Friday, September 21, 2012

What if there was no God?

photo: Ann Douglas

"If today you were confronted with absolutely undeniable evidence that there was no God and thus no reason to continue living as a Christian ought to live, what would you change?"

A friend posted this question on facebook a few weeks ago.

After taking some time to think about it, this is how I responded:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
(1 Corinthians 15:12-19 ESV)

One of the few things about which the Bible in unequivocally clear about is that if Jesus did not raise from the dead, Christians are fools worthy of pity.

While I believe that many Christians would continue living a fairly Christian lifestyle, even in the face of absolute evidence disproving God, the Bible itself says that would be foolish. I would guess that some would do it out of skepticism (i.e. "just in case the evidence is wrong"). 

Others would probably do it believing the old adage that "Even if Christianity isn't true, it's still the best way to live." This argument is based on concepts like generosity, kindness, selflessness, etc., saying that Christianity best instructs these concepts. A correct understanding of Christian theology, however, states that Christians perform moral behaviors out of reverence for Christ and because of his sacrificial atonement. In fact, the Bible teaches us to expect that absent the working of God's Spirit in our lives after having been made new creations in Christ, we would be quite sinful and bad as people.

I will grant that the Christian concept of sin would have to be thrown out the window because such proof would undermine the entire Bible, but following that line of thinking, all Judeo-Christian morality would have to be thrown out the window as well.

Presuming Jacob's [a previous commenter] accuracy in saying that morality is an inherent human trait, we would all be faced with the task of redefining our morality, as Jacob correctly reasoned. I like Jonny's [the poster of the original question] idea of remaining generous to friends and family because that makes sense. Beyond that, I think my moral code would be this: get away with whatever I could get away with, that would benefit me or those I care about, without getting caught or having significant negative ramifications. 

With that definition in mind, on account of a lack of moral absolutes, I would either purposefully or through atrophe loosen my moral standards so a lot fewer things offended my sensibilities. Much like an acquired taste for wine or weird smelling cheese, I would learn to embrace some of the "rotten" based on what level of enjoyment or benefit I took from it. I would seek out autonomy, benefit, and pleasure, opposing any law, person, or structure that stood in the way of this pursuit.

I know this to be true because this is how I lived before I began to follow Jesus.

Though this post is similar to the one I wrote about what my life would be like without Jesus, it is different in that it assumes that Christianity itself were untrue, not that I had simply departed from it or never espoused it.

Additionally, I was struck by my own phrase: "I would seek out autonomy, benefit, and pleasure, opposing any law, person, or structure that stood in the way of this pursuit."  This is what I see happening in our country today, and it grieves me.  I do not mourn it because other people aren't following my rules or because America is no longer legislating Judeo-Christian morality.  Rather, I mourn it because I truly believe that Christianity is true, that it is the best way to live, that those actively rebelling against the truth are pursuing their own misery and demise, and they are doing so believing they have found freedom.

This is not a haughty position of moral superiority.  Instead, it is the grief of a humble sinner who has been set free.

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