…a postscript to my ruminations a few days ago on the celebrities singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”, and the song’s message of despair.
In that earlier post, I noted in passing the hypocrisy of super-wealthy celebrities singing a song that contains the line “imagine no possessions”. Upon further reflection, I think that dissonance reflects one of the basic fallacies of the song and its misunderstanding of naturalistic, materialistic ideology.
For the song suggests that embracing a naturalistic and materialistic ideology—rejecting religion, with its metaphysical notions of heaven and hell, of transcendent morality and judgment and eternal hope—thus “living for today”, will help us break down the barriers and “live as one”. This is, ostensibly, the future that those promoting this ideology dream of.
Now, let us assume that the celebrities singing this song hold to such a naturalistic and materialistic ideology—they are atheists, who believe that this world is all we get, and intend to live for today. This may not be true; I’m not very knowledgeable about celebrity news, and for all I know Gal Gadot et al may claim to believe in God; but the public testimony of this song is that they don’t, so let us suppose that to be the case. Ostensibly, they are “living for today”, they dream this dream.
But they are not sharing their possessions. Oh, I don’t doubt they give to charitable causes; but they keep vast amounts of personal wealth for themselves. They make no effort to “live as one” with the people of the world. Apparently “a brotherhood of man” is not their dream, after all?
Why should it be? This is not a simple matter of hypocrisy—singing the song is, but living a lavish lifestyle isn’t. Naturalistic materialism provides no moral impetus. “Living for today” is perfectly consistent with living selfishly. Transcendent morality and eschatological hope, on the other hand provide a profound foundation for charity.
Of course, many Christians fail to live out the faith, sometimes infamously; because our sanctification is incomplete, we are all hypocrites to a greater or lesser extent. Still, we should see clearly, and here is the key difference: selfishness and greed are hypocrisy in Christians, but are perfectly consistent with an atheistic worldview.
Therefore, if in fact selfishness and greed are bad, then atheism is wrong. If there is good, there must be God.