Softening the Atheistic Outlook?

There is quite a lot going on in this video, and it seems that the content creator has not fully thought through the consequences of nihilism.

First, let’s deal with the logical fallacies in the first part of the video:

1. Implied genetic fallacy: We only believed in God to make the world less scary.

(Even if this is true, it would not mean that God does not exist. Undermining the source of a belief does nothing to undercut the validity of that belief.)

2. Possible non sequitur fallacy: We learned the stars are shining and that they are not shining just for us

(Much is left unsaid with this statement, but it seems he is saying that learning the material cause of star formation [how it happened] means that there is no efficient or final cause [who caused it to happen or why it happened]. It does not follow from knowing a material cause that there is no efficient or final cause.)

3. Possible non sequitur fallacy: Seems to imply that our small physical size relative to the size of the universe is indicative that we have little importance in the universe.

(No conclusions about our importance can logically follow from our size alone.)

OK, now let’s turn to “Optimistic Nihilism”. There are some conclusions that follow from this worldview that are not seriously faced by the content creator.

First, he says that if the universe ends in heat death then every mistake is erased, all bad things you did will be voided, all of your wrongs won’t matter in the end. This is true, but it is also true of all of the good that you might do and all of your successes. They don’t matter in the end either.

Second, he goes on to say that our life is the only thing that matters. Living as though your life is the only thing that matters is not optimistic, it is self-centered, narcissistic, and immoral. Also, if nothing that you do “matters in the end” then your life doesn’t matter either. In the end none of it makes any difference. (Hopefully it is occurring to you that it can’t be immoral to live this way if nihilism is true, but the horror of that outlook will hopefully also occur to you. None of the horrors that man can inflict on each other can really be “wrong” if nihilism is true.)

Third, he says that we get to dictate the purpose of the things around us. No, we get to pretend that it has a purpose. Things do not magically gain a purpose because I pretend that they do.

Fourth, there are some serious problems with the challenges he poses. He says that we “might as well build a utopia”, that there are “diseases to cure” and “people to help”, and that you get “bonus points if you make the life of other people better.” This does not take nihilism seriously. If nihilism is true, then doing these things are not ultimately different than building a dystopia, creating diseases, hurting people, and making the lives of others worse. It just doesn’t make any difference in the end what you do. In that sense, it doesn’t matter.

Let’s do a thought experiment to explore the ramifications of the nihilistic worldview. Imagine that you type out all of your dreams, aspirations, hopes, knowledge, and everything else about you into a document. Just pour yourself out on the page. Now imagine that someone else prints the document off, and then throws it into the fire. How much does it matter what color paper he used to print your document? It doesn’t matter at all, right? It was just burned up in the fire. If nihilism is true, then time will do to your ideas what the fire did to that paper. In the end, nothing about you will matter either.

Fortunately there are good reasons to believe that God does exist and that there is true and ultimate meaning to life. Take a look at these videos below: (Short) (Short) (Short) (Long)

3 thoughts on “Softening the Atheistic Outlook?

  1. The strange thing about your little reaction piece is that you seem to “get” nihilism pretty damn well – perhaps your rational side is winning out against your Christian side?


    1. I know God, and so I understand what it would mean if he didn’t exist.

      You made a reference to my “rational side”, but I would encourage you not to buy into the rhetoric of celebrity atheists or to take too seriously the misguided Christians who reject reason. Reason and faith are not opposed to each other. It is through reason that I understand the world, and when I act on that understanding we call it “faith”.

      Our scriptures actually call Jesus the word (“Logos” in Greek). The Greek’s used the word “Logos” as the epitome of logic and reason. Jesus claimed, among other things, to be the “truth”. From its very beginning, Christianity started as a religion of reason and understanding pursuing truth.

      At its core, Christianity has always been a pursuit of the truth. We understand Jesus to be that truth because God raised him from the dead. We don’t just take it on faith, we believe in him because of his resurrection (which itself we believe on the basis of evidence).

      I realize you may not believe all of that, but at least it may be helpful to understand how we view ourselves.


      1. Of course I don’t believe a single word of the balderdash you just ran by me – Evidence? Truth? But that’s what wordpress is for, to see how far gone the other side is.


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