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If Theism is True, is Nihilism False?

I recently saw this on Twitter, and thought it worth discussing:

I like Counter Apologist, but this is akin to saying “When people say ‘God doesn’t exist’ they’re more than likely saying ‘I don’t want to submit to God.'” Rather than engage in gratuitous armchair psychologizing, we should just take what folks say at face value.

So here’s the Nihilism Thesis:

(NT): Nihilism is false iff* theism is true.

Should we accept (NT) and if not, why not?

To grapple with this question, we should say something further about the two concepts, nihilism and theism. For the purposes of this discussion, these are my definitions:

Nihilism: The belief that there are no objectively true principles of moral value,  obligation, meaning, or purpose and thus life is objectively meaningless.

Theism: The belief that the ultimate necessary principle of all existence is a maximally great and perfectly good person who created and sustains all things and who is the objective ground of human meaning and purpose.

Based on those definitions, should we think that (NT) is true or false? Or should we be agnostic? And what about the definitions themselves? Are they adequate? If not, why not?

*In case you were wondering, iff is not a typo; rather, it is a nerd-abbreviation for “if and only if.”

Dr. Randal Rauser

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Dr. Randal Rauser is Professor of Historical Theology at Taylor Seminary where he has taught since 2003. He is the author of many books including What on Earth do we Know About Heaven? (Baker, 2013); The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails (InterVarsity, 2012); Is the Atheist My Neighbor? (Cascade, 2015); An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar: Talking about God, the Universe, and Everything (Prometheus Books, 2016); and his most recent book, What's So Confusing About Grace? (Two Cup Press, 2017)"Randal also blogs and podcasts at RandalRauser.com and lectures widely on Christian worldview and apologetics.

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