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.

3 comments:

  1. This might be a little stupid but if there were no God, there'd be no us. I mean, although I appreciate the self-reflection exercise the question has given my mind and I appreciate your continued commentary through the post, bottom line is we just wouldn't be here. You refer back to the person who said morality is an inherent human trait but it is only such because the One in Whose image we are made is moral.
    So...let's say we are able to exist outside of the existence of God and there is solid evidence proving that God does not exist, therefore rendering faith in Christ needless, I hope I would continue to live as I have been trying to live these last 12 years because I did the whole live-for-myself, hopeless, emo, woe-is-me, prisoner-to-my-insecurity-and-daddy-issues thing and I almost suffocated in the darkness of it all. I could never survive in a world where there was no Christ; no Lifter of my Head; no Prince of Peace; no Suffering Servant; no Redeemer. No Father which art in heaven...
    I am certain I could not live in that world.

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  2. Haley, I think it is a valuable thing for Christians to consider what they would do if their faith was proven false. It is the difference between blind, cult-like faith and faith that makes use of the intellectual faculties God has given us. While I appreciate the sentiment behind some Christians' assertion that even if Christianity weren't true it would still be the best way to live, I think it clearly ignores what the apostle Paul wrote in the passage I posted.

    I agree with you. I shudder to think what my life and world would be like without Jesus.

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  3. Raj, You are very right to say that this is the current state of our society. And to reverse your statement in reflection of how most people live their lives, To recognize and to believe in God, and a need for Jesus, then one must submit to God as ultimate authority. This would be truly scary for anyone living in a world where they have rejected authority; They have been told by a post-modernistic world that it is okay to do what ever you want because there is no right or wrong, only what is right for the individual; and who only see God as a strict authoritarian, who has rules and condemns those who don't obey to death by fire. (I believe that last reason to be partially the fault of christians who only preach the consequences of unbelief). It is truly sad for those who have yet to come to know God, not just as authoritarian, but also as loving us so much, like a parent who disciplines and sets rules to prevent us from hurting ourselves. Now knowing that God loves us so much to go so far as to keep us within boundaries meant for our protection, I believe that we (current generations) would never have had the chance to pose or answer this question if there were no God. The human race would have destroyed itself at a much quicker rate than any can imagine, for some of the very same reasons that you stated Raj, and none of your reasons for behavior seem overly wicked. I too would do whatever benefited myself and those I care for. Now what happens when I feel that your property or your life would be better suited in my control, or if someone decided the same of my life or belongings? Society would truly break down if this "No God" revelation were to come to light. Ultimately for society to survive there would have to be a new glue, and I think it would have to be fear. Those who could instill fear into others, would be able to keep them in line and from destroying everything. That is a scary world to imagine. I want a King. I want someone to rule my life, set up rules and guide lines for me to live by, but to do all of it in such a way that was best for me, and out of love. However no human can be given this much power and not take advantage or become a tyrant. I want and need Jesus. This is the only way things will be fair. He is the only one to love ultimately, unconditionally, fairly...the list of His goodness goes on forever.

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