I shall start with this proposition, which, to me, seems entirely self-evident: if there is no God, then human life is absurd. That is, if one believes that God does not exist, then one must accept this consequence: human existence has no purpose, no value, no meaning – at bottom, human existence is empty.
…A universe without God, then, contains no purpose, no value, no meaning. Human existence is rendered absurd: I emerge from a state of non-being, I encounter myself as an emptiness in the world, I act for myself, commit myself to various forms of life, all the time striving towards a completed mode of being. But of course, I never manage to arrive at this goal, I was doomed to failure from the very start – emptiness cannot provide for itself objective meaning! So I continue to act, but in full awareness of the very futility of acting. And in the end I disappear, vanish once again into a state of non-being. Nothing is left but the memories of my existence in the minds of other people. And even those memories and those people are sure to grow frail and pass away with the passing of time. Nothing will be left of me. My pointless life will reach its pointless conclusion.
…I think about such an existence, a life without God, without the ground of existence itself, and I find myself saying, ‘What an absurd, meaningless, dismal thing!’ This, I believe, can be the only comprehensible reaction from an atheist who has seriously reflected upon his or her life. But still, this reaction is extremely rare. Why? Because the vast majority of people refuse to think, they refuse to follow a belief to its natural conclusion. Instead, they distract themselves and occupy their minds with trivial matters. No one asks, ‘Why am I here? Who am I?’ No one considers the most fundamental question, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’
People do not reflect; they are afraid to reflect. Without God – it is true! – human life is utterly absurd and meaningless. “If there were no eternal consciousness in a human being,” wrote Kierkegaard, “if underlying everything there were only a wild, fermenting force writhing in dark passions that produced everything great and insignificant, if a bottomless, insatiable emptiness lurked beneath everything, what would life be then but despair?” If every atheist were a thinking atheist, there would be significantly less joy in the world.
I myself am not an atheist, however. I believe in God – a God who gives purpose, value and meaning to every human life, who himself became a human life, and who therefore understands and participates in our suffering, our grief, our humiliation, our joy; a God who has overcome the power of death, who has freed us from the fear that death instills in us; a God who embodies goodness and love; a God to whom I cannot help but want to offer my praise.
Oh, man. I swear I have tears of joyous laughter in my eyes right now. Dude. Dude. I promise you, a bajillion other people have pondered who they are and why they are here. Only slightly fewer of them have mulled over the burning question of why there is something rather than nothing; in fact, I daresay it’s quite a stale philosophical cliché at this point. Yes, I know, you think you’re the only person in history to ever feel these intense emotions and face these harrowing concepts, but — it is true! — there is life after Platonic absolutes.