Doesn’t science show that the scriptures are stupid and inaccurate?
Doesn’t science show that the scriptures are stupid and inaccurate?
Scripture is in line with science in various important ways.
Science has found Scripture to be correct in various regards way before its time. The Bible is not a scientific textbook. Yet it is accurate scientifically. That is, it concurs with all sorts of scientific discoveries. The Bible also, as we have seen, lays the groundwork for scientific research to be carried out.
The Bible is also accurate or predictive in connection with science. For example, the Bible clearly says that the universe came into being at a finite time. “Not until the twentieth century did any other book—whether science, theology, or philosophy—even hint at” this reality. We now know that the universe is accelerating at ever faster speeds. If we were to reverse the accelerating expansion of the universe we would see that there was a point at which it did not exist. That is, the universe came into being—ex nihilo—out of nothing, as the Bible says. The “big bang” demonstrates empirically what the Bible has said for hundreds of years.
So, although many people ridicule the Genesis creation account, the Bible’s accuracy in fact predates many scientific discoveries. It’s almost like the Bible had access to special information. There is currently debate regarding the days of creation. I do not currently have a dogmatic answer to that question, however, as we have seen, there are various plausible explanations.
Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has said,
“The Bible accurately and uniquely described the major features of the origin, structure, and history of the universe thousands of years before any scientist discovered them… The predictive success of biblical cosmology affirms the reliability of Scripture’s message about why the universe exhibits the characters it does.”
Also, the Bible talks about the expanding universe. It doesn’t quite say “the universe is expanding” but that’s the picture we get. The Bible says that God “stretched out the heavens.” The Bible talks about what we know as the “laws of nature,” it refers to the “fixed order of heaven and earth.” We now know, as the informed modern people that we are, that the world is made up of a bunch of tiny things that we cannot see (atoms). The Bible does not contradict that truth but states nonchalantly that “the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).
The Bible explains the “happenstance” that trillions upon trillions of electrons have the identical electrical charge as one another. It explains the many “Goldilocks,” just right, factors that are necessary for life, such as, the earth’s position in relation to the sun.
Therefore, the Bible, far from being out of line with science, fell in line with scientific discoveries before they were discovered. Further, the biblical worldview provides a framework for the pursuit of scientific knowledge. So, when we consider the Bible’s relationship to science it ends up lending credibility to the trustworthiness of the Bible.
Christianity and Scientists
We should also understand that there have been many good scientists who are Christians, and they didn’t see a contradiction between their science and Christianity. If anything, many of them believe the two are complementary.
Christianity far from being filled with hacks has had a history of cultural contributions. Sophisticated calculations, diatribes on causation, and beautiful cathedrals are part of the Christian legacy. Christianity is based on the word made flesh and the words of the Bible, so, not surprisingly, it is a life philosophy with a rich history of books. Christianity even talks about two main books known as general and special revelation. That is, Christians believe that God reveals Himself and His will through both His word and His world. Christians have a long history of believing both matter and both are good. Christians have a long history of supporting literacy, scholarship, and science.
Here are some scientists that have had a massive impact that seemed to have believed in at least part of the Christian view of the world. Or “Christians of various stripes,” as Eric L. Johnson put it.
- Blaise Pascal was a mathematician, physicist, inventor, and philosopher. He is behind Pascal’s principle, the syringe, and the hydraulic press.
- Robert Boyle is “the father of chemistry.”
- Isaac Newton is one of the greatest and most influential physicists and scientists of all time.
- Andre Ampere is where “amp” and our language of electrical measurement comes from.
- Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction.
- Gregor Johann Mendel was an Augustinian monk whose work led to the concept of genes.
- Louis Pasteur was a chemist and microbiologist famous for pasteurization, principles of vaccination, and research that led to greater understanding as to the causes of and prevention of diseases.
- Lord Kelvin is where we get the Kelvin scale of absolute zero and why we say the sun is 6000° Kelvin.
- George Washington Carver was born into slavery and yet became one of America’s greatest scientists.
- Francis S. Collins recently led the Human Genome Project.
Thus, we can see Christians have a rich history of thought and scientific discovery. Of course, that does not at all mean that Christianity is true. But, I do believe it means that it deserves thoughtful and honest consideration.
And no. Science does not show that the scriptures are stupid and inaccurate.
 Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the way It Is, 133.
 The phrase “big bang” makes it sound as if the beginning was just a disordered explosion. That is wrong. Instead, “there must be an incredibly precise amount of order at the Big Bang. We know that the universe is moving from a state of order to a state of increasing disorder (this is the Second Law of Thermodynamics), and it is the case that you needed a lot of order at the beginning for the universe to be able to produce… the ordered structures we see” (Rodney D. Holder, “Is the Universe Designed?” Faraday Paper number 10).
If I’m shooting pool and I want one ball in the pocket, there is some complexity. I must hit the ball at roughly the precise spot for it to be knocked into the pocket. With every additional ball the complexity and thus precision is more crucial. If I was breaking up all the balls and wanting all the stripes to go in and none of the solids it would take a phenomenal amount of both calculation and precision. And it would be the initial hit that set a chain of cause-and-effect reactions into place.
 Ross, Why the Universe Is the way It Is, 15.
 Job 9:8; Ps. 104:2; Is. 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jer. 10:12; 51:15; Zech. 12:1.
 Jer. 33:25 see also Ps. 74:16-17; 104:19.
 Eric L. Johnson, Foundations for Soul Care, 63.
Photo by Kitera Dent
What are humans?
What are humans?
Are we mere mammals, slightly more evolved than monkeys? Are we ourselves divine, known or unknowingly gods ourselves? Or are we made to know and reflect the Creator God? Are humans nothing more than evolved hydrogen? The chance outcome of random processes with no significance?
Do humans have spirits that go beyond or are we merely matter in motion? Simply an ocean of cause and effect? Do humans have a choice and a voice or are we just in a cosmic Ping-Pong game?
What explains the nature of humans? What are we and why are we what we are? Why are humans capable of almost unbelievable feats of both good and wickedness? What explains our dignity and degradation?
The philosopher Blaise Pascal lamented, “What sort of freak is man! How novel, how monstrous, how chaotic, how paradoxical, how prodigious! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sink of doubt and error, the glory and refuse of the universe!”
Nick Bilton said, in an article about the eccentric and amazing Elon Musk, “when we eventually end up on another planet, humanity is most likely to do there what we’ve done here: destroy whatever wonder we have built. Nowhere is that more on display than with Musk himself. Humans are capable of great things. Every once in a while, a human comes along and propels us forward by leaps and bounds. A human like Musk. But, at the same time, those humans are imperfect, even if we don’t want them to be.”
So, once again, what explains humanity’s propensity and desire for perfection but yet our inevitable and abysmal imperfection? What view of the world or philosophy makes sense of this? What hypothesis explains the conflicting nature of humans?
There seem to be three main options. We’ll look at each. You can decide which view you think makes the most sense.
Are we divine?
One view of the world is that “we are saved not by trusting a transcendent God who reaches down to us in grace but by realizing that God is within us, that we are God. Salvation is not a matter of recognizing our sin; it’s a matter of raising our consciousness until we recognize our inner divinity.”
There are a number of people and sources that say that we ourselves are divine. Shirley MacLaine, for instance, asserts: “You are everything. Everything you want to know is inside you. You are the universe.”
This type of view often posits that there are no ultimate distinctions. When it comes down to it there is no true differentiation. All is one. Everything is divine. You too are divine.
This brings up a few questions.
If we—each and everyone—are divine, why do we all not know of our own divinity? What accounts for our cosmic amnesia? “If, when I was asleep I was a man dreaming I was a butterfly, how do I know when I am awake, I am not a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?” How can one distinguish between fact and fantasy?
Is the tragedy of the human race that we have forgotten that we are divine? Is that what’s wrong with the world?
Also, if distinctions, whatever those distinctions are, are illusions, then how do we know what is real? Further, how can we actually say that there is right and wrong? We can’t. There is then “no basis for human dignity and meaning… No basis for morality. If God is in everything, God is in both good and evil; therefore, there is no final difference between them.” Helping and healing and maiming and murdering would all be the same.
Can we take seriously a view of the world that denies the existence of good and evil? That does not distinguish between death and life, between pain and pleasure? Can we do away with scientific discoveries so easily? Can we sore 35,000 feet in the air while googling arguments in favor of vegetarianism on our iPhone and also say logic has no real bearing on life?
How do we know we are divine? We cannot reason our way to this conclusion because it is beyond reason. Therefore, it would seem clearly unreasonable to hold this view, would it not? There can literally be no reasons or arguments in favor of this position.
I get the appeal of the view of enchantment that we are all gods. I get the appeal of spirituality without the ties of restrained morality or doctrinal commitment. But, are there actually legitimate reasons to believe the view that we are all gods? That question is often not asked.
We also have the question of why humans pivot towards perfection in one area and then revert to a pale and poor reflection of what we could be in other areas. Perhaps it’s because we just randomly mutated into our present form?
Are we evolved?
What can “explain the phenomenon of mind, consciousness, reason and value?” Where did consciousness come from? Do we inherently matter or are we just matter?
There have been countless books arguing for and against the claim that humans are merely evolved matter. Various topics could be considered. It is not the place here to go into the merits of those arguments; although, I encourage you to check out some books on those topics.
Here, instead, I want to ask what follows if we are evolved? What implications does it have for us if there is no enchantment? No beyond? No meaning?
If we’re evolved and we just follow our inner urges because that is what made us fit to survive does it mean there’s any meaning in what we do?
Yuval Noah Harari is a naturalist and popular author. In his book Sapiens he says there is no meaning if we as humans are evolved. “As far as we can tell, from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose… Hence any meaning that people ascribe to their lives is just a delusion.”
Is there a basis for morality? Is there a basis for logic? The late William Provine, once historian of science professor at Cornell University, apparently didn’t think so. He said, “no inherent moral or ethical laws exist, nor are there absolute guiding principles for human society. The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life.”
If we are merely evolved then that perspective seems correct.
“If there is no God, then any ground for regarding the herd morality evolved by Homo sapiens as objectively true seems to have been removed. Human beings are just accidental by-products of nature that have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time.”
If we are no more than evolved animals, is all life no more than a match struck in the dark and blown out again?
If we’re not magnificently divine is it right to say we’re merely dirt? What explains the complexity of the human character? Courageous and caring conquers and quivering and cranky cowards? Why the walking talking contradiction called humans? What explains our glory and gloom?
If we’re merely evolved how can we account for the fine-tuning of the universe? For example, why is the earth we inhabit inhabitable? Like Goldilocks’ potage why is it not too hot or too cold but just right to allow for life (also consider gravitation, the nuclear force that binds proton and neutrons, and the electromagnetic force)?
And what about the existence of matter? Where did it come from? Doesn’t it make sense to say that everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence? And hasn’t it been shown that the universe had a beginning? What is its cause for existence? How did it happen?
Are we created in the image of the Creator?
What explains what seems to be the dual nature of humanity? Humanity is simultaneously great and wretched. What explains this paradox? We all innately sense it, but why is it here?
Christianity teaches that humans have dignity because they are made in the image of God but that they also can be devilish because they are rebellious (humans don’t always live and love according to God’s good design). “Our being made in the image of a personal and good God enables us to affirm objective goodness and reject evil.”
As much as we are great, we bear God’s image. As much as we are wretched, we bear Satan’s. Human greatness split the atom; human wretchedness uses the same to kill millions of people. A great, though wretched, leader, Adolf Hitler, will lead a nation to slaughter millions. A great leader, Winston Churchill, will lead a nation in their defense. Ashok Gadgil, with his intelligence, will fight for cures; others will inject poison.
Humanity is fallen, however. So we cannot neatly divide the line between good and evil. We cannot say all the bad people on the left and all the good people on the right. We’re all mixed together. We are made in God’s image and thus can do fantastic things and fantastic good but we have been marred by the Fall and often reflect Satan so we can also do acts of unbelievable wickedness.
Thus, sin is not good because it wreaks havoc on our greatness, our image of God, and distorts it to evil ends. How sad that we who are capable of exploring the limitless expanse of the sea, the mind, space, and biology so often content ourselves with razing and rioting. How sad that though we as humans are capable of such good, there is such grave injustice. I’ve read, for example, that a woman born in parts of South Africa is more likely to be raped than to learn to read. This surely should not be!
The world is a weird place. And, if the Christian view is the correct view, it must account for the weirdness of the world. It must best describe “the contours of the world as it actually exists.”
Again, the world is a weird place. Did you know it’s not just the Christian scriptures that say the first humans were made out of mud? Also, the Bible isn’t the only account that explains the origin of diverse languages connected to a huge tower. Why is that?
Why is the world so strange? And what accounts for that strangeness? And why are humans so conflicted?
One hypothesis alone makes sense of who we are: “creation in the divine image followed by the fall, explains our predicament and, through a redeemer and mediator with God, offers to restore our rightful state.” Sin, resulting in the fall, explains humanities wretchedness and yet greatness.
The Bible does not teach that we are gods but that we are to be like God. We image God. For the Christian, “Everything is not the result of the impersonal plus time plus chance, but that there is an infinite-personal God who is the Creator of the universe.” The Bible gives us a reason for believing in a lot inner in us. And a lot out there in the otter world. So, if you sense you have a lot of untapped ability, if you sense that the world is enchanted and spiritual, you’re correct.
It’s hard to consider these questions without also asking whether or not God exists. So, it’s important that you consider that all-important question: does God exist?
If God created the universe, what created God?
We, as sentient and at least somewhat intelligent humans, exist. That’s not debated by most people. How, however, did we get here? Where or who did we come from? And if God created us, who or what created God?
Some have speculated that we got here through panspermia or even directed panspermia. Panspermia is the hypothesis that microorganisms were seeded to our planet through meteoroids, comets, asteroids, or even from alien life forms. That just moves the question back. Where then did life come from (to say nothing of matter)?
Interestingly, some have speculated what it would take for us to seed life to another planet by blasting off a rocket with microorganisms onboard. Some believe we could carry out a “Genesis” mission to an uninhabited planet within 50 to 100 years.
Of course, the mission would require a lot of really smart people working in coordination with a lot of really smart people. And it would cost a lot of money and use things like ion thrusters and really advanced robots. So, starting with life and intelligence, it may be possible to seed life to other planets (assuming they are fine-tuned to support life). But again, this just pushes the question back and proves the need for intelligent design.
Multiverse or many worlds hypothesis
Another hypothesis to explain the origin of life on earth (specifically intelligent life on earth) is the multiverse theory. Yes, this should remind you of all the crazy stuff that happens in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This theory is interesting and problematic for a number of reasons. It’s more science fiction than fact.
- It is, by far, not the simplest explanation. This is problematic (see: Occam’s razor).
- It’s nonsensical. One could then postulate that there is a near-infinite number of you, or of Loki. Loki was a cool show but the questions multiply as the “Lokis” multiply.
- There’s nothing that we have observed that would lead us to logically conclude that there is or is likely a multiverse (it seems, rather, that those arguing for this position are just frantically trying to get away from the reality of the existence of God).
If God created the universe, what created God?
Here are the options:
- The universe somehow sprang from absolute nothingness completely on its own.
- The universe inanimate has existed eternally and that something somehow exploded and eventually led to the life forms we have now.
- The universe was created by a powerful and eternal Entity.
Each of those options is honestly hard to fathom. Which makes the most sense?
The universe somehow sprang from absolute nothingness completely on its own.
This is not something we really observe. In our experience and observation, something does not come from nothing. If even a simple pool ball is rolling on a pool table we assume it was set in motion by something. We don’t assume it moved although no force whatsoever acted upon it (What about quantum particles?).
There’s a story about a scientist making a bet with God. The scientist bets God that he can create life. The scientist grabs some dirt and sets off to work. When a voice from heaven said, “Get your own dirt!”
“It is a vain hope to try to give a physical account of the absolute beginning of the universe. Not only must the creation event transcend physical law, it must also,… transcend logic and mathematics and therefore all the scientific tools at our disposal. It must be, quite literally, supernatural.”
The universe has eternally existed.
If the expansion of the universe were an old VHS video that you could reverse, you’d see the contraction of the universe into an infinitesimally small singularity—back into the nothingness from which the universe sprang. Thus, the Big Bang actually matches with what Scripture says. That is, the universe—all the matter that is—came into being at a finite time, ex nihilo, out of nothing.
The universe has not existed eternally.
The universe was created by a powerful and eternal Entity.
It makes sense to say, doesn’t it, that anything that begins to exist must have a cause of its existence? I think that makes a lot of sense. I mean a pool ball on a pool table isn’t going to move unless someone or something causes it to move.
This is especially the case when we consider the extreme fine-tuning necessary to allow for life, especially intelligent life. “On whatever volume scale researchers make their observations—the universe, galaxy cluster, galaxy, planetary system, planet, planetary surface, cell, atom, fundamental particle, or string—the evidence for extreme fine-tuning for life’s sake, and in particular for humanity’s benefit, persists.”
God is the Uncaused Cause, the Unmoved Mover. God is. He is the Creator.
But then, who or what created God?
Anything that begins to exist must have a cause of its existence. The thing with God is, He did not begin to exist. He has always existed. Therefore, He needs no cause or creator. He is the Creator.
“The Cause responsible for bringing the universe into existence is not constrained by cosmic time. In creating our time dimension, that agent demonstrated an existence above, or independent of, cosmic time… In the context of cosmic time, the causal Agent would have no beginning and no ending and would not be created.”
This is, in fact, what the Bible says about the LORD God. It says, “the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Is. 40:28) and it says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1 cf. Ps. 136:5; Is. 45:18; Col. 1:16).
The universe has not always existed. Instead, “the universe was brought into existence by a causal agent with the capacity to operate before, beyond, unlimited buy, transcendent to all cosmic matter, energy, space, and time.”
God revealed Himself to Moses as: “I Am who I Am” (Ex. 3:14). God is the One who Is. He is the Existing One. He is the One who is beyond and before time and matter. And as such, He is able to create time and matter.
If God’s existence doesn’t need an explanation then why should the universe’s existence need an explanation?
“This popular objection is based on a misconception of the nature of explanation. It is widely recognized that in order for an explanation to be the best, one need not have an explanation of the explanation (indeed, such a requirement would generate an infinite regress, so that everything becomes inexplicable). If astronauts should find traces of intelligent life on some other planet, for example, we need not be able to explain such extraterrestrials in order to recognize that they are the best explanation of the artifacts. In the same way, the design hypothesis’s being the best explanation of the fine-tuning does not depend on our being able to explain the Designer.”
How should we respond to the One who created the universe?
That’s a big question. But, I’ll take it further, how should we respond if the Christian understanding of God is correct? What if the Programmer coded Himself into the program like the Bible talks about?
If what Scripture says of the Creator entering His creation is true, as I believe it is, then I think it clearly follows that we should be amazed and submit to the One who has shown Himself to be the Lord.
We must all, however, make that choice on our own. I can’t make it for you. But I, for one, am awed and astounded that the Creator would enter His creation to rescue His creation.
Not only that but the Creator was crucified (see Col. 1:15-20). As Jesus was making purification and propitiation for sin by bearing our sin on the cross, He was simultaneously upholding the universe by the word of His power (Heb. 1:2).
How should we respond to the One who created the universe and yet loves us?! I believe we should respond in reverent worship:
 E.g. Francis Crick, Life Itself: Its Nature and Origin (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981).
 See: https://reasons.org/explore/publications/questions-from-social-media/is-the-existence-of-a-multiverse-a-problem-for-christianity
 “The many worlds hypothesis is essentially an effort on the part of partisans of the chance hypothesis to multiply their probabilistic resources in order to reduce the improbability of the occurrence of fine-tuning” (J.P. Moreland & William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview [Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003], 487). Ironically, “the many worlds hypothesis is no less metaphysical than the hypothesis of a comic designer” (Moreland & Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, 487).
 “There is no basis for the claim that quantum physics proves that things can begin to exist without a cause, much less that [the] universe could have sprung into being uncaused from literally nothing” (Moreland & Craig, Philosophical Foundations, 469). Even if one follows the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, “particles do not come into being out of nothing. They arise as spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in the subatomic vacuum, which constitutes an indeterministic cause of their origination” (Ibid.). This very brief explanation is helpful: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/quantum-field-theory-what-virtual-particles-laymans-terms-javadi/ and also see: http://atlas.physics.arizona.edu/~shupe/Indep_Studies_2015/Homeworks/VirtualParticles_Strassler.pdf
 David A. J. Seargent, Copernicus, God, and Goldilocks: Our Place and Purpose in the Universe, 114.
 A better illustration would actually be a balloon losing its air. When considering the expansion of the universe it’s amazing to consider that eventually the universe will grow dark because the speed of the expansion of the universe will eventually be too great for us to observe our cosmic surroundings.
 “Everything restricted to the cosmic timeline must be traceable back to a cause and a beginning” (Hugh Ross, Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, 132).
 Ross, Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, 124. See e.g. Hugh Ross, “Fundamental Forces Show Greater Fine-Tuning” https://reasons.org/explore/publications/connections/fundamental-forces-show-greater-fine-tuning, Fazale Rana, “Fine-Tuning For Life On Earth (Updated June 2004)” https://reasons.org/explore/publications/articles/fine-tuning-for-life-on-earth-updated-june-2004, and Seargent, Copernicus, God, and Goldilocks, 121-127.
 Ross, Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, 132.
 Ibid., 131.
 Moreland & Craig, Philosophical Foundations, 487.
*Photo by Tyler van der Hoeven
Is the world enchanted?
Is the world enchanted? Or merely natural? Deterministic? Are we just chemical processes that have been wound up and will wind down? Or, is there a “ghost in the machine”?
Is there something before and beyond? Can everything be coolly explained or is there an Unexplainable? Could it be that fantasy and fiction are tapping into something true? Something fantastic and far beyond us?
Are there spells and spirits, or are we mere decomposing skulls with sinews?
The world we inhabit: is it wondrous, consisting of beauty, mystery, as well as sad irony? Or is the world a mere and meaningless blip before the heat death of the universe?
Is “the cosmos,” as Carl Sagan has famously said, “all there ever was and all there ever will be”?
If so, what explains the wonder and wild nature of life? What explains the science fiction like rhinoceros and the beauty and rapture of art? What explains those moments, those brief moments, with family or friends that feel so right?
Most people today, believe it or not, believe in some form of Higher Power.[i] Yet, that should bring up various questions. Like who or what is this Power? Is the Higher Power good or bad or indifferent and are their other powers? I believe we’d be wise to ask and pursue answers. This seems especially true for those who do believe in some form of Higher Power. If such a being exists, or may exist, wouldn’t it make sense to care?
I believe there are subtle hints all along the road of life that point us to something out of sight. Markings or tracings of something; distant echoes of a not distant presence; the quiet speech of the spirits.
Those moments of silence under the glow and vastness of the sky, the moon reflecting the glory and splendor of the sun, speak. Those moments speak not to our heads but reverberate in our hearts. Those moments awaken. They call us beyond, they say there is more.
We must ask: what if there is more? If so, what good, what beauty, and yet what hideous evil might there be? And, if there is more, if there is the equivalent of witchcraft and evil, what spells might be possible and cast?
Perhaps a sort of blindness? A dullness to what is real?
If there is more, and evil, beyond the great beyond, might there be a battle? A cosmic battle? A Saruman and Sauron? A Voldemort? A Frodo? An Aragorn?
Could our lives have cosmic significance?
Is the world enchanted?
There are many ways to contemplate and answer this question. And we all answer it one way or another. We just may not think it through as intentionally as we should. I propose we that’s not a good way forward. If the world is “enchanted” in some way, it would be good to know. Perhaps very helpful to know. Because, to use The Lord of the Rings as an example, what if we are in the equivalent of Hobbiton, but there is a hoard of raging orcs on their way?
The Bible says the World is Enchanted
If the world is enchanted, it is more wondrous and wonderful than we could possibly know. But it may also be more dangerous.
That’s actually what the Bible teaches about the reality of the world we live in. It is, so to speak, “enchanted.” It is “placed under a spell.” Like the witch in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia that made an enchantment over the whole country so that it was always winter and never Christmas. What if there truly is “an evil power loose in the world, independent of human beings, a power that has an agenda of its own, and this power can only be defeated by another power greater than itself”?[ii]
What if there is a spiritual realm? What if there is more than the merely physical? Curiously, Christians talk about fiction made real. Christians talk about a hideous dragon set to destroy and deceive. They talk about an enemy that is crouched low like a lion ready to pounce and attack (1 Pet. 5:8). And they talk about a “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) that is subtly influencing the world to lead it astray (Rev. 12:9). Satan’s influence is often less perceptible than the wind but with all the devastation of a furious tornado.
Isn’t it True that the World is Filled with Wonder?
The world, not just the hills, are alive with the sound of music. The universe roars with echoes of life. Sometimes we are just not quick to notice, perhaps we’ve become callous to the call of creation. G.K. Chesterton once said, “Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water.”
A quick google will return wonder: Walakiri beach sunset, Halong Bay, Huangshan. Most images will do. Or think of the amazing ability of a chameleon or the weird wiggles of an octopus or just look at a peacock spider. What a world we inhabit! What a surprising and often beautiful world we live in. C.S. Lewis wisely said, “Reality is very odd, and… the ultimate truth, whatever it may be, must have the characteristics of strangeness.”[iii]
There are some things in nature that you would never expect to happen and yet they do. Wildly, wood frogs freeze and die, then thaw out and come back to life. Or consider this, someone in a one-dimensional reality would have trouble conceiving of a two-dimensional reality, let alone what that reality would be like. Someone in the two-dimensional reality would have a greater likelihood of conceiving of and pondering a three-dimensional reality because they already know that there are more than one-dimensional realities. They know things that seem impossible to the one-dimension reality are very much possible.
We live in reality that sometimes doesn’t feel like reality. Should we speculate that there may be a spiritual reality; something different than the dimension that we are so used to? And what if that reality is more real than our current reality, and what if that reality is actually more present than we can conceive?
Leanne Payne shares an interesting thought,
Our eyes cannot see cosmic, gamma, or X-rays, nor ultraviolet, infrared, radar, television, or shortwave radio waves—not to mention other known and unknown wavelengths of light… Man’s other sensory organs are just as limited. What we ordinarily speak of as ‘the supernatural’ may consist of those parts of creation beyond our narrow sensory capacity.[iv]
The True Fantasy?
The Christian story—the true myth—is similar to many amazing myths in literature. But with a big difference: The Christian story claims to be true. “The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history.”[v] Similarly, Nancy Pearcey says, “The great events of the New Testament have all the wonder and beauty of a myth. Yet they happen in a specific place, at a particular date, and have empirically verifiable historical consequences.”[vi]
And is it not clear, that in most myths the evil person/force of the story would be happy if people thought that evil did not really exist? It seems to me that would be a worthy goal of evil, to make people think evil and enchantment weren’t real. Imagine the spell one could wield on the world if the world couldn’t imagine that there was such a thing as spells?! As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
The world is enchanted. In the original use of the world enchanted. The world is ‘under a spell;’ ‘bewitched,’ ‘utterly delighted,’ ‘captivated,’ ‘fascinated,’ and ‘charmed’ by someone or something. I believe this someone is Satan, and the spell is sin. The curse and fall of humanity have long since happened. The fall was not just the fall of humans but encompasses the fall of angels. We are in a cosmic story. The Christian Bible tells us that the myths are not magical enough for the reality of the truth.
We may not wish for the world to be this way. But that is not for us to decide. As Gandalf said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Of course, that’s not to say that all is bad. The story of the Bible is a wonderful, almost unbelievable story, that starts with a beautiful couple in a bountiful garden paradise and ends with a host of their descendants in an eternal paradise. The Bible is a comedy, not that it’s funny—though it has its funny parts—but because it has a U-shaped plot. That is, it starts out great but then a terrible seemingly insurmountable problem is introduced, but thankfully it doesn’t end in that sorry state.
As in any good fantasy there is a hero. And, as any good hero, He has many names: Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Son of God, Immanuel, Redeemer, Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Good Shepherd, Creator, Great High Priest, Holy One, King of kings, Lamb of God, Light of the World, Prince of Peace, Savior, and Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the truemythic hero. He is Aragon and Frodo. He is Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter. He is Aslan and Ransom. He is Iron Man, Black Panther, and Captain America. He is Avatar Aang. The God/Man, the Hero, offers rescue to the whole world.
The Bible is a big, amazing story. It surpasses Marvel and the Lord of the Rings. It tells us about God making the universe. It tells us about angels rebelling against God and starting a cosmic battle. It tells us about deception and romance.
It tells us that God became man and that this GodMan—Jesus Christ—had superpowers. And He used His superpowers for good. He fought the evil enemy, He defeated and cast out the great dragon’s evil henchmen.
It looked like the GodMan was going to win. He was going to defeat all the bad guys and even rule the world. He had a large, loyal following.
But, something happened. The GodMan, the all-powerful One, died. He died. He that brought people back from the dead, died.
That, that was unexpected.
damp, dark, cold, and silent
enveloped in a shroud in the earth
the Life lay lifeless
the only thing that truly is,
the Life lay lifeless?
the Immortal Infinite slain?
With the GodMan’s death, hope died. The GodMan’s followers fled in fear. They didn’t know what had happened… they hid in fear, hid for three days.
But the GodMan returned. He defeated death. He rose from the dead.
damp, dark, cold, and silent
from life’s surmise
but from a different gaze
outside of life’s maze
Life lay not lifeless
but death is now dead
in violence He brought victory!
enveloped in mystery
the great God of history
was slain, for you, for me
the foil was sprang
it brought Him great pain
our sin is the hand that bore it
yet He took our blame
to purchase our name
He bore the frame of our cross
through vile, the victory
in wrote woe, to wonder
The Bible claims and shows us that this really happened. It’s not a “once upon a time” story. Although, for all those who trust Jesus as the Hero and Lord that He is, they will live “happily ever after.”
From Genesis, the very beginning of the Bible, through Revelation, at the end, we see one unified true cosmic story. We see God making a very good and beautiful world. But we see the serpent enter the scene and humans depart from God’s good plan and we see the devastation it brings. The world is torn in two. Relationships are ruined and rebellion spreads. The whole world whirls.
But, as God promised, He was not done. He loved the broken world and would be broken Himself to fix it.
The Bible tells the story of a terribly fierce dragon set to destroy the entire world. It’s really not so different from the Marvel myths in some ways. But it claims to be true, and it recounts the tales of one hero. A hero that loves the planet, the whole world, so much that He died for it. He, however, didn’t stay dead. He was so great and powerful that even death itself couldn’t defeat Him.
The story of Scripture is different from Marvel and other myths in various other ways. For one, it claims repeatedly to be true.
So, is the world enchanted? If you have suspicions that what you see in the physical world is not all there is, the Bible says that your suspicions are correct. The Bible says there is more. A lot more.
Jesus’ resurrection proves to us, the world is indeed enchanted. There is more to the world than we can see with our mere eyes.
But, just as there was fear and trepidation by the first brave souls aboard a boat, there is a healthy type of fear that we should have. These are very uncharted seas.
Life is not something to take lightly. There are spirits, and angels, and fallen angels. There is a dragon set to defeat us all. We may not see him breathe fire, but what comes out of his mouth is deceptive lies.
The enchantment of this world is all the more dangerous because it’s elusive. We don’t see the spell. Many disbelieve. But the reality is, there is more than meets the eye.
Christianity gives an answer for the strangeness that we sense in the world. Christianity gives a solid reason for believing in the spiritual realm and for us ourselves having a spirit.
Humans are not robots or automatons. At least that’s what the Bible says. Our actions matter. Our lives and decisions matter, even eternally. They ripple through the corridors of time. There was and never will be a meaningless moment.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Friends, our lives matter, our actions matter, our voices matter. That, at least, is true from a Christian perspective. If, however, as Carl Sagan said, “The cosmos is all there ever was and all there ever will be,” then this world is not enchanted and meaning is limited to what you make it.
I believe, however, if we knew a millionth of the magnitude of our lives, we’d be moved to wonder and crippled by the significance of it all. Our lives, every action, has significance because this world and this life is not all there is. So, friends, let’s live fierce, purposeful lives because we have purpose. Our lives matter more than we can fathom.
If there is more than the material, more than meets the eye, then what are we? What then are humans?
Are there Reasons to Believe in Enchantment?
Yes, beyond the fact that most people think there is more to the world than meets the eye,[vii] there are practical reasons for believing in enchantment. There are good reasons for believing in the existence of God. As the philosopher Alvin Plantinga has said, there are some very good arguments for believing in the existence of God, “arguments about as good as philosophical arguments get”[viii] (see chapter 3 on God). “If God is, what he is has far-reaching consequences for our lives—who we are, how we live, and what happens after death,”[ix] and I would say, what’s possible.
In other words, if God exists, then it seems clear that spirits and thus the spiritual realm exists. If this is true, as it seems to be, then there is a lot unseen and unknown that can act in and on the world, as we know it. This, at least in some ways, is a rather frightening reality.
There are different ways of being on a beach. If you confuse them, it won’t be good. Taking the day off to play in the sand and the ocean with your kids calls for relaxation, a good book, boogie boards, and sand toys. Being on the beach on D-Day during WWII is obviously a much different experience. War and relaxation are very different. If the two are confused it won’t turn out well. The Bible tells us that the earth we are on is not just for rest and relaxation because we are also at war. We have an enemy seeking to kill, steal, and destroy (Jn. 10:10).
If we are on the “beach of life” and we see it merely as a vacation and a day in the sun but it’s actually D-Day, then we will get utterly destroyed. If we are in an unseen battle then we should anticipate opposition and adversity. We should expect subtle and sneaky attacks.
The problem is not just out there, however. Yes, it’s in the world but it’s also in our own flesh. Sin is “bred in the bone,” it’s in our DNA.[x] And there’s also a devil. There is an external evil acting in the world, acting on our hearts. So, it seems we must “take a fearless inventory of our own hearts. No one is free from the Power of Sin and Death. No one has power in himself to help himself. No one can say to herself, well, I’m not a murderer, so I’m not so bad.”[xi]
We are very likely to be outwitted by Satan and his fellow conspirators when we are unaware of their schemes, let alone their existence.[xii] We live in a magic world. Satan lies, hinders travel (1 Thess. 2:18), and even appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). At least, that’s what the Bible says. The Bible says we are in a world where sinister evil lurks. But it also tells us about God’s rescue mission in Christ Jesus.
The world is at war. There is an enemy always seeking to do harm. We are in a world of magic, good and bad. As C.S. Lewis has said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.” But the Bible says that the boss of the universe is good. And that’s a good thing. The Bible says that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Phil. 2:10-11). The sinister Satan will finally and decisively be defeated, never to work his woe again.
What do you think? Is the world “enchanted”? Is there an unseen spiritual realm? And if so, what ominous evil might lurk and unknowingly influence the world? If there are unseen evil spiritual forces at work, are there good forces at work as well? And what side are you on? Who or what are you being led by?
Questions to Consider
- Are there things that lead us to expect that the world is enchanted?
- What if the world is enchanted and “a great dragon” actually exists?
- If it’s possible the world is enchanted, is it also possible that our lives have significance beyond our physical lives?
- Fleming Rutledge, once said, “Unaided human beings can make no lasting headway against evil.”[xiii] What do you think about that? Is that true? How does history seem to answer that question?
[i] Jeffrey M. Jones, “Belief in God in U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low” June 17, 2022
[ii] Fleming Rutledge, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ, 93. Eerdmans. Kindle Edition.
[iii] C.S. Lewis, “Christianity and Culture.”
[iv] Leanne Payne, Real Presence: The Christian Worldview of C.S. Lewis as Incarnational Reality (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1988), 23-24.
[v] C.S. Lewis, “Myth Became Fact” 58 in God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1970).
[vi] Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo, 211.
[vii] Jeffrey M. Jones, “Belief in God in U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low” June 17, 2022
[viii] Alvin Plantinga, Knowledge and Christian Belief (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2015), x.
[ix] Esther Lightcap Meek, Longing to Know (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006), 17.
[x] Rutledge, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ, 96.
[xi] Rutledge, Advent, 97.
[xii] See 2 Corinthians 2:11.
[xiii] Rutledge, Advent, 93.
*Photo by TOMOKO UJI
Do we live for a mere inscription on a tomb?
Is there meaning to this madness? Is it just a rat race and then nothing but a cold, silent, and rotten end? Do we live for a mere inscription on a tomb? An inscription that will inevitably fade with the passage of time?
“When you see a man often wearing the robe of office, when you see one whose name is famous in the Forum, do not envy him; those things are bought at the price of life. They will waste all their years, in order that they may have one year reckoned by their name… Some, when they have crawled up through a thousand indignities to the crowning dignity, have been possessed by the unhappy thought that they have but toiled for an inscription on a tomb” (“On the Shortness of Life“).
Christ gives much more to live for. Christ gives us motivation for going “through a thousand indignities.” Christ gives meaning and motivation because through His resurrection our labor in the Lord—whatever it is—is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58)! We can please the Lord and work heartedly unto the Lord in whatever we do (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23-24)!
So, the goal of a Christian is not to “wear the robe of office” or be “famous in the Forum.” The goal of a Christian is to put a smile on the face of God their Father and hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Perhaps that will entail being famous in the Forum or wearing the robe of office but the Christian is indifferent. The Christian’s goal is the same whether a pauper a prince: “He must become greater; I must become less” (Jn. 3:10). Christians know that when they do what’s right, they are still unworthy servants; who have only done what was their duty (Lk. 17:10).
So, no; we, or at least Christians, do not live for an inscription on a tomb. But rather for the One who forever takes us beyond the tomb. We live for the veil to lift so we can see the full marvelous glory of God; so we can continually taste of the goodness of God. It is about God and His glory. He deserves all glory and our very purpose is found in enjoying His glory and glorifying Him in the myriads ways that He has called us to.
Christians “crawl” up through a thousand indignities to the crowning dignity of eternal and endless delight.
So, no matter what they tell us, or no matter what we feel, there is a telos. There is a point. There is meaning.
Our end does not have to be the grave because of God.
*Photo by Ronni Kurtz
Why read? An argument for the importance of reading
Why read? Why am I committed to reading? For one, words matter. They matter to me and they mattered to Jesus and Paul too. I think words and reading should matter to you too.
Jesus apparently read or at least retained what He heard as a kid. He listened to the teachers and asked them questions and “all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Lk. 2:47). So, words mattered to Jesus and especially God’s words.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He fought off the temptation by quoting Scripture (Matt. 4). Jesus clearly knew the Scriptures. He quoted from Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 13, verse 16, and chapter 8 verse 3.
Jesus read in the in the synagogue (Lk. 4:16) as was the custom on the Sabbath (Acts 15:21).
Paul in Romans 3:10-18 quotes from ten different passages. And he did it from memory. It is unlikely that he would have looked up those passages in a nearby scroll. He certainly didn’t look it up in a concordance in the back of his Bible. No. He would have read those passages and memorized them. Scripture, however, was apparently not the only thing that Paul read and could quote. He also quoted popular poets (Acts 17:28).
Paul was in prison in Rome and he was writing his dear friend Timothy. He asked Timothy for a few items. First, we see he wants him to come before winter (2 Tim. 4:21) and bring his coat. Second, we see the importance of reading along with warmth, Paul wants his books and parchments too (2 Tim. 4:13).
Reading was important for the Apostle Paul.
You should too
Reading allows us to learn and glean from people in places and times we otherwise wouldn’t. Reading can facilitate wisdom. C.S. Lewis talks about the importance of prioritizing time-tested books.
I think there is a lot of wisdom in what Lewis said. I think our first priority should be the reading of Scripture. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time and the most translated book of all time. And Scripture gives us “the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68).
So, read books but especially read the Bible. Reading is important because God had revealed Himself and His will through revelation.
How to read more?
The number one advice I have is to prioritize reading. And deprioritize other lesser things, like social media. If reading is important, make sure it’s important in practice. Also, check out my advice “10 Ways to Read More Books in 2021.”
Read. Jesus and Paul the Apostle did.
 It’s important that we realize that the tempter also knows Scripture. In Matthew 4:6 the tempter quotes from Psalm 91:11 and 12 to try to cause Jesus to sin.
*Photo by Seven Shooter
Awaking Relevance Introduction
How should we live and why?
This is written for those who think church is bigoted and bad. It’s written for those who are bitter and done. It’s honestly specifically written for one of my friends. I want to awake them and you to the relevance of Christianity. Will you take some time to consider some important questions with me?
My question over all of this project is, does Jesus, who the Bible claims to be the Messiah, matter? We will not come at that question straight on. Instead, we will consider that question by asking other very important questions. Questions that are important but are often left unasked. Questions that close in on us and surround us and squeeze us. Questions that are there lurking.
Questions about death. About whether or not the world is enchanted. Questions about science and satisfaction. And morality and meaning.
You will answer these questions. We all have to. Will we, however, ask them? Will we think through them? Will we answer them honestly? And thoughtfully and thoroughly?
Socrates, the old and famous philosopher, is reported as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I personally think that Socrates exaggerated. I think life is worth living even if we don’t think about it. But, I do believe that it’s much better to live an examined life. And it’s much more honest and genuine too.
So, will you consider these questions? Will you ask them and find the real you? Will you find out what you really believe? Will you fight the façade and live the most honest and genuine life you can?
It’s better to consider these questions before it’s too late. To truly ask and answer: Does Jesus matter?—then to assume He does, if doesn’t. The opposite follows too. What if we assume Jesus doesn’t matter when He does? As the adage goes, if we ASSUME it makes an ASS out of U and ME. And as C.S. Lewis said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
If Jesus is not really God in flesh, as the Bible claims, then “what conceivable relevance may the teachings and lifestyle of a first-century male Jew have for us today, in a totally different cultural situation?” So, does Messiah Jesus matter? Consider that question with me through the lens of these other questions. Perspective often allows us to see something we didn’t before. That’s our goal. To gain perspective so that we can come full cycle and be in a better place to ask the question “does Messiah Jesus matter?”
I’m sure it’s apparent to you at the outset, but I’m convinced He does matter. I believe He matters more than the oxygen in my lungs. I want to be totally honest with you. Also, something in the back of my head informing a lot of what I write is a verse from the Bible. It has been very meaningful and challenging to me. It says, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions, if the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him.”
I want you to be truly convinced one way or the other. To tweak Socrates’ wisdom: the unexamined life is not consistent.
I believe we should examine our convictions about what is true, right, good, and beautiful, and then seek to live consistently with our convictions in every area of our lives.
A couple of years ago my family and I lived outside of Washington, DC. I was grabbing tacos with a friend at a really good local chain. I believed I was at the right place. it was the right taco chain after all. But my friend, who was not normally late, was not there. So I called him. He said he was sitting in the front of the restaurant and waiting for me. But I was there and sitting in the front and waiting for him. And he was nowhere to be found.
I believed I had the right spot, that’s why I was there. But I was wrong. I was at the right taco establishment but not the right location. So, you see, when we get little things wrong, even if we get a lot right, it can have a big impact. Even a devastating impact.
“Little, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default… Stray off course by just two millimeters, and your trajectory changes; what seemed like a tiny, inconsequential decision then can become a mammoth miscalculation.”
When we believe something, like the place we’re meeting a friend, it leads to a corresponding action: going there. We can think we’re right, and even have reasons for thinking we’re right, but still be wrong. Because beliefs inevitably impact our actions it’s important that we be reasonably sure our beliefs are correct.
Of course, my belief in the correctness of the taco joint location is less impactful than my belief about many other things. My point, however, is that even less meaningful beliefs have an impact so how much more beliefs about things that we deem of much higher importance?!
William Kingdon Clifford, the philosopher and mathematician in his essay “The Ethics of Belief” said, “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” Or, as the philosopher and English writer, G.K. Chesterton said, “An open mind is like an open mouth: useful only to close down on something solid.”
Our beliefs matter. They have an impact on our life and the lives of others. It is important that we consider what we believe and why. We’d be wise to remember, “It doesn’t matter how smart you are unless you stop and think.”
We see this through social media. It’s easy to get duped by fake news. It’s too easy for people to take the bait and believe lies. It’s too easy for people to hype conspiracy theories.
We don’t want to be guilty of living the unexamined life. We don’t want to live a conspiracy theory. We don’t want to build our foundation on the equivalent of fake news. Fake news is no foundation.
If you’re like me, however, you have a built-in mechanism that is like a gag reflex to certain serious questions. I remember when my parents were separated as a kid before they got divorced. We had various “family meetings.” I remember my brother’s and I being the kings of diversion.
We were like the squirrel in the movie “Hoodwinked,” except our mission was distraction. We would wedge in any funny comment. Anything to lighten the mood. We didn’t want to hear and deal with the harsh realities in front of us.
I’m older now. Obviously. But sometimes my inner hyperactive squirrel wants to take over when I’m in a serious conversation. I want to run. I want to do anything to escape.
If it’s not my inner squirrel, sometimes it’s my inner lawyer that wants to come out and defend myself and throw the book at the other party. I don’t want to hear. I want to yell. I want to prove myself in the right.
The way of my inner squirrel and the way of my inner lawyer is not the way of wisdom. I need to listen. I need to learn.
I need to question some of my beliefs. I need to weigh them to see if I really have good reasons for holding them.
Distractions can be devastating. Want if I have a concern that I have cancer but I fear what that would mean. So, I just keep putting it off. I don’t deal with it. I don’t get checked out.
There can come a time when it’s too late. The damage has been done.
I challenge you to consider this question with me: How should we live and why? As well as the questions that accompany this important question. The philosopher Peter Kreeft said,
“If we are at all interested in the question of how to live (and if we are not, we are less than fully human and less than fully honest), then we too must… ask questions. They are inherent in the very structure of our existence.”
Thoughts and questions are important. They shape our destiny. As Samuel Smiles said,
As I alluded to, this series is called Awaking Relevance because I’d love to have you awake to the relevance of Jesus. I’d love for you to come away seeing that Messiah Jesus matters. I’d love for you to find that Jesus shows us a meaningful way to live as well as the motivation for doing so.
But, perhaps you’ll never agree that Jesus matters. Perhaps this will be a decisive death to the relevance of Jesus for you. Regardless, I think it makes sense to really weigh it out. After all, Jesus had and has a big following. He had an impact.
Should He have an impact on your life? That’s what will consider through various questions in the following posts. I hope you will join me. I hope you will examine your beliefs. I hope you will consider: How should we live and why?
We’re Listening… To Something.
We all listen to something.
We all listen to something. Or we all get our idea of what we should do, be, and care about from somewhere. Whether Cosmo Magazine, the Wishbone app, Ask.fm, whatever you watch on Netflix, or whatever is said on Snapchat through BuzzFeed.
Should we listen to Taylor Swift, Jimmy Fallon, Post Malone, and DJ Khaled and receive “truth” from them? Or what about YouTube and Vine stars, Shawn Mendes, Tyler Oakley, Miranda Sings, Logan Paul, Jenna Marbles, and Hannah Hart?
Where is truth to be found? Popular and charismatic leaders?! Bernie Sanders? Barak Obama? Donald Trump? Joe Biden?
What about Adolf Hitler? Well, we automatically say no to some of those people especially Hitler. But that wasn’t always the case. Hitler was a gifted leader that actually brought what looked to some people like really good change.
But what do we know about Hitler? He was a moral monster. And he was fallible. That is, he was not perfect. And the thing is, neither is Cosmo Magazine, or Kanye, or Trump, or… whoever or whatever.
Yet, we’ve seen that we all listen to something/someone. We all get guidance for what we should do, how we should live, who we should be, from somewhere. But what that thing is that gives us guidance is super important.
Let’s take Hitler and Nazi Germany as our example again. Remember Hitler Youth? What were they taught? And I am not necessarily just talking about formal education. I am talking about what was the cultural air they breathed in? What did they believe and why?
They believed, or it would seem most of them believed, that the Nazi vision was their vision, their great dream, and destination. Was the Nazi vision, however, the correct vision, the correct hope?
I think and hope we would all clearly agree that they were wrong. And what happened as a result? Mass death, pain, and destruction. Essentially they got bad directions and arrived at a living hell.
Where we get our vision for life and prospering is important. Very important.
Where we get our “directions” is extremely important. And it is extremely important that those directions are correct directions. If not we will be led astray in innumerable ways.
[[Can I just say as an aside that we must fight against the temptation of geographical or chronological snobbery. America and the 2000s does not have the market on truth. We cannot use ourselves as the infallible measure of truth, can we? If so, couldn’t we justify anything we do in light of the fact that after all we’re right, we know what’s right? Couldn’t we end up a lot like Hitler and Nazi Germany? Our location on the planet and our time in history does not mean we have arrived, it does not equal truth. If we think it does then we are setting ourselves up for something bad.]]
How do we know how to think about sex and pornography and why do some of us desire to look at it so much and yet feel dirty, weird, or guilty after we do? What explains that? What about aspirations? What we should do in life? What about the point of life? What’s it all about? What about… and a thousand other things? We’re getting these answers somewhere, or trying to, but is it the right place? Is whatever we’re listening to giving us the correct answers?
We all know it’s important to get the correct answers to our questions, right? We know that from any test we’ve ever taken at school. Well, when it comes to life’s big fundamental questions, likes some of the ones we just looked at, it’s like twenty-thousand times more important that we get the correct answer. Failing a test at school, so to speak, does not at all compare to failing life.
So, why do we need a foundation? Well, first, let’s look at what a foundation is. The foundation, what a house sits on, is typically concrete. A foundation makes the house solid. It keeps it from moving.
Actually, the old farmhouse that I grew up in does not have a concrete foundation. It has cinderblocks on one side of the house and like two metal braces.
The house has shifted over the years. You can tell especially by looking at the doorframes and hallways.
The house was not built on something solid, it does not have a good foundation so it is liable to collapse.
Do you see the connection? It’s the same way with our lives. We need a solid foundation to build on. We need something sturdy that won’t shift with time. We need truth.
[[Did you know that even before the Fall, before the world was plunged into all sorts of chaos because of sin, we still needed instructions from God? God talked to humans before the Fall and told them a few things. Did they listen? No. And what happened? The Fall. The fall of everything… It is vital that we have guidance. That is innate within us since the beginning. Yet, we also see it’s vital we get it from the right source]]
Scripture is our foundation. Why? Because it is the truth.
Scripture all over the place claims to be the truth but it also shows itself to be the truth. Jesus who historically verifiably rose from the dead believed in the infallible Word of God and He said that He would send the Holy Spirit, the Helper, to guide us in all truth. That’s just what we see in the rest of the New Testament. And Peter said that the Apostle Paul’s writings were Scripture.
Plus, if God hasn’t spoken then truth is relative. We make our own truth. You make yours, I make mine. Basically, then, there is no truth. Adolf Hitler was not wrong. He was just wrong to us. However, we innately know that there is right and wrong. That is because there is a God that made the universe and He has written the law on our hearts.
The law on our hearts, our conscience, however, is not very specific. It teaches us that it is typically wrong to kill. It teaches us a few restrictions like don’t kill and don’t torture dolphins for fun. But it leaves other things out, like positive things we should do. Our conscious doesn’t tell us what to live for or what is absolutely right and wrong…
That’s partly why Scripture is so priceless. The Bible repeatedly says that it is worth more than gold, even much fine gold. And it is! So, let’s look at a brief theology of the Bible…
The Word is True (Ps. 19:7, 9; 119:142, 160; Jn. 17:17)
God’s Word comes from God, the highest authority. The one who knows because He is all-wise. We have His words. And we need His words.
God’s Word corresponds to reality. It tells us what is real. It is true to life. True to the way of life and the way things work. Thus, it makes sense that it is correct.
The Bible is true and so it gives factual and accurate records of events. It is true to reality. It tells us about the world, and us in the world. Truth is not relative. There are things that are right and wrong for all people at all places at all times
C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The Bible is true in that it explains reality to us. It accurately tells us why the world is the way it is. The Bible gives us the proper lens by which to see the world. The Bible gives us a worldview that corresponds with reality.
God’s Word is true and it is also eternal. It does not end. It does not stop being the truth. Everything else we read will pass away. Facebook, blogs, Twitter, cnn.com, espn.com, textbooks, novels, the Washington Post. One day the last Facebook status ever will be posted and Snapchat will end. But the Word of God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8).
The Word is Enlightening (Ps. 119:44-45, 105, 130; Prov. 6:23; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:23; 2 Peter 1:3-4).
God’s Word directs us how to live. It is a lamp to our feet. Without God’s Word we would be in darkness. We would not know where to go…
God, as we have said, has all-wisdom. He knows how the world operates and was meant to operate. Thus, if He tells us things we should do and things we should not do it makes sense for us to listen to Him. He knows! God’s word is a light because without it we are blind.
The Word is Shaping (Ps. 119:9, 11, 165; Is. 55:11; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12)
Because the Word is true and brings light and direction to our lives we see it shapes us and our lives. It shapes the way we live and think about things. It also convicts us. As 2 Timothy 3:17 says, “It makes us equipped for every good work.”
“The Word God breathes goes forth from Him and does not return to Him empty. It accomplishes all that He sends it out to do” (Is. 55:11).
“The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of every man’s heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The Word is Precious (Ps. 19:10-11; 119:72, 127)
The Bible, God’s truth, is precious because without it we are lost. We could have all the money and gold in the world but not understand how to think about money or gold, how to use money and gold. The Bible is precious because it tells us about the world that is beyond the 70ish years that we have here.
The Word is Life-giving (Ps. 119:144; Matt. 4:4)
Without the Word we die. That is what the Bible says. What does that mean?
It means we need the Bible to live. We need God’s life-giving truth every day. It is not something that we can do without.
To this day, man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). The Bible is not a map you pull out every so often to see if you’re still on track. The Bible is our oxygen tank and we are scuba-divers. We need God’s Word to live. What God breathes out, we need to breathe in.
The psalmist said, “Give me understanding that I may live.” The word of God is serious. It’s a matter of life and death.
The Word is Saving (Rom. 10:17; James 1:21-22)
The word helps us persevere. It sanctifies us and ensures we don’t fall away. But for it to have that effect on us we can’t just hear the word, we have to be doers of it. The Bible helps us to continue in the faith so that we do not fall away and prove that we were never truly in Christ.
Remember that children’s song “Jesus Loves Me”? That song is actually quite profound and amazing. How do we know that Jesus loves us? It’s because “the Bible tells me so.” Without the Bible we are lost. Lost in every way. The Bible is our foundation.
What are you listening to?