Sisyphus is in the red corner: A king in Greek mythology who told a secret of the gods and his punishment was to spend an eternity pushing a boulder up a hill, watch it roll back down, and repeat the process. Sisyphus has been used in literature and philosophy as an example of the lack of purpose and meaning. And Solomon is in the blue corner: In Ecclesiastes he examines his life and exclaims, “Vanity! Vanity!” Solomon wrestled through the meaninglessness of life despite having everything a man of his time could dream of. The match is set and the bell rings-Round 1!
Round 1-Atheism’s Search for Meaning
Atheism denies God as creator, which then leads to the abdication of a moral law. Because of this, finding meaning and purpose is next barrier to overcome. If God did not create humanity what is the purpose to life? To what end is life if all that will happen is death and nothing more? Solomon sees vanity and Atheism keeps looking and looking. A few blows between Solomon and Sisyphus and there we have the end of round 1.
Round 2-Atheism’s Response
Next, the best response atheism can give is a change of attitude. Especially relevant is Albert Camus, a philosopher in the 1940’s and 50’s wrote a work called, The Myth of Sisyphus, and essentially said that a change of attitude needed to occur. There is an end purpose if attitude is changed, right? The end goal is to be happy. Solomon already tried that though. He says, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.” Finally, we have happiness in a meaningless world. It is a band aid on a bursting dam. A few more blows to the heads of the competitors and round 2 is complete.
Activity does not create meaning; it is the other way around.”
Round 3-The Pit of Despair
“The exception to the rule proves the rule.” So it is that in order to know if something is fake, the authentic must be known. To deny God is to deny meaning, yet atheism contradicts and denies God yet affirms meaning. Whether the meaning comes through pleasure seeking, or in being a good person, if God is not in the picture, what is the point? Voltaire found futility in existence itself. Solomon found futility in his labor.
Solomon’s portrayal of life under the sun was exemplifying life outside of God. Solomon has a come around moment when he turns meaninglessness into meaning. Life under the sun is at the heart of atheism: Life is meaningless with a forced smiled only to be rolled back down the hill. Finally, it is only when life’s meaning is found in God that Solomon gives Sisyphus an uppercut; leaving Sisyphus falling face first to the ground–Knocked Out.
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
Augustine of Hippo
For Further Discussion:
Albert Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus: Click Here
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