Bertrand Russel was a leading British philosopher and champion of atheism. He embraced a worldview (Naturalism) devoid of God or anything beyond the material realm. What does such a worldview have to say about man? According to Russel:
“That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atmos; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneat the debris of a universe in ruins… Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of the unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation be safely built.”
Or, elsewhere, he says:
“Brief and powerless is Man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned today to lose his dearest tomorrow, himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day.”
Russel was at least honest and forthright about what life looks like when one rejects God. It is utterly pointless, meaningless, and hollow.
Words like “good” and “evil” are just vague concepts without any real meaning or substance. Man is nothing more than a randomly assembled grouping of molecules and matter – here today, extinct tomorrow. In this sense, Russel is inconsistent in even talking about a soul; indeed it is increasingly common in our day for the soul to be swallowed up in talk of neuroscience and brain chemistry. All that remains, then, is to choose between Existentialism, where man simply creates his own arbitrary (and ultimately false) meaning; or Hedonism, where you drown the despair in pleasures of every sort. Nothing matters either way.
That’s the despair of a world (or a life) without God.