Lord Sacks is right: 21st-century atheism is descending into nihilism

by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, Catholic Herald


There is a superb article over at the Spectator written by the outgoing Chief Rabbi on the failure of atheism. If you have not read it yet, please do so at once.



Lord Sacks reveals himself as a man of great intellect, and one quite understands what he means when he laments the fact that discussion about God has now descended to the level of a school debating society. Atheists are simply not what they once were. There is no one around today who has the intellectual weight of Nietzsche, for example. Atheist he might have been, but he was also a great existential philosopher who thought long and heard about human existence. By contrast, many of the God-haters of today have nothing of significance to say about life. Indeed, many of them claim philosophy itself is unimportant.



But the chief concern of Lord Sacks is the question of morality. Is there a pre-existing moral order, or is there not? Do we create morality? Or as Alasdair MacIntyre once put it: Aristotle or Nietzsche? I do not think there can be a third way. Either meaning is intrinsic to things, or else it is something that we impose on them as an act of will, and nature is completely malleable.



But this last simply cannot be true. There is meaning in the universe which we discover, and which we do not create. Well, how did that meaning get there?



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