On January 15th Philip Collins of the Times newspaper writing in the ‘Opinion’ section enthused about the recent statistics that indicate that church Anglican attendance has fallen by 12% over the past decade and that, if it continues to decline at the same rate, 50 years from now there will be no Anglican left. He is cheerful about the fact that we are all losing our religion. My first response to this is that even if the statistics are true we should not equate the decline of religion with the decline of the Anglican Communion. In fact there is evidence that Christianity is growing particularly in non-conformist churches, and that Catholicism in this country has grown over the last decade.
He also quoted statistics that indicated that 68% did not regard religion as at all important on their lives. This, says Collins, may be because that ‘when they survey their own universe and think about God, fewer and fewer people have any need of that hypothesis’. We are he say’s ‘getting wealthier and wiser.’
But is the lack of religion and non-belief in God the ‘wise’ place to be? I believe that life without God is an absurdity.
If there is no God, then man and the universe are doomed; because if there is no God then there is no immortality. And this means that life is absurd, without ultimate significance, value or purpose. What ultimate meaning can be given to life if we all pass out of existence when we die? Does it really matter whether we ever existed or not? We might say yes, but my life has influenced others or affected the course of history. This is true of many individuals, and lives that have been lived, but this shows only relative significance of the lives not the ultimate significance. As Solomon in Ecclesiastes states, “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
How can I say that all is meaningless? We have to view all that we do under the umbrella of a Universe that is facing an ultimate death. The Universe is expanding, the galaxies are getting further and further apart. As it does so its energy dissipates, as determined by the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and it grows colder and colder. Finally all the stars will burn out and matter will collapse into dead stars and black holes. Long before this our earth will be barbequed as our star, the sun, expands in old age.
Since the whole universe is moving towards its eventual extinction it has, therefore, no ultimate meaning. The same is true of humanity. We are a doomed species, along with all material life, in a dying universe. It, therefore, makes no difference whether humanity or any other form of life ever did exist or not. The same blind cosmic forces that evolved them in the first place will eventually destroy them.
This is also true for each of us individually, no matter who we are or what we have achieved, or sacrificed for the betterment of humanity has been, are and will be for nothing. In the end they do not make one iota of difference to our ultimate fate. And because our lives are ultimately meaningless all the things we fill our lives with are meaningless; our studies, our jobs, our interests, our friendships.
Without God we are without hope! If we have been created not by God, but only by the blind processes of nature, then nature has played a very cruel trick on us, because we are the only animal that is aware of the fact that sooner or later we will die and materially cease to exist. And I see no evolutionary benefit attached this knowledge.
Therefore, if God does not exist then man and the universe exist only as the blinds products of chance and the end of everything is death, and existence is to no purpose and without reason. Humanity is in a desperate and hopeless situation.
This is our human predicament.
However, if the God of the Bible does exist, and I know he does, ( I will attempt to discuss proofs of this in future blogs) then life is meaningful and we can live consistently and happily in the knowledge that life does not end in death, but has God’s promise of immortality. This has been achieved through a supreme act of Godly love in His personification in Jesus, who restored all things through his death and resurrection; bringing in a new kingdom, a new universe, of love. Thus we have a purpose to respond to that love in worship and adoration; submitting our lives to the furtherance of that kingdom. Which will last forever.
This is the true meaning of life and the hope to which we cling. A God of love is a hypothesis we all have need of and although we need not to be wise to grasp it, it would be foolish to reject it!