Dark-haired, 20-year old Katherine Buckley had decided to wear her white blouse with a blue serge jacket and skirt that night. But it didn’t really matter.
What she ordered for dinner didn’t matter, either. She might as well have rung up a big bill and gorged on sweets all evening.
Where she sat, what she said, how she looked, the $5 note in her purse, her plans for tomorrow — none of it ultimately mattered at this point.
Why? Because it was midnight, April 15, 1912; Katherine was a third-class passenger on the Titanic, and in a few short hours, the Titanic would be 2½ miles under the ocean’s surface. Miss Katherine Buckley’s lifeless body would be recovered by the cable ship MacKay Bennett.
If there is no future, why does the present matter? Or, on a grander scale, if there is no God, why is not life reduced to just an absurd drama on a dark, lonely stage with no audience? No one watching. No one caring.
With all due respect to those of other faith persuasions, and insofar as you would be receptive, I would try to demonstrate why, if Jesus Christ is not Lord of your life, your life is ultimately meaningless, and why you have no viable basis for hope.
If you’ve been living in a bubble of irreligious self-deception, this likely will prick. But did you ever really think that God could be dismissed from the equation so easily? Hardly. When you sent faith packing, life’s ultimate meaning left also. Even if you didn’t notice.
If Carl Sagan was correct when he said, “The cosmos is all there is, or was, or ever will be,” his words composed an epitaph of utter eternal despair.
Richard Dawkins vehemently denies the existence God. Yet if he’s right, ironically, his opinion doesn’t actually matter. Because nothing matters. His words are merely the empty echoes of inanimate chemical reactions firing away in the evolving synapses of his brain.
Francis Crick is more eloquent in “The Astonishing Hypothesis”: “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will are, in fact, no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules … ”
But if Crick, Dennett, Hitchens and the other humanists are correct, where will they anchor human morality? In social convention? But why should anyone care about social convention? For the sake of the future of the human race? But why should anyone care about the future of the human race? Answer such questions any way you choose and the obvious next question is always: “But why does that ultimately matter?”
Dostoyevsky once asked, “If there is no immortality, why shouldn’t all things be permitted?” If morality is only a relative social construct, on what basis could or should anyone ever try to interfere with cultures that practice apartheid, female circumcision, cannibalism or ethnic cleansing?
“If man has been kicked up out of that which is only impersonal by chance, then those things that make him man — hope of purpose and significance, love, motions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication — are ultimately unfulfillable and thus meaningless” (Francis A. Schaeffer in “The God Who Is There”).
What viable basis exists for justice or law if man is nothing but a machine? And why do research, discovery, diplomacy, art, music, sacrifice, compassion, feelings of love, or affectionate and caring relationships mean anything if they all come to naught when the lights blink out?
One more thing — don’t ever again try taking consolation from the idea that “this painful ordeal must have come into my life for a reason.” Life’s Great Orchestrator now has been dismissed, remember? The promise that “all things work together for the good” was valid only for those who love God, i.e., Romans 8:28.
Someone may yet protest, “Well, what’s best for the most assures the greatest comfort for all.” But again, why should anyone bother arranging for the greatest comfort for all when he or she can guarantee their own greater comfort right now?
My dear skeptical humanist friend, it’s really far darker out there than you may have realized. But better to know that now. There’s still time to do something about it. You, too, were created in the image of God. You, too, were created to glorify Him (Isaiah 43:7). You, too, are invited to receive the Savior today (John 1:12).
The Rev. Daryl E. Witmer is founder and director of the AIIA Institute, a national apologetics ministry, and associate pastor of the Monson Community Church. He may be reached at the Web site AIIAInstitute.org or by e-mail at AIIAInstitute@aol.com. Voices is a weekly commentary by Maine people who explore issues affecting spirituality and religious life.