I think many people toy with some form of atheism at some point in their lives. They wonder if all they were taught growing up is really true. They don’t see God, they don’t hear from him, and they don’t touch him or smell him, so maybe he doesn’t really exist.
Wondering whether God exists, it seems to me, is perfectly rational and reasonable. Most of us struggle with doubts, but we learn how to deal with those doubts, maybe by finding good answers to our questions, or even having an experience with God that reassures us.
Some of us, though, willingly turn those doubts into a strong and hardened form of atheism. Granted, hardened atheists are a tiny percentage of the population (most surveys I’ve seen say it’s less than 5%), but there is still a larger percentage who are toying with the idea of no God. It is to those people who are toying with atheism that I would like to speak.
What if there really is no God? What does that really mean? I’m betting that many of us haven’t thought this through. If there is no God, then there are real consequences for that viewpoint, and many hardened atheists who have rigorously examined their convictions would agree with me. Here goes.
First, free will does not exist. You are the consequence of random, natural processes, and therefore everything you say and do is determined at the atomic level. You are not free to do anything. Once science gets there, we will be able to predict everything you will say and do just by understanding the chemicals that make up your body and the surrounding environment.
Second, there is no absolute right and wrong. Morality is a human invention which changes with time, place, and people. What’s wrong today may be right tomorrow. Transcendent moral laws are illusory because right and wrong are constantly changing. We, as individuals, and as groups of individuals, decide what we call right and wrong. When we die, our children will decide, and so on. Slavery used to be right, but now it’s wrong. Who knows, maybe it’ll go back to being right again some day, if there is no God.
Third, there is no ultimate justice. Those who commit heinous crimes in this life are never punished for those crimes in the next life, because there is no next life! This is it. Not to mention the fact that without a foundation for moral law, as seen above, how can anything be declared unjust? You have to know what is just before you can know what is unjust, but what is just is constantly changing. If there is no God, then there is no ultimate justice for Hitler, Stalin, or Mao. Maybe they were just doing the best they could given the time and place they lived. Who is to say?
Fourth, as already mentioned, there is no life after death. You will never see your deceased loved ones again. Once you die, you will decompose into a pile of inanimate chemicals and never be conscious again. As they say in the world of sports, it’s one and done.
Fifth, there is no ultimate meaning to life. Your life has no cosmic purpose. You aren’t here to fulfill any kind of mission. The only meaning you can have in your life is the meaning you subjectively give yourself. That meaning, however, is just a psychological comfort, a pleasant illusion to keep you going. It really doesn’t matter if you live or die. Everything you accomplish in this life will eventually be destroyed and forgotten.
Sixth, there is no purpose to human history. All of the things that we as humans have achieved will eventually be lost when our species dies out. History is not headed in any particular direction. There is no plan for the human race. Eventually, we will wipe ourselves out or some comet will smash into the earth. Either way, human history is a dead end.
Still toying with atheism?