FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 421 Responding to Dan Barker’s book LIFE DRIVEN PURPOSE ( “A humanistic view of human nature is neither negative nor positive. It is realistic and optimistic”) FEATURED ARTIST IS WILLIAM-ADOLPHE BOUGUEREAU (1825-1905)

Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning

I have read articles for years from Dan Barker, but recently I just finished the book Barker wrote entitled LIFE DRIVEN PURPOSE which was prompted by Rick Warren’s book PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE which I also read several years ago.

Dan Barker is the  Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, And co-host of Freethought Radio and co-founder of The Clergy Project.

On March 19, 2022, I got an email back from Dan Barker that said:

Thanks for the insights.

Have you read my book Life Driven Purpose? To say there is no purpose OF life is not to say there is no purpose IN life. Life is immensely meaningful when you stop looking for external purpose.

Ukraine … we’ll, we can no longer blame Russian aggression on “godless communism.” The Russian church, as far as I know, has not denounced the war.

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In the next few weeks I will be discussing the book LIFE DRIVEN PURPOSE which I did enjoy reading. Here is an assertion that Barker makes that I want to discuss:

A humanistic view of human nature is neither negative nor positive. It is realistic and optimistic.

I had the unique opportunity to correspond from 2015 to 2020 with Dr. Horace Barlow who was named after his grandfather Horace Darwin (1851-1928).

In my 32nd letter (my last one) on 4-18-20 I quoted H.J. Blackham on where humanism leads 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

This quote from H.J. Blackham, a humanist leader himself seems to contradict Barker’s assertion: A humanistic view of human nature is neither negative nor positive. It is realistic and optimistic.

Horace Darwin.jpg

Photograph of Horace Darwin

Horace Barlow pictured below:

_____________


April 18, 2020

Dr. Horace Barlow,  Cambridge CB3 9AX, England

Dear Dr. Barlow,

As you know I have been writing you since 2015 and I was so thrilled to get a detailed letter back from you in November of 2017 that answered several of the questions that I have asked you about Charles Darwin’s views. In many of the letters I have written to you have referred also to Solomon and his words in the last book he wrote which was ECCLESIASTES. Well, Ricky Gervais has written and starred in a film series on Netflix called AFTER LIFE that reminds me of a modern day Solomon looking in vain for the meaning in life UNDER THE SUN in the fictional town Tambury which is really filmed in London.

Today I got to ask a question to Ricky and he took time to answer me and I thought you would enjoy some of my open letter to Ricky which I published today:

I have been a big fan of yours for 20 years now and I have taken an interest especially in your philosophical views concerning atheism and your attacks on Christianity, and since 2016 I have written you 9 letters basically concerning the Book of Ecclesiastes and the subject of nihilism. Then I ran across your series AFTER LIFE and Tony reminded me so much of Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes and the nihilism that Solomon embraced.

Today, Saturday April 18, 2020 at 6pm in London and noon in Arkansas, I had a chance to ask you on your Twitter Live broadcast “Is Tony a Nihilist?” At the 20:51 mark you answer my question with the following comments:


Not, I mean he [Tony] dabbles with it [nihilism] but a lot of this stuff is like he is being provocative and he is trying to sort of hurt people. No, It is difficult to say. I don’t. The one thing he wants he can’t have so he is angry. He has to compromise. He had the perfect marriage and he doesn’t know how to act or feel anymore. He is confused. He is in pain. He is ill. He is probably ill you know. If you are not right in your [mind] then you are ill, and you can’t just step out of it. You know. You even know you are not normal or well, but what can you do? You don’t feel good. That will do. Did we get serious then? That won’t happen again!

It seems to me that you would classify Tony as angry and confused but not a nihilist. You are the writer so you should know, but let me ask you if you can philosophically back up the view that Tony is not living the life of a nihilist (one who does think there are no rules for his life and no purpose for his life and no basis for morality).

As a member of the British Humanist Association you are familiar with the view of optimistic humanism. Let me share some views on that:

Paul Kurtz – (writer of Humanist Manifesto 2 in 1973 and Dr. Kurtz was a very kind gentleman who took time to correspond with me.)

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“The universe is neutral, indifferent to man’s existential yearnings. But we instinctively discover life, experience its throb, its excitement, its attraction. Life is here to be lived, enjoyed, suffered, and endured…Again–one cannot ‘prove’ this normative principle to everyone’s satisfaction. Living beings tend instinctively to maintain themselves and to reproduce beyond ultimate justification. It is a brute fact of our contingent natures; It is an instinctive desire to live.”

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J.P. Moreland – “2 Objections to optimistic humanism: #1 There is no rational justification for choosing it over nihilism. As far as rationality is concerned, it has nothing to offer over nihilism. Therefore, optimistic humanism suffers from some of the same objections we raised against nihilism. Kurtz himself admits that the ultimate values of humanism are incapable of rational justification!!!!!!  #2 Optimistic Humanism really answers the question of the meaning of life in the negative, just as nihilism does. For the optimistic humanist life has no objective value or purpose; It offers only subjective satisfaction, one should think long and hard before embracing such a horrible view. If there is a decent case that life has objective value and purpose, then such a case should be given as good a hearing as possible.

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R.C. Sproul:Nihilism has two traditional enemies–Theism and Naive Humanism. The theist contradicts the nihilist because the existence of God guarantees that ultimate meaning and significance of personal life and history. Naive Humanism is considered naive by the nihilist because it rhapsodizes–with no rational foundation–the dignity and significance of human life. The humanist declares that man is a cosmic accident whose origin was fortuitous and entrenched in meaningless insignificance. Yet in between the humanist mindlessly crusades for, defends, and celebrates the chimera of human dignity…Herein is the dilemma: Nihilism declares that nothing really matters ultimately…In my judgment, no philosophical treatise has ever surpassed or equaled the penetrating analysis of the ultimate question of meaning versus vanity that is found in the Book of Ecclesiastes

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The humanist H. J. Blackham was the founder of the British Humanist Association and he asserted: 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). Francis Schaeffer comments concerning Blackham’s assertion, “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 exited forever and in 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.”

The 5 Conclusions of Humanism according to King Solomon of Israel in the Book of Ecclesiastes!!!!!

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The Humanistic world view tells us there is no afterlife and all we have is this life “under the sun.”

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Francis Schaeffer (Christian Philosopher) notes Solomon limits himself to “under the sun” – In other words the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death. It is indeed the book of modern man. Solomon is the universal man with unlimited resources who says let us see where I go. Ravi Zacharias 

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“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 us (Matter)”

1st Conclusion: Nothing in life truly satisfies and that includes wisdom, great works and pleasure. A) Will wisdom satisfy someone under the sun? We know it is good in its proper place. T

But what did Solomon find out about wisdom “under the sun”? Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 (Living Bible): I said to myself, ‘Look, I am better educated than any of the kings before me in Jerusalem. I have greater wisdom and knowledge.’So I worked hard to be wise instead of foolish[c]—but now I realize that even this was like chasing the wind. For the more my wisdom, the more my grief; to increase knowledge only increases distress.” (That is NIHILISM!!!!)

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KJV and Living Bible Ecclesiastes 2:1-3, 8, 10, 11: I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly,And then there were my many beautiful concubines.10 Anything I wanted I took and did not restrain myself from any joy…11 But as I looked at everything I had tried, it was all so useless, a chasing of the wind, and there was nothing really worthwhile anywhere…

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2nd Conclusion: Power reigns in this life and the scales are not balanced!!!!!Ecclesiastes 4:1 (King James Version): So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
Ecclesiastes 7:15 (King James Version) All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.If you are a humanist you must admit that men like Hitler will not be punished in the afterlife because you deny there is an afterlife? Right?

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3rd Conclusion – Death is the great equalizer. Just as the beasts will not be remembered so ultimately brilliant men will not be remembered. Ecclesiastes 3:20 “All go unto one place; All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” Here Solomon comes to the same point that Kerry Livgren came to in January of 1978 when he wrote the hit song DUST IN THE WIND. Can you refute the nihilistic claims of this song within the humanistic world view? Solomon couldn’t but maybe you can.

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4th Conclusion – Chance and time plus matter (us) has determined the past and it will determine the future.By the way, what are the ingredients that make evolution work? George Wald – “Time is the Hero.”

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Jacques Monod – “Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, is at the root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.”

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I can not think of a better illustration of this in action than the movie ON THE BEACH by Nevil Shute. On May 4, 1994 I watched the movie for the first time and again I thought of the humanist who believes that history is not heading somewhere with a purpose but is guided by pure chance, absolutely free but blind. I thought of the passage Ecclesiastes 9:10-12 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

5th Conclusion – Life is just a series ofcontinual and unending cycles and man is stuck in the middle of the cycle. Youth, old age, Death.
Does Solomon at this point embrace nihilism? Yes!!! He exclaims that the hates life (Ecclesiastes 2:17), he longs for death (4:2-3) Yet he stills has a fear of death (2:14-16).

I first starting studying Ecclesiastes in 1976 when I heard Adrian Rogers give a sermon on the nihilism of King Solomon. These facts in Ecclesiastes inspired the author of the song DUST IN THE WIND. Kerry Livgren of KANSAS, who wrote the song noted, “I happened to be reading a book of American Indian poetry and somewhere in it I came across the line, ‘We’re just dust in the wind.’ I remembered in the BOOK of ECCLESIASTES  where it said, ‘All is vanity,’ ” Livgren said of the passage that it reminds man he came from dust and will return to dust.

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I remember a visit in 1976 that Adrian Rogers made to our Junior High Chapel service at EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN SCHOOL, and it was that day that I personally began a lifelong interest in King Solomon’s life, and his search for satisfaction as pictured in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

(Kerry Livgren, Dave Hope in back)

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Solomon was searching for meaning and satisfaction in life in what Rogers called the 6 big L words in the Book of Ecclesiastes. 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).

Ecclesiastes 2:8-10The Message (MSG)

I piled up silver and gold,
loot from kings and kingdoms.
I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song,
and—most exquisite of all pleasures—
voluptuous maidens for my bed.

9-10 Oh, how I prospered! I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What’s more, I kept a clear head through it all. Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day’s work!

(Edward John Poynter Painting  below of Solomon)

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Francis Schaeffer observed concerning Solomon, “You can not know woman by knowing 1000 women.”

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King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:11 sums up his search for meaning with these words, “…behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

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After hearing the sermon by Adrian Rogers in 1976, I took a special interest in the Book of Ecclesiastes and then the next year I bought the album POINT OF KNOW RETURN by the group rock group KANSAS. On that album was the song “Dust in the Wind”  and it rose to #6 on the charts in 1978. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song 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.

(That is the same reason I am excited about Ricky’s series AFTER LIFE!!!)

_____________________

Furthermore, Solomon realized death comes to everyone and there must be something more. I was hoping the members of KANSAS would keep looking for something more than just material pursuits UNDER THE SUN.

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.”

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 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.

By the way, the final chapter of Ecclesiastes finishes with Solomon emphasizing that serving God is the only proper response of man. Solomon looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture.
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, cell ph 501-920-5733, everettehatcher@gmail.com

—-

(END OF LETTER TO DR BARLOW)

Francis Schaeffer

Image result for francis schaeffer roman bridge

How Should We Then Live | Season 1 | Episode 7 | The Age of Non-Reason


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Featured artist is BOUGUEREAU

William Bouguereau - Self-portrait - 1825-1905

WILLIAM-ADOLPHE BOUGUEREAU (1825-1905)

Another case of “love him or hate him” artist. Admired and extremely sought-after during his time, after the rise of the avant-garde his style fell into oblivion, altough he has been somewhat “rediscovered” in recent years.


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