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Nobody Here Can Walk It For You -- Meaning And Christians


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The Christian must create his own meaning -- even in heaven -- in the same manner as the atheist.  For both the Christian and the atheist alike, life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as the person chooses to make it.  Yahweh does not have the ability to make heaven meaningful for the Christian, only the Christian himself can enjoy it.  The Christian has to come to believe that meaning rests in the enjoyment of the commands of Yahweh and the enjoyment of the blessings that Yahweh bestows.  These are subjective assessments internal to the Christian.  These assessments are not compulsory or universally obvious.  The Christian alone is capable of making this assessment, and he alone is responsible for this assessment.  The Christian must choose for himself, and no one can choose for him -- not even a God.  He could refuse or he could be unable.


Apologists often state that an atheist lives in a world without identifiable value, and that "Good" and "Evil" do not exist, and meaning is absent.  In particular, Mr. William Lane Craig makes this point often, saying:  "If God does not exist, then it is plausible to think that there are no objective moral values, that we have no moral duties, and that there is no moral accountability for how we live and act."  As an atheist, I would agree with him in part.  I do not believe that there are "objective moral values" -- instead there are moral values generated from within persons.  Humans need to determine for themselves what they value, what they love/hate, and what will be meaningful for them.  "Justice," "Goodness," and "Value" are abstractions in the human mind.  Value is not written into the heavens as if it was a Platonic form.  Value exists because humans adjudge value.  As they say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."


Christians imagine that this troubling responsibility to adjudge value is lifted off of human shoulders if they simply adopt the Christian faith.  Morality and meaning are no longer subjective, but become objective if there is a God who is a lawgiver.  Mr. Craig says:  "Moral rightness or wrongness consists in agreement or disagreement with the will or commands of a holy, loving God."


But even if Christianity is true, the Christian remains in the same place as the atheist, as far as the meaning of life goes.  He has not moved the ball one inch down the field compared to the atheist.  In the end the radical responsibility to create meaning (rather than merely receiving it from another) is a responsibility that does not go away, even for the Christian and the Muslim, who believe in a supernatural creator, law-giver, and law-enforcer.  Even after being ushered into heaven, Christians, too, must eventually grapple with the reality of their moral autonomy.  They must decide;  they must choose to love Yahweh and love what Yahweh loves.  Only in this way do Yahweh's nature, commands, punishments, and blessings become relevant for the human.  By this choice, they create the meaning that is palpable to themselves.  Thus, for Christians and atheists alike, the autonomous moral consciousness of man is the  ultimate reference point in all ethical questions.


(If atheists wished to "know" as much as Christians "know" about morality, the atheist too could pick another person and presume that the other person's opinions and approval are what give life meaning.  But neither the Christian nor the Atheist can ultimately relinquish their freedom and their responsibility by attempting to hand to someone else moral decision-making.  Also, I will leave for another day the conspicuous observation that the will and nature of Yahweh are subjective matters to Yahweh and thus they do not form the basis of a morality that is any more "objective" than a morality based on a human's will and nature.)


What are your thoughts?  Do you agree with the Carter Family that each of us must walk that lonesome valley by ourselves?


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As you say, it's almost existentialist philosophy.   This existentialist theme to the Carter Family song is really why I chose to link it.  I know that Existentialism is a four-letter-word for Christians, but as in my original post, I think that Christians ought to realize that they must be existentialists, too.  In the end, the Christian in heaven and the Non-Christian in hell must start from the same place and walk the same path in order to have joy and meaning.  Each person has to choose to create meaning within themselves.


Jonathan Edwards used the word "REGENERATION" to describe the process within a Christian whereby a Christian sensitizes himself to the delights of Yahweh and Yahweh's blessings:  "The first effect of the power of God in the heart in regeneration is to give the heart a Divine taste or sense; to cause it to have a relish of the loveliness and sweetness of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature."  This sensitization is a kind of existentialist experience internal to the Christian.  In this manner the Christian forges meaning for the Christian where there was no meaning.



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