I Lost Faith in Myself . . . Now I Have Hope


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It occurred to me the other day that Nietzsche is right.  The only thing I could possibly have faith in, if God is dead, is me.  This thought, I must confess, is rather unsettling (namely, because I know myself far too well).  But, if there are no transcendent values, if there is no meaning, what else is there to put my faith in?

I suppose I could put my faith in “science” or in some abstract notion like “humanity” or “the universe”—but these things are only meaningful, in a world devoid of intrinsic value, if I consider them meaningful.  In such a world, I, the subjective knower, am the arbiter of truth, meaning, and value.  It is clear, therefore, that, in actuality, “I” (and not some objective reality outside of myself) am what I truly have faith in.  I have faith in my beliefs, my intentions, and my desires (e.g., my affection for science is the source of my trust in science; for science in and of itself has no objective meaning or value).

This, however, is truly a miserable, and hopeless, state of affairs.  I am finite; I am mortal; I can be (and will be) destroyed.  My existence is a temporary blip—a shifting shadow like the shadows on Plato’s cave wall.  I am merely the byproduct of cold, impersonal, meaningless, physical processes which blindly, and uncaringly, march on without direction until the final death and collapse of the universe.  In such a world, I am not a subject; but, merely, an object—a passive object.  All of my thoughts, longings, desires, and emotions, as well as my ability to reason, are merely physical happenings—unimportant, undirected, predetermined, events.  Thus we see the sickening irony of the situation: there is no “I”—at least, not in any traditional sense of the term.

To make matters worse, I am unreliable.   I fail to understand or to comprehend or to communicate effectively.  I am forgetful and can easily be deceived.  I fail to keep my promises.  I tell lies and cheat and steal and have pity parties.  I lack self confidence and lack the power to change anything about the laws of nature which completely hold sway over my fate.

As I ponder these things I realize that, in the absence of God, there is no hope; because I am my only hope . . . and I have no delusions of grandeur.

When we recognize that placing total faith in ourselves is utterly useless and ultimately futile, we are finally in a position to understand the paradox that Truth presents us with:  “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).

“I” is an absurdity—a meaningless illusory object—operating under the delusion that the world has value.  Life is hopeless; the universe is impersonal; I will end; I can’t save myself.  This is because I live in a fallen world disconnected from Truth and estranged from the Giver of Life.  I remain in this despairing state so long as I worship “self”; so long as I pin my hopes on a temporal, finite, feeble, dying blip in the universe.  This is why Truth tells us to deny ourselves and to follow Him.  Only He can give us life; only He can restore meaning and value.  Apart from Him, we remain in the void, in the darkness, and held captive by death.

Previously posted on Truth is a Man.

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Debating Atheism: Five Common Mistakes


The point of this post is to promote meaningful dialogue between Theists and Atheists.  I’m neither attempting to prove the existence of God nor trying to disprove good arguments in favor of Atheism.  Rather, my aim is to examine several statements Atheists have made to me, on several occasions, which demonstrate they do not fully understand where I’m coming from.

I’ve labeled them “common” because, not only have I had these statements said to me, but I have read or heard them repeated by many Atheists (even several academics can be found making these assertions).  I call them “mistakes”, not to belittle the people who make them or to say that Atheism is false, but to point out that these assertions do not actually respond to what Theists are trying to communicate.  They are “mistaken” primarily because they are shots fired at straw men—they are, essentially, irrelevant to the discussion—they make unwarranted assumptions, or, because they prevent meaningful dialogue about the actual issues at stake.

Furthermore, I’ve presented each mistake in the form of a statement rather than trying to classify them with some cool designation.  I’ve done this partly because I couldn’t be bothered trying to come up with a fancy label for each mistake; but, primarily, because these statements, I think, simply reflect how many Atheists respond to Theists in every day conversation.

So, without further introduction, here are the five common mistakes or, misguided statements, Atheists make when debating Theists:

I.  “Atheist’s are not inherently immoral people; you don’t need God to do good things.” 

To my surprise, several books (see: Epstein and Armstrong) have recently been published by noted Atheists which focus almost entirely on this point—a point which virtually every Theist would agree with.  Hardly any Theist would deny that Atheists can do good things or can be morally responsible without believing in God.  This is especially true of Christians, who believe that all men are made in the image of God (whether they believe it or not) and are, thus, capable of having knowledge about moral truths and making good decisions, that is, of doing something morally right.  Furthermore, Christians believe in the concept of Natural Law—they believe morality is objective and woven into the very fabric of reality—and that all men are capable of comprehending moral truths regardless of whether they’ve read the Bible or believe in the Holy Trinity.

When Christians argue that moral values do not exist if God does not exist they are speaking about objective moral values—that is, moral values which exist and are true independently from observers.  Stated more precisely, moral values which exist and are true whether you, or I, or society believes in them or not.  This is significantly different from arguing that Atheists are inherently immoral people or are incapable of doing anything good.  It is also different from arguing that you must believe God exists in order to be ethical.

The Christian argument might start off like this: “so, you (the Atheist) and I both believe it is evil to rape and murder a ten year old child–surely, we can stand in solidarity on this point.  However, I as a Christian have solid philosophical reasons for believing this is objectively evil and you do not . . .”

II.  “Atheists believe many things in this world have value—people, in general, find the world to be full of value—hence, you don’t need God to believe that values exist.” 

Once again, we must distinguish between objective values verses subjective values.  Objective values are ontologically grounded outside of the human mind—they are real in the sense that they are said to exist whether individuals acknowledge their existence or not.  Objective values may be discovered through our subjective experience of reality but are not ontologically grounded in subjective experiences.   Understanding values objectively, one could make the following statements consistently:  “human beings have intrinsic value, dignity, and worth”, “men and women have inalienable rights,” or “one ought not rape and murder a ten year old child.”

Subjective values have no existence apart from the human mind—they are rooted in and relative to the observer or the community.  They are merely accidental properties.  In this sense values are not said to truly exist in an ontological sense—they are simply social conventions, or feelings, or mindless products of evolution.  Understanding values subjectively, one could never make the value statements we made in the preceding paragraph.  We certainly couldn’t make the statements, “X is valuable” or “one ought not do X”.  We could only say things like, “X has value to me”, or “society considers X taboo”.

The reason I’ve gone through such great lengths to explain these terms is because they so easily get muddled in conversation.  When a Theist argues that values do not exist if God does not exist, she means that objective values do not exist.  So, when an Atheist responds to such an argument with the statement, “people, in general, find the world to be full of value—hence, you don’t need God to believe that values exist” he is completely missing the point.  The Theist would agree that values become subjective if God does not exist, in fact, this is the very thing the Theist has a problem with.

III.  “I don’t believe in God because I believe in science.”

I’ve heard this line more times than I care to remember.  This assertion is usually thrown out as a conversation stopper—that is, it is usually intended to show that religious belief is outdated, simplistic, mythical, irrational, opposed to scientific discovery, and hence not worth talking about.  However, the statement carries with it many underlying assumptions which are typically never supported by anything like coherent argumentation.

First of all, it creates a false dichotomy—it suggests that one must choose between “belief” in God and “belief” in science.  It assumes, without supporting argumentation, that the acceptance of one belief necessarily excludes belief in the other.  Furthermore, those who make this statement often fail to explain what they mean by “I believe in science.”  If this statement means “science provides the only valid path to knowledge” then one must provide good reasons for holding this epistemological view (which, by the way, is self refuting).

The Theist, on the other hand, often holds science in high regard and, in fact, many Theists are scientists.  Historically speaking, modern science grew out of a culture which primarily accepted the Christian worldview—in point of fact many of the greatest scientists were Christians or at least Theists of some sort.  Don’t simply throw out this statement and call it a day—open up the doors for a deeper, more nuanced . . . more rational discussion.

IV.  “I don’t need any arguments to justify my lack of belief in God; it’s up to you to prove that God exists.”

Sure, you don’t need arguments . . . if you’re not interested in holding your beliefs rationally.  Consider this example:

If I came up to you and forcefully asserted that the past is not real and that history is just an illusion you’d respond by saying, “prove it, and give me a reason why I should believe you”.  Would you take me seriously if I simply replied, with a smug look on my face, “I don’t have to prove anything; it is up to you to prove me wrong”?  I must have reasons why I believe history is an illusion (even if they are bad reasons) and I should share them with others if I want them to agree with me or, at least, take me seriously.  If, however, I have no reason to accept this outlandish premise, why should anybody give me the time of day?

So, unless the thought “God doesn’t exist” irrationally popped into your head one day and you just decided, without reason, to adopt it as a fundamental truth, you have reasons to justify your lack of belief in God.  Please don’t be afraid to share them—open them up to critique or reevaluation.  Give the Theist a reason to accept that God is dead.  The burden is on you as well; don’t be intellectually irresponsible.

V.  “I’m not having a discussion with you about God; people who believe in God are delusional and probably psychopathic.  It is impossible to have a rational discussion with someone who is delusional.” 

Frankly, statements of this sort are just an excuse to avoid critical thinking and indicate that you are a narrow minded bigot.  If this isn’t a mistake I don’t know what is?

What Problem of Evil?


The problem of evil is only a problem if God exists.  More specifically, it is only a problem if the God of Classical Theism exists.  The moment we deny the existence of God we dissolve the problem of evil entirely.  Why?  Because without God there are no moral absolutes, no objective values, and hence, no evil to “cause a problem.”  Ironically, by removing God from the equation, we also remove any grounds we might have had for holding real moral indignation (by “real” I mean something more than our personal dislike for a given set of circumstances but, rather,  a true moral outrage in the face of true evil).

This is what I find so fascinating about the current arguments against Theism.  Those who hold that “God is dead” claim to be the most horrified and the most incensed by the existence of  evil in the world, yet, oddly enough, they adhere to a worldview which teaches that evil is merely a feeling, an evolutionary accident, or a social convention and not an objective reality.  For example, I recently entered into a dialogue about creaturely pain and suffering with the popular Atheist blogger John W. Loftus.  He seems truly dismayed by the overwhelming number of people who have suffered excruciating deaths at the hand of various pandemics throughout history.  In his eyes the amount of pain that, for example, the millions of people who contracted the bubonic plague endured was a tremendous evil.  The implicit assumptions standing underneath his moral outrage are clear: (1) that human beings are inherently valuable and deserve to live a good life, free from horrendous amounts of pain, suffering and loss and (2) that death is a bad thing.

Now this is a very curious state of affairs.  From a worldview perspective, Atheism doesn’t allow for the existence of objective evil or objective goodness.  According to Atheisms grand metaphysical story, human beings are meaningless, temporary, bits of matter with absolutely no intrinsic value or purpose.  If this is true, however, then the pain and suffering regularly experienced by humans is normal and valueless. The subjective meaning that individual human beings ascribe to life is merely an automatic, predestined, physical event (because all mental phenomena are ultimately explainable in terms of the laws of physics). Furthermore, there is no hope of ever escaping death–for there is no afterlife and no escaping the reality that we shall forever be finite, limited, dissoluble beings.  Death, therefore, is a normal physical process—in fact, death, is a crucial aspect of evolution.

Thus, in a strange turn of events, Mr. Loftus, and those like him, find themselves emotionally at odds with their own metaphysics.  They feel sorrow and even outrage at the idea of human suffering, while simultaneously advocating a worldview which denies the implicit assumptions underlying their indignation.  Namely, they feel upset about evil but maintain, philosophically, that human beings are not inherently valuable (and do not deserve to live a good life) and that death is fundamentally not a bad thing.

This, however, brings us right back to the original problem.  For, it is only when we posit the existence of the God of Classical Theism that we have grounds for believing human life is intrinsically valuable and that death is a horrendous evil.  It is only then that a “problem of evil” arises because it is only then that evil is said to actually exist.

This, of course, forces us to make a choice (that is, if we do not wish to live in a state of internal conflict or inconsistency):  we can embrace Atheism, deny the existence of evil or any objective value—thus eradicating the so called problem of evil—or we can embrace Classical Theism.  If we embrace the former, we must be prepared to accept the fact that life is utterly futile and that pain and suffering are ultimately vain physical happenings.  In the words of Pavel  Florensky, “all of reality becomes an absolutely meaningless and insane nightmare.”

If we embrace the latter, however, our distain for pain, suffering, and death, is valid.  For our distain becomes more than a predestined feeling or mindless automatic physical response to stimuli but becomes a proper reaction to real evil.  Beyond this, if we accept Christianity, we also have hope for a future free from pain, suffering and death and filled with Divine love and meaning.

Even More Evidence Christians Just Don’t Think . . .


The other day I posted a response to an article written by John W. Loftus, the author of several books on atheism and the incendiary blog Debunking Christianity.  To my surprise, he was very quick to reply to my post, leaving several comments, and eventually writing a full length response on his blog entitled More Evidence Christians Just Don’t Think.  The evidence, of course, being me.  It is not often that one has the opportunity to participate in a meaningful dialog with someone he disagrees with.  My hope is that, through this conversation, John and I (as well as our readers) might develop a better understanding of our respective positions.  So, with that in mind, the following is  my response . . .

To begin with, I noticed that Mr. Loftus, neither in his original comments nor his blog post, addressed my concluding paragraph which reads as follows:

The Atheist, however, does not have a foundation upon which he might build the argument that anything is intrinsically evil.  A physical event–such as the movement of atoms, or the falling of an apple from a tree, or bodily death–has no inherent value.  Physical events simply happen; they just “are.”  Any value judgment that an Atheist makes about a physical event is totally subjective—for, ultimately, values amount to nothing more than statements about one’s inner feelings (which, by the way, are merely physical events that he has no control of).  When Mr. Loftus laments over the death of millions of people—as if death were an objective evil—he is merely sharing his personal feelings.  He has no grounds to claim that death is “evil’ in any real sense at all.  Furthermore, the Atheist, unlike the Christian, has no ultimate hope.  No matter how much power man gains over nature through science, he will never be able to change the fact that he is corruptible, dissoluble, finite, limited, contingent, and mortal.”

I would be interested to hear why Mr. Loftus finds creaturely pain and suffering morally appalling.  More precisely, I’d like to know if he believes pain and suffering are intrinsic or objective evils?  If so, I’d like to understand how, on Atheism, he justifies this belief?  As of now, he has failed to comment on this rather important piece of the puzzle.

I argued that Christians, unlike Atheists, have a reason to believe death is a horrendous evil and hope for a new life and the restoration of all things.  I’d like to take a moment to expound upon this.  It is because Christians believe human beings are made in the image and likeness of God that we are justified in our belief that human life is intrinsically valuable.  It is because Christians believe everything which has being (or existence) is good, in virtue of the fact that God made it, that we have grounds for believing that movement towards non-existence or non-being (i.e. physical death) is a great evil.  It is precisely because Christians believe  in the resurrection of the dead and in the coming of the New Heaven and New Earth, that Christians have hope.  Sadly, none of this can be said for the Atheist.

If God is dead, then human beings are meaningless, temporary, bits of matter with absolutely no intrinsic value or purpose.  The pain and suffering we regularly experience is normal and amoral.  The subjective meaning that individual human beings ascribe to life is merely an automatic, predestined, physical event (that is because all mental phenomena are ultimately explainable in terms of the laws of physics).  Furthermore, there is no hope of ever escaping death–for there is no afterlife and no escaping the reality that we shall forever be finite, limited, dissoluble beings.

Do you get this?  Mr. Loftus claims I, and all Christians, “dismiss the pain and death of millions,” while touting a worldview which ultimately teaches us that the pain and death of millions is a normal, amoral, meaningless, physical event and that human life is not intrinsically valuable.

Mr. Loftus states that, “Christians just do not care that people die when their faith is at stake,” but I wonder why it is that he cares that people die?  I care because people are inherently valuable (being made in the image of God), and were made to exist and flourish.  Death, therefore, is a terrible evil.  He cares because . . . well, I’m hoping he’ll tell me why.

Now, there are a host of other interesting things in his article we could talk about.  For instance, Mr. Loftus seems to have a limited view of the atonement–assuming that Penal Substitutionary Atonement is the only valid interpretation.  Accordingly, he fails to understand why the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ are so important in this discussion.  At present, however, I think it best to focus on the above topic.  Before we can move any further in this conversation, we need to understand why, on Atheism, anyone should be concerned about the pain, suffering, and death of others?

“Christianity is a Pro-Death Faith”


ObjectorJohn W. Loftus

Objection:

“So Christian apologist, I put it to you. Why didn’t God do anything about the Black Death pandemic? Be reasonable here. Why? This is but one example. There were many other pandemics. I argue that Christianity is a faith that must dismiss the tragedy of death. It does not matter who dies, or how many, or what the circumstances are when people die. It could be the death of a mother whose baby depends upon her for milk. It could be a pandemic like cholera that decimated parts of the world in 1918, or the more than 23,000 children who die every single day from starvation. These deaths could be by suffocation, drowning, a drive-by shooting, or being burned to death. It doesn’t matter. God is good. Death doesn’t matter. People die all of the time. In order to justify God’s goodness Christianity minimizes the value of human life. It is a pro-death faith, plain and simple. I argue that Christians Just Do Not Give a Damn That People Die. Or, you can prove me wrong.”

On the contrary, it is written “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O Death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:54b-56)

I say that God did in fact do something about the Black Death pandemic—something which science could never do.  Namely, He took death upon Himself on the cross and defeated it once and for all.  Rather than dismissing the tragedy of death, Christianity faces death head on.  It teaches us that death is a great evil and entered the world through Original Sin which subjugated the world to corruption, dissolution, and ultimately bodily (physical) death.  Furthermore, it teaches that human beings perpetuate the cycle of death and dissolution by means of their own personal sin.  We see this played out in the environment through pollution and the overuse of natural resources, we see this on an international scale in the form of wars, acts of terrorism, human trafficking, and a host of other evils, and we see this played out in our communities in the form of substance abuse, sexual abuse, violence, divorce, theft, greed, abortion, gluttony, and many other evils.

However, the Word of God, by Whom and for Whom all things were made, would not sit back and watch as His beautiful creation destroyed itself but saw fit to humble Himself, taking on flesh, in order to redeem—to save, renew, heal, and restore—the Image and Likeness of God in man and to unite all of Creation to Himself: thus, bestowing upon all of Nature the gift of incorruptibility, eternality, and freedom from pain, suffering, loneliness, and death.  For, as St. Athanasius pointed out:  “it were unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption.  For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practiced on men by the devil.  Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.”  According to Christian Theology, it is unthinkable that God, in His goodness, would sit back and do nothing to save His creation.  It is because of God’s goodness and love that He sent His beloved Son into the world to save it.  As St. John states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not parish but have everlasting life” (John 3:15).

The Atheist, however, does not have a foundation upon which he might build the argument that anything is intrinsically evil.  A physical event–such as the movement of atoms, or the falling of an apple from a tree, or bodily death–has no inherent value.  Physical events simply happen; they just “are.”  Any value judgment that an Atheist makes about a physical event is totally subjective—for, ultimately, values amount to nothing more than statements about one’s inner feelings (which, by the way, are merely physical events that he has no control of).  When Mr. Loftus laments over the death of millions of people—as if death were an objective evil—he is merely sharing his personal feelings.  He has no grounds to claim that death is “evil’ in any real sense at all.  Furthermore, the Atheist, unlike the Christian, has no ultimate hope.  No matter how much power man gains over nature through science, he will never be able to change the fact that he is corruptible, dissoluble, finite, limited, contingent, and mortal.

Conversely, in the face of death, Christians have metaphysical grounds to believe that death is a horrendous evil and hope for a new life and a restored world.

To Murder God is to Murder Society as We Know It


A few years ago The Daily Mail ran an op-ed concerning how the world is better off without autistic children and people with disabilities. The reasoning isn’t because such people lower the utility of a society or dilute the gene pool – both of which are horrendous arguments to begin with – but rather because they just make life tough on the parents and caretakers. And that’s the entirety of the reasoning right there; “They hurt me, so I should kill them.” The focus is on the individual and value simply isn’t extended beyond the individual.

Of course, with modern arguments for infanticide, it’s no stretch to believe that toddlers who are discovered to have autism or some other handicap could easily be murdered. What if a child is born healthy, but due to an accident or disease, is left crippled? Well, then the child becomes a burden on the parents, so we should kill him. The child can’t walk? Kill him. Your 17 year old son is in a car accident and placed in a coma? You should kill him, because there’s no promise that he’ll come out of it functioning normally. After all, why should you suffer through the burden of helping someone else?

Sadly, Hitler was far nobler than these people. Hitler’s argument wasn’t about the individual, but rather for society; in order to better society, Hitler argued that those who were disabled and undesirable simply had to be killed. As sick as Hitler was in what he did, at least his goal was better than what we are arguing for now! And that’s not to defend Hitler; what he did was disgusting and we rightfully revile him for it. Rather, I’m saying the people who argue for killing the disabled simply because the disabled are an “inconvenience” are worse than Hitler, they’re more evil than him, they are more twisted than he is.

That’s not an emotional outburst either, it’s objectively true. Hitler killed the disabled and sterilized them, things that we rightfully condemn today. Yet, here we have people making the exact same case, only for a much darker purpose; rather than trying to help society, they just care about themselves and say you should too.

The Western-World is becoming more and more “post-Christian,” which is really nothing more than the world was when it was “pre-Christian;” a place where tyranny reigned freely and the oppressed had no hope beyond death. The ancient Spartans had no qualms about killing infants they deemed unworthy. The Romans thought nothing of leaving children in the wilderness to die if the child was viewed as potentially weak. They also had no problem killing slaves or those deemed as inhuman.

While many in the Western-World continue to dance on God’s grave, the one that Nietzsche made, they blissfully ignorant of Nietzsche’s proclamation. “God is dead” they say with glee, yet they forget what comes with that. Nietzsche writes in the parable of the madman (found in The Gay Science):

“Whither is God” he [the madman] cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now?Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as though an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? What was holiest and most powerful of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must not we ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever will be born after us – for the sake of this deed he will be part of a higher history than all history hitherto.” (from Walter Kaufmann’s translation)

Nietzsche points out that if we are truly going to kill God, we must live with the fact that we cannot act as though He is alive. Thus, the idea of humans having rights, having innate value, of not killing someone just because they annoy us, and the like have absolutely no meaning in light of God’s death. Nietzsche saw this and any atheist who is honest with himself recognizes this as well. It’s not that atheism lacks an ethos (it can develop one quite well enough), but simply that it cannot piggy-back on Christian morality.

So we approach this issue of murdering children because they become a burden to us. We look at the original article and the reasoning given is, “Autistic children are difficult to deal with, so why let them live?” The same question could be asked of any two-year-old. A child draws on the wall and keeps doing so, after not being told. To the gas chamber with her! But we find this deplorable, but why? If God’s funeral is over and spoken of how natural He looked in repose, we must fling ourselves away from this Christian morality. In doing so, we end up with the arguments from egoism, stating that I should look out for myself first. We end up with arbitrary lines on what is and isn’t human.

Within Christianity, however, all humans are equal for all humans are made in the image of God. The more I must sacrifice for a child, the more I must show I love him. Why do I sacrifice? Because in Christianity, to show love one must sacrifice. The less likely someone is to pay me back for my kind deed, the more sacrifice I have made; the less likely I am to be repaid, the more I have loved.

Thus, in comparison we have the world sans God and the world with God. Post-God’s dead, we have no way to really give value to humans beyond, “We give value to humans.” Humans become nothing more than currency; a piece of cloth with a dead president on it only means something because we say it means something. If we drop $1 million in $100 bills to a culture who knows nothing about the US, the paper will be kindle for a fire. It has no value. In a world without God, man becomes the currency. We only have value because we say we have value and should a majority of us determine that this type of man has no value, then we can rob him of value. In the world with God, however, man has value because he is made in the image of God. To kill him is to commit a crime against God.

Thus, one must realize that to say “God is dead” (that is, God doesn’t exist) is to reject the Judeo-Christian ethic. One simply can’t embrace it because one has rejected its foundation. How absurd to request a mushroom sauce, but demand the cook remove the mushrooms because you find them so distasteful. How absurd to request a Christian ethic, but demand the ethicist remove God because you find Him so distasteful. Therefore, if you be bold enough, abandon Judeo-Christian morality if you’re going to abandon God. However, if you find that you cannot live in such a world, then from an existential perspective, perhaps you should begin to realize that God is very much alive, regardless of your objections.

Nietzsche and a Pastor: The Will to Power


This is part two of a new series–to read the introduction click here.

“What is good? — All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man.
What is bad? — All that proceeds from weakness.
What is happiness? — The feeling that power increases — that a resistance is overcome.
Not contentment, but more power; not peace at all, but war; not virtue, but proficiency (virtue in the Renaissance style, virtu, virtue free of moralic acid).
The weak and ill-constituted shall perish:  first principle of our philanthropy.  And one shall help them to do so.
What is more harmful than any vice? — Active sympathy for the ill-constituted and weak — Christianity . . .”

It’s important to remember that any definition of the good or of happiness proceeding from a naturalistic framework, such as Nietzsche’s, is completely arbitrary and, if I dare say, totally farcical — that is to say, it is a rather deceptive act in which moralistic language is ascribed to fundamentally neutral, amoral, categories.  So, when Nietzsche speaks about the good as being, “the will to power, power itself in man,” it’s important to remember that he is not outlining a system of morality; rather, he is simply describing a brute process of nature using moralistic terminology.

Any student of Biology can tell you that life is a power struggle — those organisms with the strongest will to survive and the power to do so will inevitably outlast other organisms with a weaker constitution.  In evolutionary terms, this is commonly described as the survival of the fittest.  Consequentially, a brute physical process, such as this, can hardly be described as “the good” in any objective moral sense on naturalism.  For this would imply teleology within nature — which is precisely the thing that a naturalistic view of reality denies.  Hence, to assign the, “feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man,” or, “all that proceeds from weakness,” the terms “good” or “bad” says absolutely nothing about the true goodness or badness of such things — it is merely to state a brute fact about reality.

According to naturalism, values are completely dependent upon the observer and therefore totally subjective.  In other words, they have very little to do with reality and everything to do with one’s personal opinions or feelings.  What we are left with, under this  scheme, are merely objects and events.  How we interpret the objects and events we find in nature is purely a matter of personal taste.  This mindset explains  why we often hear the term “meaning-making” used to describe values.  What this heart warming little term is actually communicating is that nature, in and of itself, has no intrinsic meaning; you, the observer, must make meaning.

The reason I’ve gone through great pains to express the above point is that many, these days, mistakenly believe it is possible to have objective morality within the naturalistic framework.  This belief, however, is entirely incompatible with the naturalistic worldview.  For there is nothing, objective, to ground values in under this framework–and this is something that Nietzsche understood all too well.  This is precisely why he speaks of the desire for power and the will to power–because this is, essentially, what life boils down to in a world without God and without objective  moral standards or purpose.  So, do not be confused by Nietzsche’s use of the terms “good” or “bad” and suppose that he is speaking of morality; on the contrary, what he is proposing is the complete antithesis of morality.  He is proposing that those who believe God to be dead embrace the implications of this belief and recognize what life truly is:  a cold, and fundamentally meaningless, struggle for power; the brutal battle for survival.

It is no wonder that Nietzsche viewed Christianity with such contempt; for Christianity stands in complete contrast to this view of reality.  It teaches that there is an overarching meaning and purpose to reality and that values are grounded in the source of existence Himself.  It asserts that man is made in the very image and likeness of the source of his existence and is, therefore, intrinsically valuable and important.  It further insists that, as creatures made in the image of their Creator, man is accountable to Him and obligated to care for all the things which He has made–even the lowly.  Hence, Psalm 41 implores us to, “consider the poor,” and Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it for me” (Matt. 25:40).

As  you can see, the Christians attitude towards the “ill-constituted and weak” and his mindset that our existence is rooted in notions like love, service, and self-sacrifice, stands in total contrast to the naturalistic worldview which explains human existence in terms of a desire for and will to power.  Under the naturalistic view such care for the weak is truly absurd: for, “the weak and ill-constituted shall perish:  first principle of our philanthropy.  And one shall help them to do so.”  This is simply a brute fact about reality that one must accept, or else, continue to live in a delusional state and be subject to the control and power of those few human beings who do accept it.

Now, you must ask yourself, at this moment, what view of reality you are prepared to accept.  If you truly believe that “God is dead” and that the physical world is all there is then you must be willing to embrace Nietzsche’s assertions with all of your being–for this is the only honest position to take.  However, if Nietzsche makes you uncomfortable, if you sense that love must somehow enter the picture, that the acquisition of power is somehow shallow and ultimately meaningless, that there is intrinsic value to all human beings–and, in fact, in every organism–that somehow morality must be objective and grounded in something, and that somehow you were made for a purpose, then you must come to terms with the fact that God may not be as dead as you had originally thought.