Existentialism: The Postmodern Man

Carl is a biblical scholar, minister, husband, father and life coach. In his mid-twenties he had a powerful encounter with God and saw miraculous healings as a result. He passionately shares these stories and empowers others to fulfill their God-given potential.

The day and hour in which we live has become a state of detachment from reality, for many of the world’s inhabitants but especially for those living in Western culture. This attitude is often purveyed by popular television, movies, and media, which have become the source of this detachment. Yet the notion that life has no purpose, or meaning, is nothing new. This philosophy was popularized in the 19th and 20th centuries, by men such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Satre and Martin Buber.

The Triumvirate of Existential Philosophy
(Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Satre and Martin Buber)

This purposeless premise was of course whimsically depicted, in the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day. The weather reporter, (played by Bill Murray), is stranded in Punxsutawney, western Pennsylvania, due to a blizzard and must find meaning in the endless monotony of Groundhog Day, which he incidentally, manages to escape by good works, toward his fellow man. This is a subtle inference of works-based religion. Many Americans go about, enduring their own Groundhog Day, devoid of purpose, and disconnected from their creator. Indeed, without Christ, our existence is akin to a Groundhog Day, from which there is no escape. Because of this, many follow the ancient Epicurean philosophy; ‘eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die.’ In other words, enjoy as much as you can, of your pointless existence, right up until your last breath. As far as they are concerned, this life is all there is.

The Birth of Existentialism

The term Existentialism shares a variety of philosophies and opinions of life, which flourished in Germany and France, from the inception of World War I and immediately following, the Second World War. Existentialism eventually spread overseas to the UK, and North America, in the proceeding years, but the despondency of those who suffered the horrors of World War I, no doubt fueled this existential philosophy. It is an ideology which emphasizes isolation of the individual experience in a hostile and indifferent universe. It also regards human existence as unexplainable. Effectively, our conscience is ignored, God’s creation is ignored and most of all, the Oracles of God are ignored.

One of the key beliefs of existentialism, is that existence precedes essence. What this means is that human beings are defined by their actions and there is no human nature, to speak of.
To the existentialist, being human is merely an act of constantly ‘becoming something’ through the choices we make. For the existentialist, the belief system of the individual is bypassed, as God never existed in the first place. Furthermore, death is a state of nothingness, with no eternal punishment whatsoever…how convenient.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, poet, homosexual, cultural critic, and one of the most forceful atheists of all time, laid the groundwork for existentialism, when he declared ‘God is dead’, in his infamous work, ‘Joyful Science’ circa 1882. Soon after, Jean Paul Satre took up Nietzsche’s mantel and etched this godless philosophy into the fabric of society. Is it me or is modern man becoming more and more detached from reality and indulging in the imaginary or metaphorical world? To the modern man, nothing is real. Life is merely a hologram, or a stage. We are all actors, heaven isn’t real, hell isn’t real, we should be indifferent to the suffering of humanity, so on and so forth. To the existentialist, nothing matters…at all.

This generation struggles particularly, with the separation of the imaginary or metaphorical, from the true realities found in God’s word, sadly because this generation is biblically illiterate. In a recent poll conducted by the Barna group, it found that only 5% of young people (between the ages of 18-25), believed in absolutes compared to 14% who believed in absolutes in the previous generation. This poll certainly points to a detachment from traditional values and the indifference toward moral absolutes. But one must ask, where did this detachment stem from?

The philosophers Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer both rejected the concept of objective truth, finding justification for meaning from the experiences of ‘being human.’ For them, humans are constantly evolving and will not finish their evolutionary journey, until their expiration. The postmodern man therefore, is perpetually evolving, not only biologically, but morally in this laboratory experiment, called ‘human existence. Yet we know from the Bible, absolute truth cannot be found in human experience, but resides with the creator and his extended oracles in written form.

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
& Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) – Absolutely non-absolutist

Existentialism was first coined by the French Catholic philosopher Gabriel Marcel in the mid-1940s and later popularized by the French, author, philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. In fact, by all accounts, it is fair to say, with such overriding French and Italian influences, existentialism is likely, of Jesuit origin and in juxtaposition to Christ and His teachings. Friedrich Nietzsche, rejected the idea of free will, stating that men are determined by their basic drives in the pursuit of becoming who they are, whilst Sartre took a completely different approach to free will. He surmised that since human beings were defined by their actions only, which meant humanity was completely ‘free.’

Gabriel Marcel – French Philosopher (1889-1973)

In view of Holy Scripture, these men were totally off base. Free will is inherent in every man and a gift from God. It is by our free will, we choose either good or evil, both of which, are inherently understood. To propose that man has no free will at all, is to project a robotic or automated individual, who is merely a victim of life circumstances, over which he has no control. This is a lie and in direct opposition to God’s design for man. God is desirous of His love to be reciprocated. No robots allowed, I’m afraid. It is also a lie to claim humans are free from sin, and defined by their actions only. In truth, the essence of existentialism, exhibited by the post-modern man, intends to escape personal responsibility, and most assuredly the responsibility man has toward his creator, for his actions and sinful condition.

Escapism – A subtle form of existentialism

Escapism from reality, for the existentialist, takes many forms, albeit, the symptoms are evident in the veracious consumption of mind-numbing media, in the form of movies, music and video games. A recent survey found the average American now spends four hours and forty minutes each day, online, and an additional, four and a half hours watching television! This is close to nine hours of media consumption in total per day, yet many Christians complain they cannot find the time to read just one chapter of the bible in any 24-hour period.

In truth, a lack of time is not the issue, but prioritization, of what is important; namely spending time with God’s word. Moreover, we should not ignore the strong desire of the billionaire technocrats, seeking to permanently plug us in to the media matrix, with inventions such as, Elon Musk’s ‘neural interface.’ Our habit of escaping to multimedia may soon become an inescapable neural prison.

Did you know, Elon Musk’s brain implant company, Neuralink has announced it is very close to putting brain implants into people? Founded in 2016, the company believes their devices will one day cure or mitigate dementia, spinal cord injuries, deafness, and blindness. At a news conference in 2020, Musk described one prototype as “a Fitbit in your skull.” By 2021, the company gave a demonstration showing a Macaque monkey playing the video game Pong — not using his hands, but his thoughts.

Neuralink – Watch this space for brain implants, supplying 24/7 media pumped into your mind.

Elon Musk has often stated his concern that Artificial Intelligence endangers the human species. He has called it “the scariest problem” and a “fundamental existential risk for human civilization.” He warns that, “As the algorithms and the hardware improve, that digital intelligence will exceed biological intelligence by a substantial margin.” But he has an answer. Combine human intelligence with AI. “The long-term aspiration with Neuralink,” Musk said, “would be to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” It is odd Musk speaks of the dangers of Artificial intelligence, yet at the same time is an inventor of such technology which could one day facilitate the total control of humanity and provide a means for the coming Beast system (Rev 13).

Neuralink is one of a handful of companies developing a brain-computer interface, or BCI system which collects brain signals, analyzes them; translating them into commands to control external devices. In May of this year, the company said on X, (formerly Twitter), that it had received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to conduct its first in-human clinical study, but it didn’t provide further any details of when, how or where. Any governmental entity, would gladly welcome its populace plugged into a matrix which it can not only influence on an ongoing basis, but ensure the neural enslavement of its participants, in a never-ending cycle of distraction and bemusement. In the coming years, consumption of media will occur inside our heads…this is a most disturbing revelation, but it is not far off.

What is Postmodernism?

Existentialism, is often found in the same sentence, as postmodernism, albeit a precise definition of postmodernism remains elusive even for the philosophers. Postmodernism was ironically first coined by Methodist Bishop Bernard Bell in 1928, not by the secular community, in his treatise entitled, Postmodernism, which was his answer to what comes after theological modernism. Perhaps the best definition of postmodernism, equates to anything which overthrows the established, Judaeo-Christian order, and fosters the promotion of relativism, in all its forms. To the existentialist, ‘my truth, may not be your truth, and we can all have our own truth.’ For them, truth can never be precisely defined but remains opaque.

It is crucial however, that we now turn our attention to the man who is best known for existential philosophy, because in doing so, we can piece together, how this philosophy was forged. That man is none other than, Jean Paul Satre, the French novelist and playwright. Born in Paris, 1905, Satre came from a long line of Protestant preachers dating back to the 1660’s. He truly was an apostate by every definition. His mother’s cousin was a well-known and staunch liberal protestant, named Albert Schweizer. His grandfather on his father’s side was an atheist doctor, married to a devout Catholic. To make matters worse Jean Paul, sadly lost his father at two years of age.

Jean Paul lived with his grandfather, Karl Schweizer, in his formative years and Karl’s atheistic influence shaped the malleable young mind of Jean Paul. Schweizer was an immoral man, having multiple affairs and consequently, Jean Paul took to stealing and lying in his teenage years. Satre would later become a Communist party member, but it was his rebellious nature, that fit ‘hand in glove,’ with the existential philosophy he would later become famous for. Satre was deeply wounded by the loss of his father, as a toddler, and this no doubt contributed to his rebellious nature, feeling abandoned, and alone in this world.

Making a Mockery of God leads to disillusionment

Jean Paul followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, becoming an immoral man himself, having multiple affairs with his college students, right up, until his death in 1980, at 75 years of age. In his autobiography, he confesses to be the ‘chronicler of Hell.” His entire biography describes a man who tried to rid God from his life and the sufferings he endured because of it. He once described salvation as ‘irrelevant,’ and then labeled atheism as “a cruel and long-range affair, which I think I’ve carried through.”

Jean Paul Satre (1905-1980) – French Philosopher, playwright, novelist, political activist & Marxist.

Satre made a mockery of God, having rejected Him at an early age. He later became, consumed by his denial of God, which is evident in his writings. He once complained that existentialism had been used for so many things that it was no longer meaningful. In truth, it never had any meaning to begin with, other than a marked disdain for all things related to God and his people. He once famously said, “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does, it is up to him to give life a meaning.” Yet we know friend, man is not free at all, but enslaved to his sinful condition from the outset. Only by believing on the Son of God can man be set free from sin. Life’s meaning can only be found in relationship with God.

Jean Paul Satre’s sensual appetites cannot be overlooked, as he took a mocking stance against those who displayed authentic faith in the living God. He lived a miserable and purposeless life because of this. The Book of Jude sums it up nicely, “how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 1:18-19).

Friend, there is a God who cares for you, you are accountable to Him and He gave you the gift of personal choice. The proponents of existentialism are lost without Christ, having their minds corrupted through vain philosophy as the Book of Colossians outlines. Paul’s warning, penned two thousand years ago, is still pertinent today. Paul knew ‘ideas’ are just as powerful as any weapon, forged by the hands of man. These abstract ideas were collated into damaging philosophies, and were utilized by key leaders who waged warfare against God Himself.

You have been warned

Many ‘Christians’, feel detached from God because they have not fervently pursued Him regarding their life’s purpose. Some complain they do not hear from God for themselves. But let me remind you, God has personally written 66 books, comprising of 783,133 words, as a personal love letter to you. It’s called the Holy Bible. If we do not take time to read His logos word, then how can we possibly attain guidance for the most important life decisions.

Have sympathy for the existentialist, who has taken God out of the equation altogether. In doing so, he is left with philosophies which could only have been concocted in the caverns of hell. Be mindful of vain philosophies which downplay the criticality of life and our choices which echo into eternity.

Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, click here to find out more…

Author: Carl G. M. Joseph



World Views in Conflict – Kevin Swanson Master Books / Generations with Vision; First Edition (August 30, 2015)

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology – Daniel J. Treier and Walter A Elwell (Baker Academic; 3rd edition (November 7, 2017)


Marking the Masses – Thomas J. Hughes,‎ Ingenuity Films (August 7, 2023)

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