This morning, as the snow fell quietly outside of my bedroom window, I sat at my desk working on my college philosophy course. It has been a great experience being introduced to the world of philosophy from a Christian perspective.
One of my next assignments is to write a response paper to H. J. McCloskey’s article, “On Being an Atheist” (which I have yet to read). In preparation for this, I have been reading about the classic arguments for God’s existence. These arguments do not “prove” that God exists, at least, not in the traditional sense of the word “prove.” But that is only because we cannot prove 100% for certain that God either does exist or that He does not. I know that He does – I am reasonably certain that He does, but with my limited knowledge, I cannot prove it one way or the other absolutely.
Anyway, maybe I’ll come back to that subject in a later post (maybe after I actually write my paper). What prompted me to write this particular post was an excerpt from William Lane Craig’s “Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics.” The particular section that I had to read was from his chapter, “The Absurdity of Life without God.”
Craig became a Christian as a teenager, but it appears that before that, he grew up in a secular home. In this chapter, he relates his feelings when he first realized, as a child, that one day he would die. That fact impressed him deeply. The idea that one day he would just cease to exist was repulsive to him. And so he writes this chapter from personal experience, remembering what life was like to him before he knew that God was real.
And it was so hopeless!
I don’t think I’ve ever really thought – I mean, really thought – about what it would be like if God were not real, or if I had never believed that He was real.
Just read some of these quotes:
Modern man thought that when he had gotten rid of God, he had freed himself from all that repressed and stifled him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had only succeeded in orphaning himself (71).
And the universe, too, faces a death of its own. Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding, and the galaxies are growing farther and farther apart. As it does so, it grows colder and colder, and its energy is used up. Eventually all the stars will burn out, and all matter will collapse into dead stars and black holes. There will be no light at all; there will no heat; there will be no life; only the corpses of dead stars and galaxies, ever expanding into the endless darkness and the cold recesses of space – a universe in ruins. This is not science fiction. The entire universe marches irreversibly toward its grave. So not only is the life of each individual person doomed; the entire human race is doomed. The universe is plunged toward inevitable extinction – death is written throughout its structure. There is no escape. There is no hope (72).
And what of man? Is there no purpose at all for the human race? Or will it simply peter out someday, lost in the oblivion of an indifferent universe? The English writer H.G. Wells foresaw such a prospect. In his novel The Time Machine Wells’s time traveler journeys far into the future to discover the destiny of man. All he finds is a dead earth, save for a few lichens and moss, orbiting a gigantic red sun. The only sounds are the rush of the wind and the gentle ripple of the sea. “Beyond those lifeless sounds,” writes Wells, “the world was silent. Silent? It would be hard to convey the stillness of it. All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, the cries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background of our lives – all that was over.”11 And so Wells’s time traveler returned. But to what? – to merely an earlier point on the purposeless rush toward oblivion. When as a non-Christian I first read Wells’s book, I thought, “No, no! It can’t end that way!” But if there is no God, it will end that way, like it or not (75-76).
The excerpt went on to discuss other problems with atheism, such as the absence of objective morality (or rather, the absence of explanation for an objective morality that does indeed exist). But it was those last two passages in particular that stood out to me. I just kept thinking, “Wow! I am so glad that is not the end of the story.”
I don’t really like to think about the End of the world. I believe it is coming, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in my lifetime. I don’t like the thought of all that will come beforehand: all the trials and tribulation.
But praise God! The End will not be an empty meaningless universe that silently awaits for nothing in particular! No, it will be the Beginning of a glorious new age that will last forever.
As Christians coming from various theological standpoints, we may disagree on the particulars: what the New Earth is and when it will come and at what point Jesus will return again and when the Millennial Reign will begin and so on. But I think that most of us can agree that the End will not be what H. G. Wells predicted. Aren’t you so glad? Aren’t you so glad that there is more to this life than just what we are currently experiencing?
Here I’ve been struggling on and off with how the End might happen in my lifetime. But reading these passages has put that into a whole new light. Perhaps the End may be scary, but it’s only temporary. And what comes after is so glorious and so wonderful – and so much greater than the meaningless End that the secular world has to offer.
So this Thanksgiving, let us be thankful that God is real – and that we can look forward to a Happy Ending, because of Him.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Craig, William Lane, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd Ed., Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008, 71-76.
11. (original footnote) H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (New York: Berkeley, 1957), chap. 11.