I've been thinking about something lately, and I want to try to flesh it out. And don't worry, this is probably just going to be offensive to about as many people as I can muster. That's not the point of my writing it, just a happy coincidence.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Earth is older than 6,000 years. We'll pretend that God wasn't just tricking us by planting old-looking things in the dirt or by making Carbon behave erratically when we try to date things based on the decay of its isotopes or by changing the speed of light so that those stars that are words-that-end-in-illions of light-years away from us are actually just 6,000 light-years away from us and we're just measuring all of them incorrectly.
Cool. So hypothetically, stuff is old. Now, also just for the sake of argument, we'll pretend that God turned out to be a myth after all, and it is the purely naturalistic theory of Evolution which is correct. We'll imagine that such a phenomenon wouldn't require thousands upon thousands of examples of fossils of transitional species, that the "primordial soup" didn't need any viable mechanism to be generated, that protein and polymer synthesis actually could happen near underwater thermal vents without the type of mental acrobatics that are performed today to explain it away, that unguided chemical processes really do explain the origin of a complex genetic code, and that the advocates of such a massive theory about a spontaneous, godless origin of life have actually come up with any workable model of the system that begat the origin of life as it arose.
To clarify where we are, hypothetically, here is Recap #1:
We are in an old, godless world begat by nobody's hands, devoid of any kind of Deity, moral authority, or authorship of life. The world is ancient, chaotic, and astronomically lucky to be here.
Now let's answer a question based on this presupposition.
In this hypothetical framework, why are we here?
It sounds like a pandering, pointlessly philosophical question. But if we are to attempt to undergo any kind of intellectual project, it is eminently important, and is something that we must be required to answer before undertaking any other kind of experiment. We are here; a reason for it doesn't need to be spiritual or religious. The reason may simply be less of a reason and more of a result. The reason that we, life--not to mention intelligent life, are here is because the life that came before us fought down to their atoms to keep us here.
Stay with me.
I will start by answering the question I posed in bold letters above with a mercifully short response: we are here to continue, and perhaps improve, life. That is, at its essence, the basic function that is consistent in all life forms: everything essentially plays the same role in the grander ecology at hand: to continue, by all means necessary, what has been going on for an extremely long time.
Remember that in this model life is a result of the most fortuitous and random of happenings, and it is to be preserved, no matter the cost. Consider the desperation of our situation: no matter how hard we've searched, the best of our efforts have succeeded only in proving that this tiny blue speck in a brief orbit around the unimpressive sun of a smallish solar system in a distant outskirt of a medium-sized-at-best galaxy in a remote corner of an infinitely expanding universe is the only place in the whole of reality where life exists.
I'll let that sink in for a second.
That makes life the rarest thing we could find in any place that we could ever even dream of looking. It cannot be explained by atoms, for it's made up of the same atoms that make up the rest of the known universe, yet it's wholly different from everything else we can find, no matter where we look.
In this model, we owe an enormous debt to essentially two things:
Randomness: Without randomness, we simply would not be here. Had fortune not favored an impossibly complex and supremely precise chain of events in the early universe, there would be no universe to live in, much the less life to inhabit it.
Determination: Nearly everything that is around us threatens to destroy life, from the star that gives us light and heat enough to survive (until it burns out and goes nova in a few hundred thousand years) to the M.A.D. possibility of all-out Nuclear war. Still, after all of these years, life has overcome and, to quote my favorite chaotician, uh, found a way.
To be frank, the universe keeps trying its darndest to expel sentient life from its bowels (I realize that personifying "the Universe" smacks a little bit of Deity for some of you. Just bear with me). If I may be allowed to personify the Universe for a moment longer, it will provide a little bit of context to this statement.
The Universe has tried eradicating life with physical threats, like asteroids and earthquakes and shifty plate tectonics. But life was undeterred: it gave us a moon and mountains and continents to live on.
The Universe got sly and has tried eradicating life with life itself, through disease and genetic mutations and infertility. But life was undeterred: we developed immunity, evolved, and scienced the junk out of the human body.
So the Universe's newest trick is perhaps its craftiest: it is trying to eradicate life by using the desires of life, itself, like when humans volunteer their species for natural extinction. After all, "from the point of view of inanimate objects, all life is bad because it hastens the entropic death of the universe" (linked pdf, p.7).
Still with me? Recap 2:
For the sake of this argument, we are in a perfectly godless existence. It is old, it is well explained by entirely natural, chaotic, happenstantial occurrences, and its entire purpose is the sustenance of that life which has been birthed by whatever the secular equivalent of a miracle is, sustained by its sheer, ballsy defiance of all of the billions-of-years-worth of stuff trying to make it just go away, and remains today, stronger than ever, fully self-realized, contemplative of its own existence, and able to actively fight against things which threaten its being here.
The Part Where I'll Get So, So In Trouble
It is exactly in this world--a genuinely and perfectly amoral (in as non-pejorative a way as I can make that word sound) one--that individual liberty is not a virtue or a right, but is, rather, blasphemous spittle in the face of the eldritch, yawning, cavernous expanse of eternity.
The fight that the godless culture of today is undertaking in order to justify and celebrate things like celebrity worship, the pursuit of "what makes you happy," sports obsessions, conspiracy theory, election polls, daytime television, Instagram likes, abortion, religious extremism, homosexuality, or anything that is not directly contributing to the continuation of what we have in the most streamlined, effective way possible is not just unacceptable, but is, without the help of a religion or moral code to define it, objectively and unarguably wrong.
The religiously godless may call some of this evil.
I'll put it a different way. In our hypothetical, godless, amoral world which is dependent on and indebted to billions of years' worth of continuing on, every single facet of our existence is stacked against life's keepin' on. Life is the anomaly of all anomalies and is doomed to ultimate and utter extinction with the inevitable heat death of the universe; so whatever doesn't kill us now will kill us later. And anything that we are doing that is not geared specifically towards continuing, sustaining, and nurturing ourselves for the purpose of procreation and keeping the ecology of our tiny little bubble of a world alive is a waste of time, an affront, and a water pistol in the gaping maw of an unquenchable inferno.
But notice something supremely interesting: we sentient beings in this kind of existence have developed the terminal disease of desire. The darker the desire, the stronger it is. We may destroy ourselves with drugs, we may kill ourselves in depression, we may take as many people as we can out with bombs and guns to satisfy our false gods or silence the voices in our heads, and this is the greatest trick of a Universe whose every movement is designed to stop you from being here. And this Universe won't stop with just destroying you; it also aims for all of the ones who come after you.
Want to kill the thing growing inside of you that will continue on as a piece of you after you leave because it will make your here-and-now life, or perhaps your promising career as a model or startup businessperson or whatever, more personally fulfilling? Go ahead. Makes my job easier.
You want to gobble up your time watching trash television when you could be developing the thing that would cure diseases that kill people or inspiring someone on the brink of ending their life to keep going just for the day? Be my guest! You'll die fat and frustrated with your wasted time. And earlier.
Oh, that sexual drive that is responsible for bringing you here isn't for the purpose of keeping a species going, but is about making sure you feel good and not oppressed for the ways that you seek gratification and personal fulfillment? You're right. Every sentient being in the history of life has lived, fought, and died so that you could be personally fulfilled. All of this is all about you. Do what makes you happy. At least you won't have children. Smiley face.
The only true and intellectually honest atheist is a nihilist, for a truly godless place is hurtling quickly towards oblivion, and there's not a thing we can do about it. "Human rights" and any other nice-sounding project is perfectly useless, because we're one star's supernova away from being atomically scattered. If God is not in the picture at all, there is a serious discussion that needs to be had which is not taking place at all; rather, we are skirting entirely over it. If God is not real, we had to have gotten here somehow. And we had to have endured nigh-insurmountable odds to keep being here.
But a liberal, godless culture is too wrapped up in pleasuring itself to realize that its point of view is so narrow and so closed-minded that a naturalistic universe has no space for the individual fulfillment-seeking of a specimen that lasts a fewer than one hundred years. Not even a blip on a timeline that encompasses billions of them.
To further illustrate this, since I was there a second ago, the movements responsible for limiting sexual desire to a preference for "that which makes you happy" and for celebrating abortions are, in fact, an insult to the system that bore them. Uncountable numbers of organisms had to fight to their very death to ensure that life, nonetheless sentient life, could continue--and we celebrate by declaring that the processes that they died for are now entirely about making your vital bits feel good and giving you the tingles.
You can do away with God, sure, but doing so requires that you adhere to a system that is wholly and absolutely offended by your insistence to live your life with yourself as the ultimate end.
We are not talking about a god who hates homosexuality and abortion here. It is not a sky-fairy that wants things his way and burns up whatever doesn't follow his oppressive rules; this is a purely antiemotional, entirely brutish, perfectly adapted nature that stands at every corner in direct opposition to life, itself. In such a masterfully cruel system that allowed the flourishing of living things only by an inconceivably, incomprehensibly un-repeatable quirk of chance, any action that is not directly related to the continuing of life at all costs is blasphemy. And that blasphemy is unforgivable, for the thing it blasphemes has no capacity for forgiveness.
Alternatives; or, Freedom
"But Hamilton," people will say, "my choice doesn't matter. Look at all of the life around us; surely MY decision is not what the continuation of life depends on."
"You are an ungrateful, selfish brat," the history of life screams in return. I don't even have to answer. "I did not overcome the most incalculably oppressive odds that mathematics knows how to quantify so that you could just do what you want with what I gave you. Get in line and continue what I started."
Here's the best part. In what may be the most ultimate irony of all time, the God that such a system attempts to get rid of because He has rules and thinks things should be a certain way is the very thing that provides the freedom revoked by their god-free "utopia" and allows their projects for personal fulfillment. The existence of a sentient Creator is exactly the thing that allows somebody to reduce something as basic and biological as sexuality to something that you define yourself by.
Okay, I'll explain.
The most offensive part about God is the notion that He is a Creator--a Creator Who intentionally, specifically designed what became an infantile, selfish race of thinking creatures to even have the chance for satisfaction in the first place. He was so in favor of the notion that you should find perfect happiness that He put the drive in you heart to keep looking for it. We keep looking for it in social media likes and in hobby building and in relationships and in introspective, intellectual pursuits.
And He gave us the opportunity to find that happiness.
The creator of nature that godless culture loves so much (read: randomness and chaos) isn't much different. It offers a way to perfectly fit into the system it designed, too--but only as a little machine to reproduce, try its best not to kill or hinder the reproduction of other life, and eventually become food for worms.
This Creator as He defines Himself says that you can certainly take that option. It's well within your realm of possibilities. He even says that you have the chance to defy that system and exist solely for the betterment of yourself and the instinct-like drive to do nothing but follow your inane and debased desires wherever they lead you, like an impulse-driven zombie. Like a dog with a belly for flesh. But He offers a third option, which is to find that whatever it is that you're searching for in the One who created you. To extract the satisfaction that the system was designed to drive you towards.
His three options for you, which are all perfectly valid ways of living, in summary form:
1. Live, procreate, don't screw everything up, die.
2. Live, worship yourself and insult both the Creator and His system that begat you, make an idiot out of yourself by somehow reasoning that it's perfectly fine to live exactly how your desires (which often can't even help you decide what to watch on Netflix for the next hour and half) point you, die.
3. Acknowledge that perhaps your heart and its desires aren't so great, ask the Designer to take all of that nonsense from you, and discover how freedom from the most oppressive system to ever hit natural life can happen. Die. Live again in the type of eternity the mind who thought us up lives in.
I understand that some people just have the hardest time with this Creator business. I suppose that for a mind trapped in the hopeless spiral of absolute empiricism, the idea that there is something that both has a will and is immeasurable is scary and tough to get their mind around, but what often gets overlooked is the ludicrousness of the alternative.
And what gets ignored is the horror of both how disrespectfully we've been living should the God thing turn out to just be an elaborate trick of a Universe already bent on destroying us, and how degrading such a reality is to the individuals who inhabit it.
In such a reality, all life matters. But no lives do.
In such a reality, homosexuality is not a sin, but a bitter and unpardonable disrespect.
In such a reality, pleasure is not an aim, but a distraction to hasten your fruitless demise.
In such a reality, the most noble of pursuits are nothing but a lunatic shouting at the encroaching train of the end of everything.
The alternative--this Designer hypothesis-- is the freedom from that cycle. We love talking about how "God hates" this or "God hates" that; but the truth is that God is the very reason we can have "this" or "that." The fact that you have a Designer, a Creator, is the very reason that anything from spending your afternoons watching the Kardashians to murder is forgivable.
Because all of the sudden, we are not held accountable by faceless happenstance or uncountable numbers of forgiveness-less generations before us; we are not limited by the rapidly dwindling number of years that the universe has before it collapses back on itself. We are, instead, given just enough time to find the One who designed us and hold on for dear life, even though we will suck at that, too.
There are some nutters, sure, but none as nutty as the one who forsakes the possibility of a Creator just because they are enslaved to their base selfishness. Because while both the godless and the God universe hate your selfishness, only one of them can forgive it.