“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.”

15 COMMENTS

  1. Lol what? There is no god… None at all. Not one of theses creation myths/religions make any logical sense or have any evidence to back them, also not all non believers are immoral in fact morality is more so subjective and one can say that in this case the majority of bad or immoral people in the world are in fact theist. If there were a god in the context of this omni- all type being, the abrahamic deity and story falls far short of being omni, based on the creation story, old vs new testament the idea of using a damn book (full of evil) to inform his pointless creations he exists, and entrusting this word with only a select few people in the world. There is no true meaning or purpose for our existence but we can find or make our own artificial meanings.

    • No evidence to back them? Archaelogical evidence has time and time again proven that the Biblical record of things is accurate. Jesus was a historical person, that much is completely undeniable, his tomb remains empty to this day, and the Bible spoke of the Hittites long before they were ever discovered. Even beyond the Biblical record, the universe unequivocally points to a designer. I’ll say the same thing I said in a previous comment on another blog: there are things about the universe that simply make a non-theistic explanation unlikely. For instance:
      1. Gravitational force: if larger: stars would be too hot and would burn too rapidly and too unevenly for life chemistry
      if smaller: stars would be too cool to ignite nuclear fusion; thus, many of the elements needed for life chemistry would never form

      2. Electromagnetic force: if greater: chemical bonding would be disrupted; elements more massive than boron would be unstable to fission
      if lesser: chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry

      Even atheist Stephen Hawking said “The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”

      Hmm. “Very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.” That sounds like intelligent design to me. And if intelligent design is true, that makes Jehovah a very real possibility. And if Jehovah is the true God, then that inherently gives our life a purpose.

      • Intelligent design really?http://www.talkreason.org/index.cfm?category=10
        Kinda Like ndt said there’s so many ways the universe is trying to kill us how can that be intelligent design? Stephen Hawkings the atheist with an understanding of how things actually work came to the conclusion that there is no need for a god and If you read the bible you can find numerous examples that this god is not an omni all being. come on an all knowing being creates all this for no real reason and then creates or trust man(middle eastern men) to keep his word filled with contradictions and logical flaws and has them spread this crap to everyone else in the world. He’s supposed to be omni-. It seems like you guys like to think with your emotions attached.

        • I don’t know of any contradictions in the Bible. I hear people make that claim all of the time, but most of these lists I see, when you research them, aren’t contradictions at all (in fact, most of them are just two different people with the same name).

          The dangers of the universe in it “trying to kill us” is answered by Genesis 3: the fall. To claim that as evidence against a God makes no sense. And not only does the Bible answer that very question, but the dangers of the universe have nothing to do with whether a God exists or not (if you’re talking about intelligent design generally, not a specific god).

          And the Bible absolutely teaches that God is an omni all being. I know of no example to point to the contrary in scripture.

      • Also there is no archaeological evidence supporting the bible or proof of Jesus actually existing none. We do know that the world is not 6000 yrs old and that dinosaurs actually existed, also kangaroos weren’t on Noah’s ark but they exist.

        • There is plenty of archaeological evidence supporting the Bible. The Bible spoke of the Hittites years and years before they were ever discovered. That was pointed to as evidence that the Bible was in err, but then archaeology discovered that they existed. The Grand Canyon is evidence of a massive flood, and there are similar chasms on all continents. I know of not a single serious scholar that denies the fact that Jesus existed. He is in historical records outside of the Bible; his existence as a historical person simply cannot be denied. The Bible never denies that dinosaurs existed, and we don’t have an account of every single animal that was on Noah’s ark, so you have no grounds on which to say that kangaroos weren’t on Noah’s ark.

    • Hmm… “There is no true meaning or purpose for our existence…” Okay, if what you claim is true, then why would religion need evidence or to make any logical sense to you? If there is no true meaning or purpose in the world then why should anything you say be taken seriously? That seems rather odd to disqualify yourself like that and then go around appealing to those kinds of things as if they were somehow important.

      • Religion tries to make the claim of how things Work but not one religion has ever been proven correct. If there was a god an all knowing, powerful being , not only would there be no use of us for it but also there wouldn’t even be a debate of its existence. I’ll say it again there is no real meaning to our existence. We just are here.

        • Yes, I see the point you’re making there. I just don’t know why you would want to saw the branch off that you’re sitting on. If there is no real meaning to existence, as you say, then how do you account for the meaning of your claim that no religion “has ever been proven correct”? Where does that meaning come from? And if it just comes from you and we all just make up our own meaning, as it seems like you’re saying, then everyone can have their own meaning entirely different from yours and it doesn’t really matter in the end. But if it doesn’t really matter in the end then why are you bothering to share your opinions with anybody else? Why should any of us ascribe meaning to any of your words? That was my original question.

        • If God is all-knowing, that creates meaning for our lives, it doesn’t erase it. It means that we ought to listen to this all-knowing being, because He knows why we’re here and he knows what’s best for us because He made everything. The fact of whether there is meaning for our lives hinges on this very question, it’s not negated by it.

  2. Interesting read! I really appreciate the summary of nihilism from the perspective of comic books. Clever angle to approach a topic some folks find difficult to grasp. Thanks.

  3. And still you put yourself over your own god, cherry picking the bits you like from the bits you don’t. You are assuming a higher moral insight than even your own god.
    Stoning gays? No let’s not do that…. Be nice? Yeah, I like that, let’s take that.

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