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The Summit Lecture Series: Making Sense of Your World with John Stonestreet, Part 16

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To purchase the entire Summit Lecture Series, Vol. 1 on DVD, go to: summit.org.

Nihilism comes from the Greek word nihilo, which means “nothing”.  Therefore it can be defined as a philosophy of “nothingism”.  Some of its most popular proponents are Albert Camu, Samuel Beckett, and in a lot of ways Friedrich Nietzsche – particularly when he said:

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

So, where Existentialists would tell you to seize the day, Nietzsche and other Nihilists would tell you to just do whatever you want.  There’s no right way to do anything in life.  In fact, what happens is Nihilism takes one of two directions:  One direction almost always leads to depression; the other leads to an obsession for power.

You see, if there is no meaning nor morality in life, then you might as well either stop participating or just live for power over others.

One perfect example of a Nihilistic worldview in our own history is what happened on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO.  Two young men planned an attack on their fellow students for over a year.  In this time, they recorded themselves spouting off Nihilistic perspectives.  And, according to their worldview, they pulled off the perfect crime – They walked through the school campus, shooting people – murdering twelve students and one teacher – laughing at their victims before killing themselves.

And that’s that.

According to their worldview, when you die… you die.  That’s it.  Therefore, there were no consequences for their actions, nor should there be any concerns after their terrible deeds.

Another famous Nihilist, as I mentioned, was playwright Samuel Beckett.  Beckett was part of the Theater of the Absurd, which expressed what happens when human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down.  For example, in his work Waiting for Godot, the entire first act is two guys sitting by a tree discussing why they are waiting so long for someone named Godot and the things that must be delaying him.  The second act is a complete repeat of the first – word for word – emphasizing that there really is no point in life.

Another play Beckett wrote is titled “Breath”.  In it, the curtain is down and the lights are lowered, when from behind the curtain, you hear an incredible scream.  As the curtain opens, the stage is filled with tons and tons of garbage, and you hear a series of deep breaths.  All this is followed by another ear-piercing scream.  The curtain closes and that’s the end.

The entire play lasts 30 seconds.

This 30 second “work of art” depicts Beckett’s take on life: It begins with a scream, ends with a scream and all of our breaths in between them are worth nothing but a heap of garbage.

Now, as we have said many times before:

So, if we go back to our list of ideas that are vying for the hearts and minds of people across the world, Atheism connects with Scientism, Secularism and Nihilism or Hedonism depending on an individual’s take.  Also, Atheism is connected to Neo-Darwinism and Socialism – the Naturalistic assumption that the world is a fixed set of resources.  Since this amount of resources cannot be expanded, then everything must be divided up properly amongst the right amount of people for human sustenance.  But, what happens when there aren’t enough resources to be divided, due to too many mouths to feed?  This is where Socialists begin talking about population control, selective abortion and assisted suicide.  Now, don’t get me wrong… I know that there are situations where overpopulation can stress an environment. But, nine times out of ten, human ingenuity eventually provides a way to overcome this stress.

However, when people try to take measures like China did to control their population, a whole brood of new consequences arise, such as an over abundance of men within a generation who cannot find wives.

You see, Socialism holds that since the world’s resources are finite and cannot grow, then everyone is entitled to an equal share of these limited resources… even if that means that either that amount is too small for the population to be sustained or the population needs to be decreased in order to match with the resource supply.

This is the stark opposite of a Market Economy.  In a Market Economy, when human ingenuity, creativity, and hard work are added to the existing amount of resources, then that sum of resources will actually grow to meet the needs of even an increasing population.  In other words, resources can be developed. 

Now, if you look at Genesis 1:27-30,

So God created human beings[d] in his own image.

    In the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.  And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.   This command doesn’t sound like Socialism at all.  Rather, it sounds like a Market Economy.  God wants use to use our human ingenuity to make a difference in the world around us.

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