Consequences of Ideas
Nothing has a more direct impact on our moral choices than whether we believe in God. The moral choices we make determine the outcome of our lives and, collectively, of society. Our attitude toward law, respect for and acknowledgment of authority, respect for the unborn and even our sexual practices are determined largely by our belief or lack of belief in God. Our conduct toward others, as well as the love and commitment in our relationships, usually boils down to one issue: Do we believe God when He speaks?
Over the past few centuries we have come through a supposed age of enlightenment in which philosophers and other thinkers sent the clear message that we don't need God to tell us what is right or wrong. As a result, atheism and materialism are increasingly accepted as the norm. Those who believe in God and the truthfulness of the Bible often are seen as uneducated, unenlightened, superstitious and archaic—if not downright dangerous.
Says Richard Dawkins, the staunch defender of evolution introduced earlier in this booklet: "It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)" (Richard Dawkins, The New York Times review of Blueprints, April 9, 1989).
Academic and government institutions most responsible for determining society's thinking and behavior have for the most part banned God from their halls. Most philosophy, psychology, science and history classes begin with an evolutionary premise, that there is no God and life came into being spontaneously and by chance. Thus they include no universal purpose or ultimate meaning for human life in their courses of study.
So where does that leave us?
An underlying motive
What are the fruits of denying the existence of the Creator? Does it distort one's reasoning? The Bible tells us: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). The same verse describes the consequences of such thinking: "They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good." Their entire outlook is defiled.
God understands the motivations of people who deny the possibility that God is real. When they convince themselves that God doesn't exist, what is right and wrong no longer matters to them. They have no objective standard for behavior. They see no reason they shouldn't do as they wish.
The author Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), member of one of England's intellectually distinguished families, admitted: "I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption . . . Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their [purpose] that the world should be meaningless" (Ends and Means, 1946, p. 273).
Where does such thinking lead? Huxley explains: "For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with out sexual freedom . . . There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: We could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever" (ibid., p. 270).
Huxley confessed it was his desire to be free from moral standards that propelled him and others who shared his thinking to devise a rational basis for dismissing the idea of any innate moral obligations.
How many students in our academic institutions have any idea such motives shaped the theories and philosophies they are taught as fact? Probably few indeed. But, startling as it may be, the theory that life evolved spontaneously was spawned and fueled by hostility toward God's standards and values.
Exhilaration from denying God
Huxley's brother Julian (1887-1975) was even more blunt: "The sense of spiritual relief which comes from rejecting the idea of God as a superhuman being is enormous" (Essays of a Humanist, 1966, p. 223).
Aldous and Julian Huxley were grandsons of Thomas Huxley (1825-1895), a close friend of Charles Darwin and vigorous promoter of evolution. Early in the debate over evolution, Thomas Huxley revealed his antireligious bias to a biologist friend: "I am very glad that you see the importance of doing battle with the clericals . . . I desire that the next generation may be less fettered by the gross and stupid superstitions of [religious] orthodoxy than mine has been. And I shall be well satisfied if I can succeed to however small an extent in bringing about that result" (Thomas Huxley, quoted in The Columbia History of the World, John Garraty and Peter Gay, editors, 1972, p. 957).
More recently, paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould asserted: "We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dinosaurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise available (so thank your lucky stars in a literal sense); because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook.
"We may yearn for a 'higher' answer—but none exists. This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating" (David Friend, The Meaning of Life, 1991, p. 33, emphasis added).
What a frank and candid admission! But why would anyone feel exhilarated and liberated by convincing himself that God does not exist?
The problem lies with the heart. The prophet Jeremiah explained, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, New American Standard Bible).
God exposes the dark intent of those who deliberately set themselves against Him. "For when they [those who despise God's authority] speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage" (2 Peter 2:18-19).
We must guard our minds against those "great swelling words of emptiness" that bombard us with unsubstantiated evolutionary thought. Such thinking has a gradual and insidious effect on us and on our society that the Bible equates with slavery.
Analyzing the motive
God's Word pulls no punches in identifying the motivation for denying His existence. The apostle Paul explains that some people disregard God to satisfy their own passions.
Notice the process and tragic results: ". . . What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:19-21).
Paul explains that, when we look into the skies and examine the world around us, the creative hand of God should be self-evident. A reasonable person will recognize God exists because of the evidence he can see with his own eyes. Paul says a person should conclude there is a Creator God and recognize many of His attributes by observing the wonders He has made. To conclude otherwise—that the sun, moon, earth and stars came into existence on their own from nothing—is utterly illogical.
Some, however, carry such a passionate anti-God prejudice they conclude the opposite—that the physical universe doesn't require God. Paul continues his description of the process that takes place in their thinking: "Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things" (verses 22-23). They attribute godlike powers to the physical creation and reject the Creator.
Have you been misled by this false reasoning into assuming that the thinkers of this world are wise just because they can observe similarities in animal and plant life on this planet and elaborately hypothesize that they originated from a common ancestor? This reasoning is one of the basic foundations of the evolutionary concept.
Paul continues: "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever" (verses 23-25).
Where does such thinking lead?
Paul analyzes the fruits of the thinking that leaves God out of the picture. "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (verses 26-27).
Paul gets to the crux of the matter: People don't want God to stop them from gratifying their selfish lusts. "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things that are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful" (verses 28-31).
These are the predictable results of removing God from our thinking (verse 28). They describe a society that does not recognize God and moral law, nor does it acknowledge absolute principles of right and wrong.
The God-is-dead movement
One of the acclaimed philosophers of the modern world, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), was influential in the attack on God as the source of moral standards. His ideas had a radical impact on some of the most influential men of the 20th century, particularly Adolf Hitler.
Nietzsche sought to replace the religion of Christianity, with its belief and reliance on God, with a new world built on a godless foundation. He sought to redefine human life without God. He claimed that Christian ideas weakened man and prevented him from rising to the true greatness that lay within him. Christianity with its concepts of morality, repentance and humility were self-debasing ideas that had to be discarded before humanity could break free, soar to greater heights and scale the mountains of individual accomplishment.
Nietzsche strongly espoused the idea that, as he put it, "God is dead." He wrote his philosophy in a style that stirred the emotion and imagination. He argued that since God is dead we humans must be worthy to take His place. However, he wrote that man was not ready for such an exalted position, and until man was able he must live through a temporary time of upheaval and revolution. The day would come, nevertheless, when this godless world would be welcomed into the arms of a philosophical deliverer.
Enter the superman
Nietzsche's predictions in part came true. His nihilistic teachings were ready to be taken seriously by a rapidly changing world already influenced by the philosophers who preceded him—David Hume the skeptic; Immanuel Kant, who exalted the authority of human reason; Sören Kierkegaard the existentialist. There arose great men, atheists and despisers of religion who sought to become what the world was waiting for—the new superman. Men like Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot were products of that experimental philosophy.
Historian Paul Johnson writes: "Friedrich Nietzsche . . . saw God not as an invention but as a casualty, and his demise as in some important sense an historical event, which would have dramatic consequences. He wrote in 1886: 'The greatest event of recent times—that "God is Dead," that the belief in the Christian God is no longer tenable—is beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe.'
"Among the advanced races, the decline and ultimately the collapse of the religious impulse would leave a huge vacuum. The history of modern times is in great part the history of how that vacuum had been filled. Nietzsche rightly perceived that the most likely candidate would be what he called the 'Will to Power' . . .
"In place of religious belief, there would be secular ideology. Those who had once filled the ranks of the totalitarian clergy would become totalitarian politicians. And above all, the Will to Power would produce a new kind of messiah, uninhibited by any religious sanctions whatever, and with an unappeasable appetite for controlling mankind. The end of the old order, with an unguided world adrift in a relativistic universe, was a summons to such gangster-statesmen to emerge. They were not slow to make their appearance" (A History of the Modern World From 1917 to the 1980s, 1983, p. 48).
Looking back on the 20th century, Paul Johnson observed: "We have lived through a terrible century of war and destruction precisely because powerful men did usurp God's prerogatives. I call the 20th century the Century of Physics, inaugurated by Einstein's special and general theories. During this period, physics became the dominant science, producing nuclear energy and space travel.
"The century also brought forth social engineering, the practice of shoving large numbers of human beings around as though they were earth or concrete. Social engineering was a key feature in the Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes, where it combined with moral relativism—the belief that right and wrong can be changed for the convenience of human societies—and the denial of God's rights.
"To Hitler the higher law of the party took precedence over the Ten Commandments. Lenin praised the Revolutionary conscience as a surer guide for mankind than the conscience implanted by religion" (Reader's Digest, "The Real Message of the Millennium," December 1999, p. 65).
It was Charles Darwin who gave the philosophers what they wanted to hear. Before Darwin the ideas were abstract, perhaps reactions to earlier abusive and corrupt institutions and governments. Darwin gave life to the nihilistic, existentialist, rationalist philosophy. With his theory of the mechanism of natural selection, he could explain scientifically—at least in theory—that there didn't have to be a Creator God after all. Life could have come about on its own and then evolved without God.
Science and philosophy now teamed up to shatter the hold religion had on the populace. With the theory of evolution—and the ramifications of that thinking—would come the bloodiest century in human history.
The great moralist Victor Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz, wrote: "If we present man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present him as . . . a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drive and reactions, as a mere product of heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone.
"I became acquainted with the last stage of corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment . . . I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers" (The Doctor and the Soul: Introduction to Logotherapy, 1982, p. xxi).
The words of Hitler, posted in Auschwitz in hope that the human race would never again descend to such savagery, are a sobering reminder of what happens when we reject God's moral absolutes: "I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality . . . We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence—imperious, relentless and cruel" (Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God?, 1994, p. 23).
Survival of the fittest
Looking back on recent history, we can understand how the ideas of a godless universe, that the human species survived by running the gauntlet of the survival of the fittest, that humans can rise to exalted levels of power, led inevitably to the shameful fact that in the first half of the 20th century more people were killed by other people than in all history up until that time. The justification for a greater part of this carnage was the idea of natural selection inherent in Darwin's theory of evolution.
The application of the survival-of-the-fittest principle to human affairs came to be known as social Darwinism. Although Darwin apparently did not condone the extrapolation of his natural-selection theory into social relationships, he did argue that human evolution proceeded through warfare and struggle.
"There are few evolutionists who have been embarrassed by the social implications of evolution and who have stressed cooperation (instead of struggle) as a factor in evolution. Others have said that it has been improperly applied when it is used to defend militarism and social abuses.
"Of course the application of Darwinian survival of the fittest to human affairs by unscrupulous men has no direct bearing on the question of whether human beings and other creatures evolved from simple forms of life. But these abuses have been sanctioned and abetted with evolution as an excuse, and if evolution is not true it seems all the more tragic" (Bolton Davidheiser, Evolution and Christian Faith, 1969, p. 354).
The future of evolution
The evolutionary principle, having produced its deadly fruit throughout much of the 20th century, will no doubt flourish in the 21st. The emphasis now is on improving mankind genetically. Researchers speak of extending lifespans and eradicating diseases with gene therapy and genetic implants. There is common talk of improving physical and mental abilities and bestowing individual natural talents through genetic manipulation. At the moment we struggle with the ethical, emotional and legal issues involved with such practices.
In short, many think man is able to direct his own evolution.
Maybe that's not such a strange thought. It is the natural outcome of man trying to find his own way to a superior life without God—and maybe even the notion that through artificial evolution humanity can overcome death and at last attain immortality.
It would be much simpler and surer to believe God in the first place. Man can achieve everything that is good for him now—a happy and fulfilled life—and, in the future, immortality. But man tries to achieve it on his own terms, without acknowledging or obeying his Creator. His naturally selfish nature leads him to satisfy his cravings, thus bringing on himself the physical, mental and emotional penalties that result from breaking God's laws—but he turns around and uses the intellect God gave him to try to circumvent paying the price.
It is ironic how firmly man holds to belief in absolute physical and natural laws but vigorously objects to the very idea that the spiritual laws of God are just as immutable and absolute. When it comes to his behavior, somehow he finds a way to explain that God doesn't exist, thinking that will remove the consequences. Make no mistake: When mankind breaks any of God's law, denying that God exists in no way removes the price that must be paid.
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