How Richard Dawkins’ favorite book of the Bible (Ecclesiastes) and it’s message of Nihilism can be seen in the lives of Comedian Doug Stanhope, Dave Hope of Kansas and King Solomon!

Is ECCLESIASTES one of Richard Dawkins’ favorite Books of the Bible?

Forgive me, spirit of science

Richard Dawkins on his lifelong love of the King James Bible, which will be 400 years old next year.

The King James Bible occupies nearly 42 pages of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, only narrowly beaten by Shakespeare, with 45. Not just literature in the high sense but everyday speech is laced, suffused – riddled, even – with biblical phrases the status of which ranges from telling quotation (“They have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind”) to cliché (“No peace for the wicked”) and all points between. A word in season and perhaps we can see eye to eye. Although I wouldn’t call the Bible my ewe lamb, and I would have to go the extra mile before I killed the fatted calf for it, you don’t need the wisdom of Solomon to see how biblical imagery dominates our English. If my words fall on stony ground – if you pass me by as a voice crying in the wilderness – be sure your sin will find you out. Between us there is a great gulf fixed and you are a thorn in my flesh. We have come to the parting of the ways. I fear it is a sign of the times.

It has to be the King James version, of course. Modern translations break the spell as surely as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Listen
to this, if you can bear to, from the Good News Bible, whose clunking title matches its style:

It is useless, useless, said the Philosopher.
Life is useless, all useless./You spend your life working, labouring, and what do you have to show for it? Generations come and generations go, but the world stays just the same.

Older readers might hear the voice of Tony Hancock. Or is it Victor Meldrew? Anyway, now here’s the real thing:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity./What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?/One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

Real thing? Well, let me not emulate that notorious slogan against the teaching of Spanish in Texas schools: “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the children of Texas.” Hebrew, alas, is a sealed book to me (yes, that’s another one: Isaiah 29:11), but I have it on respected authority that Ecclesiastes, at least, is pretty damn good poetry in the original. If so, it certainly doesn’t make it through the Good News mangling. But I shall argue that poetry can gain in translation, and I believe this may have been achieved with the King James Bible.

It is often said (though often forgotten) that the Bible is not a book but a library. Obviously unable to cover it all, I shall attend to my two favourite books, neighbours in the Old Testament: Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. First, the world-weary Preacher’s lament for the passing of youth and the privations of old age.

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.

Compare that to the Good News version:

So remember your Creator while you are still young, before those dismal days and years come when you will say, “I don’t enjoy life”.

“I don’t enjoy life”? How are the mighty fallen! If I can’t have poetry, I’d prefer the blunt frankness of a beloved godfather who died this year at the age of 93. “Richard,” this tall, handsome old man said, fixing me with his blue eyes for the only piece of solemn, godfatherly advice he ever gave me, “old age is a bugger.”

Doug Stanhope on John Stossel

Uploaded on Oct 1, 2011

No description available.

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I have so much respect for the hard work that goes into stand up comedy because I have a son named Hunter who has been involved with a local comedy club and even presented several full length shows himself. He is always using  just original material from his own life and that involves the constant study of life itself. The absurdities inside life are always being carefully examined. Today I am writing because I want to take a close look at the comedy of an atheist comic and breakdown his nihilistic views on life.

Since I have lived and worked in Little Rock many years, I used to run into Bill Clinton quite a lot in downtown Little Rock. It was quite remarkable to me when he chose to emphasize that the small town of  Hope was his home town even though he had only lived there 3 or 4 years. Of course, he did so because of the power of the word “HOPE.”  I wanted to talk to you about three men and the subject of nihilism: Comedian DOUG STANHOPE, Bass player DAVE HOPE of the 1970’s rock band Kansas and King Solomon of Israel who wrote Richard Dawkins’ favorite book of the Bible which is Ecclesiastes. There is a thread of nihilism that can be compared in these three men’s stories, and nihilism is the opposite of HOPE.

Ten Sacred Cows Destroyed By Doug Stanhope

dougstanhope

From sex to religion, nothing’s off-topic for the fearless comedian. Posted December 12th, 2012, 1:12 PM by

Last year, on Louis C.K.’s breakout hit series “Louie,” Doug Stanhope played Eddie, an old friend and peer of Louie’s who hadn’t found any success in comedy, nor any happiness in life. Sharing Louie’s low tolerance for bull$#!@, Eddie confided in him that he was just passing through town on his way to Boston, where he would do his final show before killing himself. Every argument Louie tries to muster to convince him otherwise is quickly and brutally shot down, and eventually, he has to just acquiesce to Eddie’s intentions and bid him farewell. With a strong performance from both men, they destroyed the common wisdom that suicide should never be a viable option.

The more viscerally affecting part of that episode is that Eddie doesn’t seem all that far removed from Stanhope himself, aside from the quality of his comedy. Stanhope’s stage persona is a nihilistic man who has to blind himself on alcohol and drugs to enjoy any small part of the bleak, unending hellscape of existence, but as he often says, he’s funnier when he’s drunk, which means he’s not blinding himself at all.

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Obviously the atheist comedian DOUG STANHOPE  has already arrived at the nihilistic conclusion that many other atheists have reached in the past.
The late Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer sums up where the secular worldview has brought modern man:

So some humanists act as if they have a great advantage over Christians. They act as if the advance of science and technology and a better understanding of history (through such concepts as the evolutionary theory) have all made the idea of God and Creation quite ridiculous.
This superior attitude, however, is strange because one of the most striking developments in the last half-century is the growth of a profound pessimism among both the well-educated and less-educated people. The thinkers in our society have been admitting for a long time that they have no final answers at all.
Take Woody Allen, for example. Most people know his as a comedian, but he has thought through where mankind stands after the “religious answers” have been abandoned. In an article in Esquire (May 1977), he says that man is left with:
… alienation, loneliness [and] emptiness verging on madness…. The fundamental thing behind all motivation and all activity is the constant struggle against annihilation and against death. It’s absolutely stupefying in its terror, and it renders anyone’s accomplishments meaningless. As Camus wrote, it’s not only that he (the individual) dies, or that man (as a whole) dies, but that you struggle to do a work of art that will last and then you realize that the universe itself is not going to exist after a period of time. Until those issues are resolved within each person – religiously or psychologically or existentially – the social and political issues will never be resolved, except in a slapdash way.
Allen sums up his view in his film Annie Hall with these words: “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.”
Many would like to dismiss this sort of statement as coming from one who is merely a pessimist by temperament, one who sees life without the benefit of a sense of humor. Woody Allen does not allow us that luxury. He speaks as a human being who has simply looked life in the face and has the courage to say what he sees. If there is no personal God, nothing beyond what our eyes can see and our hands can touch, then Woody Allen is right: life is both meaningless and terrifying. As the famous artist Paul Gauguin wrote on his last painting shortly before he tried to commit suicide: “Whence come we? What are we? Whither do we go?” The answers are nowhere, nothing, and nowhere. The humanist H. J. Blackham has expressed this with a dramatic illustration:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit.79

One does not have to be highly educated to understand this. It follows directly from the starting point of the humanists’ position, namely, that everything is just matter. That is, that which has existed forever and ever is only some form of matter or energy, and everything in our world now is this and only this in a more or less complex form.

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To sum up Schaeffer is saying, “If man has been kicked up out of that which is only impersonal by chance , then those things that make him man-hope of purpose and significance, love, motions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication-are ultimately unfulfillable and thus meaningless.” (Francis Schaeffer in THE GOD WHO IS THERE)
HAS COMEDY PROVIDED DOUG STANHOPE ANY ANSWERS? 3000 years ago Solomon pursued five “L” words in his search for the meaning of life and probing the area of LAUGHTER was one of his first places to start. In Ecclesiastes 2:2 he starts this quest but he concludes it is not productive to be laughing the whole time and not considering the serious issues of life. Then Solomon also asserted the nihilistic statement in Ecclesiastes 2:17: “So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

In the Book of Ecclesiastes what are all of the 5 “L” words that Solomon looked into? He looked into  learning (1:16-18), laughter, ladies, luxuries,  and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and labor (2:4-6, 18-20). IRONICALLY, DOUG STANHOPE HAS MADE ALL FIVE OF THESE BUTTS OF HIS NIHILISTIC JOKES!!!

Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.” This puts him in the same place that DOUG STANHOPE finds himself. 

If you are an atheist then you have a naturalistic materialistic worldview, and this short book of Ecclesiastes should interest you because the wisest man who ever lived in the position of King of Israel came to THREE CONCLUSIONS that will affect you.

FIRST, chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13)

These two verses below  take the 3 elements mentioned in a naturalistic materialistic worldview (time, chance and matter) and so that is all the unbeliever can find “under the sun” without God in the picture. You will notice that these are the three elements that evolutionists point to also.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 is following: I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.

SECOND, Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)

THIRD, Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1, 8:15)

Ecclesiastes 4:1-2: “Next I turned my attention to all the outrageous violence that takes place on this planet—the tears of the victims, no one to comfort them; the iron grip of oppressors, no one to rescue the victims from them.” Ecclesiastes 8:14; “ Here’s something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what’s coming to the wicked, and bad people get what’s coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense. It’s smoke.”

Solomon had all the resources in the world and he found himself searching for meaning in life and trying to come up with answers concerning the afterlife. However, it seems every door he tries to open is locked. Today men try to find satisfaction in learning, liquor, ladies, luxuries, laughter, and labor and that is exactly what Solomon tried to do too.  None of those were able to “fill the God-sized vacuum in his heart” (quote from famous mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal). You have to wait to the last chapter in Ecclesiastes to find what Solomon’s final conclusion is.

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, Solomon realized death comes to everyone and there must be something more.

Livgren wrote:

All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Take a minute and compare Kerry Livgren’s words to that of the late British humanist H.J. Blackham:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

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Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player DAVE HOPE of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and DAVE HOPE had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. DAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida. IT IS TRULY IRONIC THAT TWO MEN WITH THE WORD “HOPE” IN THEIR NAMES HAVE SUCH DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO THE 3 PROBLEMS THAT MAN MUST FACE IN ECCLESIASTES.

DOUG STANHOPE believes  three things. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life.  FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. In contrast, DAVE HOPE believes death is not the end and the Christian can  face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.

Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

 

Today I have demonstrated that atheists should agree with the comics Doug Stanhope and Woody Allen that nihilism should be embraced by atheists or they should consider the fact that God does exist and that will change everything!!!!

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Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

You can hear DAVE HOPE and Kerry Livgren’s stories from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Uploaded on Nov 7, 2009

Music video by Kansas performing Dust In The Wind. (c) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

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