Posts tagged ‘Absurdity of life’

February 11th, 2014

Lecturing Audio: Existentialism and Why Life is Absurd

by Max Andrews

Lecture Audio

Brief Abstract

The two divisions of absurdity, subjective and objective, are by all evidence, binding.  If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

April 18th, 2013

The Absurdity of Life and the Grasp for Meaning

by Max Andrews

Midnight Dreary by Carla CarsonMan is alienated from himself, from other persons, and from God, and as a result man has been burdened with absurdity.  Absurdity ought to be understood in a dichotomous manner.  Absurdity is experienced subjectively, such that the individual experiences it in an autonomous manner.  The objective absurdity is the metanarratives of life.  This would include a lack of ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.

Overcoming this alienation and the notion of absurdity, primarily objective absurdity, can only be done so by a divine telos.[1]  It does seem that man lives his life as if he does have an ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.  However, if God does not exist, then the absurdity is not only subjective but itreally is objectively absurd.  The existence of a divine telos enables man to live a consistent life of meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.  There is a reconciliation of man to himself, others, and God by overcoming this absurdity.

November 30th, 2012

Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week

by Max Andrews

I would like to ask all of you to wear purple at least once this week for Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week. As some of you know, I’ve been in a tough battle with the disease for a while now and I’ve been in chronic pain since last summer. For more on my story please see my links:

Originally blogged at My Journey With Crohns.

As a result of a federal bill introduced by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Congressman Andrew Crenshaw (R-FL-4) (passed in 2011 [LINK: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/sres199/text], Congress declared December 1-7 to be Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to educate Americans about the diseases and encourage people to join in the effort to find a cure for IBD. This resolution was passed in thanks to some great Senators and Representatives who cosponsored it including:
·      Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
·      Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
·      Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
·      Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
·      Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
read more »

July 20th, 2012

The Crohn’s Chronicles: One Long Year Later…

by Max Andrews

Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery.  I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday.  I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap.  I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find.  I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…

(Please click here to help me and others.)

I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?

Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen.  I’ll come back to this in a bit.

May 2nd, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Existential Absurdity

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: Existential Absurdity

Definition: Absurdity is an understanding or a concept in which the individual is superfluous.

More on the term:  This superfluity of being is due to having no allotted place in any necessary scheme of things. Some people invent teleologies in an attempt to lend things a place in overarching schemes but it is an illusion.[1]  According to Albert Camus, man has a longing for reason.  In this world people have understood that there is “irrationality” to reality thus a “despair of true knowledge.”  There still remains a longing for reason despite the recognition of absurdity.  From this, absurdity is born.[2]Camus recognized that man needs to understand this despair and come to terms with it.  His teleology was simply to live life together with others and love one another. There are two types of absurdity: subjective and objective.

March 5th, 2012

How Does God Provide Meaning and Purpose?

by Max Andrews

Midnight Dreary by Carla CarsonMan is alienated from himself, from other persons, and from God, and as a result man has been burdened with absurdity.  Absurdity ought to be understood in a dichotomous manner.  Absurdity is experienced subjectively, such that the individual experiences it in an autonomous manner.  The objective absurdity is the metanarratives of life.  This would include a lack of ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.

Overcoming this alienation and the notion of absurdity, primarily objective absurdity, can only be done so by a divine telos.[1]  It does seem that man lives his life as if he does have an ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.  However, if God does not exist, then the absurdity is not only subjective but it really is objectively absurd.  The existence of a divine telos enables man to live a consistent life of meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.  There is a reconciliation of man to himself, others, and God by overcoming this absurdity.

Man exists in a state of alienation.  He is alienated from himself, from others, and from God.  Alienation from the self creates a subjective absurdity (this will be explicated later).  Because of his own nature man cannot stand in agreeable terms with himself.  His epistemic warrant is not always at ease.  He doubts.  He questions and is lacks sufficiency in his capacity to function in an ideal manner.

His alienation from others is subjective and experienced by the individual as well.  It too is a result of man’s nature and state of being.  It is at this level of alienation where man often attempts to create his own teleology.  He will construct an artificial and arbitrary teleology based on other alienated persons.  Man’s alienation from God is irreconcilable by man’s initiative.  Man cannot act outside of his closed system; thus, he requires an outside agency to overcome this alienation.

February 21st, 2012

Existentialism and the Absurdity of Life (Audio)

by Max Andrews

Lecture Audio

Brief Abstract

The two divisions of absurdity, subjective and objective, by all evidence, binding.  If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[2]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If guilt, and angst are not subjectively preferred then the only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts.  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdity is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

December 20th, 2011

Dear, Lewie… A Letter to My Younger Self

by Max Andrews

Dear Lewie,

I wanted to write to you with my best intentions of preparing you for the life to come.  I have so much to tell you and so much to prepare you for.  Don’t worry; I’m not ruining any surprises.  It’s like when you read the ingredients of your favorite dinner on the menu of your favorite restaurant.  You know what’s coming but knowing just that never seems to ruin the experience, does it?  You still experience the joy of the meal.  It’s a bit like that my friend.  This letter will only foretell you of things to come.  My purpose in writing you is to make sure you understand what it means to experience life.

I’ll cut straight to the core issue–your life is going to be good and I have nothing but good news for you.  Despite what you’re about to read it’s all beautiful.  Your life is going to change.  Okay, before I continue I know what you’re wondering and yes, you will get married.  You’re going to meet this beautiful girl in college.  She’s going to distract you from everything.  You’ll have a romantic tunnel vision.  Everything else is going to blur and you’re going to focus in on her.  Her smile is going to capture you.  Her eyes are going to melt you.  You’ll learn to love.  This is the love that can never be adequately expressed in words.  Actions and experience is the only sufficient way of knowing this love… a love that helps you understand God.

This brings me to my next point.  Sooner or later you’re going to become a Christian.  The thing is, this doesn’t make your life any easier.  You’ll go to a university and study philosophy and you’ll learn to love science.  Pay attention in school.  Please, if this finds you please study physics more before university.  It will make things easier for me here!  You’ll eventually aim to make a career in academia.

October 23rd, 2011

The Reality of Life if There is No God

by Max Andrews

If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[2]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts (if the implication, by any means, can be determined to be better).  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

(As a note, I want to emphasize that I am not advocating suicide.  I completely disagree with the starting premise that there is no God.  I believe the logic is sound but since there is a God, there is objective purpose, value, and meaning to life.  If you are struggling with the thought of suicide please tell someone.)


            [1] Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (New York:  Barnes & Noble, 1917), 47-48.

            [2] Here is where Sartre, Camus, and others disagree.  Because of absurdity, man’s only option is to choose suicide.  Death is the only means by which it can be overcome.  In a Christian context, God recognizes that death is the only way to overcome man’s absurdity.  The means by which God provides teleology is by means of death.  God becomes incarnate and overcomes absurdity by means of his own death, which may be imputed to humanity.  Here we find a paradox.  In order for there to be a genuine sense of teleology and becoming there must be death.  There must be death to bring about life, a life of becoming, relationships, and of teleological existence.

July 29th, 2011

Existential Absurdity in the Sciences

by Max Andrews

Given the natural order of universe and its cause and effect network, perhaps redemption and reconciliation from absurdity can be found in biology or physics.  For example, consider an adult salmon’s biologically given capacity to swim upstream and mate.  In this case the end at which the adult salmon’s activity aims is not, or anyway need not be, valuable, it is simply the end with which it was endowed by nature.[1]  The same may be true with human life.  The notion may not be too far-gone since many philosophers and scientists find their meaning, value, and purpose in nature.  Friedrich Nietzsche based his teleology and understanding of truth in biology.  If this universe [or multiverse] is all that exists it seems that this scientific driven teleology may not be sufficient.

Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg provided a self-comforting dialogue in The First Three Minutes suggesting that his own research in the field of physics has provided himself with meaning, value, and purpose.  Paradoxically, he believes that the more he learns about the universe, the lesser of an ultimate meaning it has.[2]

Physicist Victor Stenger seems to agree with Weinberg’s understanding of the purpose as it relates to reality.  In his book, God the Failed Hypothesis, he displays a rather existential reflection when he ponders the universe and reality.  He believes that if God created matter with humanity in mind, then it was not done so for a purpose.[3]  The universe is so vast and hostile to life and the parameters for existence of humanity are incredibly slim.  Earth is a rarity.  This notion of absurdity is not as introspective as the philosophers may see it; rather, it is an inference based on his observation on the physical realm.  What is similar between the philosopher’s inference and Stenger’s is that they encounter a breakdown of rationality, Camus’ alienation and disappearance of reason. Like Camus, he becomes aware of the sheer absurdity of his existence.

In contrast to Weinberg and Stenger, it should be understood that because the universe is meaningful could any meaning or rationality be derived thereof.  The glory of mathematics and human art manifests a genius.  Just as Albert Einstein pondered the striking fact that the universe is comprehensible, that mathematics illuminates nature by mapping forms of order as small as particles and strings and as broad as universe [or multiverse] itself.  On secularized grounds, why should nature make sense?  Why should there be any connection whatsoever between the highly abstract, formal relationships of numbers and figures and the order of nature?  Why is nature amenable to mathematical analysis?[4]  By all human experience, it would be irrational to infer that, in a continual state of becoming, there is no meaning behind the order observed in nature.

It would serve well for one to be reminded that humanity did not construct the order behind the abstract and the physical.  The order of the universe is prior to and independent of man’s attempts to understand it.  That is why theories must be tested against nature.  Man is not the creator of order, but at best, discerners of order—not only for humanity’s own existence but also for the perfection of understanding.[5]


            [1] Michael Smith, “Is That All There Is?” Journal of Ethics 10 (January 2006):  83.

            [2] Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes (London:  Andre Deutsch, 1977), 154-155.

            [3] Victor Stenger, God the Failed Hypothesis (Amherst, NY:  Prometheus, 2008), 137-164.

            [4] Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt, A Meaningful World (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 2006), 27.

            [5] Ibid., 244.