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Saturday, September 18, 2010

It Takes Faith to be an Atheist...

What a sad state of mind, it must be, to live without hope; with no God to turn to or aspiration after death. 

Fr. Robert Barron's latest commentary deals with yet another book on atheism that is being released this weekend to coincide with Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to England (see video below).

The commentary reminds me of a discussion I led on the subject last year and the themes that made it one of the most interesting and livelier meetings of our men's group.

Without God, is there a meaning of life?

Think about it. We, who believe, aspire to an afterlife and a union with our Creator in Heaven. Life for us is not about this world; although we are called to do our part here on earth. Our life is based on faith in a next world. In the Gospel, St. Paul states, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the certainty of things not seen."

But, if we are just matter and all that is real is what we see, as atheists believe, then, we are born, we live our life for 70-80 years (if we're lucky).  We work for most of those years so that we can buy things; a house, a status car, fancy dinners and vacations with friends, a flat screen high definition TV, an iPhone, a computer and all the material items we think will bring us fulfillment.  We get married (or not), we have kids (or not), and then we die (a given!). That's it. What is our purpose? (to buy things?)  What is our worth? (the things we own when we die?)

Would there be a reason for morality? (We're going to die anyway, right?  Let's throw caution to the wind and fulfill bodily pleasures, stepping on anyone we can along the way because it doesn't really matter in any way) Yet, most of those who at one time or another live that way, as I did, realize the emptiness this leaves within us (unless our conscious has been violated and distorted over and over to the point where we no longer have one).  Happiness is never found through materialism or bodily pleasures no matter how hard we try.  So, we keep searching for more.  It's a condition of humanity.

If all I am living for is here and now until I'm six feet under and eaten by worms, what would be the sense of loving? (Why risk getting hurt?) Of helping the poor and sick? (Survival of the fittest, baby!) Of caring for the elderly? (They had their turn, now it's mine) Of teaching our children to right from wrong? (Then again, if there is no God, is there a right and wrong? What would be the measuring stick of right and wrong?)

Wouldn't right and wrong be irrelevant?

Think about the consequence of that. (You might already know people that think this way.)

Our moral and societal laws are based on common understanding of right and wrong. That common understanding derives from natural law, which is based on God (think of the Ten Commandments; murder, theft, perjury).

In an atheist’s mind, there are no absolutes. Everything is relevant to the individual. Therefore, right and wrong depends on the interpretation and perception of that particular individual.  

Yet we, as a society, agree on certain right and wrong.  We agree that Adolf Hitler was wrong to kill 6 million Jews (not to mention the tens of millions more because of WW2). We agree that it was wrong for Joseph Stalin to starve about 20 million in Russia and for Mao Tse Tung to starve more than 40 million in China. (Some accuse religion of being a main cause of death and war in world history yet the most prominent and brutal annihilation of humanity has come from those devoid of God).

Then, let us also consider that science, which is the only "reality" atheists believe in, contradicts their own philosophy. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that nothing begets nothing. Matter and energy do not create themselves. In other words, it can never be proven that our world was spontaneously created from nothing (unless there was a First Cause).

Now, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is the law of entropy.  It states that the world, like all life forms in it, is slowly deteriorating from the time it came to being (birth) until the time it ends (death).  In other words our world had a finite beginning and will have a finite end.  So, if the world had a beginning and it did not come from nothing, where did it come from?

Add to this the fact that the Theory of Evolution has never been proven beyond a theory (yet kids in public school are taught it as if it were fact).  The thought of the complexities (such as the human eye) and orginality of the human body developing over millions of years through genetic mutations, starting from a primordial soup takes a lot of faith (even if it were ever proven, science could never prove how the world came into being from nothing, it's unscientific!).

And, that's not even considering the complexity and order of the universe, the galaxy, our solar system and nature. Maybe it’s just me but it’s hard to understand those who believe that randomness played any part in this universal design.

Therefore, it is more reasonable to believe in a Creator (God), then it is to believe there is none.

Today, more people profess a rejection of God because it is a convenient way to live without restrictions and partake in immoral behavior. But, as the saying goes, “there is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole or in a plane going down.”

A 17th Century French philosopher, Blaise Pascal once said (Pascal's wager):

“If we live like there is a God and there isn’t; we have lost nothing. If we live like there is no God and there is; we have lost everything.”

I'll choose losing nothing over losing everything any time.

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