What does it mean to say you’ve wasted your life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
My friend Jonathan McLatchie recently had a round table discussion where Jesus mythicist David Fitzgerald entered the Lion’s Den as it were to defend mythicism. I would have joined in but unfortunately, normally, my own podcast normally takes place at that time, and second I even had to cancel that because I had a massive toothache at the time. (In fact, the bad news is I’m due for three root canals this week. Please be praying for me for recovery and for the financial difficulties this puts us in.) Fortunately, the conversation was recorded and I did get to watch it.
While it would be fun to talk about mythicism again, and I do plan on reviewing Fitzgerald’s book someday (I didn’t when I read it because I was preparing for my debate with Ken Humphreys and didn’t want him to see any responses I would have), I had something else really catch my attention. Fitzgerald finished a dialogue with one Christian and then told him that he was wasting his life following Christianity. That struck me as an odd thing to say and a rather inconsistent thing for an atheist.
Suppose my ship came in and suddenly I won a million dollars. I have so much that I could do with that money. Of course, one would expect I might have some purely pleasure spending that is a bit frivolous, but let’s suppose that I took all the money and went and did something like buy McDonald’s french fries. I didn’t buy these for the poor or to donate to others. I bought them all for myself.
That would be seen as wasteful spending. Why? Because that was money that could go towards so many more noble deeds and causes. I could have donated to charity. I could have taken my wife on a good vacation. (Indeed she would get one. Ready to go to Japan sweetie?) I could have really given my ministry the boost that it needs. No. I spent it on something silly.
We call it wasteful because we look at all the good and wise things it could have been used for. We also realize money is meant for something different. Buying fast food every now and then is not the worst thing in the world, but spending that much money on it would be.
Now what about a life? I do agree with the Apostle Paul that if Christianity is false, we are above all men to be pitied, but as it stands, what would it take for there to be a waste of life. It would require that we have at least two things.
First, the one we’ve mentioned is that I am using my life on something not fit for the purpose of life.
Second, and this is the underlying assumption of the claim of Fitzgerald, there is a purpose of life.
Now I find this problematic if atheism is given. How can there be a purpose if all is a random accident? To say there is a purpose is to say that there is a cause of existence. Now we could say there is a cause in the sense that there were events that happened that led to the universe existing and to us being there, but this is a different cause I’m talking about.
This is what Aristotle would call the final cause. It is the purpose of life. In order to violate a purpose, there must be a purpose. If you have a hammer, it is great to use to hammer in nails. It is not great to use if you want to knock out your neighbor and steal his IPhone. That is a way to use a hammer, but it is not in accord with the intent of the maker of the hammer. (Well, let’s hope there isn’t anyone making hammers hoping people use it that way)
As soon as we say there is a purpose to life or a waste of life, we are saying there is a a reason why we are all here beyond the fact of how we got here. Now of course, it could be Christianity could still be false and in that sense, there is a waste of life. That Christianity is false would need to be established, but before someone says Christianity is a waste of life, they need to show that there is a purpose of life.
One more thing, please note that I do not say this in the sense of ID and design in that way. What I mean by inferring some sort of design is a completely different thing. ID will have to establish itself on its own grounds.
And of course, don’t waste your life.