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‘Futile: adj. Producing no useful result; pointless.’

The Oxford English Dictionary

‘If God does not exist, then life is futile. If the God of the Bible does exist, then life is meaningful.’

William Lane Craig

‘Resistance is futile.’

The Borg

Abstract

William Lane Craig argues that both God and immortality are required for life to have meaning; life is futile without either of the two. I argue that combining William Lane Craig’s arguments for the futility of life without God or immortality, together with a plausible amendment to his working definition of ‘futility’, entails the counterintuitive conclusion that life is futile if God does exist. Craig says that God must exist as a guarantor of ultimate justice, and that this ultimate ‘fairness’ is necessary for life to have meaning. I will argue that this ultimate ‘fairness’ entails that our lives are futile, since, given the existence of God, our actions are causally irrelevant to the achievement of the satisfaction of the ‘Good’. This discussion serves to pinpoint a major flaw in Craig’s reasoning: the claim that events of merely ‘relative’ significance do not have the potential to counter the futility of life.

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Notes

  1. William Lane Craig, ‘Is Life Absurd Without God?’, available at: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-life-absurd-without-god1 [accessed 05/03/15].

  2. Almost all quotations in this essay are extracts are taken from a lecture given by William Lane Craig in Manchester, 2007, entitled ‘Is Life Without God Absurd?’ (audio recording available at: http://www.bethinking.org/who-am-i/intermediate/is-life-without-god-absurd-reasonable-faith-lecture-manchester-university-.htm [accessed 16/05/2013]). Craig’s printed words are widely available both in print and online. Though I am working from an audio recording, I do so faithfully, and with no intention to misrepresent. I am confident that Craig’s views are sufficiently well known that any sleight-of-hand would be impossible! Paraphrased versions of all quotations contained within this essay can be found in the following (all by William Lane Craig): ‘The Absurdity of Life Without God’, available at: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-absurdity-of-life-without-god [accessed 16/05/2013]; ‘Is the Basis of Morality Natural or Supernatural?’, available at: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-the-basis-of-morality-natural-or-supernatural-the-craig-taylor-debate [accessed 16/05/2013]; ‘Is Life Absurd Without God?’, available at: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-life-absurd-without-god1 [accessed 16/02/2013].

  3. Although, Spock never actually said this. It is a caricature which featured in the song ‘Star Trekkin’’ by ‘The Firm’.

Reference

  • Brown, C., & Nagasawa, Y. (2005). I can’t make you worship me. Ratio, 18, 138–144.

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Acknowledgments

I am extremely grateful for the comments of an anonymous reviewer on an earlier version of this article.

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Correspondence to Toby Betenson.

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Betenson, T. Fairness and futility. Int J Philos Relig 79, 101–111 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11153-015-9519-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11153-015-9519-0

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