Why atheism fails

Why atheism fails

Apologists love to invent reasons why atheism isn’t a viable position to hold or why atheism fails in some way or another. Most of those reasons are actually misrepresentations of what atheism means. A prime example of this kind of writing is the article “Why atheism fails” on Christian Valour, some quotes of that article are reproduced here for your convenience. Let’s have a look at it, shall we?

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10 bad reasons to believe in God

This article is a response to a response. Specifically, this article is a response to this article by SJ Thomason, a.k.a. “Christian Apologist” who wrote her article in response to this article by “mrozatheist”. I realize both posts are somewhat older but I felt I needed to add my 2 cents because the 10 good reasons to believe in God that Thomason provides are actually 10 bad reasons to believe in God.

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Grasping at straws

Grasping at straws

I am well aware that online news outlets use a method called “clickbaiting“, to encourage users to visit their site. Most of the time it is annoying, sometimes it leads to interesting articles but there are also times where it just goes too far. On Twitter, I saw a link to an article entitled “Newly revealed discovery provides scientific evidence for biblical account of Jesus’ crucifixion“.  The editor, Chris Enloe, is either a master clickbaiter or he is desperately grasping at straws by using a find in Northern Italy as scientific evidence for the biblical account of the crucifixion of Jesus.

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What is the best argument for the existence of God?

What is the best argument for the existence of God?

What is the best argument for the existence of God? I found an article with that very title on the site of Answers in Genesis. I had hopes that this might be an article with some substance but as I’ll explain here, it wasn’t. The article was written by Dr. Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist and Christian. There is also a page dedicated to him on RationalWiki. Clearly a man who would be able to construct a rational, well-argued case for the existence of God.

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The meaning of life

The meaning of life

It’s been a while since I posted so I thought I might try to deal with one of the bigger questions to ask: what is the meaning of life? Religious people often remark that without belief in God, atheists can’t possibly have meaning in their lives. To put the argument simply, it goes like this: if you don’t believe in God and you’re just the result of natural selection, you’ll die and that’s it. So what’s the point of it all? I have touched upon this a little bit in a previous post but I will attempt a deeper dive here. What is the meaning of life? Let’s see if we can find out.

The meaning of meaning

Before we can answer the question ‘what is the meaning of life’, we need to establish what we mean when we ask that question. The word meaning can refer to the value of someone’s life, the purpose of someone’s life, the significance of someone’s life or a combination of these.

The value of someone’s life refers to the intrinsic value of that life. Is the life worth anything, does it matter at all?

The purpose of someone’s life is related to a goal or goals. These can be lofty ideals like working for world peace or curing cancer or they can be more close to home like being a good parent or loving partner. In short, it answers the question: what is my life for?

Lastly, the significance of someone’s life refers to the contribution that this someone is making to the human race or the universe as a whole. Am I leaving the world a better or worse place by living my life?

It is clear from this short exploration, that the question “what is the meaning of life” is a very fundamental and multifaceted question and that there is no easy answer. It also shows that the answer is going to be a personal one and one that may vary throughout the course of ones’ life.

Meaning without God

Religious people will argue that it is impossible to find meaning in life without God because God is the creator of everything and the source of eternal life. Our lives only have value, purpose and significance through God. They have value because they are created by God, they have purpose determined and revealed by God and our lives have significance because they are somehow part of God’s plan.

So if there is no God to bestow meaning upon our lives, our lives are meaningless? Can the meaning of life only be bestowed from the outside or can it be bestowed from the inside as well?

Outside meaning and inside meaning

As an atheist, I believe I am the result of evolution, a biological process. Biologically speaking, my life has a meaning or a purpose at least: to assure the survival of my genes by passing them on to subsequent generations. In doing so, I am contributing to the success of Homo sapiens, my species. This may seem a rather mundane and base meaning compared to the lofty assertions of the religious but at least it has the benefit of being demonstrably true.

Meaning doesn’t have to be bestowed from the outside, though. I have seen it argued that it is logically impossible for a life to give itself meaning just as it is impossible to lift yourself off the floor by your bootstraps. A meaningless life can’t bestow meaning upon itself.
This seems to me an erroneous way to look at it. It is not life that bestows meaning upon itself, the value is bestowed by the cognitive processes in one’s brain. These processes, while dependent on life, are different from that life. I can reflect upon my existence in a way that life can not. We don’t expect bacteria to ponder the question of the meaning of life but thanks to our big brain, we can.

Another objection that I have seen raised against people bestowing meaning on their own lives, is that it is completely arbitrary. What some may find a meaningful existence is completely different from what others may find a meaningful existence. A person may think that sitting at home playing video games gives meaning to their lives.
In my opinion, arbitrariness is not a convincing argument against the validity of the meaning someone chooses to place upon their own lives. Even if someone should choose to play video games all day and think that a meaningful existence, who am I to say that for them, this is not a meaningful existence? Isn’t that just me judging someone else’s choice in life from my personal perspective?

A meaningless question

Ultimately, I think that the question “what is the meaning of life” is a meaningless question. Through some evolutionary pressure, Homo sapiens has developed a big brain which enables him/her to ask deep, probing questions. That doesn’t mean these questions will ever have a satisfactory answer or are answerable at all. Why am I here? What is the purpose of the universe? What is the meaning of life? These are deep and important questions, questions we need to ask ourselves because the answers to these questions determine our outlook on life. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that there is a one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. The benefit of being an atheist is that you get to pick your own answer.