Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's A Meaningless Life

"Where be your gibes now?  Your gambols?  Your songs?  Your flashes of merriment?...Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come; make her laugh at that."
-Hamlet to Yorick's skull
Act V, scene i

"The words of the Teacher, a son of David, king in Jerusalem: “'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.'” 

The teacher here gets straight to the point: existence "under the sun," that is life from a purely secular perspective and apart from a practical faith in God, has absolutely no meaning or purpose.  Many with no practical faith in God don't deny this.  Because...well, they really can't.

 The atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote wrote:
"That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins -- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's salvation henceforth be safely built."
So, everything we attempt, no matter how lofty and well intentioned, or devious and sadistic, is indeed "striving after wind."  There will come a time when Adolph Hitler will be of no more significance than Martin Luther King; when no one will remember them because there will be no one and nothing capable of remembering anything; when both men may as well have never existed.

If there's no god, nothing really matters.  That's the inescapable conclusion.

Conspicuously, it seems few atheists have the...I guess, courage...to consistently live like this is true.   If the universe is meaningless and without purpose, then there's no meaning or purpose in convincing people this is the case.  So, why bother trolling the virtual world's various comments sections, guys?

I've heard atheists say that while atheism denies cosmic meaning, it affirms personal meaning. Well...as Hamlet so famously said: "I could be bound in a nutshell and call myself a king of infinite space." Any meaning that only has jurisdiction in the space between your ears and behind your eyeballs isn't really meaning.  It's escapism.

I refuse to live in unyielding despair.  I've decided to stake my soul's salvation on the well-founded hope and self-evident truth that the hand that painted the above picture, and the mind that conceived the story it depicts are not the "outcome of accidental collocations of atoms."  That man is indeed "a piece of work," "the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals," "a little lower than the angels," "fearfully and wonderfully made."


Nina said...

Great words of wisdom, Mr. Ramsey!

John-Clay Burnett said...


Richard Ramsey said...

Thanks, Nina...on behalf of the wise people I quoted.