Posts tagged ‘paradox’

August 15th, 2012

The Scaffolding of Despair and the Paradox of Suicide

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]

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.

October 23rd, 2011

Nietzsche’s Paradox–Nihilism and Teleology

by Max Andrews

It would be an appropriate evaluation of Friedrich Nietzsche to state that his mere calling for the übermensch is a teleological claim.  To call for redemption of something and to set a standard model is a purposeful and meaningful proclamation.  The desire appears to be motivated by the very thing Nietzsche is often accused of, nihilism.  Nietzsche was in despair over the implications of Christianity with no God—that was nihilism, which was a catalyst to his philosophizing with a hammer.

Nietzsche never denied there being any meaning or purpose.  His qualm was that if Christianity continues without God, which would be meaningless and purposeless.  He understood that there had to be meaning and purpose.  The teleology, for Nietzsche, was a pursuit to overcome those things, which were life denying.  Christianity, God, idols, and false ideas were all life denying and life prohibiting concepts.  Nietzsche recognized the human nature and need for a teleology, but how?  In his pursuit for meaning and purpose he calls for the übermensch to do just that.

January 12th, 2011

What Keeps Me Going

by Max Andrews

I’ve recently experienced love from so many people and I wanted to list a few things that sustain me:

  1. Encouragement:  When you’re not encouraged you begin to notice how much you take it for granted.  I remember one summer when I experienced no encouragement at all and it was the first time I ever noticed it.  For someone else to see your fruit of your labor, to see your work, to see that you even exist (you’ll understand this if you read Dostoevsky’s Notes From the Underground).
  2. Desire/Passion:  I have a desire to discover the truth and to use that truth for whatever purpose it has in and of itself.  This is not an arbitrary goal I have, I believe it’s a divinely instilled telos for my life.  If you’re not passionate about something you’ll have no incentive and apathy will plague your mind and heart.
  3. Intellectual Substance:  During times of doubt, confusion, despair, depression, and those times of apathy you have something to back up your faith.  Sometimes I feel weak in my faith, yet my faith has a foundation for truth and reason.  My intellectual endeavors have had practical implications on my life.  The more I know God and discover who he is the greater our relationship with each other becomes.  It’s the same with any other relationship with a friend our spouse, the more you know them the greater love you have for each other.  God already knows me more than I know myself, I now have an eternity to discover more of him.
  4. Worship:  Worship isn’t belittling yourself to make God seem bigger, it’s realizing your place in this universe and in the heart of God and then responding to that.  I’d encourage you to have a realistic understanding of your rebellion against God, past and present, and then try to understand God’s relentless pursuit for you.  Consider who you were before you were saved.  God gave you the breath to blaspheme his very name, your eyes to see the things that have made him weep for you, the heart and mind to devise evil and carry out your evil.  God gave you that breath to share knowledge of him to others, your eyes to see his works, and your heart and mind that you may respond to him with a renewed mind and repentant, passionate heart for him.  Just think about how he overcame all of this to make you new (and his current pursuit to make you holier).
  5. Prayer:  This is incredibly profound, yet it’s probably my weakest spiritual discipline.  Try not communicating anything to a loved one for a while and see what that does to your relationship.  Now apply that to your relationship to God.  Profound…
  6. Teleology:  If God didn’t exist then I would have no objection meaning, purpose, or value.  I recently wrote a paper on teleology, consider my closing thoughts on the issue.
  7. Paradox:  I don’t know what it is but the paradoxes and mysteries of life, as depressing, frustrating, and annoying as they can be, have become integrated in every day living for me.  It’s my Romans 7 moments, my Solomon in Ecclesiastes moments, those moments where I’m reconciled by God after I chase after the wind.  Vanity of vanities, all is vanity without God.

Don’t be upset because I didn’t say “Jesus” as any of the points.  None of this would happen apart from the work of God.  These are merely parts of an aggregate of God’s work.  I hope this can initiate some reflection for you.