Well, I can tell you why Christians love Woody Allen, being as I am one and I know this fondness among our kind isn’t unique to me. The title of a piece at Real Clear Religion gives us a hint: “Woody Allen’s Bleak Vision.” Which seems like a strange thing to consider lovable, but if you know Allen’s work and have an interest in metaphysical realities, you might be able to guess where I’m going with this.
Woody Allen’s face gives away his general disposition about his worldview. It’s an amalgam of sad, perplexed and tired; you might say bleak. Father Robert Barron in the RCR piece argues that Allen’s Nihilism is unjustifiably bleak given the true nature of reality. In fact, he can’t even make movies, let alone live, as a true Nihilist because there is too much goodness, beauty and truth in them. But what we love about Woody is that he tries so hard in the face of hopeless contradiction.
He knows that to be logically consistent, a person who believes that reality is only made up of matter and nothing else, that there is nothing at all that transcends matter, one must see realty as ultimately meaningless. Sure you try to impose your own meaning on things, or share some made up meaning with others, but when you get right down to it there is no there, there. At best, as he says in the piece, we can divert ourselves from this dismal truth (assuming one can discover truth from a purely material reality):
So why does he bother making films-roughly one every year? Well, he explained, in order to distract us from the awful truth about the meaninglessness of everything, we need diversions, and this is the service that artists provide. In some ways, low level entertainers are probably more socially useful than high-brow artistes, since the former manage to distract more people than the latter. After delivering himself of this sunny appraisal, he quipped, “I hope everyone has a nice afternoon!”
That’s it, folks, distraction is as good as it gets. Otherwise we move headlong into a bottomless pit of despair, as we should. Of course your average cocky know–it-all atheists will vehemently disagree that we can’t find meaning or morals or anything else that is non-material in a material universe, but they would be wrong. That’s why we love Woody Allen; he knows pure matter colliding or interacting with matter simply produces matter produced stuff! You can’t put much philosophy in a little blog post, but if you want to see just how impossible it is to get meaning from a purely material universe, try reading David Bentley Hart’s latest book, The Experience of God, or a book I’m reading right now, Scaling the Secular City by J.P. Moreland.
But we all know, even lovable Nihilist Woody Allen knows, there is indeed meaning in the universe, there is right and wrong, good and evil, beauty and truth, love and hate, reason and logic, real things that objectively exist outside ourselves, that are not just subjectively made up constructs. This is why Mr. Allen is such a miserable failure as a Nihilist; reality won’t let him get away with it.