In his famous essay “A Free Man’s Worship,” Bertrand Russell describes the plight of our species in a godless universe with a haunting eloquence that ranks among the most memorable passages of twentieth century philosophy. As Russell puts it, man’s
“origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins…”
If Russell is correct, if our future is dissolution to nothingness in the blink of a cosmic eye, then what meaning could there possibly be to life? Can life be meaningful in a godless universe? Or does atheism leave us with little more than diversionary pursuits that merely serve to dull the ache of our pending annihilation?
In this episode of The Tentative Apologist Podcast, we take on this question of atheism, morality, and meaning with my friend, Dr. Andy Bannister. Andy is the Director and Lead Apologist for RZIM Canada. He is the author of The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments (Monarch, 2015) and An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an (Lexington, 2014). In this conversation we peer into the abyss as Andy and I wrestle together with one of the great questions of academic philosophy and existential concern: can life be meaningful in a godless universe?