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God is only a crutch to make you feel better. God is a fantasy concept, an opiate of the people. God dulls our senses from the reality of an empty, chaotic and cruel world … where survival of the fittest reigns supreme, and the weak cannot survive. History shows us that Might makes Right.
This is the cynical approach of the atheist. But it is worth noting one important trend: We enjoy greater advancements in technology, conveniences, comfort and entertainment. Medicine has prolonged lives and alleviated suffering more than ever. Social media and the internet allow us to instantaneously communicate all our thoughts, and get just the right product and just the right price.
We should be happier than ever, right? In fact, we should be downright giddy.
Yet here we are, Prozac Nation.
Why is this happening? There is a correlation going on: The rise of atheism. No longer does the church or synagogue serve as the center of most people’s lives. Christian observance is virtually non-existent in Europe, and in danger of disappearing in America. The “Nones” are the largest growing group within religious circles (if one were to include them in religious circles). To them, the Church, the Synagogue, and faith itself are relics of a backward, irrelevant past. Nationhood is passé, as well as the notion of marriage, chivalry, and the distinction between male and female and the distinction between good and evil.
The notion of moral standards? That’s as silly as a butterfly still needing its cocoon. All we need is logic and the heart to be good.
But in the process of the de-Christianizing of the West, we’ve seen the dismantling of one other thing: purpose.
You see, it turns out that when there is no God, there can be no meaningful purpose. That’s right, you read that right: No God, no purpose.
And yet, for some reason purpose beckons us. It nags us, insists that we pursue great things – whether we believe in God or not. But why so? Why has nature infused us with a sense of purpose?
Why don’t we just roam around like the animals, all of which have three core missions: to mate, to eat, and not to be eaten. No animal has ever striven for “greatness,” or to self-actualize, or to seek ways to improve their species. There will never be a William Faulkner of the chimpanzees, a Mozart of the dolphins, or a Leonardo da Vinci of the alligators. No Martin Luther King, Jr. among flamingos. Animals have no sense of purpose beyond their survival and perpetuating of their species. That’s all she wrote, as they say.
But Purpose seems to be a universal beckoning within each human, and only within humans. In fact, no human seems to thrive without it. But atheism, with its mantra of Randomness Created Everything and “survival of the fittest” does not leave any room for purpose. Purpose is irrelevant.
Psychologists and self-help books abound, seeking to resolve people’s increasing depression, alienation and general ennui. Very few of them invoke God as a solution, or that our purpose might very well be somehow to connect with God. By contrast, God-oriented therapists (and clergy) who invoke God for direction seem to lead their congregants to more satisfying lives. Books like The Purpose Driven Life, which appeal to our sense of purpose, and argue that one’s purpose is to find God and do His will, dramatically change lives.
But the godless among us are growing dramatically. Then we’re surprised that the West suffers from more depression than ever — despite our every expanding creature comforts, cures for diseases, entertainment and conveniences.
Study after study shows that those with faith, especially the deeply abiding kind that pervades every aspect of their daily lives, enjoy far greater happiness and suffer much less in the way of depression. The reason is clear: community-based religion scratches that itch all humans seem to have for purpose.
History bears this out. The greatest accomplishments have indeed stemmed from the Church and the Temple, which created the university, the hospital system, charity systems, the school system, and even the development of the scientific method. It developed our notions of freedom and democracy. Christianity and Judaism ultimately destroyed slavery, polygamy, incest, and gave us the civilization as we know it.
Godlessness? Not so much.
There is something very meaningful about accomplishing things. We each expect to do something in our lives. We feel that a life without purpose is a life squandered. Perhaps we will write a great symphony or novel, or argue for clients in court, perform surgeries or pursue other healing. Maybe our mission is just to make others laugh. But no matter how we pursue it, we sense we must answer our calling for purpose. Otherwise, we become … well, depressed.
It is the hallmark of almost every depressed person that they feel disoriented, without purpose. But you won’t see many of them among the faithful.
We must satisfy our sense of purpose — something we simply cannot ignore. It is a core human need – and only a need for humans. It’s as if a creator gave this unique sense of purpose for a reason. It’s as if he expected us to use it, to pursue some mission.
If you take purpose away, or ignore it, you make yourself no different from the animals. It would seem like a pointless existence, one of mere survival. One which had no sense of any past, nor any inclination to improve any future. A world without God would debilitate us. And so a doctor treating a patient dealing with depression might do well to say: “Take a couple of churches and call me in the morning.”
God satisfies our essential instinct for purpose. And why not? He was the one who infused it in us all.
Find God, and you will find your purpose. And once you find your purpose, your path out of depression and toward happiness will become clear. It is no different than the intense joy and satisfaction we feel from drinking water after a long thirst.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not necessarily those of World Religion News.
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