April 1, 2012
During the VT debate on the existence of God one of the atheists quoted a section of my blog concerning the issue of teleology and suicide. The quote read:
If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide. Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory. Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation. One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness. One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst. If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts. If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness: suicide.
This was taken from a previous post of mine on how God provides meaning and purpose. In this quote I had a footnote reference to elaborate on one of these points. This footnote (17) reads:
read more »
March 27, 2012
Below is a brief outline of David Hume’s criticisms of the teleological argument found in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion] and responses to them.
- The argument doesn’t get us to God, at most it just gets to a designer.
- This is not arguing for God, just an extremely intelligent mind, which exists apart from the universe.
- Constructive empiricism
- You can only use analogy to argue for things that are similar, but the universe is unique.
- As long as the two things being compared are relevantly similar in the properties under consideration, they can be analogized. Everything is unique in some way; however, we can still compare things where they are similar. The universe is not unique in all its properties for it shares some properties with other things (design).
- You can only use analogy about things you have empirically experienced, but no one experienced the origin of the universe.
- Scientists infer the existence and operations of empirically inexperienced entities on the basis of analogizing from what they do know from experience (i.e. particles)
read more »
March 5, 2012
Man is alienated from himself, from other persons, and from God, and as a result man has been burdened with absurdity. Absurdity ought to be understood in a dichotomous manner. Absurdity is experienced subjectively, such that the individual experiences it in an autonomous manner. The objective absurdity is the metanarratives of life. This would include a lack of ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.
Overcoming this alienation and the notion of absurdity, primarily objective absurdity, can only be done so by a divine telos. It does seem that man lives his life as if he does have an ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose. However, if God does not exist, then the absurdity is not only subjective but it really is objectively absurd. The existence of a divine telos enables man to live a consistent life of meaning, incentive, value, and purpose. There is a reconciliation of man to himself, others, and God by overcoming this absurdity.
Man exists in a state of alienation. He is alienated from himself, from others, and from God. Alienation from the self creates a subjective absurdity (this will be explicated later). Because of his own nature man cannot stand in agreeable terms with himself. His epistemic warrant is not always at ease. He doubts. He questions and is lacks sufficiency in his capacity to function in an ideal manner.
His alienation from others is subjective and experienced by the individual as well. It too is a result of man’s nature and state of being. It is at this level of alienation where man often attempts to create his own teleology. He will construct an artificial and arbitrary teleology based on other alienated persons. Man’s alienation from God is irreconcilable by man’s initiative. Man cannot act outside of his closed system; thus, he requires an outside agency to overcome this alienation.
read more »
October 24, 2011
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) believed that man lived on three different stages: the aesthetic level, ethical level, and the religious level. The self-centered aesthetic man finds no ultimate meaning in life and no true satisfaction, which leads finally to boredom and a sickness with life. Kierkegaard recognized the objective standards of good and realized that one cannot live up to what the standard demands. This results in a sickness, unhappiness, and despair. The religious stage is where reconciliation can be found. He finds forgiveness of sins and a personal relationship with God, an overcoming of alienation, and a restoration of the two previous stages.
read more »
October 24, 2011
In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (1821-1881), a story of four brothers in Russia is a grim description of the reality of what the world would look like if God were not to exist. One brother, Ivan, an atheist, tells another brother that there are no objective truths, specifically that there are no moral absolutes. Ivan’s brother then kills his father, an act that obtains no condemnation if God does not exist.
This can be understood as ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ), also known as Karamazov’s Theorem. It is necessarily true that if God does not exist then any action cannot be wrong. It may also be true if a conjunct of rightness is inserted into the theorem. This ultimately leads to moral nihilism—a nonexistence of value. Without God, everything is permitted. Nothing can be praised and nothing can be condemned. This world, as Dostoevsky understands it, is a world of nothingness.
Dostoevsky, like Camus, Nietzsche, and Sartre, acknowledges the absurdity that arises. Every man must face the anxiety an absurdity that obtains in a world without God. Dostoevsky’s response is that every man must face this reality and overcome this absurdity by trusting in and putting his faith in Christ. Christ is the only one who can overcome the absurdities and relieve man’s anxiety.
Dostoevsky is Christianity’s Nietzsche. Dostoevsky realizes the despair, guilt, anxiety, and absolute absurdity of a life without God, like Nietzsche; however, he does not self-construct his own teleology. There is no higher state of being in a world of absurdity. There would be no incentive to attain any state of being. There could not be any differentiation between a higher and lower state of being since one would need an objective referent to make such a determination. The only rational act a man could make in an unreasonable world would be to trust in the reconciling ability of God. There would be no hope for any reconciliation in a closed system of absurdity—from absurdity only comes absurdity.
 Let Eg represent the existence of God, ϕ for any action, and W for wrong.
October 23, 2011
If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair. Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved. All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system. Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe. Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.
If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide. Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory. Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation. One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness. One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst. If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts (if the implication, by any means, can be determined to be better). If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness: suicide.
(As a note, I want to emphasize that I am not advocating suicide. I completely disagree with the starting premise that there is no God. I believe the logic is sound but since there is a God, there is objective purpose, value, and meaning to life. If you are struggling with the thought of suicide please tell someone.)
 Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1917), 47-48.
 Here is where Sartre, Camus, and others disagree. Because of absurdity, man’s only option is to choose suicide. Death is the only means by which it can be overcome. In a Christian context, God recognizes that death is the only way to overcome man’s absurdity. The means by which God provides teleology is by means of death. God becomes incarnate and overcomes absurdity by means of his own death, which may be imputed to humanity. Here we find a paradox. In order for there to be a genuine sense of teleology and becoming there must be death. There must be death to bring about life, a life of becoming, relationships, and of teleological existence.