Thursday, January 19, 2012

What if hope cannot extend beyond human endeavor itself and is never answered by anything beyond it? What if the millennia of human cries echo only into the empty sky and not further? That possibility must be faced if the quest itself is to have any meaning. In the end, hope without truth is pointless. Illusions and delusions, no matter how comforting or grandiose, are the enemies of those who strive for integrity in their knowing and being. Statements such as "I like to think of the universe as having a purpose" or "The thought of an afterlife gives me peace" reflect mere wishes. These notions do not address the truth or falsity of there being purpose in the world or of our postmortem survival, because there is no genuine claim to knowledge: a warranted awareness of reality as it is. A hearty, sturdy and insatiable appetite for reality--whatever it might be--is the only engine for testing and discerning truth. (D. Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, p.16)


The Atheist Missionary said...

This excerpt reminds me of philosopher Stephen Law's answer to a question I recently posed to him:

TAM's question: I'd like to point you to a quote from Pastor Timothy Keller: "If the [Cosmic] Bench is truly empty, then the whole span of human civilization, even if it lasts a million years, will be just an infinitesimally brief spark in relation to the oceans of dead time that preceded it and will follow it. There will be no one around to remember it. Whether we are loving or cruel in the end would make no difference at all." The Reason for God (Dutton, 2008) at p. 157. How does an atheist avoid existential despair?

Law's answer: Obviously, how I treat you now will makes no difference to how the universe ends. That doesn’t show that it doesn’t matter how I treat you now. You matter because, while you may be a collection of atoms jiggling in the void, you’re not just that. You have hopes and fears. You can experience joy and suffering. You can also make plans, think about the consequences of your actions, and so on. Not even other animals can do that. The fact that the universe will end in heat death doesn’t reveal that these things don’t matter. The mere fact that something won’t last forever doesn’t entail it is of no value.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

Law is living on stolen metaphysical capital. Life only has meaning if it is designed and has lasting value. Otherwise, all is lost, and no one cares in the end.

The Atheist Missionary said...

I can't argue with the "no one cares in the end" but challenge your asserion that "Life only has meaning if it is designed and has lasting value".

I know that you have given this issue considerable thought. However, have you read the article On God and Our Ultimate Purpose by Acadia University philosopher Stephen Maitzen? The PDF can be found at this link:

It's a quick read and I would be interested to hear your reaction to it.

The Atheist Missionary said...

I see that the link from my last comment is broken. In any event, the Maitzen paper I referred to is easily accessible by googling the title.