If there is no God or even if one just imagines there is no God, what would life be like without him? Freedoms from all the ‘church duties’ would be gone: contribution of monies, volunteerism of duties to help with the facilities, rides for those needing them. Weekly duties and so forth would vanish. Moral duties of all sorts would vanish when we shift from ought to is, But then there are usually two sides to every coin, right?

A famed philosopher, Bertrand Russell wrote of such a universe and life without God:

That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that this origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are, yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built (Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays Longman, Green & Co; NY: 1918).

Russell rather graphically spells out one of the paths possible or available to us we may not choose. It is easy to turn cynical amidst such mountains of doubts and pessimism. Koheleth or Solomon posited this alternative in Ecclesiastes:

A FATALIST/PESSIMIST? What would you think of a preacher who argues: all is vanity (1.2) and without any advantage (1.3); all is wearisome (1.8) and an empty vicious cycle (1.9f); all paths of joy and purpose- pleasure, wisdom, power, labor, money, etc.- are empty and short lived at best (1.12ff), only a chasing after the wind (2.11, 17); life and its labors are to be hated (2.17f), and will only create depression to an honest man (2.20) because no one can really make sense of it (3.11); death is the final equalizer of all things with man and beast (3.18ff); dead people are better off than the living, and indeed an aborted child is better off yet, though best off of all are those never conceived (4.2f; 6.4f); life is a vicious cycle, meaningless and an unimaginable cruel hoax that mocks personal fulfillment under the sun (8.16f)?

One can hear the silence and feel the deepening blackness envelop us like a cold dark shroud. Yes, what does happen when God dies? We become empty shadows dancing to the tune of the puppeteers’ strings. There is no real purpose nor right or wrong. It just “is” or “is not”. SO the agnostic is correct in that “church” matters fade away and all that goes with them. But then so does “man” as man. These are the two choices we each face- there is no other grounds for life to be lived upon.

Before you throw off God think slowly of what comes with it… and stick to it as if it were your deepest choice in life… and eternity.

Terry Green

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