“Schaeffer Sunday” Schaeffer: if you hold life is meaningless then live that way

Schaeffer disproves that life is meaningles and there are no answers in this simple essay below.

The Shelter – A Francis A. Schaeffer Site

If a man held that everything is meaningless, nothing has answers and there is no cause-and-effect relationship, and if he really held this position with any consistency, it would be very hard to refute. But in fact, no one can hold consistently that everything is chaotic and irrational and that there are no basic answers. It can be held theoretically, but it cannot be held in practice that everything is absolute chaos.

The first reason the irrational position cannot be held consistently in practice is the fact that the external world is there and it has form and order. It is not a chaotic world. If it were true that all is chaotic, unrelated, and absurd, science as well as general life would come to an end. To live at all is not possible except in the understanding that the universe that is there — the external universe — has a certain form, a certain order, and that man conforms to that order and so can live within it.

Perhaps you remember one of Godard’s movies, Pierrot le Fou, in which he has people going out through the windows, instead of through the doors. But the interesting thing is that they do not go out through the solid wall. Godard is really saying that although he has no answer, yet at the same time he cannot go out through that solid wall. This is merely his expression of the difficulty of holding that there is a totally chaotic universe while the external world has form and order.

Sometimes people try to bring in a little bit of order; but as soon as you bring in a little bit of order, the first class of answer — that everything is meaningless, everything is irrational — is no longer self-consistent and falls to the ground.

The view that everything is chaotic and there are no ultimate answers is held by many thinking people today, but in my experience they always hold it very selectively. Almost without exception (actually, I have never found an exception), they discuss rationally until they are losing the discussion, and then they try to slip over into the answer of irrationality. But as soon as the one we are discussing with does that, we must point out to him that as soon as he becomes selective in his argument of irrationality he makes his whole argument suspect. Theoretically the position of irrationalism can be held, but no one lives with it in regard either to the external world or the categories of his own thought world and discussion. As a matter of fact, if this position were argued properly, all discussion would come to an end. Communication would end. We would have only a series of meaningless sounds — blah, blah, blah. The Theatre of the Absurd has said this, but it fails, because if you read and listen carefully to the Theatre of the Absurd, it is always trying to communicate its view that one cannot communicate. There is always a communication about the statement that there is no communication. It is always selective, with pockets of order brought in somewhere along the line. Thus we see that this class of answer — that all things are irrational — is not an answer.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Ch. 1)

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