“At the end of the day, what people are afraid of is the nothing of it, Bruce. The Randomness. The empty center. Stare into it and try to find meaning. You’ll go mad. All you can do is fear and survive. It’s the truth.”
I read comics a lot. That used to be a guilty pleasure, but now I’m realizing that they aren’t viewed the same way that they used to be. Back in the ‘60s, comics were just marketed to kids, but now they’ve been realized as a viable storytelling platform for teens and young adults. With that change, comic books have undertaken deeper and more intriguing concepts and ideas, among which is the concept of nihilism, through the character of the Joker.
Nihilism, like many philosophies, can take different faces and go to different extents, but Nihilism is generally speaking a philosophy that claims life is meaningless. There is no purpose to anything, we’re not put on Earth for any particular purpose, we just happen to be here. It’s a philosophy embraced, albeit unintentionally at times, by the Naturalist, that is, one who believes that there is no soul and there is no spiritual realm. It’s also the pet philosophy of the Joker.
The quote at the top of this post is from a character named the Red Hood, who later became the Joker after falling into a vat of chemicals during a fight with Batman. I’ve recently been reading Zero Year, which is a retelling of Batman’s origins, and this quote came up. Later in the story, when the Red Hood is facing Bruce once again (not in his Batsuit), Bruce calls him on something that uncovers one of the biggest problems with Nihilism. He tells the Red Hood that he’s just using the philosophy as a front. He uses it because it’s a way for him to justify to himself the heinous acts of evil that he commits. In that matter, Bruce is exactly right.
Sometimes it’s tempting to have this notion that scientists and philosophers are separate from human emotion and bias, coming to their conclusions in a vacuum of influence. That is not the case. They don’t want to believe in God. Why don’t they? He interferes with their immoral choices. That’s what Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, said. Ironically, he was the grandson of Charles Darwin’s right-hand man Thomas Huxley, yet he didn’t go along with the Nihilistic craze, and here’s why:
“Our conviction that the world is meaningless lends itself very effectively to furthering the ends of erotic or political passion; in part to a genuine intellectual error — the error of identifying the world of science, a world from which all meaning and value has been deliberately excluded, with ultimate reality.”
If you get rid of God, you get rid of a reason that we are here. If you get rid of a reason we’re here, you get rid of accountability. Once accountability is gone, you’re free to adopt whatever depraved form of moral conduct you want to. Because if life is meaningless and there is no higher power, then who is there to tell you that what you’re doing is wrong?
Philosophy and science are not created in a bias-free vacuum. That doesn’t mean that everything an evolutionist ever says is bound to be wrong necessarily, but it does mean that we have to stop accepting everything they say with blind faith. We need to have a well-reasoned faith that is not afraid of investigation, that enables us to search out the facts for ourselves and compare it to God’s word. That’s a key part of what Paul was talking about in Romans 1:16.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”