Where did the idea or faith in an ordered world—a controlled rather than a chaotic cosmos—come from? Is this view just the view humans have always had? Is it the default view of humans? What explains the possibility of science?
One author has said that “the emergence of science is a more extraordinary event than many children of the atomic age would imagine.” Or, as Peter Harrison has said, “there was nothing inevitable about the emergence of modern science.” We often take science and all the possibilities that science allows for granted. For most people in the history of humanity, that has not been an option. Because science as we know it was not in existence.
Many saw the world as chaotic and capricious, not controlled. The view that the world has discoverable laws has not been the norm. Why would one see the world as chaotic and uncontrolled? On the other hand, why would someone see the world as controlled? And, what difference do these views make?
These views are two different tracks that take you vastly different places. Seeing the world as inherently chaotic and capricious does not lead one to think there are laws that world govern the world. The most you could hope for would be survival, not science. If there are no rules to a game, you don’t think you’re going to win the game or even make much progress. Your goal, more likely, is to stay in the game as long as possible.
If, however, you believe in a controlled orderly world, it makes all the difference in the world. If there are rules to “the game of life” then one might find that there are advantages to knowing those rules.
Perspectives about whether the cosmos is chaotic or controlled have had huge implications on how people have thought about an enterprise like science. If we believe something is lawless, we don’t look for laws to study.
Or consider this, in many ways a stone mosaic and stone driveway are not that different. Both are spread-out stone. I, however, look at one with intention to find the pattern and picture. I don’t do that for the other because I know no pattern or picture is there.
That’s the way, apparently, humans have always been. The world has witnessed a few great cultures, cultures one would think capable of producing science. Yet, many times science has experienced a stillbirth. Why?
It would seem, if we believe in a Creator it makes sense to believe in creation, something that was created, created with a purpose. If there’s a Law Giver, it makes sense that there would be a law, and order and rules to creation. If, however, things just came somehow from chaotic chance, it makes sense that things would be chaotic.
“There is considerable historical evidence, particularly in the writings of René Descartes, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton, suggesting that the very notion of ‘natural laws’ is rooted in the understanding of a rational creator God who sustains an intelligible universe.”
So, what impact does the view of the cosmos being controlled or chaotic have? That is, what impact did the view of God and the world have in connection with science? In my understanding, and of many authors I’ve read, it had/has a big impact.
“Great cultures, where the scientific enterprise came to a standstill, invariably failed to formulate the notion of physical law, or the law of nature. Theirs was a theology with no belief in a personal, rational, absolutely transcendent Lawgiver, or Creator. Their cosmology reflected a pantheistic and animistic view of nature caught in the treadmill of perennial, inexorable returns. The scientific quest found fertile soil only when this faith in a personal, rational Creator had truly permeated a whole culture, beginning with the centuries of the High Middle Ages. It was that faith which provided, in sufficient measure, confidence in the rationality of the universe, trust in progress, and appreciation of the quantitative method, all indispensable ingredients of the scientific quest.”
Christians believe the cosmos is not chaotic because it’s controlled by a Creator. The universe is ordered because it follows orders. The law of gravity follows the rules of the Law Giver. God governs the world and so we can make scientific discoveries. Experiments are repeatable because the laws that govern the universe exist, they repeat. They were in operation yesterday, one year ago, today, and we’re counting on them being in operation tomorrow. But, why are they in operation? And, why should we count on them being in operation tomorrow?
If we came into being by chance, and the laws of the universe somehow are in operation by chance, isn’t there a pretty big chance they won’t be in operation tomorrow?… And, what is ‘chance’? Isn’t ‘chance’ just a reference to something that is statically improbable happening? But, that’s not an actual explanation of what happened or why, right?
 Stanley L. Jaki, Science and creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe (Gondolin Press. Kindle Edition).
 Jaki, Science and creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe.
 Denis R. Alexander, “Miracles and Science” Faraday Paper 20. “French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) pioneered the idea of physical laws of nature, arguing that God had set the world in motion at the moment of creation and that he continued to move things in accordance with laws that he had freely chosen” (Peter Harrison, “Religion and the Rise of Science” Faraday Papers 21).
 E.g. John Hedley Brooke, Science and religion: Some historical perspectives, Herbert Butterfield, The origins of modern science 1300-1800, Stanley L. Jaki, Science and creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe, Pearcy and Thaxton, The Soul of Science: Christian faith and natural philosophy, and Rodney Stark, For the glory of God: How monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunt, and the end of slavery.
 Jaki, Science and creation.
*Photo by Trnava University
How should Christians think about gender?
How should Christians think about gender? This is an important and controversial topic. This is merely one post but hopefully the beginning of a grace-filled, loving, and humble pursuit of the truth. We won’t be able to cover everything here but I hope this will be a good first step on a productive journey.
As we begin, I want to read a quote from Andrew T. Walker, he was one of my professors and he has written a book on this topic and I just love this quote from him. He asks: How would Jesus talk to us about this topic?
“He would listen to us, and he would love us, and when he disagreed with us, it would always and only be out of compassion, never oppression. There is no hurting person he would mock, or shun, or insult, or sneer at. He is so determined to pursue what is best for all of us that he died—excluded, mocked and rejected—to secure it.”
That is the heart we want to have as we approach this subject. We want the best for others. And when we disagree we still want to love. Jesus modeled this and He calls us to imitate Him.
What is gender dysphoria and what does it feel like?
Dysphoria means “a state of dissatisfaction/anxiety.” So, gender dysphoria means “a state of dissatisfaction or anxiety having to do with one’s gender.”
“Gender dysphoria is the medical term for the experience that one’s gender identity and sex, or how one was biologically identified at birth, do not match, resulting in conflict.”
People with gender dysphoria feel like the body they were born with doesn’t match the way they feel. They don’t feel comfortable with their gender. They feel like something is not right. And so, people with gender dysphoria may not dress in a way that is typical. They may also take medicine or have surgeries to look different.
Have you ever been in a setting or in clothing that you didn’t feel comfortable in? I remember singing a song from The Sound of Music in front of a bunch of people at the fair with my sisters. If you know much about me, you know I can’t sing. So, me singing in front of a bunch of people was not comfortable (for anyone!). But, perhaps the worst part was the silly outfit I had to wear. I felt and looked so goofy.
I had to do that quite a while ago and thankfully it only lasted a few minutes. But, I remember it. And not fondly.
Imagine feeling out of place in your own body. Actually, I think a lot of people can relate to that to some degree. But, imagine you felt so uncomfortable that you felt like your body was not the right gender. That’s how some people feel. One person expressed it like this: “Dysphoria feels like being unable to get warm, no matter how many layers you put on. It feels like hunger without appetite…. It feels like grieving. It feels like having nothing to grieve.”
Greg Eilers says it this way: “I was crushed with gender dysphoria. I had grown to hate myself. I could not look at myself in a mirror. I despised being a male and loathed wearing men’s clothes. I longed to live as and be recognized as a woman.”
This, I hope, stirs our compassion and empathy for those suffering and struggling. Jesus, Scripture says, sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15); we too should sympathize with the struggles of others.
With our desire for the good of others in mind, are you familiar with pica, the eating disorder?… It is a compulsive eating disorder in which people eat nonfood items; things like dirt, clay, flaking paint, and even bedding from hamster cages and metal; things that clearly are not good for you and can be very harmful.
In this example, we see that our desires are not the litmus test for what is right or good for us… Some things are harmful even if we have a desire for them…
Where then can we go to know what is good for us? Where is our guide for life? This is the issue, this is really what it comes down to when we consider gender… Where do we locate authority, knowledge, and trustworthiness? Our feelings and desires? Society? Or from somewhere or someone else?
How do we know what is good for us? How do we know what will lead to our health and thriving?
If Christianity is true, and God created the world and loves the world, then we want to hear what He has to teach us on this subject.
Christians find their direction, bearings in the world, and authority on the firm foundation of the crucified Creator. “He may not always agree with out feelings or our reason—but he can be trusted, and he knows what he’s talking about, and he has the right to tell us how to live.”
1) God’s Creation and Gender
“He [Jesus] answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female’” (Matt. 19:4).
Scripture shows us that “men and women are different. Our differences extend to the deepest levels of our being: chromosomes, brains, voices, body shapes, body strengths, and reproductive systems. What our bodies are designed and destined for are different. How our bodies are designed bear witness to the difference that reflects God’s creative will for humanity.”
I think it’s helpful to make a few observations from this passage. (1) We see we are created people. (2) We are created male and female. And amazingly I’ve read that scientists are able to tell if a person is male or female by looking at a single cell from anywhere in their body. (3) And so, I think it follows that what God the Creator does, people should not seek to undo. He, as the Creator, knows how His creation is supposed to function.
God’s good intention for humans when He created them is that they be male and female. In this way, human unity and diversity images Him (notice, however, that it’s not unity in chaos).
God made man first so as to emphasize something: man’s need for woman. The Bible says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” That’s not how it’s supposed to be. How it’s supposed to be is there is to be a “helper” fit for him (Gen. 2:18).
That’s God’s good plan for humanity: male and female; “equal, and different; intended, not interchangeable.” That, of course, does not mean that women are one ounce less important than men because they are called to be a “helper.” In the Bible God Himself is described as a helper (Ps. 54:4; 118:7). Women are certainly not less important! God’s a helper but He’s not less important!
God could have designed things differently. But, He didn’t. And after God made Adam and Eve, as male and female, He said that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Therefore, we see God has a particular good purpose for His binary—male and female—creation.
If it is true that God exists then it’s true that He knows what He’s doing.
If God doesn’t exist or He doesn’t know what He is doing then we are left in a big mess. That would mean we have no guidance in how we are to function. It means we are in the forest without a compass. We are traveling through complex roadways with no GPS. It means there is no guidance whatsoever. That not only do we not have guidance about gender; it means we don’t have guidance regarding any moral issue.
It means we make our own way. We make our own meaning. No one has the authority to tell me or anyone what to do. I have no basis to tell you not to be a jerk…
If, however, God exists then we have guidance. We have reason to think there are ways that are good to live and treat people and ways that are not good to live and treat people. It means we are more than evolved animals with animal impulses.
And if God knows what He is doing then it would make sense to listen to Him. He is the Creator. He knows how we are supposed to function.
Back when God originally made humans, when everything was still very good (Gen. 1:31), Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed (Gen. 2:25). “Imagine that: a world where everyone is at ease with who they are and how they’re made; and feels good about how they look, rather than embarrassed or awkward or deeply disturbed about it; where people are able to completely trust those around them, so that they are able to be open with them. That is a wonderful world.”
So, the first thing we’ve seen that Christians believe is that there is a good God that actually exists that has a good plan for His people. God knows the best way for people to live and because He loves us He wants us to live in that way (Kind of like how parents don’t want their kids to just eat cotton candy all the time. It’s not because they don’t love them. It’s because they do love them. In the same way, God wants what’s best for us and He knows what’s best for us).
2) Rebellion and Ruin and Gender
God wanted the world to be a certain way. He wanted us to live and thrive. But, we know that life is not always that way. We all have struggles and temptations. Why is that?
The Bible tells us that something tragic happened with humanity. Humanity disobeyed God. Humans failed to function according to the “Owners Manuel,” so to speak.
I had a friend that was having some trouble with his car. It just didn’t have the power it used to have and should’ve had. My friend couldn’t figure it out so after a few weeks he took it to someone who knew what they were doing, a professional mechanic, to have it looked at and the mechanic right away knew the problem.
The car was not supposed to be driven for miles and miles, day after day, week after week, with the parking brake on. That was not the intention of the car creators. And when the car is operated in that way it cannot fulfill its purpose to the best of its abilities.
Since the fall of humanity in Genesis 3, humans have struggled with following the “Owners Manuel.” We often do what we think is best. We often don’t notice that it causes a lot of problems.
We all have brokenness. I, for example, struggle with anger. We all have struggles.
God says love people and treat them with respect. I sometimes want to yell at people, or worse.
We all struggle in various ways (James 3:2). Some people, like me, struggle with anger issues. Some people struggle with same-sex attraction, some people have gender identity struggles.
The Bible explains the fact that we have struggles. And God understands that we have struggles.
But, the cold hard reality is “we have neither the authority nor the ability to rewrite or reconfigure how God made his world. It’s his creation; we’re just living in it.” The truth is “when we as creatures reject the Creators blueprint, we are both rebelling against the natural order of how things objectively are, and (though it may not seem like it) we are rejecting the life that is going to be the highest good for us.”
I do think it’s important for us to realize that even after the fall of humanity we are still “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). So, there’s a lot of ruin, but we are not ruined. Your body is still good.
“The Fall of Adam has led to disorder in all aspects of human existence, including in how humans form in the womb. Recognizing that we are all subject to the brokenness of sin can help us have compassion toward those whose physiology falls outside the norm.”
Rebellion leads to all sorts of ruin. But, thankfully God doesn’t leave us there.
3) Jesus’ Rescue and Gender
As I’ve said, I struggle with anger. I’ve acted out in anger before and hurt people. That’s not God’s intention. God takes sin seriously because it’s damaging. Because of sin, I deserve punishment but Jesus offers peace. Look at Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Therefore, through Christ, there’s no condemnation. I’m even a new creation (2 Cor. 5:21)! That, however, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I do. I will, I’m sure, until I die.
But there will be a day when my struggle will be gone! Look at Philippians 3:20-21: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”
Sometimes when we have a particular sin, temptation, or struggle we can identify ourselves in that way. But, the reality is, who we are in Jesus is our truest self. Our deepest identity as Christians is to be found in Christ.
Jesus is the most important thing that any of us have in common. Jesus is the most crucial aspect of our identity. He is more important than where we’re from, our race, status, or sex. Listen to what Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t differences. It’s saying the biggest most important thing is that all Christians—no matter who we are or our background—are all “one in Christ Jesus.” But, differences when carried out in holiness are beautiful. The Christian Church is to be like a beautiful mosaic rather than a drab old musty basement wall.
So, even with male or female we shouldn’t push unbiblical stereotypes, partly because stereotypes are often just based on the changing cultural climate and not in the objective truth of Scripture. Consider, for example, that pink has not always been considered a “girly” color or consider that men in the 14th century were basically the first to wear yoga pants (i.e. hoses that were sometimes quite colorful).
By this, I’m not saying that we should disrespect societal norms (cf. Deut. 22:5). I’m saying that the stereotype that men aren’t supposed to cry is wrong. Jesus Himself cried. What about dancing and poetry? Is dancing and poetry more feminine than masculine? Well, King David who killed wild beasts, slew a giant, and was one of the most elite soldiers that walked the earth also danced and composed poetry. So, just because someone is different from society’s stereotypes does not mean that that person should rightly be a different gender. God, not the ever-changing culture, should be our guide.
How should Christians think about gender? As we consider the rescue of Jesus and the topic of gender there are a few helpful observations for us to make.
1. Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves.
Sometimes people say something like this: “If you’ve met one Steelers fan, you’ve met them all.” What people mean by that is that all Steelers fans are the same. I love what Preston Sprinkle says in his book, Embodied. He says, “If you’ve met one transgender person, you’ve met one transgender person.” The reality is, every transgender person is different. Even every Steelers fan is different. It’s important that we understand that every single person has a different story and has different struggles.
2. Jesus cares more deeply than we can imagine.
Christ cares deeply. And calls Christians to too. “How Christians treat transgender persons matters. Christ is not served when we simply spout Biblical bullet points rather than delve deep to understand the crushing condition that is gender dysphoria and help ease the pain of those suffering it.”
3. Jesus, as the Creator, knows what’s best for us (John 1:3).
4. Jesus calls us to welcome, love, and listen as He Himself does.
I agree with Andrew T. Walker:
“A church should be the safest place to talk about, be open about, and struggle with gender dysphoria.”
“A transgender person ought to feel more loved and safe visiting a Bible-believing church than in any other place in the world!”
5. Jesus calls us to a life of sacrificial discipleship.
We’re all called to suffer and sacrifice for our Savior.
“Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’” (Matt. 16:24–25).
This will look different for all of Jesus’ disciples but will also be worth it for all of Jesus’ disciples. Further, Jesus promised that the Helper would be with us to help us.
How do we go about in the real world with this? What are some practical ways we need to navigate this issue in real life?
“Unless you celebrate then you are bigoted and unloving.’ But, is this true?
It’s not bigotry to believe that biology determines one’s sex/gender. Throughout at least the vast majority of history humans have understood there to be just two sexes/genders. Does it not instead seem potentially more prejudiced to hold to potentially innumerable sexes/genders when the world over, throughout most of history, disagrees? Should that at least cause one to be respectful of those who see it differently since, after all, they hold the majority position by a long shot? Not that the majority is necessarily correct but the person that screams the loudest is not necessarily correct either.
Preston Sprinkle gives a very helpful overview of the arguments in his book Embodied but he advocates for “pronoun hospitality.” I agree with Andrew T. Walker though, when he says “The best solution is to avoid pronouns altogether if possible. Calling a person by their legal name or preferred name is more acceptable because names are not objectively gendered, but change from culture to culture.”
What about intersex?
“’Intersex’ describes someone born with atypical features of their sexual anatomy or sex chromosomes. Depending on which conditions are counted, estimates of the proportion of people who are born intersex vary greatly, from 1.7 percent to 0.018 percent. The higher estimates include people with any kind of disorder or difference of sexual development (who may not even be aware of it), while the lower estimates restrict intersex to describe people whose sex organs are not classifiable as either male or female or whose chromosomal sex does not match their anatomy.”
It should be understood that intersex people
“exist and will most often go through significant hardship as a result. The presence of intersex people represents a biological aberration rather than a biological norm or additional third biological sex. But there is much more to be said. As we have already seen, all of us, irrespective of any biological challenges we may face, of any kind, have been fearfully and wonderfully made. There are no exceptions… our bodies are all fallen; we all encounter a measure of bodily brokenness. But that does not take away from the care with which God has made us.”
There are different intersex conditions but people can serve, love, and glorify God with those conditions. In Acts 8, an Ethiopian eunuch saw the good news of Jesus for the first time and was baptized as a disciple (v. 35-38). We don’t know the specifics of what it meant for him to be a eunuch. Was he intersex, castrated, or something else? We just don’t know.
What we do know is that his identity could rest securely in Christ. Christ got at the core of who he was. And he went from not being able to go into the inner courts of the temple because of his condition, to being able to go boldly (through Christ) to God His Father (cf. Is. 56:3-5).
Jesus welcomes all people at great cost to Himself (Rom. 15:7) and He calls those same people to walk in holiness, whatever their particular struggles, and to be on mission to share His love with others.
 Greg Eilers, Ministering to Transgender Christians: A Resource for the Christian Church, 42.
 “A person with gender dysphoria has intense and persistent feelings of identification with another gender, and a strong discomfort with one’s own assigned gender. Gender dysphoric individuals might experience distress with their body, with being perceived and treated as their assigned gender, and with the expected role of their assigned gender” (Greg Eilers, Ministering to Transgender Christians, 42).
 Eilers, Ministering to Transgender Christians, 16.
“To those whose biological reality is painful and confusing, Jesus gets it… The biological complexity some might have to face is… part of the bodily brokenness that all of us have to reckon with in one way or another. For every single one of us, our body is imperfect and causes us some amount of suffering. Such suffering varies hugely from person to person, but no one should feel somehow in a category of their own. Your experience may be very different from that of other people. It may seem that no one else, however much they try, truly gets it. That may be true. But Jesus sees all and knows all. He has lived as a human on this earth and suffered the extremities of physical pain. He is not “unable to sympathize with our weaknesses… (Heb. 4:15)” (Sam Allberry, What God Has to Say about Our Bodies, 53-54).
 “Would it be kind to tell someone suffering from anorexia that their self-perception of being overweight is correct simply because that is how they perceive themselves?” (Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 72).
 “An (imperfect) analogy might help. Color-blind people find it either hard or impossible to distinguish between green and red. Color-blindness is not uncommon—you may in fact experience it. And, thankfully, there are lots of work-arounds to keep it from being too much of a hindrance to daily life. But it is nevertheless a reality for many. But just because some struggle to distinguish red from green doesn’t mean that the colors red and green do not actually exist. They clearly do. They are objective realities. That some confuse one for the other does not change that. In fact, when we drive, our lives depend on the fact that these two colors really do exist and are not subjectively determined. Yet the fact that these colors exist doesn’t mean that there is no confusion or difficulty for anyone. There is” (Allberry, What God Has to Say about Our Bodies, 53).
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 45.
 Rebecca McLaughlin, 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity, 136.
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 45-46.
 “Jesus affirms both the binary of male and female in creation and the binding of male to female in marriage” (Rebecca McLaughlin, The Secular Creed: Engaging Five Contemporary Claims, 103).
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 56.
 Cf. Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 59.
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 57.
 “According to many ancient philosophies, men were more important than women. But the Bible tells a different story. God made humans—“male and female”—“in his own image” (Genesis 1:26–28). Men and women are equally important. But they are also importantly different” (McLaughlin, 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity, 136).
 In some ways, I think this implies the vast importance of women! Men need women. Men cannot do the work God’s called them to on their own!
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 60.
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 51.
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 52.
 Eilers, Ministering to Transgender Christians, 58.
 “Jesus was the perfect man. But he was no gender stereotype… No follower of Jesus need hold to rigid gender stereotypes, in which men make skyscrapers and women decorate their walls. Instead, we must cling to our Savior. He is the one who knows us to our core and loves us to death and beyond. He made our bodies, and he holds our hearts. Our deepest identity lies in him” (McLaughlin, The Secular Creed: Engaging Five Contemporary Claims,109).
 See McLaughlin, 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity, 150-51.
 “Some people think real men don’t cry. But Jesus cried. Some people think real men sleep with lots of women. But Jesus never even had a girlfriend. Some people think real men don’t stand for insults. But Jesus took insults all day long. He defended the weak, but he wouldn’t fight back to defend himself. Some people think real men don’t cook or care for kids. But Jesus did both these things. If we want to know what it means to be a perfect man, we must look at Jesus.
Women are called to copy Jesus too. He is the perfect human, so all Christians—male or female—are called to imitate him. But the ways in which Jesus used his strength and power for others, not himself, is a particular model for men, who often have more physical strength and have traditionally had more power (Philippians 2:1–11)” (McLaughlin, 10 Questions, 138).
 Eilers, Ministering to Transgender Christians, 124.
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 121.
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 122.
 Preston Sprinkle, Embodied, 205.
 Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 157.
 McLaughlin, The Secular Creed, 102.
 Allberry, What God Has to Say about Our Bodies, 50-51.
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?
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).
 “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
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?
There is a certain way the world is, whether we like it or not. I think of a shape sorter for example. There are certain places where things fit and certain places where they don’t fit. A square is a square and goes in a square hole, not in a triangle hole.
We could imagine doing a shape sorter box blindfolded. It would be difficult. We would have to feel our way to what was right. And imagine if someone was getting in our face and trying to distract us and give us the wrong pieces to put in the wrong spot… It would be extra difficult. It would still be clear that there’s a correct place for the pieces—i.e. a correct way the world is to function—yet it would be difficult to make things function the way they are supposed to without the correct guidance.
We can try and go against this reality but it’s going to be problematic. Things won’t fit. People all the time say things like: “Have it your way,” “Make your own reality.” But that doesn’t mean you actually can.
In John 18, Pilate speaking to Jesus said: “What is truth?” Ironically, Pilate was talking to Truth Himself (Jn. 14:7). That was over 2,000 years ago.
The existence of truth has been questioned for a long time.
Pilate said, “What is truth?”
People today say, “We make our own truth…”
The absence of truth is a work of Satan. It is a work of darkness and brings darkness (and is itself a defilement). Satan is the father of lies and there is no truth in him (Jn. 8:44).
Satan is the archenemy of God. God hates untruth (Is. 59:4, 14-15).
When truth is not followed or truth is doubted it brings an avalanche of evil and destruction. Untruth leads to (or is) injustice. Untruth is far from the good of God’s character and design.
Thus, truth is vital. People are destroyed when they lack right knowledge (Hosea 4:6, 14).
Truth is the seal of the Savior and is (or should be!) the seal of the saved.
We must obey the truth (Gal. 5:7) knowing that the truth sets free (Jn. 8:32), sanctifies (Jn. 17:17), and purifies (1 Pet. 1:22). Thus, the truth must be preserved (cf. Gal. 2:5). Scripture, the truth, must be treasured (Ps. 119:105; Jn. 17:17).
“…the whole earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Gen. 6:11b-12).
The story of Noah and his ark has always been a difficult story. Knowing the context of the story is helpful though.
So, what was going on before God destroys the world with a flood?
Well, just a few chapters earlier we see that God made an incredibly good and beautiful creation (see e.g. Gen. 1:31). We see God made people–all people–with dignity and worth (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1-2). We see God gave people good things to do (Gen.1:28).
But, we also see, humans didn’t listen. We see that in the Fall of humanity (Gen. 3), the first murder (Gen. 4:8), and the growing corruption and violence (Gen. 6:5). In Genesis, we go from God and good creation to growing corruption very quickly (that’s also representational of my own tendency).
It was not God who “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” That’s what humans had already done. Humans damaged and defiled the very thing that would have brought them endless delight. Humans turn from fresh fulfilling water to putrid puddles.
But, that’s not it. Humans also hate. They hate humans that were made with the dignity of God. They hate and they hurt. They abuse and injure. And even kill.
Before God destroyed the world in the flood, humans destroyed the world with their sin. In God’s act of destruction, He was actually bringing a type of deliverance. He could have, and in a sense considered, destroying the world completely (Gen. 6:6-7).
Yet, God worked through Noah, a mediator (Gen. 6:8ff), as He does, to bring salvation through judgment. God provided a type of rescue when wrath was deserved.
Ultimately we know, the God-Man, Jesus Christ, took the wrath of God and the violence of the world on Himself. When we understand the whole context of the story of Noah’s ark, we see it is not God at fault. He is not the guilty party for the destruction of the world.
Instead, we see we are at fault. We carry out atrocities. We turn from God, where alone there is life, to trifles and trivialities. We hate humans, who have eternal value and being, and love things that perish in a moment.
When the story of Noah’s ark is understood in context, from the perspective of the whole of redemptive history, we see how amazing it is that the LORD is both just and the justifier of the one who trusts in Jesus alone for rescue (see Rom. 3:25-26).
I appreciated Pennington’s book. He did a good job showing that “Christianity is more than a religion. It is a deeply sophisticated philosophy” (Jonathan T. Pennington, Jesus the Great Philosopher: Rediscovering the Wisdom Needed for the Good Life, 159).
Here are 10 quotes that stuck out to me:
“When we try to live without knowledge of physics and metaphysics—how the would is and how works—then we are foolish, not wise, living randomly, haphazardly, without direction or hope for security, happiness, or peace” (Pennington, Jesus the Great Philosopher, p. 23).
“The Bible is addressing precisely the same questions as traditional philosophy” (p. 53).
“The Old and New Testaments teach people to act in certain ways, knowing that cognitive and volitional choices not only reflect our emotions but also affect and educate them” (p. 120-21).
“Without intentional reflection, we will live our lives without direction and purpose. Or worse, we will live with misdirected and distorted goals” (p. 124).
“Relationships aren’t an add-on to life, they make up our life” (p. 134).
“Jesus himself emphasized that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). This does not mean Christians are free to ignore this world, but instead it frees Christians to relate in a gracious and humble way, knowing their citizenship is ultimately something more and greater and different” (p. 166-67).
“The reason Jesus was so infuriating to both religious and government leaders was not because he was taking up arms and trying to overthrow governments but because his radical teachings were so subversive to society. Jesus was subversive because he sought to reform all sorts of relationships. In his teachings and actions, Jesus continually subverted fundamental values of both Jewish and Greco-Roman society” (p. 172).
“Christianity is a deeply intentional and practical philosophy of relationships” (p. 173).
“Unlike sitcom relationships, the reality is that our lives are broken through sin—the brokenness not only of sin that has corrupted creation itself but also of personal acts of evil, foolishness, and harm. Thus, the Christian philosophy’s vision for relationships within God’s kingdom is not naive or idealistic” (p. 181).