Encounter Heading: Skeptic's Guide



Living to die

Weary of games

Weary of pretending

There's no reason to be here

We can no longer live
in fantasies,

the empty reasons

people make up

to feel better about themselves:

"I live for my family"

"I live for my career"

"I live to experience
life on the edge"

"I live for pleasure"


"I live to stimulate
a part of my brain
that makes me feel good"

You see through empty words,

because that's all they really are

Even if you live forever,

you're just another

dead man walking,

if this is all there is

This isn't all there is.

You were made to know and to love

the One who made you,

the One who
is the reason we're here,

and you'll never be complete until you do.

Consider the one who said,

“This is eternal life,

to know You

the only true God,

and Jesus the Messiah.”

“Those who trust in me,

out of their inmost being

shall flow rivers of living water.”

(John 17.13; 7.38)

We are not claiming that this understanding of our condition gives us reason to believe Christianity is true. But it does give any reasonable person who is honest with oneself very strong reason to investigate to determine whether or not Christianity or even, to start, a basic theism is true. I find it very difficult to take seriously anyone who claims that the anticipation of death makes the present moment more enjoyable or precious. Anyone who believes that is simply not thinking the issue through thoroughly or is not honest in their thinking. How can someone peer into the deep blackness of the coming night, the nothingness, and come back to “enjoy each moment”? The atheist’s night of death is not a “good night.” It is an emptiness and despair the awareness of which works itself backward to darken all of life. Only by closing our minds to it, by erasing it from our thoughts as we look at the fragments of life we enjoy, can we enjoy each moment. And then as we watch each moment of happiness quickly pass, we find that there is nothing there to cling to. Even the memories become dim and vague images. Worse yet, when we look closely at those moments which we hope to bring us joy, we find only smoke and shadows. As the poem above reminds us, we may be programmed by our evolutionary history to find enjoyment in watching a beautiful sunsets or in holding a newborn or by kayaking turbulent rapids. Would someone honestly think that will give them fulfillment? If we can experience the same enjoyment by electrical or magnetic or some other form of stimulation to an appropriate portion of the brain, how can any thinking person cling to that experience and not admit to despair? Even if those moments of pleasure should continue forever through an unending life or an infinity of reincarnations, they are still nothing. Many in the East have recognized this and have pointed out that the goal is not to remain on the wheel of samsara, the unending cycles or reincarnation, but to find release, moksha. I’ve claimed elsewhere that I think they are wrong who seek an impersonal enlightenment experience. Release from the emptiness of this world can only be found in a Person, in the One who is our Source and the Source of all meaning and purpose and worth.

Perhaps only those theists who deeply believe they have found that relationship with their God and Creator can assess the true nature of their prior despair without God. Won’t everyone else seek out any shred of happiness and contentment they can find in this world and refuse to see how the coming darkness destroys it? It is so difficult to look at that darkness or to look squarely at our empty existence without God. Certainly there are some who have honestly admitted despair and absurdity before or without finding God. Of course, they’re not very popular today. They are mocked by our commercialized society for not seeking to buy their way to happiness. They are portrayed as Eeyore figures who walk about with disheveled faces and individualized dark clouds over head. However they are portrayed, it is they who are honestly facing the world as it truly is if God is not there. Chai tea and mountain bikes can give life meaning only to the self-blinded.

Dennis Jensen, December 2015. First part of the above originally published 2001. See our discussion with the late Antony Flew when it becomes available, “Can We Live Without God? Artwork: Artistic adaptation of Head VI by Frances Bacon.


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