By: Akos Balogh
Our secular culture tells us that the secular (Atheistic) view of life is rational and scientific.
Religions like Christianity, we’re told, are little more than myths that we need to scrap to become enlightened, logical and reasonable people. Christians need to ‘grow up’ and face the reality that Christianity is irrational and false (not to mention harmful).
But is that true? Is the secular view of life rational and logical?
Or does our culture’s secular view of life raise issues that are uncomfortable and difficult to answer?
Here are 5 questions that I’ve found our secular culture has difficulty answering – questions we’re not really meant to ask, because they raise the uncomfortable possibility that the secular view of life just doesn’t fit reality:
Morality and Human Rights
1) How does accidental, atheistic evolution give us universal morality and human rights?
A common secular belief is that evolution gave us morality: in this view, ‘love’ is right because it was a beneficial instinct for the survival of our ancestors, thus passed down genetically to us. And so, we hold to loving our neighbour today.
But this raises the question: if ‘love’ is just a chemical reaction that helped our ancestors survive, why would we be morally obligated to obey it today? Furthermore, we have other emotions like ‘selfishness’ (presumably, in this view, also something that helped our ancestors survive). Is selfishness, then, a desire we also should obey?
Another common belief is that human reason alone can give us morality, but this, too, is problematic.
If we’re nothing more than slightly more evolved animals, where do human rights and moral obligations come from?
2) If we get meaning from the things around us (e.g. family, health, money etc.), how does the secular view of life help us when we lose those things?
Our secular world no longer looks to God for meaning and purpose: instead, we make up our meaning and purpose. We look to things around us to give life meaning and purpose.
But how does the secular view of life help us if and when we lose those things, whether through ill circumstances, boredom, age, or death?
What Motivates Us to Give?
3) What resources does a secular view of life give for self-sacrifice or giving up your life for the benefit of others?
Western societies have traditionally valued self-sacrifice, even to the point of giving up your life for the good of others – and to a significant extent, we still value this.
But what resources does a secular view of life – that this life is all there is and that life is ultimately meaningless – give to encourage people to be self-sacrificial?
Does Secularism Sustain Life?
4) Is the secular view of life as ultimately meaningless ‘livable’?
Can you consistently believe that your life and everyone else’s is, in the ultimate scheme of things, meaningless?
Very few, if any, can live their lives embracing the view that their life is ultimately meaningless. They ignore or suppress that view.
And this leads to the final question:
Is It Rational?
5) If we need to suppress the secular view of reality to get by in life, is that a rational way to live?
If the implications of the secular view of life are too harsh to think about, such that we need to ignore rather than embrace it, is that a rational way to live? That is, if you need to ‘make up’ another view of life because reality is too harsh to contemplate, how is that rational?
Article supplied with thanks to Akos Balogh.
About the Author: Akos is the Executive Director of the Gospel Coalition Australia. He has a Masters in Theology and is a trained Combat and Aerospace Engineer.