In the spirit of Christmas, here's another post from my 'Scratch Pad' folder (a term coined by my grandfather).
I've mentioned before, in passing, the fascinating (and sometimes scary) depths of theistic vs. non-theistic philosophy, and what the implications of each are in our real-world lives. This is an endless subject of discussion, but I thought I'd go into one of the more basic subtopics and how it has influenced my personal outlook on life.
If there is no God, then humans are nothing more than animals - insignificant organisms in a vast universe of meaninglessness. If that is reality, then whether we do or don't do anything in life: live life to the fullest, achieve love/success/progress, consider the welfare of our fellow man, adhere to laws or moral codes or suffer during the short time of consciousness we have is ultimately inconsequential. Nothing - absolutely nothing - matters. So the Christian, even if he/she may miss out on some of the pleasures of the world due to following (or at least trying to follow) the principles of Scripture, loses absolutely nothing if at the end they slip into the blackness and nothingness of death in a universe without God.
If there is no God, even the most prestigious human life is no more remarkable than that of an insect. Just as there is no consequence to whether an ant crawling on the ground lives out its full life cycle or gets squished by a shoe on its first day of venturing out of the colony, neither would it matter what a man or woman does, or experiences, in their life if there is no God. Progress? Advancing the human race? Improving the quality of life for ourselves and future generations? All meaningless. When the next comet impacts earth and wipes out all life on the planet, it will all be lost. On what basis then does anyone assert that progress is noble, pleasure is good and suffering is bad during this transient existence? Without God, there is no way to objectively quantify or classify good or evil. It's all just 'nature', an uncaring, indifferent universe no more outrageous than the savagery of the animal kingdom, whos existence we all accept without prejudice.
What tragedy is it then, if non-theism is reality, if the Christian misses out on anything in life for being a Christian? In a Godless universe, would the Christian life be any more or less inconsequential than any other? Most Christians can attest to the quality of life that being a believer brings to them, which is remarkably independent of having the 'treasures' of this world like fame, fortune and pleasures. If 'living life to the fullest' has some merit in a non-theistic worldview, why doesn't faith gain equal respect for the benefits it brings? The 'meaning' and 'purpose' buzzwords - concepts ultimately nonexistent in a non-theistic universe - are not only possible in the life of a believer, they are integral and foundational.
I choose to follow Christ for many reasons, not the least of which is because the documentary and circumstantial evidence points to Jesus being real, that his claims of deity are credible, and that those who choose to follow Him can testify to the difference that choice has made in their lives. Although I realize I'm an imperfect, fallible human being capable of and prone to failure and making mistakes (and I still do not have some of the answers I have painstakingly searched for), I have not found a sufficient reason to disbelieve the Gospel, nor do I see the logic in abandoning it in order to gain anything that a world without God may offer. If the unthinkable turns out to be true and I'm wrong, I will lose absolutely nothing when the last of my synapses stop firing and I slip into an eternal nothingness. In that event, I'll be no better or worse off than anyone else.
If I'm right in choosing Christ, well - I just hope that as many of those who are in my life today will make the choice and be there with me when all is said and done.
The following comments were posted before this site switched to a new comment system on August 27, 2016:
Thank You for This.... - Posted by Brenda
Thanks for the note Brenda. - Posted by Dan R.
As a Christian, I agree. What would an atheist gain for being right? Nothing. Christians gain eternal life by following Jesus. Even if we were wrong, at least we can say it was still worth being Christian. It's better to live a Christian life and find out there's no god than to live a atheistic life and find out there is one. Why else do you think all the atheists that had near-death experiences came back to life and became Christians? - Posted by Tim