1. If there is No God, then Life has No Purpose

I downloaded a free book called God or Godless?: One Christian. One Atheist. Twenty Controversial Questions. The book prides itself on posing controversial and unconventional questions. I’m not so sure the questions are controversial, but I’d like to open the discussion to my blog. I’m a little disappointed by the atheist’s best attempt in places, so I’d like to add to the arsenal. But I also want to give the Christian readers I have the opportunity to add to the discussion; I’m not sure how good the Christian answers are, but they certainly aren’t new answers.

As the book title suggests, there are 20 of these, so I’m going to have a look at each of them. I’m going to read the opening statements, rebuttals and closing statements and then I am going to weigh in. I hope to keep my view at less-than-600 words, but if a topic needs it I’m not going to strict with that rule (although, I expect very short posts). My aim is not to reproduce the book, and if you find the topics interesting I assure you buying the book will still be worthwhile; I’m adding in afterthoughts. Keeping it clear and concise is important to me. I don’t think anyone really reads posts that scrawl over the 1,000 word mark. The first statement to weigh in on is the post title: If there is no God, then life has no purpose.

These boots are made for walking, said Nancy Sinatra. And she was right, shoes are made for walking and so it is possible to use shoes wrong. As the resident Christian points out, if you use shoes to spread Cheez Whip then you are using them wrong. You don’t find this dilemma with a rock: a rock cannot be used wrongly (or correctly). The resident atheist says that we are essentially that rock, except for our sentience and consciousness. Our consciousness allows us to use our lives to attain our own purposes.

From the point of view of purpose, we are conscious un-designed rocks and not designed shoes. Being conscious makes us the user and the object, and we cannot be used wrong. We create our own purpose, normally in the form of creating meaningful relationships and “holistic happiness”. The Christian has already raised a red flag to this: Molly Hatchet. On Googling Molly Hatchet I discovered they are a rock band from Florida, but Molly Hatchet is presented as the name of a serial prostitute killer in the argument; the purpose Molly Hatchet has given herself (presumably) is to get a high score in prostitute killing. If we have no purpose, and therefore cannot use our lives wrongly, we cannot say Molly Hatchet (the serial prostitute killer) was wrong. Is that really what atheists think?

Yes. But also no. From the perspective of purpose I cannot say Molly Hatchet failed to attain the objectives. But quite how this equivocation of purpose and morality has been made—and slipped right past the resident atheist’s nose—is simply beyond me. They are morally wrong, yes.

8 thoughts on “1. If there is No God, then Life has No Purpose”

      1. Never heard that answer before; I like it!

        Everything we do is a part of who (and therefore what) we are. Everything that we are is a result of a past ‘is.’ Environment, nature, sun, universe, etc.. I think part of the is/ought problem is the human desire for simplicity: every is has to have one ought, if it doesn’t then the whole thing is hogwash. When, in reality, every ‘is’ has a multitude of oughts that can be chosen from (or compelled to perform as a result of — since I don’t believe in free-will).

        Anyway, I’ve never been good at the philosophy side of these questions. How does that ring to you?

      2. The way I see it is that there are 2 types of is: the is that is true at the current moment and the if it would preferable if it were true in the future. An ought is the way we think we get from one is to the other.
        And I also think you are right to say there is a magnitude of oughts (because there is a magnitude of prefered is). There is a moral is (the one that best safeguards the well being of all things); the selfish is (the one that benefits me the most); the lazy is (what takes the least effort–to add a layer of fuzziness between an us and an ought) and so on.
        Like you, I also don’t believe in freewill, so one is merely drawn along a certain ought.

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