On April 30th, CBS Sunday Morning published a portion of their interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, where he was asked about the existence of God. I already knew that he did not believe in God, but I was very intrigued, and wanted to know where his thinking was. Here’s the interview below:
There were a few thoughts that came to mind, one of them was that I absolutely understand where he’s coming from. The amount of human suffering is intense, and anyone who is a Christian can tell you, it’s a hard thing to grapple with as you walk with the Lord. However, another thought quickly came to mind, and his words began to ring hollow from that perspective.
You see, it’s valid to ask the question of how God is still good with all the suffering in this world, yet he never stops to think that this would also make his view about purpose and meaning ultimately pointless. Take a look at how he responds to a question on meaning from a six-year-old:
If you look at the natural world, and you see the pitiless indifference of nature towards living beings, wouldn’t it be a lie to say we as humans have value and meaning? You may say, “We can still value ourselves, and care for each other, plus want society to progress!” Yes, this is true. Yet, it would only be true for those who accepted that premise wouldn’t it?
If we make up our own purpose and meaning like he believes, then wouldn’t that be a delusion that we find comfort in? There’s no ultimate purpose, but because we can think of a purpose, that’s what it should be? It would just be a delusion that those without a religion prefer, in that we are autonomous, and meaning and purpose comes from within us.
Neil also subscribes to the theories of evolution and the Big Bang as well. Purposelessness and random chance are embedded in the fabric of that historical view. There’s no why to nature, really, it just so happened to get this way. Meaning that just because humans came along at the tail end of history, and thought up a purpose doesn’t mean you have a purpose. You just think you do, you live that out, and you’re preoccupied with it until you die.
Thankfully, many unbelievers believe we have value and a purpose, and I applaud that. But Neil, and anyone who believes this way must realize that in order to believe this, you’re going to be inconsistent.
One final thing that came to mind is the way he magnifies the suffering, yet doesn’t speak on why we have so many ways to enjoy life? In a world where so many things go wrong, there’s an immense level of enjoyment we were built to experience. Things we do functionally to survive and populate aren’t mechanical alone. For example, we don’t just eat food to get energy, we have taste buds that communicate the flavor of our food. Animals eat for survival and by instinct, but only humans think about the way their food is enjoyed and prepared.
We don’t just have sex to reproduce, we experience orgasms, hormones that magnify the feelings, body parts that are primed for the act, etc.
The ability to enjoy life is so immense, that the beauty bursts through in spite of the evil and suffering that is ever-present. If God did not reveal Himself, we would be left to figure it out, yet He has revealed Himself. He helps us to see that this world is indeed fallen and cursed, yet did the unthinkable by humbly experiencing it with us, and taking on the curse itself to deliver us.
Life is not easy, and this write-up alone is not enough to walk with those who struggle with this harsh life and the existence of God. But we should always remember how limited our vantage point is, and I hope that this encourages all of us to have some introspection and an increase of our perspective.