“Man: a being in search of meaning.”
The Foolishness of Life Without God
by Mark Karapetyan
A few weeks ago, while I was speaking in a town near Washington, D.C. to a small audience consisting of people with different beliefs, an older gentleman, a skeptic, approached the microphone and asked: “Who told you that life cannot make sense without God?”
“No one told me. I have observed it on my own,” I replied.
“No one told you! How, then, did you come to that conclusion?” he inquired.
“By observing the reality of life around me,” I answered.
“But skeptics, like myself, as well as atheists and agnostics, find meaning in life without necessarily believing in a creator. How do you explain that?” He challenged.
“That’s a great question,” I beamed. I took a step closer to him and explained: “I disagree with you that those folks can actually find meaning in life without God in their lives. They might be temporarily satisfied with worldly realities such as material possessions or various intimate relationships. Deep inside, however, they are hollow and depleted. The moment the shine wears off whatever it is they are attached to, they lose interest and become aloof. I’m sure you know what I am talking about. Not only that, but you, atheists, agnostics, and other skeptics cannot justify life without God. It’s impossible!”
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE CAN’T JUSTIFY LIFE WITHOUT GOD?” he screamed. “WE CAN JUSTIFY EVERYTHING JUST FINE!” he added.
Before I tell you how I responded to that skeptic, allow me to first explain my view step by step:
I believe that nothing in this world makes sense without God. In fact, life itself would be meaningless without a creator that gives meaning to it. I say this because, as we all know, there would be no effect without a cause. The existence of every effect depends on its cause. Without the cause, no effect can exist. If you disagree with this premise I posit, then I challenge you to come up with a single example of an effect that was not caused.
The moment you deny the law of cause and effect, you affirm it by denying it. What caused you to deny the law of causality?
That, my friends, is a settled matter. If you are wondering what the law of cause and effect has to do with what I am trying to write about today, however, I urge you to bear with me for a moment. I need to first establish a few facts before I clarify my point.
It is important to understand that there are two kinds of causes in the universe: natural and intelligent.
Natural causes, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes, always produce natural effects. If you disagree with this premise also, my challenge still stands.
Intelligent effects, on the other hand, like skyscrapers, automobiles, and portraits, have intelligent causes.
It is also worth noting that intelligent causes can chose to produce meaningless effects, such as a hand-made triangle, shaped from steel, installed on top of your oven at home (or a meaningless rap song that does more damage to the brain than X-rays).
Although the triangle piece is designed by an intelligent cause, it serves no purpose, and is therefore meaningless.
Unintelligent causes, or natural causes, however, can never produce intelligent effects. No one has ever observed it so far. No one can produce a single example in support of this view.
We determine the types of causes by observing and analyzing their effects. Remember, effects always point back to their causes and explain them.
To further simplify my point, indulge me for a moment and imagine that you are walking alone in a desert when, suddenly, you stumble upon a pile of metal and plastic scattered in the sand.
Obviously, the metal and plastic are the effects of one of the two causes. After observing the pile of junk for a few minutes, you walk away convinced that the cause of those effects is natural; you find nothing intelligent about them because they are just plastic and metal pieces buried deep in the sand. Alternatively, you might determine that the cause is intelligent since the metal and plastic were put there in the sand by an intelligent cause – such as a human.
Just as the metal shaped triangle piece in your kitchen serves no purpose, the metal and plastic buried in the sand serve no purpose. Therefore, even if the cause were intelligent, the effect is meaningless.
Let’s think outside the box now and expand our imagination. What if you continued walking another mile down the same path, when, to your amazement, you came across an abandoned yellow school bus. What would you conclude then? That the sand of the desert, with the help of black-tailed rattlesnakes, somehow assembled the bus and all its complex pieces, or that intelligent humans who understand design did so?
Of course, anyone with an ounce of intelligence would immediately conclude that the yellow school bus did not come about by forces of nature. Therefore, the cause of that yellow school bus must be intelligent.
Keep in mind that the school bus we are talking about is also made from metal and plastic, just like the pile of junk in the previous example. What, then, makes the cause of the yellow school bus any different from the cause in the previous example?
You guessed it right!
Purpose, design, and intentionality…
Remember, effects explain their causes. When we look at any effect, we can simply explain what caused it by analyzing whether the effect itself serves a purpose, is designed, or is made intentionally.
Here’s the kicker: The universe itself is the effect of one of the two causes. The universe cannot be the cause of itself because nothing can cause itself to exist. In addition, we now know that science points to a beginning of the universe where space, time, and matter all came to existence at the same time.
Logically, the universe can’t be the effect of a natural cause because nature and its forces did not yet exist when there was no universe. Furthermore, one must think deeper and posit a series of hard questions, among which is “WHY is there a universe to begin with?”
It’s not just the fact that there’s carbon and hydrogen atoms floating all over the universe, but the question of why they exist in the first place, and why is it that they bond with other atoms and form life-giving realities, such as water!
Just like the pile of metal and plastic in the desert sand, if our universe consisted of atoms and chemicals only, then we could perhaps assume that the cause of the universe is not intelligent because we did not see any purpose, design, or intentionality.
The paradox is that we don’t just see a pile of things in our universe, but rather, we see effects (life) that point back to an intelligent cause.
We see various seasons, rivers, hills, flowers, adorable animals, newborn babies, emotions, and tears. The very fact that we ask such hard questions about the cause of and reason for our existence proves my point. In other words, we see yellow school buses everywhere, not just a pile of metal and plastic, which tells me that these meaningful effects I just mentioned have an intelligent cause that gives meaning to them. Without this intelligent cause, these effects would be meaningless, just like the pile of metal and plastic in the desert, or the triangle shaped metal on top of your stove.
Now that I have hopefully established that this universe we live in must have an intelligent cause, allow me to demonstrate to you that life cannot make sense without this said cause – God.
If I asked you to define life, what would you tell me?
On the surface, this sounds like a direct, simple question. However, it is a puzzling conundrum that has baffled the best of minds throughout the centuries.
Mariam Webster’s dictionary defines life as “the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual.”
I believe that this definition is somehow satisfactory, but it doesn’t go far enough to answer some tough questions. Why did the publishers of Mariam Webster’s dictionary, for example, define life as the sequence of some physical and mental events, but then fail to even raise the matter as to why these physical and mental events occur in the first place?
Life is much more than just a few words printed by Mariam Webster’s dictionary, or gibberishley spoken by some European existentialist nihilists. Life is an undeniable reality which is the effect of an intelligent cause who intentionally and purposely designed and drew its blueprint with intrinsic, immutable values, so that the created can freely live with one another in love, peace, and harmony.
These values I speak of only make sense in a world where the effects (creatures) are intelligent enough to understand them. Bees do not care if they sting you. Sharks do not cry after devouring other fish. Lions do not regret killing other animals. Similarly, these values are meaningless on a distant, uninhabited planet. What difference would it make if rape were wrong on Jupiter, where no one lives and there is no one to rape or be raped?
You see, values only make sense if they are conceived by intelligent agents. Like an instructional book or an owner’s manual, they only make sense if there are people to read them and live by them.
Let me now discuss some of these values and show you that without a God, they are nothing but meaningless ethics, written in thin air.
If there is no God, what, then, is the meaning of life?
I have heard many people say that we humans give meaning to our lives in our own ways, and that meaning is relative, subjective to everyone’s preference.
I have a problem with this explanation, and so should you!
If meaning were relative, as some say, does this mean that their own statement about meaning being relative is also relative? If so, that means that meaning cannot be relative because they want us to believe what they say and understand its meaning absolutely and not relatively. Otherwise, no one would understand the meaning of what they just said about meaning!
Do you see the oddity of this?
These folks quickly forget that just like truth, meaning is an absolute, intrinsic reality that does not and cannot change its value. The moment you deny it, you instantly affirm it.
Not only that, but if we humans create our own meaning in life, separate from one another, why can’t I have a meaning in life that claims there is no meaning?
Do you see the insanity of pluralism? If we can all have our own meanings, whose meaning is meaningful when everyone’s meaning contradicts each other’s meaning?
William Shakespeare’s Macbeth summarizes interesting ideas about the nature of life.
In Act 5, Scene 5, Macbeth learns that his wife has died and feels indifferent about her death. After receiving the tragic news, he comments that the news was inevitable. He speaks about life indifferently as if life is an unguided, meaningless, confined, irrelevant code:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
(Macbeth, Act V, Scene V)
If life is an inconsequential, meaningless tale that vanishes into thin air, why is Macbeth meaningfully negating life’s meaning? How does he conceptualize the meaninglessness of life, and then meaningfully tells us about its meaninglessness?
Who is the idiot telling a tale now, Macbeth? Or shall I say…Shakespeare?
I once read a story of an atheist astronomer who was conversing with a Christian:
“Look at all the billions, and billions of stars and galaxies up in the sky. Each containing trillions of planets, stretching over light years of distance. Looking through the telescope, you realize that man is a mere speck in this universe.”
The Christian eloquently responded: “Yes! But you must remember that the mere speck is the one observing and comprehending what is being seen!”
That, my friends, sums up my point.
It is no coincidence that only humans find meaning in life. I believe that those who champion the meaninglessness of life do so, because of a void in their hearts that blocks their vision and disables them from understanding truth.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus told us that “the truth will set us free if we find it” (John 8:32).
“Truth sets us free from what?” you may ask.
It sets us free from bondage. A prisoner will be set free when he finds the right key that opens the lock on his cell door. Truth does that to us also. When we finally find it, it sets us free from the prison we were in for a long time.
You see, a man born blind cannot appreciate the beauty of a sunset. Just like a woman born deaf will not strut to the tunes of a melody. To them, these realities are meaningless because they do not know the truth about sunsets and music. Similarly, life is meaningless to those who reject God because they do not know the truth about the giver of life – God!
The Moral Code
If there is no God, where does the moral law that humans live by come from? How can atheists and skeptics even justify moral ethics if God doesn’t exist?
Please, hear me clearly: I am not saying that atheists do not recognize morality, not at all. I’m saying that atheists can’t justify morality without God’s existence.
If we, humans, are nothing but chemical elements that evolved from the primordial soup over the ages, what difference does it make if we love one another or not? Why do we teach our children virtue and positive values? Who is going to be offended if we behave immorally, the carbon molecules in our bodies?
The fact that we, as moral agents, recognize right from wrong, tells me that there must be a higher standard by which right or wrong is measured. Keep in mind that this standard I speak of is an immutable, intrinsic reality that humans cannot tamper with and change. Just like the laws of logic or the laws of physics.
Without that absolute, higher standard, no one would be able to claim that torturing babies for fun is wrong. As I have said before, morality cannot be relative because if it were, then what right does the moralist have to complain about other’s relative morality?
Not only that, but when people tell me that “morality is relative,” I always reply with, “relative to what?”
You see, for something to be relative, it must be measured against a standard that is NOT relative in itself. That standard must be absolute and unchanging first for the relative to be determined. Otherwise, if that standard is also relative, how, then, can anything be determined to be relative when everything is relative?
All this discussion about relativism reminds me of an encounter I once had with a moral relativist.
One day, one of my atheist friends and I were in the car, discussing the issues of God and morality. My friend kept insisting that I was too paranoid of a morally relativistic world, and that he didn’t care at all if morality was relative or not.
I replied: “What, then, are you afraid of? Why did you just lock your car? Leave the doors open!”
Of course, my dear friend did not dare to leave his car unlocked because he had expensive merchandise in the back seat. Why did he not do what he preached? Because he well knew that someone with an evil motive might exercise his relative morality over my friend.
It is ironic that the moral relativist will scream loud to defend his moral relativism, but will scream louder when he is on the receiving end of someone else’s moral relativism. I dare any moral relativist to live out their moral relativism!
Steal the pension and the life savings of a moral relativist, and see how quickly they will ignore, neglect, and dismiss their moral relativism, and instantly become outraged, offended, moral absolutists and call the police!
Next, I would like to summarize an argument that points to a higher moral law giver in this world. Without this moral law giver, morality cannot exist!
Read this carefully:
If right and wrong exist in this world, which they do, that means right and wrong belong in two separate moral categories.
Moral categories are divisions within a system of classification.
Systems are a set of principles described by their structure and purpose and expressed in their functioning.
All systems, regardless of their nature, make sense to us because we can clearly see in them structure, purpose, and functioning. Any system cannot be the cause of itself because it is in the mercy of a grander cause that sets forth the boundaries of said system. That’s why systems cannot arbitrarily change their structure and functioning by themselves, unless directed by a higher cause that exists outside of the system.
Look at the computer system, the railroad system, the human reproductive system, the digestive system, the government system, and the mathematical system. These systems are all effects that stem from intelligent minds. Therefore, the instructions and directions must come from the entities that give meaning to the systems themselves.
A computer system will never change its assigned code unless a computer programmer strikes the keyboards to write a new program first.
If a government wishes to change its criminal justice system, it must reform the system to suit the needs of its citizens. Only the government can change the system; the system cannot change its structure on its own.
This makes it clear that all systems are the effects of causes that are intelligent and not subject to the systems themselves.
Well then, if systems are the effects of intelligent minds, as I have just shown, and if right and wrong are part of a moral system that is explained by its structure, what, then, is the cause of this moral law that we humans recognize?
The only logical answer to this question is that the cause must be an intelligent cause that is able to recognize the moral code and exists outside of the system itself. That’s why we, humans, cannot tamper with or change the moral law (or any other intrinsic law for that matter). Since the moral law is a system that is caused by a cause that is higher and more intelligent than us. Do you now understand why it’s always wrong to kill babies and rape women, since we recognize these acts as part of one of the categories in the moral system?
Let me try to simplify this in a syllogism:
- Right and wrong exist.
- Right and wrong belong in two separate categories.
- Categories are divisions within a system.
- Systems are principles that are described by their structure and purpose and expressed in their functioning.
- Systems cannot change their structure and functioning unless directed by an outside cause.
- Just like any other system, the moral system of right and wrong cannot change its structure and purpose unless it is directed by an outside cause.
- An outside cause must give the moral code its instructions, its purpose, and its meaning
- Therefore, God is that outside cause and the moral law giver.
As you can see from this syllogism, without God, the moral code that we, humans, live by, cannot exist on its own.
The Laws of Nature
Doesn’t it seem so strange that we live in an orderly universe containing natural laws that are independent of us, and are so constant?
Whether here on earth, or on some distant star ten billion light years away, light always travels at the same speed. One of the most important realities in physics, the proton-electron mass ratio, is the same on a faraway galaxy as it is on earth. Two plus two will always equal four because mathematical values never change, regardless of the location in the universe. Gravity always pulls objects whether on earth, or on Kepler 39-b (a massive planet 18 times the mass of Jupiter).
Why is that?
This may come as a surprise to you, but believe it or not, without God, the laws of nature as we know them cannot even exist!
Let me explain:
We all know that ALL laws come from law givers. If you disagree with this premise, then provide a single example that proves the opposite.
Rocks, trees, and faucets cannot, and will not, generate laws; it’s impossible. If nature also has it laws, as we all know from science, what makes you think that these laws arose accidentally and out of nowhere?
For example, what gave the mathematical equation 2 + 2 = 4 its value? If the universe exploded into existence through a blind, unguided, accidental phenomenon, how come its laws are so precise? In other words, if the cause of the universe was random and unorderly, why doesn’t the effect (the laws of nature) also follow the same pattern as the cause itself?
No matter how long you search, you will NEVER observe an instance where you automatically get order from chaos!
Throw a grenade in a pottery store and see if The Thinker statue will suddenly emerge out of nowhere. Get on the roof of a tall building, randomly dump five buckets of mixed color cans on the streets, and see if the portrait of Madame Recamier will come out of your experiment.
Unguided processes that begin with unguided causes will always result in unguided effects. It’s just that simple.
Atheists and skeptics claim that the universe is the result of an unguided cause. Why, then, do its laws (the effects), not follow the unguided cause?
This is because the cause of the universe is an intelligent, orderly, and supernatural cause. The laws of nature obey the cause because they are inferior to the cause. That’s how Jesus was able to control the winds, walk on water, and resurrect dead corpses. As the cause of the universe, He was able to control the laws of nature within the universe that are inferior to Him.
I have heard people say that humans created the laws of nature. This is a silly claim because the laws of nature were not created, but discovered. If humans can create the laws of nature, then they can change them as they wish. That’s why you and I cannot stop earth from spinning daily on its axis or change the course of Venus in our solar system.
It is also worth noting that the laws of nature exist despite humans. Even before the first man appeared on earth, apples fell from trees because of gravity. Even before humans walked the earth, the laws of mathematics operated the same way, for it took earth 365 days to revolve around the sun, just as it does today.
If we humans can only discover and understand these natural, fixed laws using our intelligent minds, in whose mind were these laws first constructed, before humans even appeared on earth? If humans had not yet emerged onto the scene of life on earth to comprehend these laws and give them meaning, who, then, thought of the simple equation of 2 + 2 = 4, since rocks, bees, and wood can’t do it?
Think about this for a moment:
Take Kepler’s third law: It states that the square of the time of a planet’s revolution is proportional to the cube of its mean distance from the sun. Kepler did not create this law; he discovered it using his intelligent mind. This law had been in existence since the beginning of the universe. Before Kepler discovered this law, whose mind envisioned it when the universe first came into existence?
I once asked a friend of mine who works as an engineer for NASA: “You guys here at NASA depend on the predictability of the laws of nature to launch space shuttles, rockets, and satellites into space. Why are these laws always so constant?”
“Well, there is no reason, they are what they are – they just are,” he replied.
Later, after we were done eating dinner at a new restaurant, my scientist friend was very displeased with the food: “I can’t believe how terrible the food was! My pasta wasn’t even seasoned right,” he complained.
“Well, there is no reason your food was bad, it was what it was – it just was!” I reminded him.
Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, once said: “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery….The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.” 1
It amazes me that people like Mr. Feynman refuse to remove the veil from their eyes and finally see the truth about life’s reality.
How can such brilliant people, with enormous intellect, blabber such nonsensical statements?
The majority of the world’s scientists are liberal atheists who would rather jeopardize their reputation spewing idiotic comments regarding the universe, than invoke a supernatural cause for everything!
Take the late Stephen Hawking, for example. In his book The Grand Design, he says: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” He adds: “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue torch paper and set the universe going.”
Well, well, well…
I am no expert like Mr. Hawking, or anything, but how can gravity exist if there is no universe? And if there is no gravity, how can it be the reason for the creation of the universe? Also, if the universe doesn’t exist, how can it create itself? Where was “itself” before the universe created it?
Not only that, but what caused gravity to exist in the first place? If Hawking does not invoke a cause for gravity, then he is saying that gravity is eternal. How can gravity be eternal when we know from science that it had a beginning?
On a second thought, when was the last time you witnessed gravity doing anything other than what it is supposed to do – pull objects?
Hawking might be a brilliant scientist, but he is a poor philosopher. In the beginning of The Grand Design, he lays out some questions about reality, including the question: “Why is there something instead of nothing?”
Referring to these questions, Hawking writes, “Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. It has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly in physics. As a result, scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” (p. 5)
“Philosophy is dead?” Is he serious?
Did Stephen Hawking forget that his own statement about philosophy being dead is NOT a scientific statement, but a philosophical one? Do contradictions matter no more to these people?
“The fool said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14)
Plato once wrote that “man is an animal, biped, featherless, and with broad nails.” Another, much better, definition that he gave was simply this: “A being in search of meaning.”
Why do humans alone search for meaning, and not animals, insects, or plants?
Because humans are created in the image of their creator, they are capable of rational thinking and analyzing. How can anyone look at this universe, observe life on earth, procreate, raise a family, enjoy nature and its beauty, cuddle and play with adorable pets, go through various highs and lows in life, dream and envision, and then claim that all this can be meaningful without a powerful, supernatural creator?
Without God, nothing will make sense at all. Whether you want to accept it or not, humans will always search for meaning because nothing in this world will satisfy our empty hearts, I assure you. Only by an intimate relationship with our God, the creator of everything, through His Son, Jesus Christ, will we understand the meaning and hope to this paradox, called life.
I can show you an engine of a car and explain to you how it tranfers energy to its tires using fuel and sparks. This, however, is not the goal of the engine, it is merely how it operates. The goal is to make the car move to transport the passenger. This goal is pre-determined by the cause of the car – intelligent humans.
The same is true with life, think about it!
Before I end this, I will keep my promise that I was going to tell you my answer to the angry skeptic.
After he was done asking me his question, I approached him with a challenge: “According to your view, your brain is the product of a blind, antiquated, unguided, coincidental, cosmic event. You say you can justify everything in life without God, just fine. Go ahead…”
“No finite point has meaning without an infinite reference point.”
- Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist (New York: Basic Books, 1998), 43.
APOLOGETICS - ARTICLES AND INFORMATION
- What is Apologetics?
- The Lost Truth
- Logic & Reasoning
- Truth & Reality
- Does God Exist?
- The Cosmological Argument
- The Design Argument
- The Moral Argument
- Who is Jesus?
- Satan’s Wish!
- God’s Dilemma!
- Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?
- Does God Answer Prayers?
- When Were The Gospels Written?
- Was Noah's Flood Real?
- Are Miracles Possible?
- The Apostle Peter
- Does Archaeology Support The Bible?
- Science & The Bible
- How Can Jesus be the only Way to Heaven?
- Don’t All World Religions Teach the Same Thing?
- Undesigned Coincidences
- Are All Men Created Equal?
- Is the Bible Really the Word of God?
- Amazing Bible Facts
- The Blind Atheists
- Jesus Meets Einstein
- Did the Gospel Writers Tell the Truth?
- The Evolution Fairytale
- The Day Common Sense Died!
- The Philosophy of Jesus
- The Report (Part 1)
- The Report (Part 2)
- Are All Religions True?
- Are There Contradictions in the Bible?
- Are All Religions True?
- Why Does God Allow Evil & Suffering?
- Bible Prophecy
- New Age Christianity
- The Wager
- When God Cried
- What Happened to America?
- Don’t All Good People Go to Heaven?
- Jesus at the United Nations
- False Teachers
- The Conference
- Jesus & the Woman at the Well
- The Day You face God
- Was Jesus Really Crucified?
- The Blind & the King
- Is Jesus God?
- The Meaning of Life
- Hero & the Fake
- The Insanity of Pluralism
- Who is God?
- The Tree of Good & Evil
- The Confused Agnostic
- Lazarus Come Forth!
- When God Seems Silent
- Case #1101
- The Proposal
- The Prayer
- Roman Catholicism
- Jesus Meets the Pope
- First Century Jesus
- The Patterns of False Religions
- Timid Christianity
- The Foolishness of Life without God
- An American Thanksgiving
- An American Christmas
- An American Valentine
- The Arrest of Jesus
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