Joy from 2 Contrasting Worldviews
I find that comparing how Christianity understands a concept with another worldview to be rather illuminating. Here’s a recent compare and contrast with naturalism (atheism) on the topic of joy, along with the problem of consistency.
- JOY IN THE SCOPE OF HISTORY
Christianity: Before there was a universe, there was joy in God who is eternally joyful and created the universe in joy, not out of need or want. God takes joy in His creation and takes joy in caring for His creation.
Naturalism: the universe was not created in joy, it is an accident, here for no objective purpose or reason or rationale.
2. JOY AND ITS PRESENCE IN REALITY
Christianity: joy is an integral part of reality, we were created to experience joy now and forever. Sin has led us astray to selfishly seek joy in ways that harmful to ourselves and others.
Naturalism: joy is an accident, we were not created, but are an accident ourselves—the result of unguided Darwinian evolution—and any experiences of joy are merely chemical reactions in the brains of advanced apes.
3. JOY AND MORALITY
Christianity: joy ought to be pursued by finding our supreme and first joy in loving and knowing God, who is our exceeding joy and delight (Ps 43:4) and by rightly enjoying each other and all that God has given us (1 Tim 6:17).
Naturalism: there are no objective moral values, only preferences of evolved apes trying to survive. To say one “ought” to do anything is a mere power play of an individual or society. A consistent atheist like philosopher Marquis de Sade might conclude that one should pursue hedonistic pleasure even at the harm and ruin of others (he was known for abusing prostitutes, but was seeking to be consistent to his philosophy).
4. JOY AFTER WE DIE
Christianity: Those who have been reconciled to God through Jesus, the only mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim 2:5), will forever experience joy in knowing and being with God. There will not be boredom, but an eternity of increasing joy and pleasure in knowing God.
Naturalism: Any joy we have will end at the end of our physical life, and all joy in the universe will cease when the universe dies.
PROBLEM OF CONSISTENCY:
The problem is inconsistency: the Christian doesn’t always live consistently to his/her worldview and settles for what I like to call ‘junk-food’ joys, instead of finding his/her supreme delight in God. (How often I do this in my own heart!) But God is gracious to lead believers in repentance and to find their greatest joy in Him.
The naturalist doesn’t live consistent to their worldview either, because consistency here would lead to nihilistic despair. (I would argue that Christianity tells us the truth about reality, and the unbeliever not being able to live out their worldview consistently is an indicator of the falsehood of naturalism [one of many indicators]).