How Albert Camus changed his mind
Human beings are driven by a deep sense of meaning and belonging. The early Greek philosophers taught that all human beings are telic creatures. “Telic” comes from the Greek word “telos” Where “telikos, ”which means“ goal. ”They believed that we are all purposeful, meaning-seeking creatures.
In my last book, Reflections on the Existence of God, there is a fascinating essay on the life of Albert Camus, one of the most famous atheists of the twentieth century. I tell how he changed his mind about atheism. People have told me how shocked they were to learn of this. I’m sure a lot of his fans were shocked as well. Camus could not live with his atheistic worldview which believed that life is ultimately empty and meaningless.
Below is the essay of the book.
I remember my first year at university, in the 1970s, in an introductory course in philosophy, one of the obligatory books to read was that of Albert Camus. The foreigner. I recently listened to a sermon by Tim Keller, and he said that when he was a student in the 1960s he took a course where Camus’s book The myth of Sisyphus was required reading. Author and scholar Nancy Pearcey studied in Germany in the 1970s. She said existentialism was very popular among university students in Europe. She said that all of her classmates were avid readers of Albert Camus. Obviously, he was a fairly popular author on college campuses during these turbulent times, and his philosophy has filtered and shaped the lives of many of these young people.
Albert Camus was a French philosopher, author and journalist.
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, but not for a particular work, as the prize is based on the author’s entire work. He was truly a celebrity, with huge audiences on college campuses where he often went to lecture.
Camus is considered by many to be an existential philosopher because most of his philosophy focused on existential questions. His atheistic worldview led him to explore what he called “the absurdity of life”. He considered life absurd because it was meaningless, and it is meaningless because there is no God to make it meaningful. He also argued that human life loses all meaning because of death, which prevents anyone from making sense of their earthly existence.
Camus believed that there was no God, no meaning, and therefore we create our own meaning by throwing ourselves into life and questioning the futility of our earthly existence. It seems that Camus was never able to shake the question of meaning, which he realized was the most fundamental question in life.
A change of heart
What most people don’t know is that Albert Camus changed his mind the year before he died in a car accident.
Howard Mumma was a Methodist pastor in the United States. For several years, he spent the summer in Paris preaching in an English-speaking church. One Sunday morning, he noticed that the famous philosopher Albert Camus was sitting on one of the benches. They met and became friends. Camus was clearly looking for answers, and he now seemed to realize that meaning and purpose must be endowed by God.
The conversation below is from Howard Mumma’s book Albert Camus and the Minister. It starts with mom talking to Camus:
MOM : You have told me many times that you are not happy with the whole philosophy of existentialism and that you are looking in private for something that you do not have.
CAMUS: Yeah, you’re absolutely right, Howard. The reason I come to church is because I am looking for. I’m almost on a pilgrimage – looking for something to fill the void I live in – and no one else knows. Certainly, the public and the readers of my novels, if they see this void, do not find the answers in what they read. But deep down, you’re right, I’m looking for something that the world won’t give me.
MOM : Albert, I congratulate you on that. I think I want to encourage you to keep looking for meaning and something that will fill the void and transform your life. Then you will come to living waters where you will find meaning and purpose.
CAMUS: Now, Howard, you have to agree that in a way we are all products of a mundane world, a world without a spirit. The world we live in and the lives we live in are decidedly empty.
MOM : It often seems so, I admit.
CAMUS: Since coming to church, I have thought a lot about the idea of a transcendent, something that is other than this world. It’s something you don’t hear much about today, but I find it. I hear about it here, in Paris, in the compound of the American Church. After all, one of the basic lessons I learned from Sartre is that man is alone. We are solitary centers of the universe. Perhaps we are the only ones who have ever asked ourselves the big questions in life. Perhaps, since Nazism, we are also the ones who have loved and lost and who, therefore, are afraid of life. This is what led us to existentialism. And since I read the Bible, I feel that there is something – I don’t know if it’s personal or if it’s a big idea or a powerful influence – but there is something that can give a meaning in my life. I certainly don’t have it, but it is there. On Sunday morning, I hear the answer is God.
At the very end of the book, mom explains to Camus the forgiveness of God’s sins and the need to clean your slate in order to have a relationship with God. Mom then said:
“I don’t know what the French term would be for a surety or a charge, but the person who accepts the pardon now believes that there is no mortgage, no charge on you. The slate is clear, your conscience is clear. You are ready to move on and embark on a new life, a new spiritual pilgrimage. You seek the presence of God himself.
I was nervous and intense. Albert looked me straight in the eyes and with tears in his eyes, said:
“Howard, I’m ready. I want this. This is what I want to commit my life to. “
It was in the summer of 1959, just before Mom returned to the United States. Camus met the Minister at the airport, and while he was about to board the plane, they kissed and Camus said to mum: “My friend, my darling, thank you… I will continue to fight for the Faith.
Four months later, on January 4, 1960, Albert Camus died in a car accident. At the time, he was one of the most famous French alive. He had a huge following. However, most of them never knew, nor probably would believe, that he went from the absurdity of atheism to a life of purpose which is found in Christ.
Albert Camus reveled early in his life as a famous and famous atheist author and lecturer.
He had a large number of young people who fully embraced his teaching on “the absurdity of life”. Reading mom’s book, I was struck by the fact that Camus found his atheistic worldview unlivable. He couldn’t live with his belief that life is ultimately empty, meaningless and absurd. He recognized that he had this deep thirst for meaning, and had the courage and the humility to want to abandon the atheistic philosophy that made him famous and begin a search for the truth. His search led him to God.
To learn more about the proofs of God that exist, I invite you to read my book Reflections on the Existence of God. The book exposes, in short essays, much of the evidence available for the existence of God. We should seek to take the evidence offered and use it to draw reasonable conclusions. What you will find is that as the evidence accumulates, it allows us to come to sure conclusions about God. Who is he. And, that He really is.