Is Life Absurd Without God? A Reply to WLC’s Influential Article (3 of 3).

Is Life Absurd Without God? A Reply to WLC’s Influential Article (3 of 3). April 22, 2015

Let’s conclude our critique of William Lane Craig’s essay “The Absurdity of Life without God” (part 1 here) by examining a few more of WLC’s claims.

William Lane Craig Reasonable Faith


Craig tells us that we are morally adrift without God. How can we live without objective morality? How can we live in a world with the Auschwitz experiments of Josef Mengele? He says, “My heart was torn by these stories [from the concentration camps],” and yet how does God help? Craig imagines that we live in a world with Auschwitz and God! Throwing God into the mix does nothing to remove the Holocaust from history; instead, it demands an answer to the question, What the hell was God doing while Auschwitz was in operation?

As for objective morality (moral truth that is correct independent of whether anyone believes it), this is just his fantasy. He is quick to proclaim it, but he’s done nothing to justify this bold claim.

From the “Wait—this guy is a professor?” category, consider this example in which he clarifies what objective morality is:

[The Holocaust] would still have been wrong, even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in brainwashing or exterminating everybody who disagreed with them, so that everybody in the world thought the Holocaust was right and good.

Let’s think this through. We have our world, where everyone says the Holocaust was wrong, and we have Bizarro World, where things are identical except that everyone says the Holocaust was right. Each world has a William Lane Craig, and they are identical except for opposite views on this one issue. Where is the objective grounding for either view? Neither debater could point to anything to convince the other. Craig’s own example therefore proves my point: there is no reason to imagine objective morality.

Is atheism absurd?

In part 1, we saw how Craig will drop the word “ultimate” in phrases such as “ultimate purpose” or “ultimate meaning” and declare that purpose and meaning don’t exist in the life of the atheist. I agree that I see no ultimate purpose in life, but there’s plenty of purpose. One is left to puzzle over whether in ignoring any distinction between the two he’s deliberately deceptive or just a sloppy writer.

He also plays games with “absurd,” a critical word in an essay titled, “The Absurdity of Life without God.” According to the dictionary, he’s saying that life is meaningless, ridiculously unreasonable, or incongruous without God. That’s obviously what he means when he quotes Bertrand Russell saying that we must build our lives upon “the firm foundation of unyielding despair.”

Yet again, millions of atheists would disagree, but set that aside for now and go back to the definition of “absurd.” It actually has another meaning:

In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (1) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (2) the human inability to find any.

And this definition actually works. It’s simply the observation that there is no inherent or ultimate meaning in life. So in that sense, life is absurd without God.

So Craig either makes a rather obvious and uninteresting point (there is no reason to imagine ultimate meaning in life) or a false one (life has no meaning). Worse, he may be deliberately switching between the two as benefits his presupposition.

A rare moment of insight

We wade through paragraph after tedious paragraph as Craig marvels how atheists think Reality wasn’t cobbled together just for their benefit. But Craig is sensible when it suits him. Using the example of feminists annoyed with the conclusions of Freudian psychology, Craig says,

If Freudian psychology is really true, then it doesn’t matter if it’s degrading to women. You can’t change the truth because you don’t like what it leads to.

Yes! It doesn’t matter whether you like the truth or not! The truth is the truth, and you’re stuck with it.

Why does the essay not reflect this obvious fact, and why bury it almost at the end? If this idea had been in the first paragraph, it might have informed the essay and grounded it in reality.

And insight lost

But when thinking sensibly doesn’t suit him, Craig rejects it.

Do you understand the gravity of the alternatives before us? For if God exists, then there is hope for man. But if God does not exist, then all we are left with is despair.

Completely backwards. Don’t introduce an alternative until you have shown that it’s viable. This is like wrestling with the consequences of life with the winning Powerball lottery ticket versus without it. First, let’s see if you have such a ticket.

We finally reach the end of Craig’s long essay, wanting only to make it out with our sanity intact. In the very last paragraph, he acknowledges the elephant in the room and admits:

Now I want to make it clear that I have not yet shown biblical Christianity to be true…

You got that right, pal.

But what I have done is clearly spell out the alternatives. If God does not exist, then life is futile.

Wrong. Life is ultimately futile.

There is no reason to imagine that God exists or that you have that winning lottery ticket. Get over it.

It seems to me that even if the evidence for these two options were absolutely equal, a rational person ought to choose biblical Christianity. It seems to me positively irrational to prefer death, futility, and destruction to life, meaningfulness, and happiness.

No, what’s irrational is groping for an option that is not first well supported by evidence. Craig finds what he’d like to be true and then rearranges the facts to support that conclusion. This is not the argument of someone honestly searching for the truth.

And notice the debater’s trick. He feigns a concession (“even if the evidence were equal”) to make us more accepting of the ridiculous argument that the Christian claims and atheism are equally likely. And yet he admitted in the same paragraph that he has done nothing to defend his Christian conclusion. This entire bloated essay simply says that it would be nice if God exists. Stated less charitably: it would please Craig if God exists.

Religion imagines that it has something to add to the conversation when its answers to life’s Big Questions change based on where they’re asked! Ask “What is life’s purpose?” in a Buddhist country and you’ll be told it’s to cease suffering and reach nirvana. In a Muslim country, it’s to submit to Allah. In a Christian country, it’s to learn about and praise God.

Craig is determined to justify his childish view of reality. He’s made clear that no argument would change his mind. For anyone who finds his arguments enticing, however, I encourage them to put on their big girl panties, grow up, and demand that supernatural claims be backed with serious evidence.

Seeing life accurately can be daunting, but it’s also invigorating. Problems get solved only by seeing them as they are, not as we wish they were.

Dance like no one’s watching,
love like you’ll never be hurt,
sing like no one’s listening,
live like it’s heaven on earth. 
— William Pukey

Image credit: Håkan Dahlström, flickr, CC

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  • LauraTee

    “It seems to me positively irrational to prefer death, futility, and destruction to life, meaningfulness, and happiness.”

    Me too, but I’d apply the former description to biblical Christianity and the latter to secularism, not the other way around. Christianity is chock-full of messages about death, futility, and destruction. God kills everyone, including his son-self. We don’t need to worry about our impact on the world around us because it’s all in God’s hands. In the Bible, God destroys all sorts of places and people (including the entire planet and all but a handful of people on it), and modern evangelicals still think the whole world is going to be destroyed in the apocalypse.

    • Playonwords

      “It seems to me positively irrational to prefer death, futility, and destruction to life, meaningfulness, and happiness.”

      Translates as “Wouldn’t it be nice if God exists,” and all the while refusing to examine the implications of such a creature’s existence or waving them away by asserting that God has abilities we cannot understand.

      This same wishful thinking is present in WLC’s support of the Kalam Cosmological Hypothesis. That support requires that he ignore infinities necessary to that foolishness whilst deriding the concept that real infinities exist (as an aside it started me referring to him internally as “Kalamity Bill”).

      If it was not for Craig’s unjustified reputation as a debater he could rightly be ignored as having only a 3rd or 4th rate mind. Platinga would do well to shudder in embarrassment at having to be bracketed with Craig.

      • Could you expand on the problems with infinities you see with Kalam? WLC pretends to be allergic to them (his tedious Hilbert’s Hotel examples that I’ve heard too often).

        • Playonwords

          When I first heard him expound Kalam he made great play of the counting problem, that is that that it is impossible to count from any point in time infinitely far from us to arrive at now. He used this to declare that there can have been no infinity of time in which our universe could have sprung, therefore God must have the universe because only God is truly infinite

          Well the obvious problem here is that if God existed in an infinity of time – so why not the dimension(s) that pre-existed our universe? In an infinity of time anything can happen, even the amazingly unlikely universe which is ours. All Craig does is put the counting problem into the hands of God and says the deity is the only thing that could count from infinity (the ontological justification for God). Of course it is possible to regard the whole counting problem as moot as it is not necessary for us to count from infinity to now. All we, or the universe, has to be able do is to count from now towards infinity whether that counting is done backwards or forwards.

          I’ve heard others argue that God existed outside of time, but that would mean a God could not act, action requires duration, the differentiation between before the act and after it as well as the differentiation between all of the other elements of the act. Equally the deity must have space in which to act, God cannot have created space unless there was already a space in which a deity could exist or, if He existed, a space in which to act because, I believe, action also requires dimension.

          Word of warning, I have no doubt the big brains have a million counter-arguments for my proposal and I am just a late, middle-aged Brit who has read widely – if not wisely 😉

        • Greg G.

          Dan Barker was debating a Muslim who was using Craig’s version of Kalam. There was talk of no actual infinities and Allah existed forever. Barker asked, “What was God’s first thought?”

        • Pofarmer

          Sounds good to me. Just declaring God a necesity outside of our space and time always just seemed a little too much like begging the question.

        • The biggest issue IMO is that this is all ad hoc. There’s a problem with God being in our space and time.

          Oh, no problem–then he’s outside that (whatever that means).

          Where does it say that in the Bible?

        • TheNuszAbides

          the beauty of authoritarian claptrap: as long as the proponent has any significant power over the subject, that’s “just the way it is” and questioning it is insolence at best. the more cunning gatekeepers are just more judicious as to when and to what degree they employ the “sorryGod’sgreaterandmoreprofoundthanyoucouldpossiblyimagine” card.

  • Ann Kah

    I think a good argument could be made that life (the only one we are going to get) is ALWAYS meaningful to the participants, but the MORE of one’s life that is wasted in wanting to know about the unknowables of religion, the MORE futile the pursuit becomes. What a terrible loss, that one life we get, all gambled upon the improbable future heaven!

    • Kodie

      I don’t feel that sorry for anyone who wanted to spend life the way they wanted to, even if it was religious. I feel (slightly) worse if they were abused into that position and frightened and in whatever way stolen from. What is one way of life less of a waste than another?

      Part of this idea I have that, to some extent, religion attracts warm bodies to fight for a great (in size, not necessarily in goodness) cause. I call them pawns for a reason. At the very least, the great cause is making money, if not political. To another end, keeping people greatly distracted by things that don’t really matter kind of keeps them out of trouble. What if we all took our big brains and really used them, then what? The wars might be greater than any religious cause ever. “Free will”, let’s call it, would be a great cause to give people all the information they need and encourage them to think, rather than allow them to be tyrannized by others, so in that way, it’s sad because we don’t think they have a choice to stop believing. There are built-in social discouragements from breaking free and voicing one’s opinion. I have to point out that I think it’s weird that they also think it’s sad that we don’t know Jesus like they know Jesus, and from their perspective, we’re the ones living in tyranny and not seeing the reality.

      It just seems like life is not for seeing reality. It’s possibly to the benefit of the human species that most people are ignorant about almost everything, despite how curious they might be about so many things, like Hollywood gossip or new species of frog recently discovered. I don’t see a huge difference in the usefulness of either bit of information how most people are equipped to use it for anything.

  • Snowflake

    I have such a headache. Mr Seidensticker, did you manage to get through this with your sanity intact? Mine is kinda wobbly right now, just reading your review of him (not a dig at you). I do love the poem you ended with. I do try to do this and I say I love this life I have.

  • The prospect of an existence with no afterlife is patently superior to a soteriology that pours the solid majority of human souls into a lake of eternal fire merely for the mistake of being descended from Adam and Eve and born into the wrong religious environment.

  • smrnda

    I find it odd that WLC picked Freudian psychology as an example of something that could be true or not, whether we like what it says. It shows you how out of date and out of touch he is with psychology. Freudian psychology is pretty much the mental health equivalent of the four humors; an early attempt that nobody would use today but people admit was a step in *trying* to be systematic.

    And a huge criticism of Freud is that his theories were not falsifiable. Freud makes a number of assertions, and then tells us how his patients confirm his theories. His theories even have a way of explaining away atypical cases. That’s not how you test a hypothesis.

    In many ways, it seems that WLC does everything to avoid examples that actually involve testable knowledge. There’s a good reason – he’s making arguments by assertion, and he’s hoping that he can stand out from a crowd of other such arguments.

    • MNb

      Not to mention that wealthy Viennese women hardly are representative for mankind.

      • TheNuszAbides

        ah, the magnificent extrapolatory power of pet theories!

  • MNb

    “we have Bizarro World, where things are identical except that everyone says the Holocaust was right.”
    Bizarro World was what the world looked like once – during Antiquity, ie the time the OT was written.

    The rational thing to do is accept the absurdity of the human condition and make the best of it. That’s a better remedy than an imaginary sky daddy.

  • Adam Weber

    For the Christian, the Holocaust was not a tragedy in any meaningful sense of wrongdoing, because, as the Christian himself will admit, all sins are equal and everyone, more or less upon birth, deserves eternal torment. A “consistent” Christian cannot rank rudeness to one’s mother as either a higher or lower sin than genocide. And at the end of the day, Hitler could just as well be whisked away to paradise after uttering one prayer, whereas most of the Jews he killed would be condemned to hell. I, as an atheist, may not be able to say that the Holocaust is “ultimately” wrong, but I vastly prefer that to the Christian God’s monstrous legalism.

    This is what “faith before works” theology gets you. I’m surprised no one saw it coming.

    • smrnda

      Well, some Christians do the mortal vs. venal sin, but I hear that particular branch of Christianity puts masturbation in the mortal sin category. Even with the idea that not all sins are equal you don’t get a sensible hierarchy of them.

    • TheNuszAbides

      as the Christian himself will admit, all sins are equal

      news to me. excellent second paragraph, though.

      • Adam Weber

        Really? Huh. I heard that all the time. I’m sure it depends on the denomination, but it’s not an uncommon belief amongst Protestants, at least as far as I know. It’s part and parcel of EVERYONE deserving hell. The standards have to be really low. I’m always surprised at how varied Christian beliefs are, though, so this could be a personal bubble.

        • TheNuszAbides

          my upbringing was mostly suburban milquetoast ‘non’denom. it does sound like horribly lazy relativism, which i certainly wouldn’t put past any number of Shepherds, but it does have to be in just the right context, like “Jesus takes every sin and throws it as far as the east is from the west” (oh, flat-Earthers!), so i don’t see it as something that the average follower (whatever that is) would ever be pressed to ‘admit’ in any meaningful sense.
          but i generally assume the main point is that they’d all be better off admitting that It Just Doesn’t Make Sense. and nearly as many ways to try to ‘lead’ (coax, badger, etc.) them beyond that point as there are ‘thems’.

        • Adam Weber

          I looked into it (I was bit rusty on this knowledge). Standard answer: Not all sins are equal, but even one sin will send you to hell. Some sins take you further from God than others (making redemption harder to attain later). Some sins corrupt others, and that’s a no-no. Some sins make Christians look bad, and that’s probably worst of all. So not all sins are “equal” in a temporal sense. But in a “You’ll be damned for doing it” sense, yes, all sins merit equal “punishment” (torture). You could be perfect your whole life, blaspheme God when you get hit by a truck, and there you go, infinite pain for you!

        • TheNuszAbides

          how lucky it is that while it’s so hard you guys to be godly, it’s so easy to ‘get right with Him’.

        • Adam Weber

          Perfect ratio of guilt, to fear, to an easy answer (just come to our church!). Elegant in an evil sort of way.

        • Greg G.

          The church I attended before joining the military and all the denominations I interacted with lacked any nuance when it came to sin. You were either saved or not saved. The number and type of sins played no role in the equation.

      • Kodie

        I love this! So a Christian knows he’s a sinner anyway, and then he feels guilty because he told a little white lie about masturbating to atheist gay porn. Here is where the “objective morality” kicks in – if there are no ultimate consequences OR if you already think you’re probably going to hell, what is stopping you from raping and murdering as many people as you like? Because Christians argue from this angle all the time. If your ultimate consequence is no longer a deterrent from immoral behavior, then why do they behave themselves and not murder people?

        Only in Dante do you have levels of punishment, and although it’s rather influential, I hope most Christians know of it as fanfic and not canon. If you fuck up, hell is hell. You don’t have to sin very much, you simply have to deny god exists and you go with the genociders.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if it weren’t ~blasphemous~ to say that Satan too moves in Mysterious Ways … so the whole Great Deceiver (Who Can Quote Scripture Too!) schtick comes into play. the godless scum who appear to behave themselves still have rotten souls; Satan just helps them maintain an outward semblance of non-disgustingness to confuse the Faithful.

        • Kodie

          Christians seem to believe there is an out for everything they do. If they want to lie as much as they want, or gossip, or have premarital sex, it’s not that bad, they have reasons. I thought there were restrictions on these things because they’re the difficult things for most people to stay away from. I don’t think premarital sex is bad, but for a long time without benefit of birth control and paternity tests, it did come with a lot more risks, and these risks were to be avoided. When we talk about morality and immorality, most tend toward the huge examples of immorality. Hitler was a fucking turd, clearly a candidate for hell. Your nosy neighbor who thinks it’s fun to let his dog poop on your flowers, you probably hate him enough too, and he is a candidate for hell. But we don’t talk about the everyday slights against humanity. These are almost totally rationalized as “no big deal” and people should just “get over it”. The other day, some asshole cut me off in the intersection, so I honked my horn, and he gave me the finger and continued to taunt me because I was still behind him. It is almost 100% certainty that guy is Catholic and thinks he’s a good person who deserves good things, love, money, family, friends, parties, heaven. I am sick to death of living in a world where people are such turds to another person because they have the deadly sin of pride. Hey, he didn’t kill 13 million people, he just endangered society to get ahead barely at all. God is smiling on him, right? He’s not thinking what an asshole he is.

          Civility is like the glue, but I see anti-civil behavior, I see anti-social selfish behavior, and I call that the immorality that no one bothers with, these very easy-to-break, easy-to-get-away-with, easy-to-justify breaking “god’s” rules. Walking in line is difficult, and reasonably so. It’s very easy to be self-centered and think you’re not damaging anyone unless you do something extreme. It’s not newsworthy extreme mass-murder that we dare not give attention to someone who is dead by using their actual name. So why does the asshole in the white SUV deserve his name? He’s the guy who is breaking the glue of society and that is also important. I would say that’s a bigger reason religious people should be better than the rest of us, they should know better, they should be afraid, they should be made aware weekly (at least) what’s to come of them if they take the easy way out and shove someone else over to the side to take care of themselves. It’s easy to do that and difficult not to. It takes great care and attention, and if a little influence from god and one’s peers isn’t going to make a positive difference in normal social interactions, then I can’t find any good in religion at all.

        • TheNuszAbides

          some might think that churchy thinkers are being generous by giving individuals an occasional excuse for their individuality. but one way or another, it’s still getting the hooks in.

        • Since The Deceiver is far more clever than any of us, couldn’t he mask bad actions as good? Who knows what seemingly good actions are actually done in his service?

          I’m going to stay inside and just watch TV.

        • TheNuszAbides

          there were probably a few insiders who wanted to establish a hierarchy of sin, but were discouraged by the Confessors of various warlords, who (the Confessors) actually managed to find it difficult to reconcile just how penitent their charges really were with how much they just knew (because someone perfectly trustworthy wrote it down somewhere) that All Was Forgiven.

  • Kodie

    I feel like something is screwed up around the point of “Insight Lost”.

    Do you understand the gravity of the alternatives before us? For if God exists, then there is hope for man. But if God does not exist, then all we are left with is despair.

    Despair is the unpleasant truth, I guess that’s just too obvious to make a statement about.

    I read the article, and I had some thoughts about a few things, and then I responded to a post in the comments, so I can’t remember what I was going to say. Can humanity survive despite that? Probably at least as long as they would have otherwise. We’re just animals. There’s a problem and solution at the same time with our thinking about stuff. All I see, every day, no matter in what context, is humans being animals. Then there is conscious thought. Probably we just don’t need so much, but it’s got this power. As a species, we just use all our thoughts… probably mostly toward time management and language. What was that recent poster being a total fool about thoughts. We process thoughts through language, where the thought we have to make sure we’re ready to get out of the house at 8:15 sounds a lot like the language of it in our minds or speech, but it’s not identical. If it were, I’ll make a bold statement and say that would mean language comes out from inside us instead of taught, and we’d all understand each other from a single language.

    It just seems like our thoughts need to be occupied all the time, because that’s the kind of animal we are. Squirrels’ brains go (in English) “nuts nuts nuts where some nuts holy shit what’s that nuts nuts nuts nuts holy shit what’s that”. Human brains go (in English) “coffee coffee coffee dammit chair walk the dog shoe other shoe what time is it email email email shower hot hot HOT!! don’t wanna go! fuck it why are all my clothes the same is there shit in my teeth? god I hate that guy his hair is bizarre where’s the keys where’s the train seat dammit asshole got my favorite seat music buttons email,” and that’s just the first 90 minutes. Our brains think of a wider variety of things in a language we speak to ourselves that sounds like it’s deeper than a squirrel’s thoughts, but not that much. Our concerns are for things we need and observations of our surroundings. On top of that, we have time for hobbies, thinking about our social involvements, and elaborating upon things that resonate with us.

    For the kind of animal we are, this leaves a lot of room for innovations that somewhat improve our condition, upset our condition, worry about our own or others’ conditions, plan, forget, deal, and go over and over and over in our minds until we think of a new thing. A squirrel’s idea of a good day is when there are many nuts to find. Often a human’s idea of a good day is at the end of work when they can drink a beer. Or see their family and watch a good tv program or whatever. Religion doesn’t make that better (or worse). It’s just one of the many ideas humans have had over the course of our existence. It’s because we can’t stop thinking and imagining. It fills a space in a space of unstoppable thoughts, taking in our environment and making some concept of it. Most people don’t invent a religion except that they do – they make their religion mean something it probably doesn’t to anyone else within the context of what it means to other people. Talking to others and relating your experiences to others… I mean, you’re almost always bound to find some human connection, unless you’re a little different (not necessarily a good thing), and the internet has even matched up people who are different in many of the most awful ways who would never find a friend otherwise. For example, child pornographers. It’s hard to find other child pornographers just asking around. Humanity is really diverse but still that doesn’t mean we’re not an animal. Just think how many child pornographers get their day a little ruined too, just like anyone else, when someone beats them to the best seat on the train in the morning. This went kind of weird.

    Anyway, the inside-out “problem of evil” where how can there not be a god when there’s so much evil in the world? Are you serious, WLC? How can there not be objective morality when there are so many bad people to judge? I don’t know, we are here to judge them. And it’s all our own fault if we don’t stop them, if we don’t hear about it, if we don’t talk about it, and we don’t organize to stop them. What is this Hitler shit? I’m sick of hearing about it already. I mean, that happened 75 years ago. There are Hitlers all the time, and we care more about upgrading to a stupid computer in our pockets with information we never look at. It streamlines our tedious daily tasks and keeps us connected to people who also like coffee and also have kids and also saw that baseball game, but we don’t use that fucking thing to stop all the fucking Hitlers! We don’t use religion to stop the Hitlers or technology, this boring fuck is talking about this new Hitler so I’m’a change the channel, but I’m going to hate Obama vehemently instead again and blame women for making up gang rape stories again and show everyone on instagram another picture of food again.

    Why does there need to be a god? How is that the rotten unlikeable answer that’s true whether we want it to be or not, if this is the only hope we have to not suck completely as a species?

    • I applaud your reading through WLC’s entire manifesto–and you made it out alive!

      • Kodie

        I meant I read your article, this one 3rd part of 3, and had some thoughts. I’m not sure I ever recovered them, but I guess I had some other thoughts.

        • Ah! That’s much more sensible. I think WLC’s screed was 7000 words long. My stuff is epic poetry by comparison.

          If these guys at least had interesting or provocative arguments …

        • Kodie

          They are all about how you misrepresent their religion, and spend all their time re-explaining it. There is no amazing evidence you conveniently forgot to post, like WLC wrote this 20-page article and you have critiqued the weakest 19 because that 20th page is all the good stuff that makes all this bullshit make sense. Obviously, you would not want to make atheism look weaker by posting something that devastates it as a worldview. No, they also look to these 19 pages and insist they are stronger arguments than they are and how you don’t understand them, and there isn’t even a 20th page. It is almost a little too rough trying to be a Christian and having to be smarter than every atheist that you have to explain these simple arguments because WLC couldn’t even do it.

    • TheNuszAbides

      there’s a sound linguistic theory or two out there that says language isn’t/wasn’t designed primarily for communication.

  • Today: Craig talks about the objective immorality of genocide, and imagines a crazy alternative world where people justify genocide, while it is still objectively wrong.

    Tomorrow: Craig writes a defence of God’s commands to gut the male children of the Israelites’ enemies, while keeping the female children to be raped by the victors. For an encore, he’ll tell us why objective morality requires that the victims of war crimes should find no escape in death; justice requires that they must live an afterlife of even worse suffering, one which never ends.

    • Yeah, that was pretty rich coming from a man that already justified genocide. It’s just the Holocaust wasn’t God-approved. Had it been, everything would be all right.

      • Mark Dowd

        Pretty sure you didn’t have to twist a lot of Germans’ arms to make them think it was god approved back then.

        • adam

          Well since it had firm roots in Martin Luther’s The Jews and their Lies…..

          And Krystallnaucht was held on Luthers birthday for a reason.

        • Yes, obviously the Nazis felt it was God-approved.

        • al kimeea

          Yep, gott mit uns mobilized such a comforting people twice in the last century

  • Cognissive Disco Dance

    “It seems to me positively irrational to prefer death, futility, and destruction to life, meaningfulness, and happiness.”

    Duly noted. Here’s a quarter. Call someone who cares. Namely my secretary’s secretary. Get in touch with him/her and everybody play the world’s smallest violin.

  • Without Malice

    Interesting juxtaposition of God and Auschwitz, since Auschwitz would never had happened if not for the 2,000 year history of church sponsored anti-Semitism that not only led directly to the Shoah but before that to the mass murder and dislocation of Jews on a regular basis throughout most of Christendom.

    • wtfwjtd

      I’ve heard it said that the writings of Martin Luther had a strong influence on Hitler and his Nazi pals.

      • smrnda

        Check out Luther’s writings like “On the Jews and their Lies.” If you removed his name and put “Joseph Goebbels” it’d be taken for a Nazi publication.

        • Martin Luther insult generator:

        • adam

          On the Jews and Their Lies

          Main article: On the Jews and Their Lies

          1543 Luther published On the Jews and Their Lies in which he says that
          the Jews are a “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and
          their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as
          filth.”[13] They are full of the “devil’s feces … which they wallow in
          like swine.”[14] The synagogue was a “defiled bride, yes, an
          incorrigible whore and an evil slut …”[15] He argues that their
          synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed,
          rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money
          confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness,[16] afforded no
          legal protection,[17] and these “poisonous envenomed worms” should be
          drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.[18] He also seems to
          advocate their murder, writing “[w]e are at fault in not slaying

          Sounds a lot like Kristallnacht which was carried out on Martin Luther’s Birthday.

        • A bit off-topic, but I just read what Luther wrote about how he would execute prostitutes and witches. Dude was one sick puppy, by my godless, 21st century standards.

      • MNb

        Influence might be too strong a word, but ML’s writings were held in high esteem.

  • Playonwords

    To an extent WLC seems to emulate the White Queen

    “… Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    Throughout the entire article WLC indulges in confirmation bias, seeking arguments (no matter how fallacious or tenuous) to support a conclusion that he has already decided is correct. Even when he realises the weakness or irrelevance of his arguments Mr Craig hides the fact though at times the deception seems aimed not just at the reader but also at himself.

    It infuriates me that WLC selectively cites (Bertrand) Russell with absolutely no comprehension of what Russell was actually saying or the sense in which despair is used. In practise Russell is declaring the primacy of scientific materialism and acknowledging that from the point of view of humans this foundation is indeed bleak but it is all that we have upon which to build the joys we desire, no matter how fleeting those joys might be. This rebellion against eternity is mentioned in Ecclesiastes;

    Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.–Ec.8:15

    Yet I see no condemnation of this materialism from Mr Craig.

    If interested the entire Russell quote is from the essay “A Free Man’s Worship” of 1903 on Basic at this link.

    • MNb

      “It infuriates me that WLC selectively cites (Bertrand) Russell with absolutely no comprehension of what Russell was actually saying or the sense in which despair is used.”
      In other words, the same tactic creationists use.

    • It’s amazing that WLC can keep up the ivory tower pretense of having important philosophical things to say given that this is the kind of thing he says.

      Like you, WLC also quotes Ecclesiastes. That’s odd given that Ecc. has no concept of the afterlife.

      Thanks for the analysis of Russell. I’ll look at that link.

  • RichardSRussell

    This entire bloated essay simply says that it would be nice if God exists.

    But of course he’s dead wrong about that as well. It would be horrifying if God existed. As Richard Dawkins observes, quite accurately, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    —Richard Dawkins PhD, The God Delusion, Ch. 2

    PS: Nicely chosen illo, BTW.

    • But that’s not the god he imagines. He imagines a perfectly fabulous god, and he ignores the verses on which Dawkins bases each of his adjectives.

      Finding an image that captures an abstract idea is difficult sometimes. I will on occasion just throw in an eye-catching image with no obvious connection. (If you’re curious what I’m trying to evoke, the image’s hover text can be a clue.)

    • wtfwjtd

      Yep, and Dawkins sums up his take on the Christian God by saying that “the God of the Bible is one of the most unpleasant characters in all of fiction.”

      • Raging Bee

        Yeah, and it’s not even engaging fiction. That’s why I like Greek and Norse folktales better.

    • Jack Baynes

      Yes, but Jesus is a nice guy. Mostly.
      Since Jesus is a nice guy, surely we should ignore all the horrible things the Father did (and will still do to use if we don’t believe in Jesus)

      Of course Jesus and the Father are the same being. So can he be both a nice guy and a horrible monster? (And a Holy ghost, whatever that is).

  • Partial Mitch

    “What the hell was God doing while Auschwitz was in operation?”

    Well, according to most Christians, He was busy sending all the Jewish victims of the Nazis to Hell.

    The were marched into the gas chamber, praying to Him and singing His name, they died believing they were chosen. Yet, according to Christians, they “woke up” after death to face God’s wrath and rejection. Nothing says infinite grace and boundless love like condemning innocents to an eternity of agony because they happened to believe the wrong thing.

    You ask me, the Christian God’s far more evil than the Nazis ever were. After all, what’s worse killing someone once or torturing them forever? The very concept of eternal perdition makes the lives of most human being futile in a way far deeper and insulting than a denial of an afterlife.

    Belief in God does nothing to raise the value of human life. In many cases, it denigrates it, by automatically classifying others as servants of iniquity, regardless of anything they have said or done in their lives, and expects believers to rejoice that those others are Damned.

    • After all, what’s worse killing someone once or torturing them forever?

      And then there’s the guy who stood by and watch the Nazis kill all those people, though he could’ve easily stopped it–basically an accomplice.

      Oh, wait a minute–that’s the same as the “torturing them forever” guy. Never mind!

    • TheNuszAbides

      same thing with dominionism, abortion bans, etc. the more the population grows, the cheaper life is.

  • Kodie

    I was thinking that this argument sucks because if there’s a god, there shouldn’t need to be all this Jesus jazz. If there’s a god because life is too absurd not to be, nothing about this reasons out the Christian belief at all. If the only hope for humanity to not be permanently and debilitatingly hopeless is for there to be a god, the story they set up of a salvation is still imaginary and false. All you have to do is build up a plot with characters and give humans an escape clause. The story is dramatic because someone died, and not just someone, but a guy who is alleged to be god’s actual son, like my boy, my lad Jesus, I got a mission for you. WLC’s argument here does not conclude that Jesus is the lord and savior. He is just saying that without an epic program in which we’re all involved, there’s no reason to stay alive. And there isn’t. We could go extinct, and all that we ever knew would die with us. What we know is rather useless without us unless we start terraforming planets and teaching chimpanzees to read. Even the god of the bible – he’s probably embarrassed, but let’s imagine he started off being a total dick and passed the blame on Adam and Eve for ruining everything, and later on, he just couldn’t do anything about it. The omnipotence is way overblown. He made an art once, and he got over his mean streak, but the toothpaste is out of the tube. We’re smarter than he is, we’re more capable than he is, and we’re chugging along on our own steam. If there is supposed to be some hope because there’s a god who started it all not knowing how fucked up it was going to be, but too sentimental to destroy it, we can do that. Is the only hope for our species in death? That’s absurd. Ignore the warnings, but global warming is real. Deny it at your peril. Our only hope is to address it, but it’s absurd that you put all your money on god actually doing something, or that it doesn’t matter, life doesn’t matter, because there’s a heaven.

    I don’t know, that sounds really fucked up. These people picket over DNA scrapings because of their own sanctity of life that you can apparently only have if you’re religious – they’re aborting billions of people with their ignorance, because selfishly they get to go to heaven when they die, and god wouldn’t let anything bad happen to good people because he made the earth just for us, and he also promised once upon a time never ever again to drown everyone in particular.

    • Their story is self-sealing. You point out an error, and they say, “Yeah! If there were a conspiracy, they wouldn’t have anything as stupid as that, right? Gotta be actual history!”

      Of course, I don’t propose a conspiracy, but that doesn’t matter. They have their snappy, canned answer, and one more leak in their dingy has been plugged.

      • Kodie

        God is good, but bad things happen, but god loves you even though you suck and you’re boring and pointless, so you can live as though you have some greater purpose than on earth, but life is important unless it gets in the way of human life, like shelter and food, and god is good or he wouldn’t have let us live, but he lets cockroaches and termites and mosquitoes live. Their lives aren’t absurd. Listeria, what the fuck is up with all the ice cream. God is good why isn’t there any ice cream? If there is no ice cream, then life is absurd. Ice cream is good, is god ice cream?

        • You speak great wisdom.

          I oughta know–that sounds just like WLC, and he’s very wise.

        • Greg G.

          God Hates
          Ice Cream.

          Eat sherbet or be damned.

        • Kodie

          Burma Shave.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        plugged with toilet paper, but still….

  • Chuck Farley

    “[The Holocaust] would still have been wrong, even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in brainwashing or exterminating everybody who disagreed with them, so that everybody in the world thought the Holocaust was right and good.

    I love this quote, because it can be used to illustrate the lack of objective morality based on the bible.

    [All the killing in Canaan] would still have been wrong, even though the Jews won and succeeded in brainwashing or exterminating everybody who disagreed with them, so that everybody in the world thought the killing was right and good.


    [The Flood] would still have been wrong, even if god won and succeeded in brainwashing or exterminating everybody who disagreed with them, so that everybody in the world thought the flood was right and good.

    • Nice observation!

    • Rudy R

      Christians need to explain why we need secular laws to hold people accountable for breaking their god-given objective morality.

      • Or why the only laws, crimes, morality, and consequences we see are the natural ones, right here on earth, completely explainable without appealing to the supernatural.

        • TheNuszAbides

          butbutbutbut we can’t measure the Soul Damage with scientific instruments! … yet!

  • Martin Zeichner

    So WLC is uncomfortable with uncertainty. What WLC fails to understand is that he speaks for nobody but himself.

    • TheNuszAbides

      on the contrary, his career would in no way have been successful if others weren’t all too happy to borrow his ideas (such as they are), for the comfort of not honestly thinking through godlessness and/or for the convenience of not concocting their own excuses.

      • Martin Zeichner

        No question. But. And there is a big “but”. People allow WLC to speak for them only because they are reluctant, for whatever reason, to speak for themselves. Thus reinforcing WLC’s influence. I personally find it encouraging that technology has opened up many opportunities where people are permitted and encouraged to speak for themselves.

      • Martin Zeichner

        One thing that I can say with confidence is that he does not speak for me.

    • Raging Bee

      Actually, he speaks for that huge chunk of humans all over the planet who are terrified of uncertainty, and desperately embrace religion because its pretense of certainty is more comforting than the truth.

      • Martin Zeichner

        I can’t disagree with you. But it’s a bit like what I’ve said before; that that what motivates religion is loyalty, tribalism, not “search-for-the- truth” or wanting a moral foundation. WLC, like many ambitious religionists just wants his share of that loyalty (translated: power).

        Brian: You don’t have to worship me. You don’t have to worship anyone. You are all individuals.

        Voice in the crowd: I’m not.

  • busterggi

    “If God does not exist, then life is futile.”

    And what does he have to say about if someone else’s god is real while his is not? That, I’m sure, he never addresses.

    • It’s like Pascal’s wager–the only options are (1) Christianity and (2) atheism. Since that doesn’t match with reality, it’s broken before it starts.

  • TheNuszAbides

    Dance like no one’s watching,

    i have stage training and experience and i still can’t do this without the aid of medication.

    • Greg G.

      When I dance, people watch if only to stay out of my way, like a China shop tries to stay out of the way of bulls.

      • Raging Bee

        You mean they watch in helpless terror and can’t move out of your way?

        • Greg G.

          Ah, you’ve seen me waltz.

  • Raging Bee

    Without God, life may be absurd; but with God, it’s just plain boring and dismal. I’ll take absurd any day.