Today, I want to talk about another chapter in Atheism Destroys, our new book. It’s about relationships: How we take relationships for granted and more importantly – do relationships mean anything at all without God?
Before we get into this, I want to talk about how we have relationships in every aspect of our lives. You, of course, have your relationship with your father and mother, siblings if you have siblings, grandparents, friends, colleagues at work. But relationships go way beyond that – different kinds of relationships.For example, the relationships that you have with the janitor in your building, the mail carrier… Whether you interact with them or not, you have a relationship with them. You may not realize it, but you have a relationship with other drivers on the road. You have a duty to respect their distance and to also make sure to signal – to not run into them. You have that duty to each other. It’s a relationship. Maybe they are fleeting, but they are relationships. And you know what? Relationships extend even further than that. You have relationships with people that you don’t necessarily even see. For example, when you park your car, you should park in such a way so that somebody behind you will have enough space to park. You don’t want to litter because, well, that’s affecting the people around the neighborhood and that you don’t want them to have to see your litter on the street.
There’s even a relationship with just the passing by stranger. You say, “How are you?” “How are you doing?” You know nothing about this person, but in a way you kind of expect him to return the favor and say, “I’m doing fine. How are you?” We have a sense of a duty and obligation to each other.
Why is that? Why do we need that? Why is it so different, for that matter, from the animals? We are very, very different. We have this compelling need to interact and to relate to one another. We value each other. We connect with each other. And one of the things we know very well is that one of the cruelest forms of punishment is solitary confinement. It destroys the soul. It destroys your psychology because you are deprived of your ability to relate to other people. We crave that.
Why do we have this need for relationships? I think it’s because it brings us closer to God. It’s the only meaningful explanation. Look at the Bible. Virtually all the Bible says – and for that matter all the stories that we love, whether it’s Star wars or Shakespeare – they’re all about relationships. How we relate to one another. How Luke relates to Darth Vader. How Hamlet relates to Polonius. This is a powerful element of our human condition.
One of the things we noticed in the past couple of years is the devastating effects of the shutdown on account of Covid. We saw a mass spike in depression, suicide, violence… and the slowing of a child’s development. Their inability to communicate – to read signals and cues. Why? Because they’ve been holed up in their homes all this time without interaction.
Relationships don’t really make sense – not in the evolutionary sort of way. Yes, of course, animals need to get together and bond and maybe protect one another, but we know that our relationships go far more than that. There’s something about connecting with each other. To say, “Hello!” To say, “How are you?” To reach out. That’s divine. There’s something about it that connects us with God.
However, in an increasingly godless society, what are we seeing? We’re seeing people talk about themselves only on an individual basis without the sense of obligation to one another – and that’s especially true in the romantic field. In the old days, we would talk about how a man would complete a woman. How a woman would complete a man. You don’t hear talk like that anymore, do you? In fact, to say to a woman that she might need a man to complete her, might be an insult to her. There’s this new sense that you can just do everything on your own without any notion that you might need somebody else in your life. And that’s why I say in Atheism Destroys – that we are seeing the death of the relationship. What gives us that sense of importance? That need for a relationship? The need for another person. It’s God. We dare not lose him. If we do, it’ll be our undoing altogether as a civilization. We need to fight back. We need to yearn for the other. We need to understand that the reason why we yearn is because we need to connect with God.