Saturday, December 20, 2014

Atheists and Christmas - It's the Most Purposeless Time of the Year!

  Just got back from town with my wife, where we braved the frenzy at Wal-Mart in order to complete our year's Christmas shopping.  We still have to get the tree up, but overall, I am happy with what all we have done.  It's a fun time of year - yes, there is a lot of craziness and bustling to get things all ready for the big day, but there's also a great sense of fun in the air.  Many of my former students are back home from college and I can hardly drive around town without running into one or two of them.  It's fun to hear how they have grown up and what God is doing in their lives.
   In the end, the joy of Christmas lies in what we are celebrating - the fact that we are not cosmic orphans marooned on an uncaring world.  We have a Father who loves us so much that He broke into human history two thousand years ago in a supernatural way, to become one of us in order to speak to us face to face, to buy us back from the cruel master we had sold ourselves to - at the cost of His own blood.
   I am a man of faith.  I don't say that trying to come across as some holy, altogether righteous, ridiculously religious person.  I am far from a perfect Christian - I don't pray or read my Bible as often as I should, I think lots of stuff I shouldn't, I wrestle with sin on a daily basis.  Sometimes I come out on top, other times sin puts me in a half-nelson until I cry "Uncle!" (Well, technically, I cry "Jesus!" but you know what I mean.)  When I say I am a man of faith, I mean simply this - I believe in God.  I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was His Only Begotten Son, the Word Made Flesh, very God of very God, dwelling among us as one of us to bring us the message of hope and salvation that we proclaim every year at this time.  I was raised as a preacher's son, and believing in God came as naturally to me as breathing.  I cannot imagine existing in a world without God - and I certainly could not imagine celebrating Christmas without celebrating the Savior whose birth we commemorate.
   Study after study has shown that people who believe are happier, have more friends, more satisfying marriages, and more fulfilling lives than those who reject the idea of God.  This isn't to say that atheists and agnostics are bad people - most of the ones I know have been thoroughly decent folks.  But they have voluntarily chosen to divorce themselves from the very purpose of human existence - in fact, in embracing atheism, they have pretty much chosen to deny that there is a purpose to anything.
   Consider this: most atheists embrace evolution, and its philosophical twin Darwinism, as the explanation for all life on earth.  In other words, humanity is a biological accident,  a meaningless fork on the primate family tree, a parasite species busily engaged in destroying the planet that created it.  Our lives have no more value than that of a beetle or a rat, because we are nothing more than they are.  Our consciousness is a fluke, our free will an illusion, we are nothing but organic pain collectors on a one-way path to oblivion.  The great, liberating cry of atheism - "Without God, all things are permissible!" - becomes a hollow shout of just how trivial we actually are.  Without God, morality is meaningless, a simple collective statement of what a culture believes or thinks at any give time.  Who are we to condemn the Holocaust, the crusades, the gulags, or ethnic cleansing?  Didn't the people who perpetrated those atrocities believe they were doing right at the time?  Who are we to say that our morality is in any way superior to theirs? 
   Where can we find hope, if not in God?  Does anyone really have faith in humanity?  In the goodness of human nature? I would challenge them to watch the news.  We are clearly a fallen, self-destructive, greedy, and wasteful race.  We began the Twentieth Century under the mantle of Progressivism - which said that man was perfectible, that vice and crime were a product of environment and conditioning, and that if we would just empower the state enough, we could eradicate those negative influences and create a perfect society.  A hundred years later, vice and crime are still rampant.  We have spend four trillion dollars in America since the sixties in a "War on Poverty," and poverty won.  Anyone who thinks that, given enough time and resources, man will simply redeem himself, has not studied history.  Whatever redemption we seek will have to come from something greater than ourselves, and while I love STAR TREK, I don't think the Vulcans are waiting out there to guide us into a new age anytime soon.
   I was talking to a friend of mine who left Christianity not long ago, and I said that without God, life has no purpose.  He didn't even bother to argue the point.  He simply said: "Who says life has to have a purpose?"  I think that is perhaps the saddest thing I have ever heard in my life.  If there is no purpose, what is the point?  If this life, here and now, is all we have, then there is no reason to take joy in anything, least of all, Christmas.  So as you decorate your tree and wrap your gifts, be thankful for the greatest gift of all - that our lives do have meaning and purpose.  We were not placed here so that we can take part in a mad scramble to pass on our genes before we die.  We were placed here by a loving Father, who left us many signposts pointing the way to Him.  He gave us all the information we need to find our way, to learn to love each other as we go, and to reach out our hands and touch the face of the Divine.

"For with the woes of sin and strife, this world has suffered long.
Beneath the angel strains have rolled, two thousand years of wrong.
And man, at war with man, heeds not the love song which they bring:
O Hush the noise! ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing!"

1 comment: