The philosophy of the New Atheists and their adherents continues to perplex me, mow including a theme that I hear from atheists more and more frequently: Life, they say, is more beautiful and precious to them precisely because there is no God.
Here's some of what I've read, on this blog and elsewhere (all emphases mine):
"…we [atheists] know we're lucky to have this one life to live to the fullest we can."
"Just because when I die I'll be gone for good doesn't make this life depressing -- it makes it all the more meaningful because it's all we have."
"For myself, I don’t see [the finality of death] as a grim reality, instead I see it as something beautiful. Death is nature's way of clearing out the old, and making way for the new. It is the circle of life; at death I will be able give back to the very Earth that provided me with such joy for everyday living." [This is what Mark Shea refers to as the Disney "Circle of Life" philosophy.]
"But for me, my not believing in God if anything makes my life more precious, knowing that we are here for such a tiny amount of time."
"And honestly to me, at this point, [the fact that there is no God] makes my kids that much more amazing and life more special!"
See, to me that makes zero sense. If I have chanced into an insignificant moment of life on a piece of rock in a mindless, impersonal universe -- where everything and everyone I love and cherish will end in ultimate meaninglessness and complete nothingness -- that makes life beautiful and I am lucky? I don't see it.
To my mind, the reasonable response to such a dark reality should be horror, despair, terror, hopelessness -- existential angst to the nth degree.
How could it be otherwise, if we really examine it?
Now, I could understand and intellectually accept if an atheist were to say to me: "Yes, the objective reality of our futures is bleak and dark and unthinkable. But since I'm here, I will make the best of things by seeking pleasure and comfort where I can. I will make the present bearable, even fun, to keep me from thinking of my and my loved ones' certain annihilation."
That would make sense to me: seeking pleasure in order to keep the despair at bay. But that is not what I am hearing from atheists. They are claiming today that because of their future nothingness, this life is better than if their lives had ultimate meaning and worth.
It makes no sense on its face, and it also begs the question: How do these comfortable, sheltered, well-fed, educated, recreating, productive First World atheists explain or apply the "beauty" of their view to the rest of the world?
I return to my standard question: What of the infant girl in China who is abandoned in a field and dies of exposure, knowing only pain?* Is her life "more beautiful, precious, and meaningful" because, instead of finding justice and eternal joy with God, she is existentially alone and utterly unloved in her short life of acute suffering?
Or what of the six-year-old boy tied to a filthy crib in a Third World orphanage, freezing under a thin blanket, sick and starving to death, never allowed outside to feel the sun, no one to cherish him… what is his value, absent a loving God? Does he feel the "preciousness" of his life, and does he see its beauty? Is he "lucky" to be on this one-shot wild ride, participating in this "Circle of Life" that atheists in the west so exalt?
How do these children, or any of the world's suffering masses, fit into the atheist's glowing picture, which now has been ratcheted up to being even more awesome, beautiful, and fulfilling than the alternative?
I am not implying that atheists ignore or make light of human suffering, because I know that they don't. But I am suggesting that this new line they are pushing is a fail. As a philosophy applied to all mankind, it doesn't make sense. As a subjective feeling, it appears born of desperation. If I am wrong, then someone show me -- while acknowledging the reality of final annihilation and the suffering of millions who will have known nothing but pain and loneliness -- how this godless universe is "more beautiful, more meaningful, and more special" precisely because of its godlessness. Show me (or show the readers, if I cannot be convinced) that it is not instead a dark, hopeless, existential nightmare.
I'll even stipulate, for the sake of argument only, that God does not exist.
*A previous post addressed the subject here, but it elicited no satisfactory answers; I just finished reading through the comments again; that was quite a discussion!