Sunday, December 18, 2011

Atheism Is Depressing: On Christopher Hitchens

I am sure most of you reading this know that a few days ago Christopher Hitchens died.  For you atheists, he was one of your champions. He is known largely for his book, “God is Not Great.”.  Someday on this blog we should perhaps have a debate about that book.  In any case, that is not my purpose today. My purpose today is to focus on one of his quotes.  Specifically, when he was diagnosed with cancer, he said the following:
"I'm here as a product of process of evolution, which doesn't make very many exceptions. And which rates life relatively cheaply. I mean, most human beings who've ever been born would have been dead long before they reached my age. And I would think in most of the rest of the world — well, I know it — is still true. So to be relatively healthy at 62 is to be dealt a pretty good hand by the cosmos, which doesn't know I'm here — and won't notice when I'm gone."
For us Christians, this is an extremely sad position that you atheists are required to take, namely this idea that the cosmos does not know that you exist and will not notice when you are gone.  This is such a sad position because it has such negative consequences. If you are an atheist, and if you truly believe what Christopher Hitchens says then:

1. What is the purpose of life?

2. How can there be any basis for ethics?

If there are no consequences in the next life for my actions, then I am free to hurt as many people as I want in this life.  If there are no consequences in the next life, then I suppose the purpose of life is pure decadence.  If there is not life beyond the grave, then there is little purpose to this life beyond self-indulgence. If there is no God, you are on your own in life.  To us Christians, that seems so empty and depressing.

Don’t you atheists feel like atheism is a depressing philosophy?  If atheism is true, there is no point to anything.  If on the other hand, Christianity is true, life is rich with meaning.  What is holding you back from accepting that you are created, that your life has a purpose, and that eternity can be spent with God in heaven?  


  1. “The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” Christopher Hitchens

  2. The purpose of life is the simple replication of life, as that is what life does to continue to exist. Ethics, morals, and what have you arise from the understanding that actions have consequences, that we have memory, and the understanding that if we work together we can achieve more together as opposed to working against one another and wasting our resources in futile endeavors. The universe is a cold and depressing place and whether you want it to or not doesn’t change the facts. If you want the world to be warmer and brighter, then you have to make it such. Treat others how you would want to be treated and more often than not, they will reciprocate, and those that don’t will be excluded from the activities of the rest of society.

    Why do Christians (and other religionists) try to, for lack of a better way of putting it, anthropomorphize their environment? It seems to me that they try and humanize and put faces on things that can’t even express sentience, from rocks to mountains to the whole of the universe.

  3. from an atheist's pov life existing and/or continuing to exist isn't any "higher" or "better" than it not doing so? that life does in fact exist doesn't necessarily mean that is should or that it is purposed to do so. besides, i believe i got into the difference between purpose and function already. when we speak of life as the product of evolution, we can't really say that any particular outcome *should* happen? replication, progress, or even sustaining life are no more purposes for life than annihilation. the best an atheist can offer is to simply say that life "is" and give up trying to assign purpose.

  4. i'll add that in general Christians reject the idea that the "cosmos" has knowledge, in the same way that we usually reject pantheism. anthropomorphic language is always used for the sake of man's understanding- not only of his world but also of his God.

  5. My mom is a Christian, also 62, also dying of cancer. Yesterday she had a religous experience.

    I am a skeptic. I held my tongue. I respect that people need "something" and deserve their peace.

  6. Also it's not that I don't want her and her pastor to be correct.

    It just sounds logically impossible is my only gripe. But again I hold my tongue.