Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Atheist Susan Blackmore was asked to explain her purpose in life. Here’s her answer:

·       If I get a what’s-it-all-for sort of feeling, then I say to myself, What’s the point of it all? There isn’t any point. And somehow, for me – I know it’s not true for other people – that is really comforting. It slows me down. It reminds me that I didn’t ask to be born here, I’ll be gone, and I won’t know what’ll happen, I’ll just be gone, so get on with it. I find that comforting, to say to myself that there is no point, I live in a pointless universe. Here I am, for better or worse, get on with it.

Blackmore finds it “comforting” that life is meaningless and that the universe is pointless. Later, she explains:

·       The pointlessness of life is not a thing to be overcome. It’s something to be celebrated now, because that’s all there is.

How can it possibly be comforting to find that life has no intrinsic meaning or purpose? How can such a thing be “celebrated?” She asks herself:

·       What’s the point of growing these beans again, because they’ll just die, and then next year I’ll do the same thing again. But isn’t that a great pleasure in life, that that’s how it is? The beans come and go, and you eat them and they die, and you do the work, and you see it come and go. Today is the due date for my first grandchild, and I think similarly about that. The cycles of birth and death.

For Blackmore, her grandchild is like her beans and their cycle of life and death. She claims that she takes pleasure in life’s cycles – even death, mourning, and aging. Is Blackmore honest about this, or is this just another form of bias-confirmation – the need to prove ourselves and our past choices right even when they are patently wrong?

Blackmore is a psychologist. Can she truly empathize with the suffering of others, when her strategy is to “get on with it?” And is she in touch with her own feelings of pain and loss?

Life is full of pain and disappointment. When people tell me to simply “get on with it,” they tell me that they are unwilling to accept my suffering – that there is something wrong with me if I cannot just “get on with it.” Fortunately, this isn’t the strategy of our Savior. Instead, Scripture informs us:

·       For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

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