Monday, February 10, 2014

Why do our natures prove God?

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

I know that scripture cannot be broken, and therefore even the most base of men must see, in the words of Paul, God’s eternal power and divine nature. What evidence do I find within mankind that this is so?

When I look at man, I see straightway that man is a needy creature, for in every culture across the expanse of history, he has invented Gods. Interestingly, many cultures do share some sort of ancient flood myth, in which the world was renewed after being destroyed. But even more interesting, man devises his own gods, making them out of everything, worshipping them, and sacrificing to them. This is what I call the evidence of man’s inventing religion. There seems to be a hole in man, sought to be filled with many forms of religion, but never being filled until the Christ is met. I know poor souls who spend all their lives seeking and shedding various religions, never coming to the knowledge of the truth. Lewis refers to something like this when he speaks of civilizations, “That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended— civilisations are built up— excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. That is what Satan has done to us humans.”1 Religions without truth are exactly like that; they run a bit, and then conk out, but their very presence, I am arguing, indicates God must be. Religions permeate different civilizations at different times, but with strikingly similar patterns. They never seem, in contrast to Christianity, to provide answers that solve the dilemma: Man has a huge hole in his life that can only be filled by knowing Christ, and unless he discovers that, he is doomed to pursue the same religions over and over again, endlessly throughout history.

The problem of pain, or evil, in the world is a proof that our nature indicates a Maker. Why, you may ask? The very fact that we acknowledge evil and pain shows that we have a conscience. There remains no evolutionary reason for any “animal” to have a conscience. Man, alone among all the animals, is capable of denouncing his own species for wrongful acts. What possible natural selection or chance mutation could account for man condemning himself? I think it is a large indicator of the Creator, who put the image of himself in every man, for it is the simplest explanation of what we see in ourselves. Who told us we were wrong except that God himself, planting the seeds of conscience in man which make us to rise up in wrath when we see great wrongs. C. S. Lewis noted this long ago, “Now natural selection could operate only by eliminating responses that were biologically hurtful and multiplying those which tended to survival. But it is not conceivable that any improvement of responses could ever turn them into acts of insight, or even remotely tend to do so.”2

But it is not rationality alone that makes us unique; we are also the opposite of rationality—emotional creatures that are capable sometimes of expressing such volatile emotion that one has to wonder if rationality will ever emerge again. Of course, I do exaggerate, but at times, even the most staid among us is overcome with raw emotion. My dog frisks around after his bath, and seems to greet me happily enough when I come home, but for all of that, there is such a difference in the emotions expressed by men. I think a marked difference in the emotional state of man is that rationality lies behind it, and if you are having trouble with accepting that remark, perhaps it would help to think of love sonnets, or indeed, any similar act of passion that results in a wonderful creation. I think of human singing, and note that angels are not said to sing. The gift of singing, of making music, and of composing songs may well be one of the greatest marks in man of the creator. Any serious listener of music must recognize the laments and the infinite sorrow expressed in much of our music. Do not our very musical notes ring with the lament of a broken man?

We may “think” with our hearts more than we know, for there is little evidence of rationality. Bertrand Russell noted our emotional state with one of my favorite quotes, “It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.” Upon man, even in his emotion, is the indelible stamp of his Creator, and thus we do not have to look further than ourselves to see evidence of him. Of course, thus far I think many men have gotten in their reasoning, and I judge that most people would see some sort of creator, but it is at this very point that great divergence happens. I am told that Egypt used to worship the sun, and perhaps even cats, and Egypt is not alone in choosing the created to worship. Listing the areas of false worship, where mankind has chosen to worship the created rather than the creator, would go far beyond the scope of these simple comments. It is sufficient to note that men have gone wildly in pursuit of every sort of religion.

And that is what makes Christianity different. It is not man’s story of his pursuit of God; rather it is a story of the Divine God pursuing man. In a sense it starts with the burning bush that is not burnt up, with God revealing to man that he is the one who made the laws of nature, even nature itself, and that he is not beholden to them. Progressive revelation is what we see across the spectrum of history, as God takes a stubborn and perverse people, and chooses them to bring the Son to his full glory. We see a God in Christianity unlike any other; He condemns us utterly for our awful sins, but then, “in the fullness of time” he sends his son to take the very penalty of that sin upon himself, that he might make us partakers of his eternal glory. And that is what makes it so different; God pursues us, God forgives us, God reconciles us.

No other religion can capture the pain and evil of the world, reconciling it to its temporary place, and assigning the things of God to their eternal permanence. No other religion tells us that precisely what we find in ourselves is evidence, not only of a world gone horribly wrong, but also of a God who intends to make it right.

1. Lewis, C. S. (2009-05-28). Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (p. 50). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
2. Lewis, C. S. (2009-06-03). Miracles (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis) (p. 28). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

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