Why is the life of Jesus universally considered beautiful? Because of his mercy, his welcoming demeanor, his tenderness toward the weak, his generous forgiveness of sinners. Everyone (except the self-righteous Pharisees) recognized the winsome beauty of Jesus. Today everyone likes Jesus. Everyone! Even atheists like Jesus. I can’t think of a single serious person who is a critic of Jesus. Friedrich Nietzsche, God bless him, tried to be a critic of Jesus, but he couldn’t keep it up and seems to have actually been a grudging admirer.
The Charm of Beauty In an Ugly Age
Old-school atheists like Friedrich Nietzsche
recognized that atheism utterly failed
to answer the most profound of human questions,
and thus atheism, he believed, led inexorably
Nowadays, most atheists are very uncomfortable with nihilism and want to distance themselves from their intellectual forefathers. Just because God doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that life can’t be vibrant and meaningful, right?
Well, it seems that not every atheist has abandoned Nietzsche’s insights. Atheist professor Alex Rosenberg provides the following summary of atheism’s answers to life’s most profound questions:
Is there a God? No.
What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.
What is the purpose of the universe? There is none.
What is the meaning of life? Ditto.
Why am I here? Just dumb luck.
Is there a soul? Are you kidding?
Is there free will? Not a chance!
What is the difference between right/wrong, good/bad? There is no moral difference between them.
He concludes, “So much for the meaning of history, and everything else we care about.”
Rosenberg left out other depressing atheist answers like the following:
Will there be justice for all those who have been wronged? No way.
Is there life after death? Are you joking?
Where did mankind come from? A prebiotic slime.
Wow! What a positive outlook on life! No wonder more people don’t become atheists. It casts such a stunning vision for mankind, doesn’t it?
I could only believe in a God
who knows how to dance.
German philosopher and atheist
What Jesus had to say about human good and evil was of sufficient depth, power, and justification to dominate European culture and its offshoots for two millennia. Nobody even has an idea of what “Europe” and the “Western world” would mean apart from Jesus and his words. The historian of morals W.E.H. Lecky describes the teaching of Jesus as “an agency which all men must now admit to have been, for good or for evil, the most powerful moral lever that has ever been applied to the affairs of man.”
A contemporary historian, Michael Grant, comments, “The most potent figure, not only in the history of religion, but in world history as a whole, is Jesus Christ: the maker of one of the few revolutions which have lasted. Millions of men and women for century after century have found his life and teaching overwhelmingly significant and moving…”
Friedrich Nietzsche is usually thought of as a bitter opponent of Jesus. But he clearly saw his indispensable role in the civilization into which Nietzsche himself had been born. He also understood that the modern world had moved off of its foundations in the Christian tradition of moral goodness, and that cataclysmic changes were to come because of this. They have come and are coming.
The Divine Conspiracy