Does God Exist?
What does this page have to do with guitar pickups? Nothing. Anyway:
This idea that each human life has great value -- what makes it true?
“Only if there is a God who created man is man worth anything more than the value of the chemicals of which he is composed.” -- Dennis Prager
Does the universe have any meaning or purpose or is it just one big, pointless accident?
“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark.” – CS Lewis
Do you believe there is no God because there is too much suffering and evil in the world?
The following question is not intended to take anyone's suffering lightly, but I have to ask it: What is the right amount of suffering and evil to allow for God's existence?
Before your answer, consider: You don't have to believe in God to see that zero suffering turns us into spoiled, entitled, self-infatuated fools, so apparently, at least in this world, we have to have some. The only question is how much...
THE LANTERN AND THE ROCKPILE
I will give the old atheists like Nietzsche and others credit where it's due -- they were willing to face the consequences of their beliefs and follow them where they led. And they were led to the inescapable conclusion that in the absence of God, there was no reason to think every – or even any – human life has value. And they talked, theorized, and acted accordingly.
By way of contrast, most modern atheists – secular humanists and the like, called "soft atheists" pejoratively by "hard" ones like Peter Singer et al – are a curious case of trying to cut down the tree of religion while keeping its branches alive and floating above the ground.
They praise the ‘indomitable human spirit’ while denying there is such a thing as spirit. They extoll the importance of purpose and meaning because they help humanity to survive and even thrive, yet they deny that humanity itself has any purpose, meaning or importance, and therefore any reason to survive. They declare every human life to be of infinite value while insisting that every human being is just an accidental clump of atoms of no more value than a pile of sewage of the same mass. They cry out for freedom and human rights while reducing every human being to a helpless sockpuppet of evolution and determinism incapable of exercising rights or free choice. With all this talk of secular humanist glory and wonder, they blow the human race up like a giant balloon -- but then they balance it on the pin of their deconstruction of the human species, seeming blissfully unaware that their balloon might pop.
No wonder everyone has their faces buried in their cel phones, obsessed with social media and avatar games with no time for real people. The undergirding philosophies of the social climate outside of cyberspace are just too confusing and rotten through with futility. At least in most video games, the underlying assumption is that there actually is something outside our heads worth living, fighting, even dying for.
There was a soldier on a mission driving his jeep down a dark road. Suddenly he saw in the middle of the road a lantern on a pile of rocks and had to stop. He asked a local man what the lantern was there for. The local said it was so drivers could see the pile of rocks and be able to stop in time. When he asked why the pile of rocks was there, the local man said "so it can hold the lantern higher so you can see it better". When the soldier replied that it seemed to him that neither the rocks nor the lantern needed to be there at all, the local man disappeared.
Is man the measure of all things?
This question is rarely directly asked but is implied when the question of evil comes up as an objection to the possibility of God's existence. To question God's existence by raising the problem of evil, you must first assume that human life has instrinsic value and that a moral code exists outside of the mind of man by which we can tell good from evil and which we can use to protect human life. But if there is only the physical universe, then there is no reason to believe human life has inherent value and any moral code we might make up for ourselves would be based on literally nothing.
When confronted with this, the skeptics I have conversations with will retreat to what I call the Well We Can redoubt. It comes in various forms and expressions but boils down to, 'well, we can make up our own moral code'. Well, no-one denies that; we can obviously make up anything inside our heads. But for those accustomed to ridiculing religious people for playing make-believe or having Imaginary Friends, this is a strange position to take. More importantly, it just avoids the question of whether human life actually has value and is therefore worthy of a moral code to protect it. Bottom line: a bunch of people getting together and agreeing to pretend that human life has value is not the same thing as human life actually having value.
This idea of making up our own moral code is a reflection of the idea that man is the measure of all things, at least in the moral realm. But there is a problem, most pointedly illustrated by the Holocaust. If man really is the measure of all things, then if the Germans had won World War II and eventually exterminated everyone on the planet who disagreed with them, would the Holocaust still be wrong?
You can't say yes without invoking the supernatural. What else would be left?
Do you have any thoughts on these quotes, questions and ideas? You can share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be aware, however, that:
1) These will not necessarily be private conversations. I may post some of them here, unless you are divulging some personal information, though that’s probably not a good idea online with a stranger.
2) Responses that invoke the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the snarky spirit thereof will be ignored. If you have real, honest questions about God that have just never been answered to your satisfaction, I can put up with a certain amount of angst and even take something of a beating for the failures of my Christian brothers and sisters to give a cogent, adequate answer. (For that matter, I may also fail so I ask your forgiveness in advance.) But if you are just trolling or just want to use me as a punching bag or an object of ridicule, you will probably get silence.
Looking forward to your emails,
Mr. Zhang Bucker
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him will not die but have eternal life.
-- John 3:16
He is risen, large, and in charge -- whether you like it or not!