Value, Morality, and a Higher Calling Than Merely Voting Conservatively

It is far from a secret ((, that I believe the secular humanistic / atheistic worldviews have only one logical conclusion: If they are true, then the Preacher was right: “Vanity ((Or, “worthless.”)) of vanities, … vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” ((Ecclesiastes 1:2.))

In other words, if you and I are here as a result of the big bang, cosmic evolution, and subsquently biological evolution, then there is nothing upon which meaningfulness can be built. A speck of dust floating in a galaxy a billion light years away… It is as valuable as you or I, for it has the same ultimate origin and the same ultimate fate as we do.

From where I stand, the life of the atheist seems ineffably tragic — day after day knowing that any moment may bring a cessation of the life which makes them different from the dust surrounding them. They may argue — as some have to me — that they live to enjoy life as much as possible, but why? There’s no reason to, for happiness itself has no ultimate value.

And likewise it would seem from an atheistic perspective unspeakably cruel to bring children into the world only to experience life ever so briefly believing that when they too die they will cease to exist. The “higher cause” of perpetuating the species may provide a scapegoat for reproduction, but even it is vanity, for according to naturalistic teaching all that is must some day perish, either in a big crunch or by freezing as the universe expands and all stars die.

I was reading some Francis Schaeffer earlier, ((I highly recommend his works. Every time I read anything of his, I find myself both challenged and enriched.)) and I was surprised to find a passage which argues for the same thing as I have concerning atheistic worldviews. Here’s a portion:

The second possible answer in the area of existence is that all that now is had an impersonal beginning. This impersonality may be mass, energy, or motion, but they are all impersonal, and all equally impersonal. So it makes no basic philosophic difference which of them you begin with. Many modern men have implied that because they are beginning with energy particles rather than old-fashioned mass, they have a better answer. Salvador Dali did this as he moved from his surrealistic period into his new mysticism. But such men do not have a better answer. It is still impersonal. Energy is just as impersonal as mass or motion. As soon as you accept the impersonal beginning of all things, you are faced with some form of reductionism. Reductionism argues that everything which exists, from the starts to man himself, is finally to be understood by reducing it to the original, impersonal factor or factors.

The great problem with beginning with the impersonal is to find any meaning for the particulars. A particular is any individual factor, any individual thing — the separate parts of the whole. A drop of water is a particular, and so is a man. If we begin with the impersonal, then how do any of the particulars that now exist — including man — have any meaning, any significance? Nobody has given us an answer to that. In all the history of philosophical thought, whether from the East or the West, no one has given us an adequate answer.

Beginning with the impersonal, everything, including man, must be explained in terms of the impersonal plus time plus chance. Do not let anyone divert your mind at this point. There are no other factors in the formula, because there are no other factors that exist. If we begin with an impersonal, we cannot then have some form of teleological concept. No one has ever demonstrated how time plus chance, beginning with an impersonal, can produce the needed complexity of the universe, let alone the personality of man. No one has given us a clue to this. He Is There and He Is Not Silent, chapter 1

Schaeffer is absolutely right. If you begin with nothing but mass, motion, and energy and add to it nothing but time and chance, then nowhere along the line does anything have value. Everything is equal. A diamond. A silicon wafer. A guitar string. Your spouse. Your children. You.

All is mass + motion + energy, and ultimately, that is all that will remain. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. All is vanity.

Any “morals” in an impersonal universe are nothing more than situational ethics, as Schaeffer explains a bit later in the passage. There is no ultimate basis for calling war wrong, or adultery or rape or school shootings or molestation or anything else. There’s also no ultimate basis for calling anything right. Everything is matter, motion, and energy and nothing more.

Big name atheists like Richard Dawkins spend their time attempting to persuade people away from theism in any form so that they may embrace atheism, that they may embrace freedom from absolutes. It’s hard to say why they do this — in their worldview, theism and atheism are equal, two different worldviews held by ugly giant bags of mostly water ((A description of humans given by an alien in “Home Soil,” an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation)) — yet they continue on in their snipe hunt blissfully unaware of or otherwise unwilling to accept the emptiness of their efforts.

Presupposing as an axiom the existence of a personal God ((Just as atheists presuppose as an axiom the nonexistence of a god or gods.)) imbues the universe with untold value and meaning, and as Creator He is the source of personality, of morality, of truth.

I’m posting this not to bash atheists. Far from it. I feel for them. I personally couldn’t fathom a universe without meaning, without purpose, and I sympathize with those who believe that matter, energy, and motion are all that is or ever has been.

To my Christian readers… You too should sympathize with them. We as believers in the risen Christ are vessels of truth, ambassadors of the Creator Jesus Christ.

Going into the Presidential election this fall, there will be a lot of talk concerning things like war and abortion. Our stance on such things should go much deeper than party politics. Are you against abortion because your party is? because it is the conservative thing to do?

Or are you against abortion because you know the truth and the value of every human life on the basis of bearing God’s image? Is it more important to outlaw the practice or to convey to others the truth which begins with Jesus Christ crucified for our sins, that He has risen from the dead for all who believe in Him?

As I sit here watching election coverage on television and pondering the difference between meaningful and meaningless worldviews, I find myself thinking about the futility of legislating morality.

By no means do I think abortion should remain legal; I firmly believe it is a government’s responsibility to punish the wicked and to reward the good.

Legislating morality is futile or powerless, though, to change a soul, and we must not be content to rest on the laurels of flesh and blood victories.

7 thoughts on “Value, Morality, and a Higher Calling Than Merely Voting Conservatively”

  1. Interesting, Rick.

    I personally have not found Schaeffer’s works to be all that satisfying. He does have many good points, of course, and presents them well. But, he never really convincingly makes an argument that God does indeed exist. He is big on the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and Stenger in his God: The Failed Hypothesis addresses that fairly well. Schaeffer does make one think that life cannot have meaning without God (something I once thought, but am no longer convinced of), but that of course does not mean that there is one.

    I have the works of John Polkinghorne to be more satisfying. FRS Polkinghorne is both a gifted scientist and theologian (and Anglican Priest) and does a better job in my view of addressing the sensibility of the Christian faith. His Science and the Trinity is very readable and I sometimes have to refer to it to quell my doubts.

    Anyway, it’s good of you to share your thoughts.

  2. “In other words, if you and I are here as a result of the big bang, cosmic evolution, and subsquently biological evolution, then there is nothing upon which meaningfulness can be built.”

    Sure there is. Millions do it. One just accepts a fairy tale as true. Voila!! Meaning!!


  3. Rich Beckman: Now, now, I know the beliefs (or lack thereof) of the atheist is a incredulous at best, but “fairy tale” is just mean. ;)

    I’m a bit surprised in the argumentation or lack thereof of your comment, Dad. From a humanist perspective, it makes no difference one way or another what the Christian or the Hindu believes, yet far too often it seems that the vocal humanists believe their worldview to be of more value or is otherwise more worthy of acceptation. If their worldview is right, then everything is matter, mass, and energy, has the same ultimate origin, and has the same ultimate fate.

  4. Sorry about posting as Rich Beckman. I’ve been using Senior to help avoid confusion (my own if no one else’s). I’ll try not to screw that up again.

    “it seems that the vocal humanists believe their worldview to be of more value or is otherwise more worthy of acceptation.”

    Sure. They think is is more worthy because they believe it has the virtue of being true.

    “If you begin with nothing but mass, motion, and energy and add to it nothing but time and chance, then nowhere along the line does anything have value.”

    That may well be true, but we can’t really KNOW that it is.

    Even if we came to understand true ultimate reality, there will be no way of knowing that we have done so.

    I would also just like to point out that even in your world millions find meaning by accepting a fairy tale as true. Plenty of religions out there.

  5. Senior: Well quite right. For every 1 truth, there are countless lies.

    “The virtue of being true” … That would presuppose that truth is of more value than untruth, which is not a determination which, well, can be made with any surety within the framework provided by atheism, a frame work which does presuppose that ultimate origins and fate of man are little different, if at all, from the origins and fate of anything else which is.

  6. Samuel Skinner: I’m not denying that within an atheistic framework people certainly are free to choose their purpose and various other things.

    However, I also contend that within an atheistic framework such purpose, meaning, or value is utterly imagined and is not intrinsic to any atheist’s existence. Fifteen billion years from now, if not much sooner, whatever imagined purpose, meaning, or value will be as nonexistent as it was at the big bang.

    Atheist’s can’t help but make up meaning, purpose, and value in their lives — how else do they feel the void left by their worldview? — but they have absolutely no reason or sure basis to do so.

  7. Only a slave is give purpose. Those who are free choose theirs. After all, what is more totalitarian than having your entire life being decided by another the moment you were born?

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