February 04, 2015

Why Secular Atheism Leads to Nihilism

Secular atheism, when lived out with intellectual honestly, leads to nihilism. Why is this? Because there is ultimately no objective basis for purposeful meaning in life for the secular atheist. Inventing meaning is neither rational nor logical. For example,  a sign that states “Dead End” would offer an incoherent and false meaning if placed alongside a continuous superhighway. A sign, or anything in life that conveys meaning, only has valid and coherent meaning when it is linked to a corresponding reality in some type of logical manner. Many atheists are confused on this point. Richard Dawkins. for example, has claimed that an “adult” view of life is to subjectively “make” meaning in your life, in whatever manner you may wish to do this. In reality, this is a childish and superficial approach to a deep subject. Children, not adults, are fond of creating make-believe worlds. The following is a quote of Richard Dawkins from the God Delusion:

“The truly adult view [...] is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it. And we can make it very wonderful indeed.”

Unlike Dawkins' make-believe meaning in life, Christian debaters, such as William Lane Craig, have demonstrated that a rational and logical worldview is possible only when it is based on logically framed precepts arranged in a logical syntax, and not merely based on pretentious whims.

Why Richard Dawkins' View of Meaning is Absurd...
1.  Valid and coherent meaning in life must be somehow verifiable with objective logical principles.
2. Any proposed meaning that is not verifiable with objective logical principles is irrational and ultimately absurd.
3.  Richard Dawkins offers that we should subjectively “make" meaning in life.
4. Therefore, Richard Dawkins' concept of meaning in life is irrational and absurd.
Richard Dawkins' concept of meaning in life seems to consist of an existential secular Spaghetti Monster dressed up in a cheap tuxedo. You can call invented and make-believe meaning in life “adult” or “wonderful” or even “very wonderful” - but it still seems to be absurd to live life based on make-believe meaning. What do you personally believe about the concept of meaning?

A. Meaning is an objective fact of life.
B. Meaning is arbitrary according to your whims.
C. Neither A nor B.
D. Both A and B.

An atheist writer posted an article on Dawkins' website, the Richard Dawkins Foundation, which outlines a view of meaning that seems to be a bit more objective than Dawkins' own view of meaning. The post is titled, "Why identify as atheist and not nihilist?" and the author states, "If logical, rational thinking is used then I fail to see how nihilism cannot be the conclusion." and, furthermore, "If you don't believe in a creator or divine plan and you understand how our minds and emotions have evolved as chemical signals and electrical pulses then where do you fit the meaning in to this? I enjoy being alive and live as hedonistic lifestyle as possible yet I am under no illusion that this has any meaning outside of my own mind." It's not surprising that Dawkins' own website offers views that contradict and oppose his own views on meaning. The New Atheists have not offered anything in the way of valid logical arguments to support their position. 

Secular Atheists Have no Logical Basis to Affirm Purposeful Meaning in Life

William Lane Craig posted an article at his website entitled, The Absurdity of Life without God, postulating, "Why on atheism life has no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose, and why this view is unlivable."

"The fundamental problem with this solution, however, is that it is impossible to live consistently and happily within such a world view. If one lives consistently, he will not be happy; if one lives happily, it is only because he is not consistent. Francis Schaeffer has explained this point well. Modern man, says Schaeffer, resides in a two-story universe. In the lower story is the finite world without God; here life is absurd, as we have seen. In the upper story are meaning, value, and purpose. Now modern man lives in the lower story because he believes there is no God. But he cannot live happily in such an absurd world; therefore, he continually makes leaps of faith into the upper story to affirm meaning, value, and purpose, even though he has no right to, since he does not believe in God."

Rational Secular Atheists Admit that their Atheism Leads to Nihilism

A self-confessed atheist, Adam, who is quoted at Craig's website, declares that he has come to hate his secular atheism due to its ultimate and undeniable nihilistic philosophical connection. 

"This theme came to my attention when I saw an atheist post a long comment for William Lane Craig to address. Adam, the atheist, described why, "There is no escaping the nihilism as an atheist." He wrote to Craig, "After reading your paper on the absurdity of life without God, I soon realized that I had to become a nihilist." and he continued, "Let me mention here that I was a huge fan of the New Atheists, but I always sensed something was askew with them. Something seemed off about them because whenever they were talking about meaning, value, or purpose, they answered in such ways that only a person ignorant of the objections in your paper could respond. In short (too late), your paper never left my mind, even years after I wrote a "response" to it. I knew, deep down, that not only did I not, but could not answer your objections to atheism. What you say the atheistic worldview entails is true. There is no escaping the nihilism as an atheist."

John Piippo's blog outlines an argument William Lane Craig presented on this subject:

1) If theism is true, then we have a solid basis for morality.
2) If theism is false, then we do not have a solid basis for morality.
3) If 2 is true, then atheism does not lead to humanism, but to nihilism.

Dr. Craig states, "If theism is false, you've got to ask yourself, Why wouldn't nihilism be true? What proof do you have that nihilism is not the correct remaining alternative?" and, "Thus, if atheism is true, it becomes impossible to condemn war, oppression, or crime as evil. Nor can one praise brotherhood, equality, or love as good. It doesn't matter what you do - for there is no right and wrong; good and evil does not exist." 

The typical reply by atheists is that "Atheism does not lead to anything, it's just a lack of belief in God." But this is a glib answer that sidesteps the fact that atheism, when taken as a precept for life, is lived out in a very definite context. Any belief lived out in a context has implications. If you believe that atheism does not lead to nihilism in a philosophical context, I would be curious to see your reasoning in a comment on this post. I've found some sample atheist websites that deny (or avoid) this fact in their simplistic and/or vague summaries:  

Doesn't atheism inevitably lead to nihilism? 


Must Atheists Be Nihilists?


Atheism and Nihilism 


The above-noted secular atheists have not really come to grips with the full implications of their beliefs. 

The question of the meaning and purpose of life is logically an urgent one because it informs all the other decisions in life. This can be outlined in a logical deductive argument, which leads to another argument that supports the logical necessity of God's existence:

Argument from Metalogical Values and Urgency

Argument from Metalogic and a Necessary Teleolical Anchor


Tags:  atheists in denial, the logical conclusion of atheism in philosophy, quotes by Dawkins on meaning, atheist meaning in life, is it logical to invent meaning? How does atheism lead to absurdity and nihilism? atheism and intellectual honesty


  1. This is just one of many, many questions ideological Atheists can't face. There's more of course, but this is one that none of them can deny.

  2. I agree completely, Dean. It is difficult if not impossible to deny this issue.

  3. If you have to put effort into something, then it's the oposite of inevitable, isn't it?

    Working at McDonals inevitably leads to early death, but only if you work way too hard every single day. And if you give a crap. Also it's possible to infact live longer while working there. But that's "inconsistant" for an arbitrary bullshit reason.

    1. "If you have to put effort into something, then it's the opposite of inevitable, isn't it?"

      - Interesting question. I agree that a lot of things are like that. It is inevitable that a burger on the grill will burn, and maybe cause a grease fire, it is just put on and left there with full heat on.

      But in terms of spiritual life, the beauty is that it is not based on effort, but on grace and faith. We simply can receive the atonement of Christ dying on the cross to pay for our sins by faith that God did this for us, to give us eternal life so that we can glorify God, who is the reason why we have any existence in the first place.

      If you try to really live like a nihilist in an honest sense, it's very difficult to do. Because so much of life points towards the fact that there is meaning and value, which not does make any sense if secular nihilism is true.

  4. I have been an atheists for years and have just recently discovered this nihilistic conclusion of my atheism. It has essentially shattered my motivation to act towards any goals and I am struggling to find my way out.

    1. Hi,

      Some of the personal accounts at this link might be inspiring for you to read and look into:


  5. Hello,

    That sounds like a bad experience to realize that your beliefs offer such a bleak outlook. But there is hope because the idea of God actually makes a lot of sense and God does exist in reality. This link looks into the idea of knowing God in a personal way, and based on my own life I can sincerely say the all of the ways of looking at God are not only logically cohesive, but the meaning that is found in God through knowing God gives a deep sense of peace and confidence in life...


  6. "Inventing meaning is neither rational nor logical."

    Yet this is exactly what you imagine god does.

    To say this doesn't apply to god is to commit the special pleading fallacy.

    1. Rick WardenApril 9, 2018 at 7:05 AM
      Thank you, Blake, for your comment:

      "Inventing meaning is neither rational nor logical."

      Yet this is exactly what you imagine god does.

      To say this doesn't apply to god is to commit the special pleading fallacy."

      > It's important to distinguish between objective facts, or what are alleged to be objective facts, rather than focus on facts about personal tastes or subjective experiences.

      Like humans, God has an identity and this is a fact that does not change. However, unlike humans, God is completely consistent in his nature and and holistic with regard to experiencing his nature with clear revelation, expressing His nature with truth, and acting on His nature consistently, and this forms the basis of all meaning for God and humans. The scripture "God cannot lie" sums up the fact that God must think and act consistently with His own nature. This holiness and consistency is a part of the definition of what God must be in order to be God. And so it is not an arbitrary attribute.

      As God, it is a fact that God's mind is eternal and His thoughts are eternally consistent, and because meaning is rooted in God's fixed and unchanging eternal nature, it is not arbitrary or invented.

      I would go on to say that your claim would be true if we were to look at the god that John Piper promotes. His view offers that the foundation of God's actions is based on God's sovereignty and God seeking His own happiness. In this respect, you would be correct. This type of god that simply chooses to seek his own happiness because he is sovereign and nothing can block him from doing so, would be the type of god that you are describing that invents values and meaning based mainly on an act of the will and not mainly based on his nature as defined in scripture: "God is love" -as described in this linked article:


  7. Christians need to have everything handed to them: an artificial and arbitrary sense of morality, a pre-determined sense of purpose, a contrived view of the natural world around them...

    It is not until you reject the dogma, the inconsistencies, the "because I said so" mentality of an indoctrinated mindset that you realize that
    YOU are responsible for your own actions
    YOU are responsible for righting wrongs in the world
    YOU are responsible for creating beauty and avoiding destruction
    No one is going to do it for you.
    That knowledge gives me a huge sense of purpose.

  8. "It is not until you reject the dogma, the inconsistencies"

    It seems that you hold to a superficial view of Christianity and maybe we can talk about the subject of inconsistency.

    What is the basis of your ethical decisions of right and wrong?


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