Do you know this guy? He kind of looks like an 80’s musician who might have had some big hits, but its actually Richard Dawkins Pope of the new atheism.
This last week I got to go to a small group that is centered on Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion.” The group is made up of some agnostics, others ready to walk away from their faith, and some Christians. It is ironic that the new atheism has become so much a religion that Dawkins was having atheist camp this summer for youth, and now there are small groups popping up that study atheistic teachings.
This last week we all kind of shared where we are at when it came to believing in God and then moved on to can an atheist have meaning and value in their lives. Dawkins claims an atheist can and that he sees beauty and meaning all throughout nature, but I kept wondering how? Where does Dawkins ground meaning and beauty? Let me share something from theologian G.K. Beale which nails this point.
I once had a philosophy professor who was an atheistic existentialist (no god, we create meaning). He was more consistent than some Christians in living out his beliefs. He passionately believed them. He believed all of his life was without meaning, and he committed himself to the idol of irrationality. He believed that since there was no God there is no meaning in life. So he said, “Why should I listen to the authority of the university? There is no God who set up any authorities, including university authorities.” So he would only come to class every once in awhile. He would say, “let’s go to the pub or maybe to my house. And maybe we won’t meet for three weeks, and we’ll see how it goes.” Eventually the university fired him. And then a few years later, I read a newspaper headline regarding him: “University Professor Commits Experiment in Suicide.” Because life had no meaning, he thought that perhaps in an act of suicide he would find some irrational mystic meaning. So he slashed his wrist, and as he was dying, he was taking notes. And he said, “These notes are for my students. And in case I find no meaning in this suicide, and I doubt I will because there is no meaning in anything, maybe they will find some irrational mystic meaning in my thoughts as I am dying and taking notes.”
So what gives us meaning? When you look at your wife or husbands face, or a new born baby why do you believe it has meaning or value? Or anymore value than an empty beer bottle? The atheist must live with the depressing truth of meaninglessness, which is utterly contrary to all we experience and intuitively believe.