He is risen…and man, do we need that.

Every year on this planet, I become more and more convinced of a certain fact.

In fact, let me back up for a bit. I have always loved a good debate on the topics of philosophy and religion, as long as all parties kept the respect level high and the arrogance level down (regardless of what worldview they were coming from). So when, in my first year at Chemeketa Community College, a whiteboard simply sat in the middle of the Student Life Center with the question: “Can we be good without God?” on it, there was no way I could not stop to read the responses to that question that were written on the whiteboard.

And perhaps you can guess what was written. The Christians and other assorted theists say no. The others say “How dare you! I don’t need God to give me a sense of morality…I have a sense of morality!” And so on and so forth. But one question, written on the “no” side, particularly caught my eye.

“Don’t you believe in the innate goodness of the human soul?”

That is the response that I remember. I remember it because I am sure that optimism like this is shared by more than just one person.

But every year on this planet, I become more and more convinced of a certain fact…no matter what worldview you are coming from, it is very, very hard to miss this fact. Humanity is so messed up.

As a self-proclaimed sociology nerd, as the son of a history buff who has picked up his own interest in history, you really can’t miss this one: Humanity is messed up.

As I examine history, I can’t help but notice how often evil people held power over a nation, and the nation supported them. The Canaanites sacrificing helpless children to fire in order to please their gods. The brutality of the Roman Empire as the Caesars kept finding new and grotesque ways of killing their victims. The corruption and immorality of the Catholic Church during the crusades and the renaissance. The British abused the people they were in power over. The way the Americans, the lovers of freedom and liberty, virtually annihilated the indigenous Native Americans to get the land they wanted. The way that the French people during the French Revolution danced around the guillotine with their children singing songs of joy whenever someone got beheaded for breathing a word of support to the monarchy. Nazi Germany could not have run on Hitler alone…he had to be supported. I don’t know how to examine history and come out thinking that humankind is pretty okay.

 

“But Carson, we are getting better and better! Humankind is more moral today than our primitive past.” You know, that is EXACTLY what enlightenment thinkers were saying. In fact, the belief that “education is making mankind better and better, without religion” was one of the cruxes of modernism. But we now live in what is called a postmodern society.

Why is it called post-modern? Because modernism is dead. Why is modernism dead? Because the claims made by thinkers in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s that we were getting better were slapped in the face by World War 1, World War 2, and nuclear weaponry, amongst countless other things. Modernists couldn’t make it through the 20th century without their position looking obviously insane.

When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with wars?

When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with slavery?

When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with economic fairness?

The evidence stands: Humanity is messed up.

As I examine present-day sociology, I can’t help but notice several things. For one, the number of “douchebag” men (I can’t think of any other way to put it, nor do I really feel the need to) is far higher than I ever expected. The number of men that go to such great efforts to impress the girl enough to win her heart, but then turn into manipulative, controlling jerks…these men are FAR more common than they should be.

I can’t help but notice teenagers getting more and more messed up by others. By parents who uproot their teenager’s life in pursuit of that parent’s ever-fleeting happiness. By each other.

I can’t help but notice the bullying problem in today’s schools. Bullies do not operate in a vacuum…bullying is built on the reinforcement of the surrounding society. According to Olweus’s research, a bullying scenario has several roles that are being played. The bully (A) has people that copy their behavior (B), and people that laugh at or cheer on their behavior (C).

Where did these dictators, these douchebags, these bullies, learn this type of behavior? Or was it in them all along?

No, every year I become more and more convinced of the fallenness of humanity. And it hurts.

And although I don’t have the time to cover it, I have become quite convinced of my own fallenness. I am not examining fallen humanity from a pedestal. Rather, I am right there with them.

 

So when Easter comes around, especially this year, the reminder comes exactly when I need it.

God is not the cause of all this stupidity, these wars, these abuses. God created all things perfect, but humans with free will. When man sinned, God’s immediate next move was to curse…but also to promise the solution. The seed of the woman.

I am reminded that when humanity fell, God put in motion the fix: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, but that’s not the whole story. Jesus Christ, crucified and then RESURRECTED. And He is still coming to take every tear away.

When I see an abuse that I can change, I can do what I can. But if I can’t fix it, I know that Jesus is coming. I know that because He RESURRECTED, and He said He’s coming back.

Everything else is small potatoes compared to this.

The Art of Apologetics: A different view of right & wrong – Part 2 (man-centered morality vs. God-centered morality)

Remember the statement that I am defending…

The most important thing to God is His own glory.

Some of us don’t like that. But we’ll get there.

As covered last post, Christians often teach “everybody wants to be God.” What they mean is not that everybody wants to be worshipped, but that nobody wants to be subservient to anyone’s authority/judgment/standards. They want to decide their own standards.

But don’t get me wrong. It’s not always “they” as in “the individuals.” I am really talking about humanity. In fact, a worldview called “humanism” started to make headways in the past century. The “humanist manifesto,” written in 1933, explains their position. This manifesto was revised in 1973.

Humanism is the best example, perhaps the most extreme example I can think of to illustrate the following…most of us have a humanity-centered framework of right and wrong, rather than a God-centered framework of right and wrong. I am not just talking about non-Christians, I am talking about Christians, as well. We judge right and wrong based on how mankind is treated…not on how God is treated. We view man as a) the basis of morality (we decide), and b) the object of morality (morality is meant to benefit us).

If you do view this as a good measure or morality, I have to ask: Why is that a good measurement of morality? Many say “it is self-evident.” Expressing my opinion…that’s a cop-out. You might as well say “because I said so, so there.” If I were to argue that how someone treats kittens was a good measure of morality (or cows, for a believer in Hinduism), and if someone had to choose between saving a human life, or a kitten, they should choose the kitten, on what basis would you disagree? Don’t you sound a little biased, saying “human life and happiness is the measure of morality. Oh, by the way, I am a human…but ignore that. It’s coincidence.”?

For example…imagine this:

You are asked this question…”Why do you believe that God is good?”

If you are anything like I was, you answer by saying stuff like “Well, He gives me breath and life and He sent His son to die for my sins.” I always felt this was a good answer…how could someone who sacrifices so much for us not be good?

However, answer this: What if God didn’t send His son to die for you? Would He still be good?

See, the fallacy is found here…we still measure “good” by how mankind is treated. If something serves God, but doesn’t serve mankind, we couldn’t care less about it and we certainly don’t hold it as good. In fact, many believe that is bad. A waste.

But if God did create the entire universe, if He is God, then He is the most important being in the universe. If God exists, and by God I mean “the perfect being, perfect in power/wisdom/love/morality/justice/etc,” doesn’t it make sense that He is worthy of all praise and glory?

And if this is true, then God KNOWS He is worthy of praise and glory. God is NOT that really pretty girl who tells everybody “oh, I’m so ugly” in order to look modest. The worship and glorification of God is the most important thing in the universe. Therefore, the worship and glorification of God is the most important thing to Himself.

I repeat, the most important thing to God is His own glory. Now, somebody might think “Isn’t that bad? Isn’t that self-centered?” Yes. In fact, God is the only being in the universe who SHOULD be self-centered, and therefore, He is.

The good news for us is this: When God is self-centered, everybody wins (except those who want to be His enemies). God created the universe for His own glory. I benefit because I was created (this benefit glorifies Him).  God gave me breath and life for His own glory. I benefit because breathing is good for me. God filled this planet with flora and fauna and programmed the planet to have an automatic watering system and an automatic heating and cooling system for His own glory. I benefit. God loves me because His love glorifies Him. I benefit.

God gave His only begotten Son so that I could be saved and reconciled to Him…because of that, I could remove my “enemy of God” status and become a son of God. Why did God do this? His own glory. But I benefit.

So God created everything in order to bring Him glory. Whenever something does what God made it to do, it glorifies Him. If I build a car, and it works, you all would think I was pretty awesome. If I build a car, and it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, then you all wouldn’t be very impressed.

So here is the main point…here is what I’m getting at. The center of morality is God. Whether someone is “good” or not is based on this: Do they treat God the way God wants to be treated? If someone treat mankind the way mankind wants to be treated, but does NOT treat God the way God wants to be treated…this is not “good.”

If God exists, then He is the center of morality.

Side-tangent:Now at this point, you might view my argument as devaluing humanity. You might get mad at Christianity for devaluing humanity. But real, authentic Christianity (where Christians are acting like Christ) never devalues humans, because humans are a) created in God’s image, and b) immensely cared for and loved by God. You see, I am not saying that humans in not valuable. I believe that Christianity teaches that humans find their value in the eyes of their Creator and Caretaker. A Christ-following Christian learns to treat others with immense value, whether a CEO of a company or a down-syndrome child.

In fact, let me take a shot at humanism…it sounds nice in theory, but observations I have made in history have shown that since humanism holds anything that serves humanity as good, humanism results in a lesser value of humanity than Christianity holds.Since something is good or bad based on how it serves humanity, then a down-syndrome child holds lesser value than a doctor because a down-syndrome child benefits us less and requires more of us. I know that a humanist would never say this out loud (I certainly don’t enjoy talking about the Crusades, although if you want my opinion on them, I wouldn’t mind sharing), but humanist philosophies can often lead this direction. Of course a humanist wouldn’t view abortion as wrong…the unborn child is taking more than they are benefitting…especially from the mother. Why shouldn’t the mother have the right to abort based on those grounds?

But if someone’s value is not based on their benefit to humanity but based on the One who created them, then it changes. Christianity says “I value them because God values them.”

End side tangent

Next post…we talk about the purpose of sex. Get ready for it, because if I didn’t use the words “penis” and “vagina,” you all would be disappointed. I’ve got a reputation of frankness to uphold concerning the topic of sex. The point of the next post: Your beliefs about homosexuality are a direct result of your beliefs about the purpose of sex.