The implications of origins part 3 – Lucky Dirt Turns Out to be Not So Lucky After All

In my previous two posts (one and two) I argued that how we understand our origins, where we come from and why we are here, have implications for life that are all encompassing. If we, as Scripture declares, are creatures made in God’s image in God’s world, then we can know what “real reality” is, and live accordingly. The results will be positive because we can live according to the actual nature of things. If, on the other hand, all we are is lucky dirt that erupted for no reason at all with no cause but chance, a grand cosmic coincidence if you will, then the implications will be bad, very bad.

Things, of course, are generally never absolutely one way or the other, perfect good or perfect evil, because in fact, as is evident all around us, we live in a fallen world that was created by a God good. So we see evidence of fallenness and goodness in everything. But the logical implications of origins will eventually drive people one way or the other. This is very important and should not be missed: a person’s, or people’s, or country’s, or culture’s basic presuppositions about the world we inhabit and what human beings are, will eventually find its way into the culture.

For example, if we are simply material beings, with no soul or higher purpose for our existence other than luck (thus, lucky dirt), then we can have no more value than dirt. This logical conclusion cannot be disputed. Mind you, real and armchair philosophers since the Enlightenment have tried, but you simply cannot get to ought from is. In other words, there is no such thing has human dignity, or human worth in any cosmic sense. Why should a human being have any more value than the dirt with which it is made? The only credible answer from the atheist is, just because. That’s not very persuasive in the face of tyrants, thugs, and dictators. The history of the 20th century and all it’s bloodshed and destruction is only one example, all flowing ineluctably and logically from the implications of human beings seen as cosmic accidents.

Both the moral/religious relativist who thinks he gets to determine right and wrong, truth from fiction, and the progressive, Utopian, communist drink from the same well of materialist lies. The fount of those lies would be that reality is not an objective thing whose definitions are separate and apart from what we think of them, which follows if all we are is lucky dirt. For the former (relativist) their motto is “true for you, but not for me.” For the latter (Utopian) their motto is “might makes right.” The materialist presuppositions lead both to ignore that reality is not ultimately malleable. Looking at consequences of these lies, the former has given us a society of moral confusion where almost 45,000 people a year successfully kill themselves, and the latter a 20th century where well over a hundred million people were murdered by totalitarian thugs.

A favorite example of mine that shows side-by-side the implications of these worldview questions (God or chance) is the American and French Revolutions. The American Revolution was built on moderate Enlightenment and Judeo-Christian values. Our founding document states, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” No lucky dirt for America’s Founding Fathers! Only something beyond humanity itself can be appealed to to make its rights secure. The French Revolution by contrast tried to destroy all religious and moral traditions in its past, and built it’s revolution upon the abstract concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity. How’d that work out? We should not be surprised that le guillotine became the enduring symbol of a revolution that not only ignored God as Creator, but actively tried to kill him.

 

 

 

The implications of origins part 2 – Telos in a Baby’s Ear

In my previous post I argued that how we see our origins, where we and this universe comes from, have significant implications for how we see reality and live life, all-encompassing implications, both positive and negative. The reason this is important for keeping our kids Christians, as I said, is that our goal as Christian parents is to sell our kids on “real reality,” on existence as it really is, or in other words, as God created it to be. The lucky dirt people, as I called them, are those who see our origins in material chance, atoms that came together for no reason at all to “create” all that we see and experience. It is extremely easy, and I mean ridiculously easy, to persuade our kids that such a view of reality is totally absurd, because it is!

The consequences of the lucky dirt view are all negative, and I’ll focus on that more in the next post, but here I want to briefly focus on the positive effects of understanding the biblical view of our origins. I’ll do that with a story that highlights a concept called telos. It comes from ex-communist Whittaker Chambers, and his magisterial autobiography Witness:

The Implications of Origins Part 1: Wealth Lies in the Human Mind Made in God’s Image

In the beginning God created . . . We know this famous passage from Genesis 1, the first words of our Bible. What we often fail to appreciate, unfortunately, is how profound these words are in their implications for all of human existence. How human beings understand the origin of their existence has everything to do with how they understand that existence, and how they attempt to live it. Everything. If, on the one hand, we believe that all we are is lucky dirt as a result of an astounding cosmic accident, that will have certain implications. It is easy to prove both logically and practically none of these are good. By contrast, if we are created by an almighty personal God in his image, the implications of the logic flow in an inescapably positive and constructive direction.

Why would this be significant for keeping our kids Christian? Simply put, we have to sell “real reality” to our children. I cannot adequately convey how crucial this is as an apologetic for our children. The world works a certain way because that is the way God made it to work. If our origins, where we came from, are in the mind and will and power of God, then the reality we inhabit will in every sense reflect this God, the God we learn about in the Bible.

Why The Trinity Makes Perfect Sense Theologically and Logically

There are many things that separate Christianity from every other religion on earth, but nothing is more central than the Trinity. An important part of apologetics, and keeping our kids Christian, is to make the case that the Trinity is all over the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. For several hundred years of her beginning, the Church struggled with how to make sense of Scripture, that there is one God, but that Jesus also clearly claimed the mantel of divinity. While critics of Christianity claimed that the concept of a Triune God is illogical and absurd, they refused to wrestle with the texts of Scripture that have Triune implications. I learned of one in a recent Advent sermon at our church.

John 10 – Reformed theology and Keeping Our Kids Christian

Reformed theology has been instrumental, even foundational, in keeping our kids Christian. Looking back at Christian history this means that I find the faith explicated by men such as Augustine and Calvin more persuasive than Pelagius and Arminius. I was reminded of this recently in a New Testament reading at our church from John 10. The passage is familiar to all Christians because it’s about Jesus as the good shepherd. What stood out to me was the relationship of the shepherd to the sheep. It is clear that the relationship is one of belonging; the good shepherd knows his sheep, and they know him. They belong to him, and he to them. Here are Jesus’ words:

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;no one will snatch them out of my hand.

I’m Baaack!

As you may have noticed, over the past month or so my little website had a cold. Technology is like that, not unlike we who experience life in a mortal body in a fallen world. Nothing is perfect. But I learned that Godaddy is a little less perfect than HostGator. My web guy who helped me get the site up and running initially said I should go with the latter to host my site, but I had used Godaddy for years with other sites so just stuck with them. Unfortunately, when something went seriously wrong with the site they couldn’t help me. It was the perfect opportunity to move the site over to HostGator, which I did. As soon as the site was transferred over to them, a short time with their support on the phone, and the site was up and running like new. So if you want a site hosted sometime, I’d definitely suggest HostGator.

Now I can get back to my apologetics musings with the goal of keeping our kids Christian.

Aristotle’s Commitment to Truth an Imperative for Biblical Christians

I’ve been meaning to read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics for some time now, but it’s a tough slog (unlike Plato which I found much easier to understand), so like the typical human being I am, I’ve just put it off. The reason I’ve been so non-eagerly eager to read it is because I’ve heard one of my favorite people in the world, Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, say too many times to count how it’s his favorite book and that he reads it every year. One of the reasons Dr. Arnn is so highly esteemed by me is that when he talks I hear wisdom. It’s odd because he doesn’t sound terribly intellectual or sophisticated, and in fact maybe the opposite (Tim Keller has this affect on me as well), but his insights about life and people and the nature of reality ring truer and deeper to me than most other people. Part of the reason for this, I am convinced, is his passion for an education that is classical focused. Thus his constant promotion of Aristotle’s Ethics.

Just how to Be Confessed to Regis Senior High School in Ny

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When In Doubt, Open Your Eyes

If you’re like every human being on the face of the earth, you sometimes doubt what you think you know. It’s part of what’s known as the human condition, and being finite. We can only know so much. There is in fact much more that we don’t know, way much more, than we do know. One of the nine ideas I explore in my book is epistemology, which is the study of knowing, what we know, how we come to know it, etc. If a person doesn’t doubt what they believe they know (no matter what it may be—doubt is not a religious concept), I don’t question their humanity, I question their sanity! A person who thinks they don’t experience doubt is deluded.

As for me, I’m terribly human. Just ask my family. So of course I experience doubt. Sometimes I doubt if I should go to a doctor for a nagging ache somewhere in my body I just know is cancer—of course I doubt that too! Or I doubt if I should lease a new car. Or I doubt if I should cook for dinner, or do take out. Mundane stuff all, but proof that doubt is a fundamental fact of human existence. What, though, if I doubt big things, like God’s existence?

The Doctrine of Creation is Critical to Keeping You, and Your Children, Christian: Part 3

In the second of the three posts about creation I argued that naturalism is the default view of reality in our post-Christian secular culture. Even for people who do believe in God, they live their lives functionally as Deists. Even if God is there, he’s not terribly relevant to life. The pervasive naturalism of our culture makes this easy to do. But why is naturalism such a threat, and how is the doctrine of creation the answer?

I believe most Christians are functionally naturalists, in that we tend to see the natural world much as our secular neighbors do. This is nothing new because since the Fall human beings have always been inclined to see reality as if they were God and he was not, the heart of Satan’s temptation to Adam and Eve. So from the very beginning God has had to establish his bone fides, if you will, that he is God and we are not! It seems absurd to have to argue that we are not God, or that we have to be continually reminded of that. Isn’t it kind of obvious that we are finite in every way? Obvious that we are fragile in so many ways, and finally mortal? Of course! But the, “You will be like God” temptation is a great one, and at the heart of all human misery.

Thus God had to get the point quickly, so we read the very first words of God’s revelation to his creatures, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God as Creator is foundational to the Christian life. He is affirmed as the creator or maker of the universe continually throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, the contrast is often made to idols which are literally nothing, just human creations. In the New Testament, we learn of Jesus, the Logos, and his role in creation. John tells us:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

And Paul expands on this in Colossians 1:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Pretty comprehensive, wouldn’t you say? The absolute centrality of God as Creator to our faith is why Satan works so assiduously to get human beings to deny or ignore it. Since the Enlightenment, naturalism is the point of the spear in Satan’s toolbox to undermine our faith in God as Creator. If he can get us to buy into that no matter how subtly (we can say God is the Creator, but see the world as if it is independent of his sovereign, providential control), then we are that much closer to dethroning God from his rightful place in our lives, and replacing him with ourselves. Not good.

A simple example comes from C.S. Lewis, and something I’d never considered until I read it. For Christians there should be no distinction between the natural and the supernatural. The material world is infused with God’s presence, as Scripture affirms. Lewis pointed out that Mary’s conception by the Holy Spirit was no more miraculous than any woman’s conceiving. Is not a new being’s creation utterly miraculous? Are we really supposed to believe the process of creating a new life is solely “natural”? No divine assistance required?

Another example is a simple tree. We look at a tree, any tree, and tend to think that it exists and grows because of the seed that it came from, and the soil and sun and water. While that’s certainly true, that’s only part of the story. The tree exists and grows because of God! He animates all existence. As Paul says above, through Jesus “all things hold together.”

One more example will suffice, especially since we moved to Florida this summer and experienced the first Hurricane to directly hit the Tampa area since 1921. Such things are often referred to as “natural disasters,” as if God, if he exists as all, is a bystander. My Christian brother or sister, there is no such thing as a “natural” disaster! God is the sovereign Lord of all creation, and nothing, not a hurricane, a tsunami, earthquake, or sparrow falling to the ground, happens without God’s providential ordaining of it. Such a God is worthy of our worship, our lives, and our trust.