Many people who say that there is no God seem happy. But have they really embraced the logical implications of atheism? I believe it is impossible to really live happily while fully appreciating and accepting all of the disastrous consequences of the view that God does not exist. The philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig has suggested the following three practical consequences of atheism:
- If God does not exist, man is inevitably doomed to death and non-being. When we face up to our own mortality, we have nothing to blunt the cold harshness of death. Having a relationship with God, however, takes the sting out of death: “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).
- If God does not exist, life is absurd; as the result of mindless, random chances, life without God has no ultimate significance, value, or purpose. In Samuel Beckett’s famous play, Waiting for Godot, two men carry on a trivial conversation while waiting for a third man to arrive. He never does. The play implies that—without God—our lives have no significance and are made up of just waiting for nothing at all; life is ultimately meaningless. We are no better off than dogs, on this score. A relationship with God, on the other hand, gives a human life the ultimate significance of bringing glory to the Lord and helping our fellowman: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
- If God does not exist, there are no objective moral values or obligations. Without God to define moral value in the world, each individual is free develop his own ethical rules for himself. The atheistic biologist Richard Dawkins said, “There is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference. . . . We are machines for propagating DNA. . . . It is every living object’s sole reason for being.” So, for example, Adolf Hitler was no worse morally than a Christian who treats his neighbor well. The application of God’s standard of morality, on the other hand, would revolutionize human lives for the better: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).
We thank God not only for everything good He has done for us, but also for providing us with such convincing evidence of His existence and providence. May we serve Him faithfully.