Before we start looking at the evidence for Christianity, it is important for us to think about why this topic matters at all. We have a lot of current events being paraded in front of us on a daily basis that seem far more pressing – a lot of other cases we have to try. We have climate issues, another presidential election around the corner, and a recent pandemic that has us all a little on edge.
So, with some real issues facing us on the road ahead, why is it important for us to seek to answer the question of God’s existence? Why does it matter if God exists or not? Will it really change anything? What implications are there if God doesn’t exist?
Meaning, Value, and Purpose
We all live in such a way that we want our lives to have meaning; we want to have made a difference. We also live with a set of values; things we think are right or wrong. And, finally, we all seek purpose to our lives; goals we want to achieve, things we want to be. But, what makes these things matter? How do we know if the meaning we are giving to life or what we see as right or wrong is accurate or not? Is there anything concrete we can stand on to give our lives meaning, value, and purpose? Or do we live our lives in subjective illusion with no basis to back up when we believe? Can atheism – a belief that God does not exist – give our lives meaning or value or purpose? Or must we rely upon an all-powerful, perfectly good Creator of the world who offers us eternal life in order to ground these things?
In this article, I will propose that without God (that all-powerful, perfectly god Creator of the world I mentioned), life is meaningless, has no value, and is without purpose. Now, hear me out; I’m not saying that people who don’t believe in God live lives that are meaningless or live their lives immorally or that they can’t have goals. I’m just saying that it has no grounds. It’s all subjective. It’s an illusion. It may look like life has all of these things, but objectively it does not.
Life Without God Is Absurd
If God does not exist, then the fate of every living thing in the universe is death. If God does not exist, there is no life after death. Our story ends when we are put six feet under in a box. Each person’s life becomes a tiny, insignificant blip in the timeline. Whether you are here for a second or a century, it makes little difference if there is no eternal life after death.
The same can be said for the universe because scientists tell us that it, too, is racing towards death. Galaxies are growing apart from one another and the universe is expanding. As it does so, the universe is cooling as the energy within it is being used up. After all the stars burn out, and all that is left are dead stars and black holes, the universe will be a place of utter darkness (there will be no light), all heat will be gone, and so will all life.
If there is no God to get involved and offer us eternal life, then all of the things humanity has achieved ultimately mean nothing; all of our medical breakthroughs are pointless, all of our worry about climate change is a waste of our time, all of our desires to make the world a better place for our children are hopeless. From the moment we are born, we are marching along a line that leads straight to our death. And all the things we did, all the happiness we felt, all the accomplishments we achieved are meaningless and serve no ultimate purpose.
Don’t get me wrong, we can find some importance within our lifetimes. But it is relative to other events in the same time frame. If the heat death of the universe is the end of everything, then who cares if doctors cure cancer or we achieve world peace? In the end, it won’t have mattered one lick if I was faithful to my wife or not. Or, if my kid became a surgeon or a serial killer.
Life Without God Has No Ultimate Value
As we go about our lives, we all have a sense that the world is not right in some way and that it ought to be better somehow. We feel like the poor should be better taken care of and the rich not so greedy. We feel like certain people should be treated more fairly. We feel like the bad guy should get his due punishment and the victim should get justice. Often times, we don’t see this justice carried out. Killers get a slap on the wrist and their victims are still dead.
But, if life ends when we die, then this life is it. There is no ultimate reward for a life well lived nor ultimate punishment for the evil people have done. Whether you live like Hitler or Mother Theresa it makes no difference in the greater scheme of things. Your destiny is the same – the grave. You could live your life however you wanted with no fear of eternal punishment. As Fyodor Dostoyevsky put it “if there is no immortality… then all things are permitted.”
Think about that for a minute. If atheism is true, and God does not exist, then what fear should we have of living a life based on things that please us or serve us the most? Why shouldn’t we give in to our temptations or take what we want when we want it?
The common response is that people will adopt a moral lifestyle because it serves them better to work with others. But, clearly, that’s not always the case. Living a life of high morals usually means I have to give up things I desire. And plenty of things I could justify that I deserve. But, if atheism is true, there is no objective reason why I should live a moral life except if it benefits me somehow or makes me feel good.
If atheism is true, and there is no God, then there is no objective standard for right or wrong. For there to be an objective moral standard, it has to come from outside of humanity. Otherwise, it is just subjective expressions of likes and dislikes or something that has come out of biological evolution.
Again, the atheist will often respond by saying that societies figure out what works best to promote the society; a sort of “majority rules.” But, think about that for a second; if majority rules on what is best for the society, then we can’t call slavery in the American South wrong because a majority of Americans thought it was OK to hold slaves. And, if we leave it up to societies to define what works best for them, how can we call war or oppression or genocide wrong? Maybe that society has determined that is what works best for them.
If there is no God, then there is no eternal reward or punishment for the lives we lead. This is it. This is all we get. And we have no measuring stick to use to call what other people do with their lives right or wrong. Everything is permissible.
Life Without God Has No Purpose
From an early age, we start to ask one of the big questions; why am I here? We all walk around wondering what is my mission in life? We feel like we are here for a reason. There is something we were put here to accomplish.
But, if life ends at the grave, and the universe eventually ends in a cold, lifeless state, then what does it matter? What does it matter if I cure cancer? What does it matter if I save people from a burning building? What does it matter if I am a good husband and father? Without God, and the promise of life after death, none of it matters. None of the good I do in this world will ultimately make a difference. Life has no purpose. Humanity will eventually dwindle out of existence and the universe will come to an end. So what if I save a few lives? It would have all been for naught. In the end, everything will cease to exist and none of the things we have done will have made a difference. All of our goals in life – the stuff we work to accumulate, the fame, the fortune, the honor, the stuff we seek to learn – all an exercise in futility. Without the promise of eternal life, there is no hope. There is no purpose.
But it gets worse! Let’s say the universe was eternal. And life was eternal. Without God, it still has no purpose! Without God, we are just an accident. All of it. Mere chance. It just so happened that everything came together so perfectly for us to be here. Life, the universe and everything is just some big cosmic mishap. There is no reason for which it – and we – exists. We are without purpose.
If atheism is true, then this is the result; there is no meaning to life, there is no value, no purpose. It’s a pretty bleak position. But, if God exists, then there is hope. All the suffering of life will mean something in the end. All of the injustices will be righted. And we are here for a purpose. Without God, though, it is hopeless.