Attempting to keep one’s biases to a minimum is important when speaking (or writing) to multiple audiences on vital things. Which is why I am listening to Christian music while writing this. Totally unbiased. Obviously.
I suppose the question of origins, God, gods, or Big Bang; finds its importance in the search for the meaning of life. To share our God’s message? To find peace? Happiness? Enlightenment?
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunate depending on perspective, discovering the origins is a messy affair filled with questions and doubt. Thus it is that many people take up their purpose in life from their parents or communities they respect, whether traditional religions or atheism. And at this point many people become incapable of questioning and returning to their previous doubt.
Though all sides might claim to know the obvious truth, the truth is that nothing is obvious else the debates would’ve been settled long ago.
I mean to make no claims of ultimate knowledge—I am ignorant of many things, I admit that in full. To be clear, I am American. I have grown up within a tight Christian community and through internet and textbooks I discovered the alternative of Atheism. I lack all qualifications to comment upon the complexities of other faiths beyond these.
Atheism is the belief that there is no God. The world found itself being created by chance and not by divine will and, as many say demeaningly, no floating invisible being sits in the air looking down upon us. As science says, the world of Atheism works through cause and effect alone. Everything finds its source in our material plane (a practical philosophy for science).
This might sound fine—pure cause and effect—but this does in fact introduce a problem for Atheism.
If everything is the workings of causal relations, can there be any free will? Is man simple a complicated machine, enough so to fool choice? For everything in this physical realm is governed by the static laws of physics. You push a ball and the ball rolls forward. The sun fuses hydrogen, then helium, etc and produces radiation. A starting force, then the laws of physics calculate the results.
If only a physical plane exists, then by necessity no free will exists because free will defies reason.
One solution to the problem of freedom is admitting that we do not have any. Personally I find issue in this. I desire personal effort to matter and for choices to be my own. Predestination is depressing.
Another solution is believing in producers unseen, whether they be in other dimensions or the oddities of quantum mechanics.
But the question of free will is not the only problem for Atheism. Without a being overlooking development from a throne in the skies, Atheists must explain the development of our universe, our world, and even life’s developments by natural force. Such are the purposes of the theories of the big bang and evolution.
In opposition to evolution, or rather macro-evolution, lies the arguments of intelligent design and irreducible complexity.
Even the simplest of life is beyond incredibly complicated and for life’s creation to occur in the bubbling primordial oceans of the early earth, incredible luck, many might say impossible, would have had to be had. Though scientists have constructed organic molecules from inorganic substances, scientists have never created life. The supposition that these organic molecules might have come together in just the right way to create order out of the surrounding lack of order, which would be in itself trying to destroy the order, requires a miracle in its own right.
Truly hilarious is how we attempt to scientifically explain how life came about when science has yet to even discover what life is, instead relying on a list of characteristics for explanation. We have yet to even understand the inner workings of cells yet we still claim to know how cells came about.
To explain away this near impossibility, theories rely upon incomprehensible things such as the infinite multiverse and billions of years, neither of which the human mind can understand.
Regardless, life happened into exists and could now evolve upwards. As proof of evolution some educated folks might provide the similarities in DNA between species or examples of micro-evolution. DNA similarities are easily explainable without evolution as the incredibly complicated cells possess many of the same traits between species (though many species contain unused shared DNA which is a point in favor of evolution).
Survival of the fittest can explain many things. Nonetheless, survival of the fittest is a program of repetition, of living and birthing new generations, and hence of increasing efficiency. This stands in marked contrast to macro-evolution where efficiency is not increased but decreased as innovation creates new systems. Innovation costs a lot after all.
Still, for the periods of greatest innovation, life remained asexual which increases the chances of successfully innovating as survival is the only means of regulating the genes.
Again, any difficulties in explaining evolution finds the answer of a meaningless period of time—much longer than helpful.
Atheism’s most popular explanations for existence possess flaws as well as strengths. There are good reasons to drop traditional religions for Atheism, but still Atheism faces challenges.
Christianity is likewise, having both pros and cons. As Christian faith is more complicated than Atheistic faith, Christian faith is easier to question.
For instance, Christianity claims that God is perfectly good yet His creation suffers the flaws of sin. Did God create the sin, and thus not being perfectly good, or has sin always existed? Perhaps sin is just that which stands in contrast to God, against His nature, existing outside of Him. But then would sin exist? If God exists does He have to have a contrast? Can anything exist outside of God?
The Bible leads me to believe, according to Christianity, that the material world including us can only exist inside of God. This would explain why God continually laments the fall of creation for He would be contradicting Himself.
The Bible claims that God will soon put an end to all this worldly suffering and those who choose Christ will be saved into heaven while those who failed will be doomed into the nonexistence of hell. But when exactly will God intervene?
Surely a just and loving God who suffers so much for our existence will not stop short. Surely He will wait patiently for the last potential Christian to be saved before destroying sin and humanity in the process. Surely then He will be waiting forever, right? There are always more who can be saved.
Unless God places potential and sin on a balance like He supposedly did with the Flood. What qualifications must have pre-Flood society have had to convince a perfectly good and loving God to destroy them?
But what about heaven? The Bible claims that no matter what good acts we try to perform here upon this earth, God still only sees our endless sin. Thus we can never be perfect.
Then how will God save us onto heaven? If all things exist within His grace and He is perfect, then how would maintaining God’s chosen in heaven be any better than suffering the earth now? Unless God’s chosen all become perfect themselves or Christ’s blood continues to cover them in heaven.
How could Christ’s sacrifice right all the wrongs of the past and future anyways? Was the cross Him succumbing to His contradiction and thus dying in principle? Does that mean existence itself resurrected God thus destroying sin? In which case why would we have to choose God to receive salvation? He has already paid the price.
Regardless, the Bible narrates that God’s choosen sheep follow Him into the perfect lands of heaven forever grateful for His sacrifice and mercy. In return for receiving new life, the saved are freed from sin and naturally become more perfect like God. But can sinful man ever become truly perfect? And if we could would we want to be?
The Bible claims that in receiving new life we are reborn anew, that our old flesh is destroyed and we are reborn of the Spirit. Does God destroy our sinful inclinations then as well? If so that sounds a lot like brain washing.
There exists the old saying that imperfections give life color. Doesn’t heaven then sound very colorless? Caroling down streets of gold singing of God’s greatness then returning home every night to reflect on God’s greatness and waking up the next to write poetry about God’s greatness. Would anyone truly want to live that kind of life? For all eternity only God.
If receiving eternal life in heaven costs us being reborn in Him, would anyone truly want eternity? What value would eternity even have then? All of us, our hopes and aspirations and hobbies and loved ones, we would have to sacrifice all that we care for over to Him. If we must forfeit everything we value then why bother with eternity?
Christ speaks that what He is asking for is extreme, that we must put Him above everything else and have eyes only for Him. His words reign true.
Just like Atheism, the world is full of support for Christianity depending upon perspective. It is not the case that all educated individuals fall into one belief or the other.
What about other religions and faiths?
Christianity possesses the rather confusing topic of the Holy Trinity. Three separate entities, three gods, all working together for one greater purpose.
But what would happen if the unstoppable ball rolled into the unmovable block? If there exist multiple gods, could the gods oppose each other? How on earth could omnipotent beings work to undermine each other?
If multiple gods exist, then mustn’t they all possess one unified purpose?
And if the principles of most human religions are to be listened to and our Creator God delves to save us, then mustn’t the God’s religion be prosperous? If the Creator desired to reach us, surely He would manage to expand His faith. Thus if a God is willing to grant humans immortality, His religion would be heard of.
Perhaps instead a God created us for his viewing pleasure, uninterested in intervening. Or perhaps the multiverse is actually infinite as well as time. In either case that would mean that the methods of our creation are unimportant only that we are created.
Nonetheless, the answers are not simple. So we should not be rude to people of varying faiths. We live in a big and beautiful and complex world filled with wonder and discovery—we can only see so far.
Regardless, if the origins find their importance in our search for a purpose in life then we should know that our purpose in life is only what we decide of it.
While one ultimate truth must exist, who knows what that is.
We only have so much time here though, so my opinion is that we make the most of it.