A few years ago I read Peter Kreeft's book C.S. Lewis for the Third Millenium. In one of the essays, he quotes from early twentieth century atheist Bertrand Russell's essay, "A Free Man's Worship" in the context of a discussion of empiricism (which says that the only things that exist are those things that we can see, feel, smell, or touch) and scientism (which holds that only things that can be submitted to the scientific method really exist). Russell understood perfectly the consequences of these theories, if they were true:
- Such... is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. 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 beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can
preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors 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 that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins - all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built.