Atheism, Nihilism, Woe, and Ire

I think we have the answer to the question we have been pondering here these last few days. It is not a complete answer, but it will do for now.

One of the few people on the Internet with a human name, Mr Hess, writes as follows:

(Quoting me) “I would like someone to volunteer to show me, in simple steps, how to get from statement (a) there is nothing of eternal meaning to statement (c) there is nothing of meaning. ”

I can’t. But I can say if (a) there is nothing of eternal meaning then (b) the meaning one gets is dimmer and much less motivating or inspiring than eternal meaning.

This discussion is clarifying for me. I have a bit arrogantly taken the view that life without faith in the eternal is just meaningless. That is not correct, as this thread abundantly shows.

However, the meaning that most people can get without faith in the eternal is thin gruel as compared to what they can get with it. It has heavy short-term bias. It tends to lead one toward more selfish decisions. It tends to lead one toward smaller, more temporary goals. It tends to fail or be weak in the face of adversity.

Building nations or institutions or even families that will be good or great after one is gone is difficult, suffering work. Standing up for truth in the face of pressure and ridicule is difficult. I think experience shows that those with little or no faith in the eternal do not do as well as those with faith in the eternal.

Examples abound. Compare the Cathedrals of Europe with Communist-era architecture. Compare the Britain when it was gloriously animated by Victorian-era faith with the Britain of today. Witness the achievements of past scientists with the craven modern scientists who are unwilling to confront even the most ridiculous and easily-disproved things if it means confronting the left. Witness the fear of men to commit as compared to men of the past.

It is clear to me in these and many other examples that modern man with weak faith lacks greatly in drive, courage, ambition and much else.

My comment: hear, hear, and I completely agree.

I suspect if you looked through the lists of who commits suicide, and who performs self-destructive behaviors as a slow substitute for suicide, such as drug abuse, divorce, and indulgence in sexual deviancy, and compared it to the list of married couples with children who regularly contribute to charity, you will find the Christians living much more meaningful lives and toying with self destruction far less.

“However, the meaning that most people can get without faith in the eternal is thin gruel as compared to what they can get with it. ”

Thin gruel indeed, and it will not nourish.

Without God, you either end up as a Stoic, a man who is bitter but does his duty without complaint, or as a Hedonist, a man who seeks every fewer false pleasures with ever more fervor and ever less reward. At the end of either the Stoic road or the Hedonist treadmill is the same void, which can be filled only with wrath or sorrow. Read Homer. Read the writings of the Buddhists. Pagans are a grim people. They talk about resignation, renunciation, loss, sorrow, defeat, and the futility of pride. Atheists have not even the comforts of paganism.

“It is clear to me in these and many other examples that modern man with weak faith lacks greatly in drive, courage, ambition and much else.”

Amen.

I think the case cannot be made that an atheism logically implies nihilism, but I do think it is easy to make the case that atheism is gray and damp and sad compared to the bright scarlet and dazzling white of the martyrs and saints, the gleaming gold of halos and crowns, the savor of the bread, the heady scent of wine, the flowers in a bridal bouquet, the laughter of the feast and lamentations of the fasts, the clatter of prayer beads in the solemn stillness, the peal of the bells in the steeple. Even their crusades are bland and inquisitions are dull compared to ours.

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