Return to 4th Quarter 2019 articles.
Many of our readers will likely see our theme for this quarter as nonsense. Those who do not believe in God will likely say, “It isn't, and I don't need that crutch.” Those who are devout Christians will say, “To go to heaven — isn't that obvious?” On a practical level, I would suggest that there are some much more tangible values that faith in God brings to us. There are some good reasons why we all need to nurture and develop a meaningful faith in God because of these values.
Faith in God Gives Purpose to Life.
The atheistic belief system is challenged by these significant questions:
Why are we here?
.... Why do I exist?
.... Why is there something instead of nothing?
.... Is my life important enough to justify my existence?
Prominent atheists have written books on these subjects. The lesson of history has been that gaining material things and extensive wealth does not produce life-fulfilling satisfaction. The wealthiest people among us have not found wealth to be fulfilling or satisfying.
Perhaps the best description of the frustration of having everything and still being unfulfilled is Ecclesiastes 1-4. Solomon devotes these four chapters to spelling out why wealth is meaningless:
Meaningless! Meaningless! … Utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless. What do people gain from all their labors at which he toils under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3).
He then lists all the things someone might do to find satisfaction and meaning in life — pleasures, wisdom, food, drink, friends, etc. He concludes that it is all meaningless.
Contrast that description with Paul who in Philippians 4:11-13 writes: “… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul knew he had a purpose in living, and as he approached the end of life, he knew he had fulfilled that purpose: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil … .” Knowing we have a major role to play in the great cosmic struggle between good and evil means we all have a purpose for existing. Our faith in God gives us a role to play in this great war which gives meaning to our lives.
Faith in God Gives a Fixed Standard by
Which One Can Make Moral Judgments.
In Judges 17:6, we read, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” As you continue reading in that story, you see the consequences of not having a fixed code of behavior by which to live. In recent years atheists and skeptics have written book after book attempting to suggest how a person who does not believe in God can be moral.
“Survival of the fittest” is not a set of rules that work in organizing society. The role of religion in any culture is to provide a fixed standard of conduct by which men and women can live. The Ten Commandments provided a fixed basis of behavior that could be enforced, was easy to understand, and was written so it could be followed. In the later books of the Old Testament (Leviticus and Deuteronomy), God's moral laws were expanded and enlarged to deal with applying the Ten Commandments to various situations.
The real root of morality is not in the written commands, but how a person's heart reacts to those commands. Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, gave a basis for eliminating wrong behavior. When I was an atheist, I read the Sermon on the Mount and marveled at how wise it was. I saw that if it were followed, Earth would be at peace and the things that divide humanity would be gone. No atheist plan for morality works because those plans are based on selfish values that promote the individual over all others. If belief in God is universal in a population, a fixed moral code and a basis for judgment are possible. In the courts of law in early America, witnesses were told to place their hand on a Bible and asked, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” Society accepted the fact that universal faith in God would prevent a perversion of testimony. Perjury had significant punishments attached to it. As faith in God has left our political system, lying has become acceptable, even by our leaders.
Faith in God Gives a Basis for Enduring or
Solving Problems That Are Bigger Than We Are.
Every twelve-step program that I know of contains some version of “learn to look to a higher power.” There are large numbers of people who have overcome addiction, drugs, alcohol abuse, hatred, and fear by learning to look to a higher power. The significant emotional and mental problems that people in our culture struggle with have been eliminated or greatly reduced for some people by programs with spiritual connections.
In recent years, the primary method of treating individuals without spiritual management has been to use drugs. Faith in God gives a proven technique to make meaningful changes in the lives of addicted people.
Faith in God Reduces Fear,
Both in Life's Problems and in Death.
Atheists have long maintained that faith in God is due to fear of death. There is undoubtedly some truth to that charge, but the question remains; what does atheism have to offer people who know they are terminal? I have seen a large number of people die. Those who have faith in God are fearful for those they are leaving behind and they fear pain, but they are not fearful about death. As the father of a child with multiple physical and mental disabilities, I have seen how faith in God enables one to deal with the heartbreak of an incapacitated child.
Vocal atheists such as Richard Dawkins have offered the atheist solution of abortion for a child that has a congenital problem. Atheists, like Peter Singer, the Ira W. Decamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton, have suggested euthanizing all mentally challenged children or children with extreme disabilities to save money.
Faith in God allows compassionate care with love as the solution to human weaknesses and disabilities. The selfishness of “survival of the fittest” does not allow that to be done.
Faith in God Provides a Basis for the
Existence of All Kinds of Beauty.
Why is there gorgeous color in places where no one will ever see it? There are many situations where great beauty exists, and yet the presence of that beauty threatens the survival of the plant or animal that possesses it. Atheist scholars in recent years have written articles and books trying to explain beauty, but evolutionary explanations frequently fail. Claiming that beauty is to attract mates, fails because in some cases the animal is color blind. The vivid colors of some tropical birds make them more visible than they would be with drab colors actually threatening their survival. Beauty in inanimate objects has no biological implications and applies uniquely to human appreciation. It is our creation in the image of God that allows us to create beauty in the arts. The faith in God of artists and musicians has led to the world's most beautiful music in every style from classical to black spirituals.
If you believe in God, then you believe in a being who created beauty for us to enjoy. We not only admire beauty, but we create it in art, music, poetry, and prose. Our spiritual nature, our soul, allows this incredible portrayal of the hand of God. Jesus referred to it when he compared the lily of the field with Solomon's most beautiful attire (see Matthew 6:26-30).
Think what kind of world it would be if every influence of faith in God were removed. What would be the effect on art, music, laws, and the compassionate treatment of human needs? Religion has sometimes been used to justify evil things such as racial conflict and gender abuse. Atheism is a man-made religion, and man-made religions do not have a positive influence. Things like the Crusades and the Ku Klux Klan are man-made religions based on hate and ignorance and not expressions of faith in God.
In Christianity, we see pure faith in God expressed in the logical, compassionate, rational teachings of Jesus Christ, which are essential to the kind of existence we all desire. The alternative to that faith is the anarchy and chaos we see in the world today. The survival of humanity depends on faith in the one true God expressed in John 1:1-14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
Cover: Roland Earnst.
© kuran. Image from BigStock.com.
© Wavebreak Media Ltd. Image from BigStock.com.
© shockfactor. Image from BigStock.com.
© Dzmitrock. Image from BigStock.com.
© Old Man Stocker. Image from BigStock.com.
© ileezhun. Image from BigStock.com.
Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.