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Vanity of Vanity

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
July 16, 2022 12:01 am

Vanity of Vanity

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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July 16, 2022 12:01 am

The only consistent alternative to belief in God is nihilism. Today, R.C. Sproul observes that atheism is not only built on unreasonable premises, but it ultimately results in inescapable despair.

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If you're thinking of becoming an atheist, you may want to reconsider. You might like it first season.

That might sound good when you hear live schools out no more teacher sassy looks and so on.

Because we have a vacation from the God of the Bible who says hold us accountable for everything that we do and when we find out that that God doesn't exist. We leap in the air and say I'm free. And that sounds terrific until you turn it over and look at the price tag.

If the Enlightenment philosophers are correct doesn't exist. Morality doesn't exist. Accountability doesn't that's true, there's no point.

The wife just a sunrise and sunset. Nothing in between today and Renewing Your Mind that Dr. RC Strobel explained the meaning of life, true significance can be found, but is found outside of us as we continue now with our study of defending our faith. The science of apologetics. You recall that in our last session, I looked briefly at the moral argument for the existence of God that was set forth by the philosopher Immanuel, and I mentioned that he approach this question from a practical consideration coming to the conclusion that we must live as if there were a God caught from a rational, scientific, theoretical perspective was agnostic, saying, through our normal avenues of research and investigation. We can't know that there is a God. Yet, for practical purposes, we must assume that there is a God in order for life to be meaningful for society to be possible, and we looked at how he constructed that practical argument from his awareness of this categorical imperative. This moral imperative that is shared by people around the world, not the end of that lecture I mentioned, but not everybody in the philosophical realm agreed with Kant's conclusion that we must live as if there is a God.

Some were what they might be called as hard-core cynics or skeptics and they said just because the options to the existence of God are grim.

That is no reason to believe in God that would be like falling into an Allison Wonderland scenario where you take a deep breath and close your eyes and wish with all of your might, that life is meaningful life is significant that somebody's home up there is going to make justice take place in the final analysis, and have that as a ground for faith will only say this before we continue that in the history of philosophy and of theoretical. I think that we could certainly isolate and individuate at least a thousand different distinctive philosophy philosophical theories philosophical movements and so on.

But there is a gamut that these philosophical systems run, they tend to find themselves somewhere between two poles or two polar extremes on this side we have what I call full-bodied theism, and on this side of this poll would be nihilism and nihilism is not only that there is no God but it also goes from that conclusion to the idea that there is no meaning no significance, no sense to human existence, and all other philosophies find themselves situated somewhere along this continuum in between these two poles. Now if you look at historic Christianity and Judaism for that matter, to go to the Old Testament Scriptures. You see that the wisdom literature of the Old Testament wrestled with these two antithetical positions chiefly in the book of Ecclesiastes were to different perspectives are explored, there is life as it is experienced under the sun and life as it is experienced under heaven.

Now if I could translate that and indeed transfer it into modern categories you go back to Kant and constant criticism of the distinction between his noumenal world the realm of God and the phenomenal world the realm where we observe things in the scientific exploration of our senses, and he saw this wall that existed between this world and the transcendent world now. If we took conch theory and then moved it backwards into the Old Testament. You could say that the distinction between the noumenal world and the phenomenal world would be the distinction between life under heaven which is the noumenal realm for life under the sun, which is the phenomenal world and what was the crux of the conflict that they coalesces speaking to in the book of Ecclesiastes is this that life under the sun ends in the final analysis, if there is no God. If it is not under heaven. But if life is restricted strictly to this side under the sun to the phenomenal realm, then the conclusion that the philosopher of that day came to was found in the phrase vanity of vanity, all is vanity Mel, the expression vanity of vanity is an expression of the superlative taken over in the New Testament when Christ is exalted by the New Testament Scriptures, and he is seen as the King.

He is called what the king of kings, the Lord of lords. That's a Hebraic way to say the supreme King, the supreme Lord because he is King of the King Lord of the Lords and that's the same thought this in this idea of vanity vanity of vanities is an extreme position to conclude that everything is vanity. Now what is meant by the term vanity here is not pride that is found in somebody we say is vain and narcissistic because they sit in the vanity in their makeup room and and apply all the letter makeup and cosmetics because they are so vague that's not the significance or meaning of vanity here hear the term vanity is a synonym for the word futility. So what the author of Ecclesiastes is saying.

From the vantage point of the phenomenal without reference to God.

If there is no God, then, of course, in the final analysis, what we can encounter is futility of futility. Everything that we do is futile where locked in a cycle a fishes serve that has no beginning and no purpose, no teleology, no significant and the sunrises the sun sets. Then, as Hemingway described that the son also rises again and it sets and it's going nowhere. That's the basic underlying philosophy of nihilism. It's the poor player stresses are on the stage and is heard no more.

It's the tale in a cold by the idiot that is full of sound and fury that signifies the snake the knee thing not meaninglessness. Mel, there are few philosophy who are willing to go to that extreme. Most philosophers in history who have rejected full-bodied theism have sought to develop a worldview or a philosophical system that exists somewhere between these two poles and so in a sense anywhere you find yourself on this continuum, you are borrowing capital from one or the other. I've always said this about humanism that in the final analysis, humanism which is so popular is extremely nave because the humanists tells us there is no God, and that our origins come from nothing accidentally from a meaningless event and that our lives are moving inexorably towards annihilation so that the two poles of human existence. These two poles are meaninglessness at our origin and meaninglessness that our destiny and yet the humanists fights for human rights and human dignity. In between these two poles are.

I keep saying to the humanists you have both feet planted in midair and as Francis Schaeffer used to say you're on a roller coaster with outbreaks because you want to have meaning between the two poles of meaninglessness, and in the final analysis, you are resting on sentiment, you just don't have the courage to go where your atheism drives you, which is to fool nihilism, and so that's just one example of how systems in between here will borrow capital. There's no basis for believing in human dignity for cosmic accidents, but humanists fight for human dignity.

And so they try to sneak in that which they are borrowing from Christianity from Judeo Christianity, even though they categorically reject the source of human dignity. That's the point I'm saying so that there are compromise positions between here and I'm trying to paint here with a broad brush and simplify this with a minimum distortion, but this is what caught saw in his moral argument.

This is what Dostoyevsky saw where he said if there is no one home here. Then the Bible is right with this thesis.

Remember these words that we find in the New Testament without Christ with out hope when he wrote to the Corinthians. The apostle Paul said of Christ is not raised and of all those who have died, have perished than we are of all people. The most to be pitied and if you don't like that we are believers will be mad at us not be hostile toward feel sorry for us the slick of all the fun were missing that you're having and enjoying and I were walking around in a navely looking at God and living in God and trusting in God and all that one crisis a dead man and I find devoting my life to a dead man. What a waste of my energy and of my life. And if you disagree with my convictions doubly mad at me, pitting me is what Paula say because we are pitiable.

The idea here is really if you have no basis for establishing confidence in the God of the universe. You have no foundation for hope whatsoever that you must come to hopelessness well. Client didn't want to go to hopelessness caught said the whole fiber of our humanity. Every bone in our body screams to us from the time were first awakened consciousness that our lives do count that our lives have meaning, and that the labor that we are engaged in the sweat and blood and tears that pour out from our passion that those passions have meaning, and if we thought that they didn't. We would want to and that labor and end our misery when you see that's where philosophy is gone. Albert Camus 20th century existential philosopher came to this conclusion that the only serious question left for philosophers to explore is the question of suicide, and what Camus is saying simply, is if you awaken to the reality that there is no God, there are no absolutes. Then you understand that there is no ultimate meaning you might like it first season.

It might sound good when you hear the schools out no more teacher sassy looks and so on.

Because we have a vacation from the God of the Bible who says he's gonna hold us accountable for everything that we do and when we find out that that God doesn't exist. We leap in the air and click your heels together and say I'm free. Thank God I'm free I can do whatever I want, I can do my own thing and that sounds terrific until you turn it over and look at the price tag and that's what Camus said if, for example, if you are not accountable ultimately it's simple to understand that ultimately you don't count. Life doesn't count.

And if you really think about that consistently. Then you understand what Camus says the only serious question left is suicide. That's why Jean-Paul Sartre in a tiny little book called nausea. The title the book nausea because that was his final comment about the human condition, and he defined man as a useless passion.

That's a loaded concept for Sartre because Sartain noticed that we are as human beings are not automatons were not robots were not bumps on a law we are living, breathing, thinking, choosing caring human beings that human life is marked by care, human life is marked by passion now. What if all your passion everything that you care about is worthless.

What if everything that you care about everything that you love is meaningless, then your passions are futile. This is what sort sent that's what you are a useless passion all your cares come to nothing to that's what Nietzsche was driving at when he explored his concept of nihilism following caught in the 19th century. In other words, what the atheistic existential philosophers. The nihilists were saying was this if we can't know that God exists.

It's not to build our faith by crossing our fingers and hoping that somebody's home of their if the evidence is to the contrary, if it's really true that life is a merge, fortuitously out of the slot. Then we have to have the moral courage the intellectual courage to face the grim finality of the results and stare it in the face and say okay you're right.

I came out of the slime. I'm going to the slime. I'm a grown-up germ sitting on one clog of one wheel of a vast cosmic machine that is running down and is destined to annihilation. That's where I am and I'm going to face it and I'm not going to run to religion as an escapist for realize the driving passion in contemporary culture is escapism escapism through hedonism and the whole philosophy of hedonism is that you find meaning through pleasure.

Maximize your pleasure. Minimize your pain is the philosophy of Timothy Leary turn on tuning in dropout but put daisies down the barrels of rifles and let's just go on a trip and go to Lala land where I don't have to think anymore it's an escapist form from pain from having to consider what the popular music is telling us what the film industry is telling us what the high priest of science are telling us you are a beast in human clothing with no ultimate significance in this message is being beat into kids ears over and over and over again and so drawn about the sound of their music or with the drugs or with other forms of substance abuse as a means of escape. How what Nietzsche and the skeptics would say is that's not the only drug the supreme drug to escape nihilism. According to 19th century atheism was the opium of religion. If you're a Christian I'm convinced that you haven't been a Christian for two weeks until somebody is already said to you. The only reason your Christian is that you're using your faith as a crutch and that crutch is something that you use to help you function to help you remain mobile when in fact your cripple.

That's what a crutches for the in the charge is that we use religion as a psychological crutch because we can't bear the message that were getting from all sides. So we turn to religion as the ultimate form of escape. The ultimate drug the ultimate crutch. What Marx referred to as the opium of the masses as a narcotic to dull our senses to minimize pain in other words, that religious people are just one brand of hedonists who seek their pleasure in escaping from the real world of futile passions futile labor of death.

Now again in the 19th century, when we study the voices of the atheists of that. They really weren't working that hard to disprove the existence of God. Rather, their opening assumption was there is no God. And the biggest problem that Marx and Feuerbach. Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and other Titanic thinkers, skeptics of the 19th century that the question they were trying to answer was that since there is no God.

Why is it that human beings are incurably religious. Why is it that man could be defined not only as Homo sapiens but we can more properly defined mankind as Homo religion Josef's man the religious person, because wherever we go throughout the world. We find the vast majority of people engaged in some kind of religious activity and from a Christian point that religion may be complete idolatry, but nevertheless it is still religion and so the most common and frequent answer that came from people like Marx and Feuerbach and Floyd and so on was that the phenomenon that answers the universality of religion is psychological fear that is that the main reason why people believe in God is because they're afraid of the consequences if there is no God. The main reason we create God in our own image's affordable is because we understand that without God we are doomed.

We are in a hopeless situation.

We are indeed a useless passion and we can't bear the grimness of the hill listen so to escape nihilism. We leapfrog over all of these intermediate options and affirm the existence of God as our bromide as our narcotic to dull our senses from the paint so that the number one argument against the use of in the 19th century was the theism is a result of the psychological need of nave on our next session. I'm going to examine that from a Christian perspective and see whether the shoe may be on the other foot, or the crutch may in fact be for the other. I hope you'll join us next week here and Renewing Your Mind for that lesson by Dr. RC Sproul.

These are important concepts for us to understand because they're here in the 21st century were told that religion is a crutch.

Karl Marx took it even further and called religion.

The opiate of the masses. These secular philosophies are not friendly to those of us who believe in the one true God. When the figures of the world attack Christianity, we need to be prepared. We need to be equipped with a sound defense of what we believe. That's why Dr. Strohl taught the series that we call defending your faith. There are 32 lessons on 11 DVDs and will be happy to send them to you when you give a donation of any amount to look at her ministries call us with your gift at 800-435-4343 or find us online at Renewing Your Mind.work in a high school and college students are taking the brunt of this cultural onslaught against Christianity. This series provides a perfect format to equip your teenagers with a solid foundation to stand firm and defend their faith. So again, contact us today with your donation of any amount and will also have the PDF study guide to your online learning library again. Her phone number is 800-435-4343 or online address is Renewing Your Mind.work. I have to admit that there are times when I look at the grandeur of God's creation. When is the hymn writer says I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, and I wondered how can you not believe in God will next Saturday.

Dr. RC school is going to address that question. It's a lesson title the psychology of atheism.

I hope to make plans to be with us for Renewing Your Mind


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