The basic philosophical questions of life are three: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?” You can tell one’s worldview by the way they answer these questions. Up until about 150 years ago the answers to these questions were mostly based on man’s understanding of God as the Creator of all things. Then, like a slow moving locomotive the age of enlightenment appeared. Slowly but ever so surely it was declared that truth might be known by following the rails of reason. The concept of God was placed on the back burner while men searched for truth through their own methods of logic.
Having evicted God from the train, men began to develop atheistic ideas that were vacuous in content. The result was a carving of hopelessness in their hearts. God had affirmed to man that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. (Proverbs 9:10) The depraved state of men’s minds was made vulnerable by the absence of the fear of God. Men began to develop absurd arguments that the complex and beautiful world in which we live was all a “mysterious accident”. They propped up these arguments with nonsensical statements such as, “Something came from nothing”.
One NASA scientist seems to have recognized the folly of trying to reason our way to truth without the help of a Supreme. Robert Jastrow said, "For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
Though these three questions are life’s most important, Americans in general are very apathetic about finding answers to them. The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) reveals that the number who claim to have no religious affiliation increased from 8% in 1990 to 15% in 2008. When asked about having purpose in life, 28% told a Lifeway survey that “It’s not a priority in my life to find my deeper purpose”. The collective reply of many younger Americans regarding the discovery of the wisdom of God is a resounding “whatever”!
Who Am I?
None will question the great value of humanity. The atheist doesn’t deny the value of humans but he refuses to believe that the source of our value is God. The Atheist makes the absurd declaration that the ultimate source of the universe was an accidental collision of atoms. Somehow, the souls and consciousness of men was spawned by a once in a trillion coincidental event that formed a primordial soup that cradled first life. They believe that we are here merely by chance and that we have no ultimate purpose. Our lives are merely a quick flash in the pan and then we will merge into everlasting darkness never to be remembered again. This worldview leads to nothing but deep meaningless and despair.
The Christian believes that man has great value because God created him. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) We are the crown jewel of his creation. If one wants to study atheism, go to the philosopher, not the physician. Those who study the complex intricacies of the human body, its heart, its eye, its hearing mechanism have too little faith to declare it all happened by accident. They believe there must be intelligence behind such complexity.
Why Am I Here?
The atheist who rejects the existence of God and gabbles that the universe was an accident and mankind has no purpose looks into a bleak, black future. If there is no intelligence behind the existence of man, if we are simply here by chance, then we have no more purpose than a housefly or a cockroach. The atheist philosopher, Bertrand Russell, lamented the meaningless life: “…all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and…the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins…” For the atheist, life is meaningless, the universe will eventually slip into extinction and all men will be swallowed up by a dark hole of nothingness.
The preacher in Ecclesiastes felt this same despair when he mourned the emptiness of life without God: “"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!" (Ecc. 12:8) Job, at the height of his suffering groaned about the aimless life, “I despise my life…my days have no meaning”. (Job 7:16)
The Christian finds fulfillment in life by accepting the provisions of God through the Son. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Christ’s followers soon come to realize that a search for meaning is meaningless apart from the Messenger. Jesus declared that he had come to replace the empty void in our lives with a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)
Where am I going?
The atheist believes that the universe will eventually drift further and further apart until the energy and heat and gravity will no longer affect the heavenly bodies. Just as the universe will cease to exist, man will also cease to exist. Death is simply an eternal sleep. From nothing we came and to nothing we shall return.
The Christian strongly disagrees with the atheist. The Christian doesn’t believe we came from nothing nor does he believe we are on the road to nowhere. Solomon makes a solemn comparison when he says, “Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies so dies the other…All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust all return.” (Ecc. 3:18)
Christians understand that Christ is coming back again. He has not promised us emptiness, he has promised us restoration. He will renew his creation and establish a new kingdom. He will rule that kingdom with perfect justice which will result in everlasting peace.
The atheist finds no significance in his life. The Christian realizes that he has unfathomable significance because he was created in the image of God.
The atheist finds no meaning in life. The Christian agrees with Solomon’s proclamation that life is indeed meaningless apart from God. “…here is the conclusion of the matter, fear God…” (Ecc. 12:13)
The atheist has no hope for his future. The Christian revels in the truth of Christ’s resurrection. He has brought us “into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) He has gone to prepare a place for us. (John 14:3) and he promises he will return for us.
Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.