If Theism is True, is Nihilism False?
by Dr. Randal Rauser
Filed under Atheism, God
I recently saw this on Twitter, and thought it worth discussing:
When people say atheism entails nihilism they're more than likely saying "I'll be really sad if I couldn't believe I'm immortal and will eventually live in paradise."
— Counter Apologist (@CounterApologis) January 13, 2019
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.”
Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.