texts, the findings in the anthropic principles, new philosophical arguments that are being raised, archaeological discoveries, etc.
In fact, Christianity I would say is growing more and more. The ones who claim that it is dead will die long before Christianity ever could. (Which it won’t.) Voltaire once said that within a hundred years of his death, the Bible would be a forgotten book. Within that time of his death, the Geneva Bible Society bought a house of his and used it to print Bibles.
Rest assured, God has the last laugh.
We will look at the second argument tomorrow.