Atheistic Existentialists = Existential anguish / existential void
You may or may not have wondered, “Why am I attracted to what I see, what I smell …?”, in short, “Why am I attracted to what is perishable”? This is a fact, and no one can deny; our attention is drawn like a centripetal force towards the centre, by the things of the world. Why is that? Because we have bodies and bodies are made of matter similar to the earth which also is made of matter and, in that sense, we seek more of this earth’s perishable goods.
By perishable, I mean anything that is in the world and lasts a certain time and then vanishes into one with nature, the world. Thus, everything that I perceive through my senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, etc.) is therefore perishable like my body. However, human beings are not merely perishable matter, but are also made of something which we know to be non-perishable, our spirit. Unfortunately, some have chosen to overlook that part of man which is vital for our existence — life itself — which God breathed into man at creation. In view of this, man must not live as though he is only flesh, but “live with knowing he is a spiritual being.”
How then do we live life knowing that our makeup is constituted both of a physical body and spirit/soul? While our flesh desires the things of this world what about our spirit within us, how do we recognize its needs and how are those needs met?
The answer is traced back to a God-given awareness of His existence. Most often, when man is in a state denial over the presence of God, this feeling manifests itself in situations of anxiety, excruciating suffering, loneliness, etc… where we feel a need, an existential void that no one thing (wealth, glory, honor), that no one (spouse, friends, children) can fill.
How then can this be explained? Can the knowable, perishable, or experimental possibly fill this void? And what about this emptiness we have all experienced at one time or another in our lives? The same could not be said for those who recognize that they are God’s created work who breathed life into them and who in turn acknowledge that God made them spiritual beings; they look to God as their “Source”, i.e., He is the One who put his breath into them which fills the vacuum which existentialism had left behind.
Contrary to what the atheist existentialists of the 19th and 20th centuries advocate, who say that once we are thrown into existence, it is up to ourselves to give meaning to our own existence by electing to live in whatever manner we choose, since we are our own masters. As a result, this existential void which can result in existential anguish has continued to haunt human existence to such an extent that one of the heralds of existentialism, Soren Kierkegaard, offered three solutions to escape from existential torment (torment meaning living without knowing life’s purpose): pleasure, respect for established moral values and faith in God. That being said, in a moment of self-criticism, Soren does admit that these solutions cannot help any to escape the anguish caused by existential living.
Let us briefly consider the error of the atheist existentialists.
First, the notion according to existentialists that man is thrusted into existence already implies that someone has placed him there, and whether we admit it or not, the reason for our existence (God as the source of it) is that He created man solely for His glory. Second, the pain and suffering that accompanies existentialism cannot be offset by pleasure, money, power, or fame… nor can it spare us from it. All of us know of quite a few artists, millionaires and leaders who reached the height of their fame and wealth and yet committed suicide … without really knowing true peace and inner joy. Just ask the atheist existentialists about the choice that these individuals made in their lives and the manner they chose to live. Did they attain to the glory, honor, and wealth that each had sought and did it fill the void that all of us experience when we deliberately deny the existence of God?
It is impossible to avoid the suffering of emptiness when you seek to negate the presence of God, and whatever medium you may look to fill that void whether wealth, glory, power, or honor these are temporary at best and they will only fail to shield you from a sense of distress and hopelessness, conditions brought on by existentialism. The Living God created human beings. He gave them life by His breath so each is made after His Image – which means that within each man is a sense of the Divine; we bear His Image so are constantly reminded of our need for God in that further alienation from God also comes greater pain and loneliness.
To be sure, the physical body has needs, but so does our spirit. What is far more pressing than our physical state and its needs is the spiritual condition of our souls. If Christ is not your Savior, then you have every reason to be afraid of death and the life beyond this one. Look beyond this life and what is in it. Life is empty and meaningless without God. To look elsewhere to fill that void is futile. Hear what the prophet Isaiah says about locating spiritual nourishment for our souls.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:11)
This is an invitation to know the Lord. Jesus has invited sinners to come to Him of whom Isaiah had written about prophetically.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mathew 11:28-30)
We can receive this invite because Christ’s death and resurrection opened the way for sinners to come to Christ for direction and help in this life and the promise of eternal life in the next life. As sinners, our sins leave us in a condemned state but forgiveness can change the verdict from guilty to innocent by virtue of Christ’s intercession on the cross at Calvary. Seek Christ to forgive you of your sins and begin a new life. If so, contact us as we are more than willing to help you along in your new found faith in Christ.