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---- meets Kirchliche Dogmatik
You can consider this entry to be from the "Best of . . . " collection, or a summer rerun. I'm still way too deep into the monotheism manuscript to create new entries, but as I was going for some other files, I ran across this one and thought, it might be a good followup to the last entry of forever ago, continuing to apply some of Francis Schaeffer's thoughts. the original is dated March 4, 2010. I left out the really personal beginning, which may surprise you because what is left is still pretty personal.
I started out with the lament that the Lord seemingly was allowing "everything" to turn into a worst-case scenario. Let's follow our sad bloggist, as he continues:
But you know, one just gets to a point of saying, "Either I've wasted my entire life on nonsense, or I'm going to trust God to the point that, no matter how bad things get, he knows best." I'm quite sure that the nonsense option does not apply, and so that leaves trusting God. Now please, don't think for a minute that trusting him excludes having arguments with him, asking why, complaining to him, etc. Still, I certainly don't expect ever to win any arguments with God; in fact, if I did, that would be a truly scary thought. I know that he knows a whole lot more than I do both quantitatively and qualitatively. And I continue to hold on to the fact that the same God Who created the world and sent His Son to die for my sins is a God Who is trustworthy.
I'm sorry if I'm putting my apparent piety on display. Actually, I don't have much of that; I'm neither pious nor "deeply religious," whatever that means. I just know Who has saved me and Who is in the best position to guide my life.
Considering the alternatives to faith in God sends my mind boggling. Keep in mind that contemporary post-modernism, post-liberalism, and pretty much post-everything-else (people are infatuated with being post-something) are all primarily post- reasoning movements.
Francis Schaeffer got a lot of facts wrong in his books, but his basic outline of contemporary thought (or is that non-thought?), viz. the "escape from reason," has been something akin to a prophecy. He couldn't (or shouldn't) have known in the 60s how much more his analysis (which did at times have a predictive edge to it), would apply fifty years later. In case you've forgotten, Schaeffer kept insisting that "modern man," given his presuppositions would end up in despair. This meaninglessness would begin with philosophy, manifest itself in the arts and various other aspects of culture, and would eventually show up in theology. If you start out with the notion that we are merely products of the random combinations of material stuff, you're not going to get out of that self-incarceration, no matter how hard you try--at least not rationally. Human cultures, virtues, enjoyment, and creativity, are all just matters of how molecules have aligned themselves.
While local village atheists were laughing at Schaeffer, more profound atheists were agreeing with him. No one said it better than Bertrand Russell in the essay "A Free Man's Worship," in which he tacitly admitted that he was not free, but at the mercy of "omnipotent matter," and proclaimed that "worship" or any other activities that presuppose some significance to human life were utter futility. I must add that, regardless of whether you're talking about Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Beckett, etc., they all said similar things, but you can't beat Russell's formulation as he displayed unparalleled arrogance while he admitted that his life was intrinsically worthless:
Bertrand Russell was a fabulous writer. After you have read his two infamous essays, "A Free Man's Worship" and "Why I am not a Christian," which are found all over the web, see if you can treat yourself to "Nice People," which I could not find on the web, but which is included in numerous anthologies. His Problems of Philosophy demonstrates that philosophical writing need not be synonymous with obscurity. You may find his Principia Mathematica a trifle too technical, but if you're into symbolic logic it's almost like a detective story as he zeroes in on the ultimate revelation of why 1 + 1 = 2. With his brilliance, he saw the futility of his world view, but his will, he could not let go of his supposed autonomy, which he knew to be illusory. (I realize that the fact that atheism leads to despair does not entail that Christianity is true, but we're not talking about that right now.)
Let me return to Schaeffer's analysis.
Albert Camus started out his first essay in the collection entitled, The Myth of Sysyphus, by stating that
There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.
Of course, the answer is usually yes, life is worthwhile. And so, despite the logical outcome of one's presuppositions, such as lack of objective values, one simply posits meaning and significance where there shouldn't be any. But one does so at an incredibly high price, the forfeiture of one's reason. Reason says that there is no hope; we'll just stipulate it. Logic applied to my world view shows that nothing of what I'm doing is worthwhile; so much the worse for logic. As I mention on my DVD "God as Cow," the atheist Michael Martin insists that being an atheist and having a foundation for morality are not mutually exclusive; all one has to do, for example, is to realize that moral statements need not be prescriptive. Non -presciptive moral statements? This is an oxymoron.
People often question my contention that, without changing what one usually means by an ethical obligation, atheists do not have a basis for the ethical obligations by which they live. But the reality is far worse; atheists also cannot have a basis for the significance of their lives, their humanity, what sets them apart from animals, or their reason.
"Oh, come on, Win, you're totally exaggerating!"
I wish I were. Please read Michael Martin's Atheism, Morality and Meaning. In his effort to contravene Russell's conclusions, he comes up with the device of postulating a hypothetical, omniscient ideal observer whose feelings determine right and wrong, and so if we stipulate such a being and ask ourselves what this being's feelings would be in any given case, we will have objective knowledge of right and wrong. I'm not sure that Martin's method is coherent, but even if it were, it would be nothing more than an ad hoc and ex post facto invention, not some conclusion to a sound argument.
So, this is Francis Schaeffer's famous diagram: There are two levels of existence for the person without a foundation in the biblical God. On the lower level, he is faced with the logical conclusion of his world view. He starts with no meaning, and he winds up with no meaning. Instead of "meaning," you can also substitute "truth," "justice," or "beauty." But we need those qualities to live if we have reconciled ourselves to Camus's question. And so we leap into the "upper storey," and create meaning apart from reason.
Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World was well-known as a skeptic and critic of Christianity. So, where did he wind up? One of his last writings is the booklet The Doors of Perception, in which he describes his experimentation with mescaline and recommends that, in the absence of good reason for religion, one ought to have everyone use this or some other drug to encounter Reality. What, you may ask, was the deep Reality that Huxley found when he was under the influence of mescaline? He discovered that he was one with his trousers.
It may not always be easy to maintain faith in God. But the fact of the matter is that for me to give up on God also entails giving up on my reason and humanity.