Tag Archives: ethics

God is not fixing this?

“God is not fixing this.” That was the headline recently seen on a newspaper in New York. The startling statement was written in response to a mass shooting in California and certain politicians reacting by offering prayers. I would like to take just a moment to speak to this idea that God is not doing anything about our worldly problems and how we as Christians can do more to influence our culture.

To begin, the headline would lead us to believe that God is unable to make an impact in the world and that, instead, humans should figure out our problems without turning to God. While this sounds like a laudable idea, there are a few items that should be raised.

  1. Is it not possible that the reason we are in this mix to begin with is that we willfully cast off God and His guidance years ago when we began to remove His influence from the public sphere? Accordingly, we have shoved God to the side, ran into a problem, and then blamed Him for not fixing it.
  2. Is it not possible that God does have a fix for our social problems, but we simply do not wish to hear His solution? After all, God’s solution may cramp our style somewhat and cause us to say that some behaviors are wrong, take responsibility for our own actions instead of blaming others, and perhaps change some of our activities.
  3. Is it not possible that God has chosen not to hear our prayers because we have chosen not to listen to Him?

Still, let’s work with the idea that we can solve all of our problems in an entirely humanistic manner, totally devoid of God. Are there good examples of such a program working to solve the problems facing humanity? Communism has not exactly been a blessing to the human race. At least, it sure hasn’t been very beneficial to the folks who endured living in the Soviet Union, or those who still reside in North Korea or those parts of China not in special economic areas where capitalism is allowed. Eugenics is also something that I would say the human race is not proud of. And, if what I understand is correct, abortion has accounted for the deaths of more than 50 million unborn babies in the United States alone. What else have we come up with that is totally devoid of God?

Some will say that science is our contribution to fixing the woes of humanity. But is this so? Weren’t most of the founders of science theists of some sort? In fact, many of them were devout Christians. But, maybe you reject that idea and declare that despite these early examples of believer scientists, the field of science is totally devoid of God. While you may say to yourself that scientific work can be carried out without recourse to God, you might want to look over your shoulder and consider where those ethics come from. Ask yourself, why is it that we don’t tend to experiment on human beings (of course human experimentation does take place, but this is typically only after extensive testing on other mediums).

Science does not give us ethics. Again, ask yourself, what ethic can we completely derive from science? Can we deduce that it is wrong to hurt others, or is this something we import from outside the field of science? A person may not want to acknowledge where these ethics come from, but when the dust settles I think it will become obvious that the ethics we use have their basis a theistic worldview.

So, if entirely humanistic methods for solving our world’s problems are insufficient for the task at hand, perhaps it would be best if we turned back to the creator, sought His guidance, and then acted accordingly. Notice that we do not simply seek guidance, through prayer and the diligent study of the Bible, but we must then transition into action. God created the world, provided the redeemer for fallen humankind, and has left us His revealed will in Scripture. In a sense, the headline has a great deal of merit: we should not sit back and stare at the sky, but should instead be busy carrying out the work that he has already laid out for us.

Being good for goodness’ sake?

It seems that the organization, American Atheists, have recently begun a billboard campaign urging people to skip church at Christmas and to just be good for goodness’ sake. Many people have liked the image on their Facebook pages and shared it with their friends. I am curious though if most of the people “liking” the image took the time to thoughtfully consider the advertisement, or if they simply clicked on the picture without using their mind at all.

Admittedly, the ad is quite catchy. And, to a culture that has so often forsaken the enlightenment that comes from books for the mind-numbing light emitted from electronic amusement, such a snazzy advertisement is simply too tempting to consider critically. It has all the qualities that one would expect from a meme, one of those trustworthy sources of knowledge readily found on the internet. A catchy picture and somewhat humorous phrasing is all that is necessary to draw in the casual passerby. But be careful my friend, the path of wisdom by meme may be better left untrod.

Children used to be warned not to accept candy from strangers in cars. The fear was that the one giving the candy may have an ulterior motive, something far more sinister in mind than simply handing out a tasty treat. Yet, here so many of us are, readily accepting wisdom from billboards without question.

I obviously want people to attend church, but that is not the focus of what I am writing at this moment. Instead, I want to help those who received wisdom from a billboard and are figuratively having their minds driven off in a car bound for some unexpected, and unwelcome, terror.

You see, the atheists want you to be good for goodness’ sake. But what does that even mean? Now, I understand that it sounds catchy and that is a strong argument for its truth. However, I do think we should ask ourselves what exactly goodness is. After all, the sign does say that we should be good for goodness’ sake. So, what is goodness?

If goodness is defined as what most people consider is right, then it can be changed whenever public opinion sways. In such a system, what is right and good today could be wrong tomorrow or the other way around. In many ways this is what we see in modern western society. What was good is starting to be seen as bad and what was bad is now increasingly being called good.

But, that brings us to a new question: is good simply a matter of opinion? On a certain level, the answer is yes. For instance, there are items that are a matter of personal taste. So, I can say that pumpkin pie tastes good while someone else says that it tastes bad. However, when it comes to moral issues the same does not hold. The goodness or badness of a moral issue is inherent to that issue and not simply a matter of opinion. Sure, you can have an opinion, but that will not change the goodness or badness of a moral matter.

“But!” Some might protest, positions have changed on moral issues throughout history. At this point someone will often roll out the issue of slavery and say, “look at this shiny example!” However, before running away screaming that the relativist is right and there are no absolutes we should stop to consider the question: was slavery ever good?

You see, the moral goodness or badness of something is inherent to the item or issue itself. And, since this is the case, whether or not something is morally good or bad is discovered and not determined by popular vote. So, in the case of slavery, one can easily argue that it was never good. Throughout history people have called for the release of slaves. But, slavery is not the focus of this article and there are many good resources available for someone to read if they are interested in further study.

Without God goodness is simply a matter of opinion and can change in a moment. What you think is good today can be bad tomorrow. You may be considered a good person today only to find in the near future that you are evil and filled with hatred, all the while you have not changed a thing about yourself.

Goodness is grounded in God. It does not change. Something is good or bad as it stands in relation to Him. A matter is bad if it stands in opposition to the nature and revealed will of God. In the same way, things are morally good because of their consistency with the Lord’s nature and revealed will. If a person wants to know whether or not something is good or bad, the best method is to study the Scriptures and learn as much as possible about God and then apply that knowledge to the issue at hand.

So, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I can say that I will do something for goodness’ sake and it will have a meaning that goes far beyond this fleeting moment in time. It will be the same yesterday, today, and forever. However, when the person who refuses to know and follow God says these words, they have all the firmness and meaning of a tumbleweed being blown along by the fickle winds of a changing culture.