I was saddened to hear about the passing of the prominent atheist, Christopher Hitchens recently. I did not know the man, and obviously we did not share the same convictions on what this life is all about and where or whom it came from. But I could not help but feel sadness when I heard the news.
Hitchens may have been classified more accurately as an anti-theist. He was a brilliant man in many respects. He made convincing arguments to support his position, and he convinced his fair share. However, I honestly don’t know if he would have considered his life to have made a real difference in the world; if all of his work, from his perspective, in the end really mattered. From my perspective they did.
Let us for a time assume that Hitchens was right; that there really is nothing to this life but what meets the eye—that on the other side of death’s proverbial door we simply cease to exist. There is no all-powerful, personal, Creator God. We are here by chance. There is no “why”, but simply “how”. Religion is man’s crutch to mask the pain of life, or a club to swing at people so that you can control or take advantage of them.
How should you then live? You could spend your time writing books against religion. Books like, “God Is Not Great.” You could spend your time debating some of the top Christian apologists like Doug Wilson or Dinesh D’Souza. You could fight against the lies of religion. But why? Is it simply to fight for truth…or to defeat the cause of oppression and bondage?
When you really think about it, from this perspective there cannot be an honest answer to that question. Well, you may say that fighting against a lie is a noble thing. Or that fighting against oppression and bondage ought to be done. But, who said oppression was bad? Or that lying ought to be stopped? Who is to say what we “ought” or “ought not” to do? Without God, we are left to be the judge. We play god. Purpose and values are completely subjective. Our purpose becomes what we choose it to be and our morals are simply preferences. (Although it would be hard to find someone who would agree that genocide or rape is ok, just not their preference.) Without the ultimate reason for man, we simply have lost all reason. If man came from chance then there really can be no ultimate purpose (nor any sort of objective moral code). And without purpose, life quickly looses meaning.
I watched a video in which Hitchens was asked what the purpose of life was. After mentioning that he could only answer for himself, he listed three things: gloating over the misfortunes of others (possibly joking), irony, and sex. Then said he, “that’s pretty much it, and it’s clear on to the grave”. And so it was.
My hope for you is that your purpose is much larger than Mr. Hitchen’s. But in order for your purpose to be larger it must come from a source much larger than yourself. If you do not believe there is a God, then you must ask yourself, “Can I truly live without Him?” Can you live with all of the implications of an atheistic world? And would you, like Christopher Hitchens bet your life on it? Because whether you like it or not, whether you have declared it or not, you are betting your life on something…or someone.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.