(6 of 11 in a series)
It is time to analyze our collected observations. Let’s review our “data” to this point. Observation one: The incredibly complex and orderly universe we inhabit implies a creator. Observation two: Man has a desire for a relationship with a supreme being. Observation three: Man has an innate bent toward moral and artistic beauty. Observation four: Man has an incredible capacity for cruelty.
In fitting these “data” into a religion, belief system, or philosophy, I believe that the most thorough and reasonable explanation for these observations is found in the message of Christianity. But in order to make this connection, we must set aside any preconceived notions or caricatures of what is meant by the word “Christian”. In this blog, the Christian message has no political agenda. It has no social agenda. It has no theological agenda.
The Christian message that fits the reality of our experience is the simple, unadulterated message of truth as explained in Christianity’s holy book, the Bible. In a world of political wrangling, consumerism, and mixed messages, we can easily forget that the Christian message, at its heart, is a gospel meaning a message of “good news” for all people everywhere. It is a message of truth, goodness, and beauty.
How does the Christian message explain the reality we observe? Let’s take them one at a time. Observation one: The incredibly complex and orderly universe we inhabit implies a creator. The Christian explanation is found in the first chapter of the Bible. “God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible goes on to explain the creation of the natural world, our planet, our place among the stars, our sun and moon, the plants and animals, and of course God’s crowning creation, man and woman.
Observation two: Man has a desire for a relationship with a supreme being. Again, the Bible offers that God, the creator, is the God we desire. God has placed “eternity in our hearts” to quote the Scriptures. We know someone is out there. And we desire a relationship with Him. We were created for relationship. Think for a minute about the father-child relationship. One of the anomalies of psychology is the difficulty explaining why we have such a strong desire for a relationship with our earthly fathers even when they treat us poorly or are mostly absent from our lives. Could this be a picture of our desire to relate to our Heavenly Father?
Observation three: Man has an innate bent toward moral and artistic beauty. Man’s appreciation of beauty and our worth as individuals derives from another of the Bible’s teachings; our creation in God’s image. We demonstrate that we carry God’s image when we act in ways that are morally beautiful. The Bible teaches that God is morally perfect and when we act in beautiful ways towards our fellow man, we, the image bearers, are imitating our creator.
Observation four: Man has an incredible capacity for cruelty. Our God-image has been corrupted by sin. Hence, we no longer operate only in the beauty of our creator. Instead, we operate in cruel ways that even we have a hard time understanding. Much has been made about the discovery of an “adultery gene” or other ways in which our sin is somehow genetically predetermined and beyond our control. Some see this as letting people off the hook for their deviant behavior. I see it as a confirmation of what God said a long time ago. We all have plenty of “sin genes”. It is part and parcel of us being human.