The question about the resurrection of the dead is a critical point to consider. Since we’ve already argued (see the previous post) in the positive of the resurrection through the proof of Christ’s resurrection, let’s consider it from the negative – that there is not a resurrection. If mankind, and all life here, is just the result of matter plus chance plus time, then there is no eternity to consider. We are matter, and nothing more. There is no spirit to live on after this life has turned to dust. If that is the case, then we have to wonder, “What is the point in trying to be good?” Paul even makes this point himself. If this life is all there is, then “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” So what is it that drives the atheist, the unbeliever, the one who scoffs at the resurrection or eternity, to do “good”? That desire is really at odds with the core beliefs of the atheist.
Granted, one might look at the evil around us and wonder if we can really claim that we all have a drive to be good. But there truly is something inside each of us that compels us to good behavior – or at a minimum appear that we have good behavior. As C.S. Lewis said, “If we do not believe in decent behavior, then why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not behaving decently? We know that it could be beneficial to cheat on a test when we didn’t study, or to tell a lie when the truth makes us look foolish, or to break a promise when it’s difficult to keep, but there is something that prevents us from doing these things. There is something that tells all societies from all eras that honesty, loyalty, and unselfishness are admirable traits and treason, lying, and selfishness are not. Each society may change to whom you should be loyal, whether it is to your family, your god, or your government, but none of them desire treason. Ah, but there are many people out there that do cheat, lie, and steal. But don’t they try to hide the fact that they do those things? Even the basest of humans will try cover up their horrible deeds – because they know there is something wrong with them.
Well, you might say, they are only hiding them because of society’s standards. And we all know that doing good benefits society. This is a valid consideration. Society tends to benefit when people treat each other according to this standard of behavior. But that’s essentially saying that we should behave decently for the benefit of society. Behaving decently to benefit society is behaving unselfishly; and behaving unselfishly is behaving decently. We’ve now created circular logic. We are still unable to define what decent behavior really is. It’s like saying ‘Men ought to be unselfish’ because it benefits society. But we’re trying to define what drives the “ought” part of that statement. From where did man get the compulsion to benefit society? Yes, we should behave to benefit society, but why should we care about benefiting society? So in this argument we’ve said you should be unselfish because that’s being unselfish. This argument fails to explain the origin of the standard of behavior; it simply points out its usefulness.
So where did mankind get this idea of what constitutes good behavior, this Moral Law? It couldn’t have come through nature because humankind are the only species that exhibits this idea of morality. The rest of the animal kingdom has no moral compass to guide their actions. We even judge animal behavior differently than we do human behavior because, well, they’re animals. Animals “kill” but don’t murder. Animals “mate” but do not rape. It is because they don’t have this moral element to their actions.
Does that mean that mankind has just evolved to a superior state to develop morals? But the basis of evolution is simply to progress the species forward. Therefore, evolution would determine any behavior that progressed the species was beneficial or good, even if that involved destroying other fertile females or killing male infants that challenged the alpha male. Evolution could not have determined that those actions are morally reprehensible.
We clearly exhibit this desire for behaving decently, yet it could not have come through nature or evolution. Therefore, there must be a Moral Law Giver, something outside of nature that imparted this Moral Law onto mankind alone. It is the only way to explain the existence of this Moral Law. Only this Moral Law Giver, or God, can give us the sense of an Ultimate Right and Wrong that we are inherently continually striving toward. Only a moral code based on Godliness, not mankind’s preferences, can provide us adequate motivation for living an ethical life and for judging against those who do not. It is only because of this Moral Law that we have this innate compulsion to do what is right and refrain from what is wrong. And we only have this compulsion for good behavior, this Moral Law that defines good behavior, because God exists.
So if there is no resurrection, why do we desire to be good? The atheist cannot answer this question because without God there is no explanation for desiring good behavior. The only way to explain desiring good behavior is that God exists and that there is an eternity. We only desire to be “good” because God has written this Moral Law and this eternity on our hearts.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
And because there is a God and there is a resurrection, we can have hope.
In the book of Corinthians, Paul writes from Ephesus back to a church he had already established in the city of Corinth. And he uses this exchange of letters with that congregation to encourage them but to also instruct them on important doctrinal matters. One such point was the importance of understanding and believing in the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul begins his argument for the confidence in the resurrection by summing up the key doctrinal points to the Christian faith: that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was resurrected. Simply put, that is what Christianity all comes down to, Christ dying for our sins and resurrecting to overcome death.
Many people outside the church want to assert that these points have only been made after the passage of time. The claim is that only over many generations has this become what Christians believe in. So it is important to stop on this point to consider the implications of when Paul is writing this. It has been estimated that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians around AD 55 or 56 based on his missionary journey timeline. That means it was written only twenty-two years after Jesus’ death and resurrection and, as Paul tells in his letter, while most of the 500 witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were still alive. However, we have to consider further that Paul is writing this to remind the Corinthians of things he had already taught them back in AD 50 when he first established the church there. Therefore those things had been taught to Paul already before he began his missionary journey. In fact, it is safe to presume that Paul had learned those facts at his conversion in roughly AD 32, only two years or so after Christ’s resurrection. So we see that these crucial points of church doctrine were established immediately after the events took place, not many generations later as some people try to claim. We can have confidence that those things really happened; Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was resurrected.
Those facts are confirmed further in that they not only happened, but they happened publicly. All other world religions rely on the single account of one man’s private revelations. Christianity relies on multiple accounts of one man’s public actions. The miracles Jesus performed were in public, among crowds of both friend and foe. The trial of Jesus before Pilate was in public where the crowds cried out for Jesus to be crucified. His crucifixion was in public, beside two criminals, carried out by Roman soldiers (John 19:34). And his death was in public, affirmed by the soldiers piercing His side, Pontius Pilate himself (Mark 15:44), and the Pharisees (Matt. 27:65-66).
That just affirms to us that Jesus was real, had the power to work miracles, and died. But that doesn’t make Him the conquering Savior over sin and death. That would have to come through His resurrection. Now, Jesus could have simply claimed that He would be resurrected spiritually, where no one could prove or disprove whether it really occurred. He could have then just told the disciples to have hope and faith that His Spirit was living on in eternity even though they could not confirm that. But Jesus claimed that He would rise physically, something that would be obvious to everyone, something that could be proven evidentially. So was that in public too? In 1 Corinthians 15:2-8, Paul lists all the people that witnessed the physical resurrection: Peter, all the disciples, 500 people at once (most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote this), James (the half-brother of Jesus and founder of the Jerusalem church), and then Paul himself. But the Gospel accounts fill in more witnesses than even that, as if that wasn’t enough. We know Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9), Mary (Matt. 28:1), and disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13). The resurrected Jesus walked with them, talked with them, ate with them, and touched them – all physically confirming His physical resurrection. We know the tomb was empty because the Pharisees were trying to bribe the guards to lie about why it was empty (Matt 28:12-13). And we know all of this was common knowledge because Paul, while speaking to King Herod Agrippa (Acts 6:7), that “this thing was not done in a corner.” Peter says the same to the Pharisees when preaching in the temple (Acts 4:8-14). These facts about Jesus are common knowledge because it was all done in public by the Pharisees themselves and witnessed by hundreds of people.
Paul points all of this out to the Corinthians in order to reaffirm to them that there is the resurrection of the dead. Because, after all, as Paul says, without the resurrection, the faith of the Christian is a giant waste of time. He says, “If in this life only we have hope, then we are to be pitied more than any other.” Why is that? Because everything we do as Christians is out of the idea that there is a resurrection. If there is not, then Christ wasn’t raised from the dead. If Christ was not resurrected, then our faith is useless, we are false witnesses of God, and more importantly, we are all still dead in our sins.
But because Christ did die and was resurrected, then we do have hope. Our faith is solidly grounded on truth. We are true witnesses of God’s love and His mercy. The preaching of this truth is true and it brings life and hope wherever it is preached. But most importantly, we are forgiven and cleansed from our sins.
The Christian life is not to be the most pitied because it is the only life with hope.
Stay tuned for more on the resurrection...
Today is the day set aside to remember the remarkable accomplishments of a life cut all too short, that of Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s the day we celebrate the peaceful movement started by Dr. King in an effort to use love to overcome senseless and unfounded hate. It is regrettable that we don’t have his voice actively ringing in our society’s ears today. What do you imagine he would say about the current condition of many cities? He wanted people to love each other for who they were on the inside, that part that each individual is responsible for and has full control over. And yet now we still have people on all sides of current issues focusing on the external part of a person, the part that they are not responsible for. In his famous speech, Dr. King longed for a time, not where no one was ever judged at all, but that the judgment be made on things that matter – on a person’s character, not on the trivial things that make no bearing on who a person is.
His words were a shining beacon of that time especially in how he broadcast them through the lens of love and not hate. He wanted there to be forgiveness on all sides. He wanted there to be equality of people, an idea that was first established in the Declaration of Independence. Only under that auspice was there even a hope for equality among all individuals because it stated: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Ah, and here’s the connection. “Created” equal. What worldview would even allow for the hope of equality among people, men and women, educated and uneducated, black and white? Only under Christianity are those principles given.
Now, that may seem flawed given so many atheists, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists may say that racial or gender discrimination is wrong. But they have no basis to form such an opinion if they are to be intellectually honest with their beliefs. They may decide for themselves that all people are created equal, but it is at direct odds with their worldview. For the Buddhist, Buddha originally refused to even allow women into the order of discipleship. Once he finally conceded to permit women, he created more rules for them to follow. Jews would often begin their prayers saying, “Thank you Lord that I am not a Gentile, slave, or woman.” Muslims treat women as property, denying them basic civil rights. They want to destroy anyone that has a different religious belief than them in accordance with the ninth chapter of the Quran to make them “objects of the sword.”
The real irony of belief though is found in the atheist. Because the atheist believes in only naturalism, then he must rely on evolution to achieve human life. In that respect, human life has no value anyway – not any more than a rock or a tree or a frog. The problem really comes down to whether evolution could have resulted in a moral value system that would even tell us that racial hatred is wrong. But evolution can’t do that. Mankind could not have ever received a sense of morality if it were left up to nature and evolution alone. Evolution would mandate that anything that progresses the species would be “good.” It means if rape or infanticide or racial discrimination progressed evolution, we could not declare it as wrong. There would be no evolutionary advantage to protect the disabled and elderly in our societies since they would be simply less fit to survive. Consider the reality of the mindset of the Nazi efforts to exterminate certain ethnicities. They were trying to cleanse the “lesser” species to promote the “fitter” species for survival. This was humankind enacting Darwinian evolution. If morality were simply a result of evolution, then those efforts would have to be applauded not condemned. It simply was aiding the survival of the fittest. Yet we unmistakably denounce those actions as evil. The same would have to be said for racial discrimination. Evolution would have to say that discriminating against a particular race for the benefit of the “human species” would be ok. Nothing from evolution could ever tell mankind that was wrong, yet we know that to be wrong.
Charles Darwin even said: “If men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering.” Yet even the atheist should find issue with a society that condoned that behavior.
The reason why we know racial discrimination and hatred to be wrong, that our equality is “self-evident,” is because our morals come from a higher authority. It is because our morality was given to us by something outside of nature and mankind. It came from an ultimate moral authority, a Moral Law Giver, a God. And we see that it is within Christianity that the equality of the individual finally comes into focus, especially at a time when women were less than human and slavery was rampant – among all races. But Jesus showed mankind a different way. He showed love to the Jew and the Samaritan; He showed love to the tax collector and the fisherman; He showed love to the woman in sin and the man with leprosy. He looked over the crowds of men, women, and children and it broke His heart for them. Mark 6:34 “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” He saw not the different classifications of people, but He saw people dead in their sins.
Paul says in Galatians 3:21-29: “Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
The unification of people into loving one another without regard for skin color or ethnicity is that we are all united as sinners and enemies of God. And only through our faith in Christ are we then united again as sons of God through that faith. Only with Christianity is there neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, black nor white. Only under faith in Jesus and only from the moral law given to us by God can we truly be colorblind.
Jesus didn’t teach this way through a violent riotous protest. Jesus didn’t teach this way by enacting Roman legislature. Jesus taught it by teaching love and forgiveness. Only when people are able to love and forgive one another can we truly move beyond discrimination of any kind to see people for the content of their character and not for the color of their skin.
This past week my dear, sweet Grandad went home to be with the Lord. It was a moment that we knew had been coming for a while. His health had been failing him and his mind was slowly slipping along with it. He lived a wonderful 94 years and was married to my sweet Granny for 65 of those years. I have such precious memories of my Grandad that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
And what permeates through all of those memories is the kindness of a man who loved everyone through the love of Christ. I have never seen a finer example of showing Christ’s love to other people than with my Grandad. He loved and forgave in the manner that Christ calls us to. He was generous in everything to help the least of these, from his work with the prison ministry to giving rides to total strangers because he saw someone’s need. In every decision he made was in his effort to do what was right and kind and loving. He had an inner joy in all things, a joy that was fundamental in his life. I loved my Grandad dearly and deeply grieve that he is no longer with us. And I know that when God received Grandad’s spirit He was able to say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”
It is in these moments of sorrow and loss that we truly ask what does life really mean. Platitudes and nice clichés will no longer do. We long to define what it is that gives life value. What is it that we are living for? Has what I’ve devoted my time and my life to been worth it? For the Christian, we have a way to answer those questions. We know that the answer to those questions is found in the same person of Jesus. He gives our lives value and it is for Him that we live. He is the answer to all of life’s fundamental questions. It is from Jesus that we have that fundamental joy. For the unbelieving person, you must determine whether your worldview can satisfactorily address those questions. What does your worldview say about pain and sorrow? How does it meet you in your everyday life to determine what is right and wrong or to give life value? Does it give you fundamental joy in the face of momentary sorrows?
But most importantly, for the unbeliever, when you die and stand before the Almighty God, what can you possibly do to make up for a life lived anti-theistically?
In the past few blogs, I’ve been talking about suffering and the existence of God. The world frames the argument as “there is evil in this world, therefore, there is no God.” But in order to know that there is evil, we have to have some concept of what good is, otherwise, nothing would be good or evil, it would just simply be. So knowing that evil exists presumes that good exists as well. But it isn’t just the existence of good that is necessary, it’s the fact that we can judge between good and evil. On what do we base that judgment? It can’t just be personal preference. People prefer all kinds of things yet that doesn’t make those preferences good or evil. We judge different societies as being better than another, implying there is some ideal standard of behavior that we are striving towards. It means there exists a Moral Law that permeates across all times, societies, and peoples that drives what things we should and should not do. It’s what tells us that honesty, loyalty, and selflessness are traits to be admired while cowardice, greed, and treachery are traits to be despised. And the only way that we have this concept of a Moral Law is because something outside of mankind and nature imparted that to us. There must be a Moral Law Giver.
But just knowing the existence of suffering does not negate the existence of God doesn’t serve to answer some common questions people have about suffering. First, people often ask, “Why is there so much suffering?” We look around the world and wonder, "Why can’t God just stop a little of this?" Can’t some of this suffering be dialed back a bit? The concept sounds very noble and valid, but when we take a closer look, we realize the idea is ridiculous. How are we to define “so much”? When would it be acceptable for God to step in to stop things? Was “too much” suffering reached after the third million Jews died in the Holocaust or after the second million? Were the first 20 lashes Paul received for preaching the gospel allowable, but the last 19 were “so much”? Should God stop all murders or just murderous thoughts? Should God stop adultery or just cheating on our taxes? Where would you draw the line? Keep in mind, in order to stop a certain level of suffering, God must violate someone’s free will. So ask yourself what pet sin of yours God should stop you from doing in order to prevent the suffering of others. We can see that saying “so much” suffering is completely subjective. And it becomes ridiculous when you try to implement the concept.
Second, many people question how God can let people get away with evil. We have to remember that delayed justice is not denied justice. Because God exists and there is an eternity, we will all be judged for our deeds one day. God will hold us accountable for every evil deed committed – and every evil thought entertained and idle word spoken. So in reality, the only way that evil people get away with doing bad things is if you take God out of the equation. This really needs to be the question for the atheist. In the atheistic worldview, people doing evil DO get away with it if they go unpunished here on earth. But for the theist, and particularly the Christian, we know God says, “Vengeance is Mine.” God will have the last judgment and will issue the final punishment for all mankind.
Hidden within this question though is evidence of mankind’s desire for ultimate justice. Many times we don’t like to think of God as being our judge; we only want to focus on His goodness and love. But He can’t have the traits of goodness and love if He lets evil go unpunished. So He must mete out His punishment on evil in order to be a God of love. And at our core we truly desire that. We want evil deeds to be punished, both temporally and eternally. We see certain people that all mankind, both atheist and theist, would declare as evil, and we all hope that there is an eternal damnation for those people because of the heinous crimes committed against mankind. The problem is that no one wants to consider themselves to be worthy of that same eternal punishment. We desire justice for the wicked but never open our eyes to see our own wickedness within our hearts.
This leads us to the third question. The third question usually comes along when we see someone innocent or good suffering (notice we don’t usually question God when a bad person suffers). When we find ourselves asking that question though, we have to really look at what we are defining as good. Who are these “good” people? Good based on what? There really are no good people. Before you protest to defend the case of yourself being good, consider what your heart is really like. Morally we are all sinners. Paul says in Romans 3:23 that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. He says a few verses earlier in Romans 3:10 that no one is righteous, no not one. Jeremiah tells us, “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” That means we can’t even fathom how wicked our hearts truly are. Even what we would display as our good works to prove our goodness are all tainted with self-interest and pride. Our desires for justice are all clouded with our desire for vengeance. Isaiah says, “We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
In light of that, who is so good as to be outraged by their suffering? We find ourselves saying “they don’t deserve this” or “I deserve something better.” But what is it that we truly deserve? If we are desperately wicked and unrighteous sinners, what do we really deserve when we stand before a Holy and Just God? To answer that we must look again at the cross. That is what we deserve. That is the place where we see God’s justice perfectly meted out as punishment on sin. But it is also the place where God’s love is perfectly expressed because He willingly accepted the punishment due to us. When we wonder how God could let us suffer, we just need to look at the suffering He offered to save us from. He suffered more than we could ever know in order to give us peace during our suffering, in order to cover over our pain from sin, in order to give us life eternally and more abundantly.
When we wonder these things about man’s condition and suffering, and when we wonder where God’s love is when we suffer, we must look to the cross.
Even though we can intellectually deduce that a Moral Law Giver, or God, must exist for us to identify suffering, that doesn’t necessarily comfort us when we do face suffering. Suffering is still hard and it causes us to mourn, either the loss of a life, loss of a relationship, or just pain in our present circumstances. But if we ask, “Why do we suffer?” then we have to also ask, “Why are we here?” Why do our lives matter and why does it matter if we suffer? It matters because life has value. When we see pictures of war torn countries or towns devastated from natural disasters, we see that as pain because life has meaning and value.
How would our lives have value? If we were only a product of matter plus time plus chance then our lives can’t matter. Our lives would only be the accidental by-product of random forces in nature. What purpose does that have? Atheism has gone out of its way to say that life has no purpose, no meaning, no intent. But we don’t live like that. We live as though life is precious and valuable. We live as though we ARE in fact specially made, different from a rock, or a bird, or a tree. The only way to get that uniqueness in creation is from God. Atheism cannot give life value. Only God can.
What would that value be? Well, think about how we place value on material possessions. Things are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. If I offered you $100,000 for your cell phone, would you sell it to me? Most definitely! So how much is your cell phone worth? It is worth $100,000 because someone was willing to pay that for it. That goes for anything we buy. How often do you see something you want, then notice the price tag, and say, “That is not worth that.”? The buyer determines the product’s worth. And in the case of mankind, our lives are what our Creator was willing to pay for it. God purchased us with the price of the life of His Son. Acts 20:28 tells us that He purchased us with His blood. We are valued so much that He gave up His own Son for us. We have value because the buyer was willing to pay that hefty price.
Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
But where is that value, or God’s love, when we suffer? God’s love is expressed on the cross.
No other religion offers the kind of love that Jesus Christ offered when he laid down his life on the cross. We in our sinful nature could never even invent a god that has that kind of love for us. And we’ve tried. Think about all the man-made gods that have been invented over time, from Roman and Greek mythology, to the Hindu god Shiva, to Gandhi, to Mohammed. The gods that man creates are just larger versions of our sinful selves. They are just more powerful, more sinful, and more dangerous than man already is. We can’t conceive of a god that would show the kind of love that the Christian God showed because that kind of love is unfathomable to us.
The god of man’s creation is a god that requires man’s effort, man’s works, and man’s suffering to appease him. Man can’t imagine a God who would do all the work for us. The god that man could not invent is the God of the Holy inspired Scriptures. That God pursues us out of His perfect love. That God lowered Himself to be a man in order to DIE for His creatures even while we were rejecting Him. No other “god” would do that. Our God died for man instead of man dying for Him.
1 Corinthians 1:20 says, “So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of the world look foolish. Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.”
God’s love for us in our suffering is revealed on the cross. But the cross reveals the evil inside each of us. Ultimately the discussion of good and evil and suffering comes down to the evil that is inside us. We are the ones that carry that evil around. We may like to point at what is “more” evil. Hey, at least I don’t murder or commit adultery. But those aren’t the only things that constitute evil. I lie. I cheat. I hate. I slander. The sacrifice on the cross points out the evil and sin that is in my own life. And I can’t overcome that sin on my own merits.
Only through God’s sacrifice and atonement for my sins can evil be overcome.
What can wash away my sin…nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This week I started teaching a series at First Baptist Church Decatur, AL on the existence of suffering. I posed the question: if God exists, why is there suffering? Many people struggle with this concept of a good and loving God in a world with evil and suffering. How can both of those things be? The world forms the argument as:
There is evil, therefore, there is no God.
The first way we addressed this question is by recognizing that we can, in fact, identify what suffering is. There is something in us that knows when things just aren’t how they ought to be. We can see evil and we can tell when people suffer. But to do that, it requires the existence of good. If there weren't a good and an evil then things all things would be equally neutral. So the only way we can recognize evil is because we know what is good; the only way we declare that something ought not be is because we have an idea of what ought to be; the only way we feel suffering is because we know what it feels like to not suffer. Because we can identify those things, good must exist as well.
However, it is not just the existence of good that allows us to identify bad, it’s the fact that we can judge between the two. We must have some way of assessing something as being either bad or good, evil or righteous. But how do we do that? Is it just based on our feelings? Well, it can’t be just our feelings because people feel all kinds of different things that we still know are bad. Some people feel it is ok to eat other people or kill someone for disagreeing with them. Just because they feel one way about it does not mean an evil act is suddenly good.
In fact, this really strikes a blow at moral relativism. In our culture today it seems people want right and wrong to be based on people’s preferences. But that is not how we ultimately judge right and wrong. Our society would stand up and say that slavery is wrong no matter what a government may think about it. Child abuse, sex trafficking, and genocide are evil no matter what people “prefer.” We are declaring those things to be objectively wrong, which tells us there is an absolute morality that determines what is ultimately Right and Wrong whether we submit to it or not.
We not only judge certain issues as good and bad, but we judge other societies as being better or worse than another. Better or worse based on what? What are we comparing them to? In order to assess a society's moral code, we have to use some kind of standard. We use the terms “progressives” and “reformers” to refer to those people trying to change society for the better. But what are they progressing to and reforming from? Those terms only make sense if we are reforming to something else or progressing towards some end – some Right societal standard better than the Wrong ones. It means there is a standard somewhere that we are all striving to meet, a Real Morality that all other moralities are compared against.
It means that a Moral Law exists that we all recognize should be driving our behavior.
Where did that Moral Law come from? Who has set this standard of behavior? Evolution could not have determine it, because morality is not an evolutionary advantage. Evolution would say that whatever progressed the species is good, even if that included killing off the weaker males or raping the females. Nature alone cannot establish what is morally good. We even judge the behavior in nature differently than among humans.
Mankind could not have invented this moral standard either. If it were up to man, then we could never say one man’s version of morality is better or worse than another. How could we say Hitler’s version of morality was wrong if that was simply what he had invented as morally good? If man invented morality, then we would have as many moral codes as we have men, and they would all have to be equally valid. No, the judgment we make on societies’ morals must be appealed to a standard set above man’s mind.
Therefore, there is something above mankind that gave us this Moral Law: a Moral Law Giver.
Now, let’s go back to the initial argument put forward. The argument was “there is evil, therefore there is no God.” But let’s reason it from the other direction.
But what kind of God would that be? Stay tuned...
As we embark on a new year, many people will take stock of where they are in life and what their goals for the new year are. Some may make plans to finally use that gym membership or read one of those books that’s been sitting on the shelf for a while. Some may plan to quit a bad habit or to start a good habit. Some may decide to spend more time with family or make time to travel more. Whatever the goals for the new year may be, they are always in an effort to make an improvement, striving to better ourselves. So we ought to stop and ask ourselves: why? Why are we trying to better our lives? It goes straight to the heart of the meaning of life. We are trying to improve ourselves because we believe that life has meaning somehow. Otherwise, why bother trying to improve?
But trying to find that meaning of life and purpose for improvement can’t be done in an atheist mindset. According to the atheist, we are just an accidental by-product of matter, chance, and time. There is no real reason or purpose in our existence. All we have is this life now and nothing afterwards. All we face is death-nothing more. Is death truly all we have to live for? If there is no immortality there is no purpose. Live as you please in the moment for after all, what difference does it make? So why would we still feel this innate compulsion to improve our lives, to live good and justly? It is because we are aware of an immortality whether we choose to believe in it or not. That immortality is necessary for life to be meaningful.
But having immortality alone does not give us the significance that we seek. For an eternity of a useless and purposeless existence is torture. That explanation to our significance, or lack thereof, without the existence of God is terrifying and depressing. Mere duration of existence does not make that existence meaningful. If man could live forever but there were no God, man’s existence would still have no ultimate significance. So it’s not just immortality man needs for significance, he needs God and immortality. If there is no God, then life, even an eternal life, becomes meaningless.
See, modern man thought he was oh so clever to get rid of God because he thought he was finally free to do as he pleases. Man could live without being inhibited by God’s existence. But what he only succeeded in doing is creating a miserable and insignificant life for himself. Without God and without immortality, man’s life is absurd. William Lane Craig says, “One cannot live happily and consistently on an atheistic worldview. In order to be happy, one must believe in objective meaning, value, and purpose.” And you can’t have objective meaning, value, and purpose without the existence of God.
So while you are making your plans for a better life in 2016, remember what it is that gives that new and improved life purpose. And rejoice that we do have a God that gives our lives meaning and purpose as well as the opportunity to have an immortal life with Him, if we would only trust in His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.