Let’s pause on politics for a minute here. On a personal note, I’m headed out of town for a few days. I’ll be officiating my first wedding. I started seminary just over a year ago because I kept declining invitations to preach on Sunday mornings. I figured I needed to go to seminary before I committed.
Well, my producer is getting married and I’m going to officiate the wedding. My postings will be light over the coming days. In preparing for the wedding, and doing a lot of reading, I realized I had not put up my sermon from Colorado. I believe I put up the video. But as there is a growing secularism in the country and we see that legislation moving forward, though amended, in California, it is worth taking a time out from Presidential politics to focus on something more important.
I believe in God.
That statement is the most counter-cultural statement a person can utter today. The western world, increasingly, is hostile to the idea of God. Secularism would have you believe that everything came from nothing. I believe it is a greater leap of faith to believe that than to believe Jesus died and rose again from the dead.
Secularism tells us that in the beginning there was nothing, then a singularity, then a great expansion, and now us.
Our Judeo-Christian heritage teaches us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The implications of this require our recalibration. If everything came from nothing, there can be no accounting and no standards other than “I say so.” If everything comes from God, then we are not the creator and we will be held to account.
It is this accounting that the modern world seeks to run away from. The moral relativism of secular society is founded upon fig leaves.
Believing that God created everything does not make us anti-science. Some of the greatest scientists in history were Christians. Secularists may take by faith that everything came from nothing and Christians take by faith that everything came from God. One can no more disprove the former than the latter, but the latter is vastly more rational than imaging there are turtles all the way — universes before universes and expansions and contractions without any idea where it all comes from.
The modern view of sheer randomness gives comfort to those who wish not to be held to any standards. The Roman philosopher Lucretius believed in the swerve. His writing, set to modern translations, is something atheists bitterly cling to in their quest to escape accountability.
Everything is made of invisible particles.
The elementary particles of matter—“the seeds of the things”—are eternal.
The elementary particles are infinite in number but limited in shape and size.
All particles are in motion in an infinite void.
The universe has no creator or designer.
Everything comes into being as a result of a swerve.
The swerve is the source of free will.
Nature ceaselessly experiments.
The universe was not created for or about humans.
Humans are not unique.
Human society began not in a Golden Age of tranquility and plenty, but in a primitive battle for survival.
The soul dies.
There is no afterlife.
Death is nothing to us.
All organized religions are superstitious delusions.
Religions are invariably cruel.
There are no angels, demons, or ghosts.
The highest goal of human life is the enhancement of pleasure and the reduction of pain.
The greatest obstacle to pleasure is not pain; it is delusion.
Understanding the nature of things generates deep wonder.
Where did the swerve come from? Where did the particles come from? “From nothing,” says the atheist. “From God,” says the Christian.
Of the two views, only the Judeo-Christian view can truly answer why there is something instead of nothing. Lucretius and his modern worshippers cannot explain why so many heroes reject “the enhancement of pleasure and the reduction of pain” and engage in self-sacrifice. Nor can they explain why such men are viewed as heroes and not fools.
With this, we are put in our proper place. We are not the creator. We have limits. Moses, when he wrote Genesis 1, came from an Egyptian world view and his statements flew in the face of all religion at the time. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” was as counter-cultural then as it is now.
The Egyptians believed that a god essentially pleasured himself and through that produced other gods and together they created everything. The sun and moon were gods too. But Moses said not only that there is one God — a monotheism in an entire world full of polytheists — but that the God was the God of Israel and the word choice for “created” was “bara,” a word reserved exclusively for the divine. Men could not create what God created. The man-gods of Egypt were precluded from being creators. The sun and moon were not gods, but objects in the sky. That too was a massive deviation from all the religions of the world at the time.
Belief in a divine creator puts us in our proper place. Lloyd Casey in his book First Family noted that Teddy Roosevelt, on camping trips, “would look at the stars, ponder the immensity of space and get his perspective straight as to how insignificant the earth’s situation is in relation to the whole.” God as creator puts us in our place.
If we believe in God as creator, we also get an objective sense of aesthetic. God said the first five days of creation were “good,” but the day mankind was created was “very good.” So creation itself is good. Mankind is very good. Among secularists we are seen as bad and we have a need to minimize our foot print. But a Biblical world view tells us “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-4. The body is not a prison house for the soul. The body is good because God made it.
Likewise, because everything came from God and not nothing, we get a sense of ethics and morality. Survival of the fittest is secular. Laying down one’s life for another is Biblical. And we see the Biblical play out repeatedly in the secular. The secular world cannot explain the sacrificial acts of man though it may try. Tim Keller in The Reason for God mentioned law professor and philosopher Arthur Leff.
When would it be impermissible to make the formal intellectual equivalent of what is know in barrooms and schoolyards as “the grand Sez Who?” In the absence of God…each…ethical and legal system…will be differentiated by the answer it chooses to give to one key question: who among us…ought to be able to declare “law” that ought to be obeyed? stated that baldly, the question is so intellectually unsettling that one would expect to find a noticeable number of legal and ethical thinkers trying not to come to grips with it…Either God exists or He does not, but if He does not, nothing and no one else can take His place.
If we believe in God, we also get a true sense of relation. Created in the image of God, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” We see that through creation, we have a stewardship relationship with the earth and animals. We have a complementary relationship with the opposite sex. We know that we are not meant to be alone. And through that sense of relation, we get a sense of who God is.
God himself wants to relate to us. He wants to interact with us. He is no deist. He is no abstract or random or callous god. God wants a relationship with us and we see that in how we relate to each other and how Jesus came into the world to be with us.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20
All around us are signs of God. There is no random swerve. There are no turtles all the way down. There is either nothing or there is God.
I believe in God. I believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And because I believe this I must remember I am held to a standard some reject and I am called to behave in a way others do not behave. God’s ways are not our ways and the ways of those who recognize all things came from God are not the ways of those who, by faith, believe everything came from nothing.
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. Acts 17:22-29