Author Jonathan Noyes
Published on 03/14/2022

An Existential Crisis Only Christianity Answers

Jon Noyes considers three realities concerning the soul, guilt, and human value and discusses why only Christianity provides a reasonable explanation. Visit Stand to Reason on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at noon pacific time for more To the Point LIVE content.


As I came to the conclusion that everything around me had come from somewhere or someone, I found myself in the middle of an existential crisis. Our souls hunger for meaning, purpose, acceptance, and unconditional love. These are at the forefront of the cultural conversation. What do we do with our deepest desires and our deep brokenness? What do we do with the soul? What do we do with consciousness? Consciousness and the soul are a huge part of reality, and they’re a huge problem for the naturalist. But I don’t think they’re a problem for the Christian.

Philosopher of science and atheist Daniel Dennett said that consciousness is an illusion. But what’s an illusion? Think about it. An illusion is when your conscious mind is appeared to falsely. But only conscious minds can be appeared to. So, if that’s true—if consciousness itself is an illusion, and only conscious things can have illusions—is the illusion having an illusion? This is a perfect example of a self-refutation. Dennett must presuppose what he denies in order to deny it.

Here are three important things to consider.

First, souls are real. Your soul is what you’re aware of when you introspect. All people know that they have souls. They’re aware of them constantly. You’re in direct contact with your own soul every waking moment, and you’re the only being who is in contact with your soul.

Second, there’s something wonderful about human beings, and the wonderful thing is our souls. Our souls make us special and unique. We all know humans are special. We all know that human beings are valuable, but as a naturalist, as an atheist, I couldn’t ground this in my worldview. In atheism, there’s no reason to believe humans are special. Naturalism reduces us to just cosmic junk or biological accidents without a purpose. William Provine said that we have no purpose or meaning in life. Richard Dawkins defends the same proposition. In atheism, man is nothing, and this life means nothing outside of any meaning you want to arbitrarily give it. Nothing is ultimately valuable. Nothing is ultimately meaningful. Nothing will ultimately satisfy our hunger for purpose, our hunger for justice, or our hunger for immortality. No wonder they call it nihilism—nothingism. Suicide has been my number one requested talk for the last two years. As I travel the country, I see that worldviews matter. Our worldview informs us about who we are and, ultimately, why we’re here, and what you believe about those things has real consequences.

The third thing everyone knows is that humans are broken. They’re morally broken or, more specifically, morally to blame. A while ago, I met French atheist turned Christian Guillaume Bignon. His major struggle was with why Jesus had to die. This made no sense to him. Then, he said, “God reactivated my conscience. That was not a pleasant experience. I was physically crippled by guilt, not knowing what to do about it.” Then he realized this was exactly why Jesus had to die for him, for me, for the crippling guilt that we have. Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. You see, naturalism can’t do this. It can’t explain this part of reality. Naturalism can’t explain the beauty and the wonder of human beings, and it has no answer for human brokenness. It has no consolation or true forgiveness, but Christianity does.

You see, friends, as an atheist, all I was left with to build my life on was—as atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell said—”a firm foundation of unyielding despair.” All I had left was—in my view, at least—Dawkins’s view of the universe, which is blind, pitiless indifference. But I knew better. I think we all do. Even the atheist. I think you know better. Just listen to the way that people talk, and watch how they live in unguarded moments. I found myself slipping. I had to borrow from another worldview in order to explain reality because we have to live in reality. We have to live in the real world. And what’s happening here when we do this? The same thing that happened to me. We all bump into it, even atheists, even Christians. We all live in the world that God made. It doesn’t matter if you believe in him or not. It’s true.