The nihilists of the 20th century have asserted that the universe is absurd, that is, meaningless for human beings who seek meaning. It is in our nature. Outside the human community, the universe cannot be classified as either absurd or meaningful. It simply is. It is human beings’ perceptions that make the universe either absurd or meaningful for them. The absurdist artists and writers have declared the universe to be absurd. They have rejected all the theological and philosophical reflections on the meaningfulness of the world. The fruits of their reflections has borne bitter fruit. That fruit is the deconstruction of society and the ethical morass we find ourselves in.
The nihilist philosophy is absurd, but Christian faith is not absurd. Human beings can think or act in an absurd way, making the universe absurd by their own willfulness. Absurdity is relational, that is, it requires observers and thinkers who cannot make sense of the world. The absurdity in Camus’ book, The Stranger, is Camus. He has made himself thus.
While one can choose from many philosophies, including nihilism, one is chosen to be a follower of Christ. Before the Holy Spirit works in us through the Word of God, we cannot be Christ’s (See Formula of Concord). This does not mean that those who do not believe are the victims of fate, because they had not been chosen. They have rather rejected the message presented to them in the Word. One can choose a nihilistic philosophy, another philosophy, or be caught up in a belief tht there is a God who has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us. Nihilism rejects God; Chrisitanity affirms His existence. Without God the universe is absurd. According to nihilism, beings who require meaning to thrive are cast adrift in a meaningless universe. That is absurdity! A human creation!
Christian faith makes sense of the world, but it, most of all, establishes a relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ. When Christian faith is rejected, the universe appears to be absurd. When God is declared dead, for those who accept this, he is dead for them. They must make their way to find meaning that they can never find without God.
What is absurd? Absurdist, nihilistic philosophy. Who is absurd? Those who believe an absurdist point of view. They can blame nobody but themselves.
Michael G. Tavella
April 14, 2020
Tuesday in Easter