Morals and Meaning
In another burst of absolutely dazzling profundity, Harris adds, “While feeling love for others is surely one of the greatest sources of our own happiness, it entails a very deep concern for the happiness and suffering of those we love.”2 “Feeling love”? What does that mean? With deep feelings of love, a young man says to the young woman beside him in his car, “I love you with all my heart!” What he really means, although neither of them understands it, is “I love me, and I want you!”
If this is what his “selfish genes”3 (as Richard Dawkins would say) and the molecules in his brain are causing him to think, who can blame him? Clearly, the logic of atheism, evolution, and natural selection will inevitably bring us to the day when no one can be blamed for anything. Blame will have lost all meaning. The physical construction of our bodies will have to bear the responsibility. The universal excuse (and it will have to be accepted by every court of law) will no longer be “The devil made me do it” but “My selfish genes made me do it!” Who believes in the devil anyway? But surely we all believe that genes are selfish, don’t we? No, we do not. We still have enough common sense to reject this amorality that now governs our ethics and morals.
Harris criticizes the Bible for condoning slavery.4 He deliberately ignores the fact that in biblical days the only other alternative for those taken captive in war was death. Those hopelessly in debt didn’t have the modern escape of bankruptcy; they had to sell themselves into slavery. Nor was the solution so simple as to set a slave free. Where would the freed slave go? For many, this was the only means of sustenance.
Christ did not come to reform earthly society but to die for the sins of the world so that we can go to heaven when we die. The teachings of the Bible, however, caused both slave and master to act with respect and even love toward each other. And as society changed and other possibilities developed, Christians led the way in freeing slaves.
President Eisenhower said, “Our government makes no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith—and I don’t care what it is.”5 Ike had the right to express his own opinions, but his position of leadership obligated him to make rational pronouncements—and that statement makes no sense. There are differences in religion so great that they contradict one another. Hinduism’s belief in 330 million gods surely contradicts Islam’s belief that Allah is the only god; and the Qur’an’s teaching that Christ neither died on the cross nor resurrected6 certainly contradicts the very foundation of Christianity. Ike was accepted as a Christian by many evangelicals, and he attended church regularly (politically correct behavior for presidents). Clearly, however, what he really believed and publicly expressed contradicted Christ’s declaration, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6).
Many who call themselves Christians implicitly accept the superiority of science over the Bible. Thus, whenever “science” disagrees with the Bible, as its presently accepted dogmas so clearly do with regard to the creation of the universe and life, “Christians” surrender their faith in Scripture, which is really a surrender of their faith in its Author. Or they attempt to twist what the Bible says in order to make it seem that it agrees with atheism’s Big Bang and evolutionary account of man’s descent from fish and reptiles and chimpanzees. In a sense they become partners with atheists, incredibly allowing them to dictate the terms of the discussion.
In his book, Reason in the Balance, Phillip Johnson argues that only creation by God can account for man’s moral conscience. Nature has no morals. Man’s sense of ethics and morals cannot contribute to survival but would work against it. If evolution is true, we ought to shut down all hospitals, cease all medications, and let the weak die to strengthen the race. Kindness and compassion cannot be reconciled with survival of the fittest. Man, however, is compelled by conscience and compassion to sacrifice for others—proof that he is made in the image of a God of mercy and love (Deut 4:31; Neh 9:17; Ps 103:8; 117:2; Heb 8:12).
If the “Big Bang” theory is correct, then the sentence I’m typing now came from, and is a product of, this giant explosion. Every thought and theory (including the greatest scientific discoveries and the worst political blunders), every ambition and emotion, including love—all resulted from the Big Bang. From what other source could they have come? This is the absurdity that we must embrace with this theory that removes all meaning from life. Whatever anyone believes, decides, says, or does is simply the result of the chance antecedent motions of the atoms in their brains, which all began with a gigantic explosion that has been pushing matter away from its epicenter ever since.
But human existence involves morals, ethics, ambition, purpose, meaning, hope, love and hate, jealousy, self-sacrifice, pride and humility, frustration and patience, anger, a sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice, compassion, forgiveness, ad infinitum. How could such qualities of human existence have attached themselves to exploding matter? The Big Bang offers no explanation for these human qualities, which have no relationship to energy and matter. Rather, it denies their significance. All human experience, having resulted from a giant explosion, would be totally meaningless. Anyone who imagined otherwise would be the victim of a cruel hoax. And finally—so what?
Ah, but evolution took this exploding matter and turned it into what we are today. Really? Time magazine’s cover story the first week in October 2006 claimed that there really isn’t a chasm between man and animals but only “tiny differences, sprinkled throughout the genome.” So we don’t really experience love and joy, fulfillment, a deep concern about injustices in the world, but our “selfish” genes cause us to have these feelings? Is it our genes, too, that cause us to reject this statement that reduces humans to programmed robots? The summary of the article, posted on CNN.com, explained:
As scientists keep reminding us, evolution is a random process in which haphazard genetic changes interact with random environmental conditions to produce an organism somehow fitter than its fellows. After 3.5 billion years of such randomness, a creature emerged that could ponder its own origins—and revel in a Mozart adagio.7
So there you have it: we are what we are as a result of “3.5 billion years” of purposeless “randomness.” Where is moral responsibility? How can any criminal be held accountable for what his genes have caused him to do?
Then why have an education? What are governments and elections about? Why do we care about anything? Why is it that this “randomness” coming out of a giant explosion eons ago produced such different results in different people, including firm convictions that cause arguments, anger, and even wars?
There wouldn’t be one in a million people who experience the reality of life and love who would not be insulted to be told that their deepest convictions and greatest joys and fears were merely phantoms of their genes. Yet they will embrace such theories when pronounced in the name of science without realizing that this is where they lead. Those who promote this theory have no explanation for the unanswerable questions it logically raises. And what about logic and convictions? Could they, as well, be the result of a giant explosion and in the end are but delusions created by our “selfish genes”?
In contrast to atheistic attempts to explain moral behavior without God, the Bible tells us that these personal and moral qualities demonstrate the fact that we were created “in the image of God”(Gen 1:26-27). We were designed to reflect His attributes, but not as robots. Man was given the power of choice, which he used to rebel against his Creator, seeking independence from Him as a little god in charge of his own destiny. Our present world of disease and suffering of all kinds is not the world God made. It is the world we have made in our proud rebellion against Him.
The Bible shows us where we are wrong, and what we ought to do about it. Everything it says rings true to our consciences. Evolution has nothing that even comes close to this logical explanation of human existence and behavior, both good and evil. The Bible explains how God came as a man through a virgin birth to die for the sins of all mankind so that He could justly forgive those who would repent of their rebellion and accept the payment for sins that Christ accomplished in order to bring us back into a right relationship with Himself. It all makes sense—certainly much better sense than imagining that we are the chance offspring of a huge explosion.
Furthermore, the Bible proves itself to be God’s Word through hundreds of fulfilled prophecies—proof that is unique to the Bible and totally missing from the Qur’an, Hindu Vedas, and all other religious scriptures. These are not cheap psychic predictions but history-making, world-shaking events, foretold in plain language centuries and, in many cases, thousands of years before their fulfillment. These are inarguable, precise fulfillments in every detail, which the world has witnessed as part of its history.
Why not believe the Bible, when its statements are supported not only by prophecy but by mountains of evidence? Many of the greatest scientists of all time who discovered the principles foundational to today’s science were firm believers not in a Big Bang but that God created the universe. Faith in God and His Word, the Bible, was the foundation of their lives. The same is true of many of today’s space scientists and astronauts. Werner von Braun, founding director and for many years head of NASA’s space flight center, was always eager to testify:
Manned space flight…has opened…a tiny door for viewing the awesome reaches of space. An outlook through this peephole at the vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator. I [cannot] understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe.8
Atheistic evolution has many close allies in the environmental (sometimes known as the “Green”) movement. In 1993, Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet leader, founded (and remains its president today) the Green Cross International, headquartered in the Hague, to build upon the work started by the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Green Cross? The biblical Cross was stained with the blood of Christ when He died for the sins of the world, including those who mocked and crucified Him. The “Greening of the Cross” is a growing movement worldwide. Gorbachev says that the main purpose of the Green Cross is “to bring nations together…to stimulate the new environmental consciousness…returning Man to a sense of being a part of Nature.”
The idea that man must be persuaded to act as though he were “part of Nature” is in itself an admission that he is not. Nature’s creatures need no such coaching. This return to nature, however, is a powerful factor in encouraging the immorality of today’s world.
There is no “right” or “wrong” in nature. Clearly, it is not “wrong” for a volcano to spew forth lava and poisonous gases. Whatever Nature and her offspring do is simply “natural.” If man is a product of nature through evolution, then whatever he does must likewise be natural. No one complains about the destruction wrought upon the environment by parasites or creatures that destroy entire forests; or hurricanes and tornadoes and floods that wreak terrible destruction. These occurrences are all “natural,” and no complaint can be made against anything Nature does. But if man is the product of evolution, then he, too, is a child of Nature, and whatever he does should be as “natural” as the actions of any creatures in his evolutionary ancestry or of his present evolutionary “relatives” all around him today, most of whom would poison or devour him.
And what about the great concern among environmentalists over the possible extinction of so-called “endangered species”? Once again man reveals that he is not a product of natural forces. Endangered species? Isn’t that how evolution works? Hasn’t evolution been doing away with species through natural selection and survival of the fittest for millions of years? Why should man, if he is simply a product of evolution (and one that has only lately arrived on the scene), be working against evolution while claiming to believe in it and to be its offspring?
One cannot logically believe both in evolution and the environmental movement. Evolutionists should neither be concerned for “endangered species” nor for the ecological well-being of this planet. If man, as a result of the evolution of his brain and nervous system, succeeds in destroying the earth in a nuclear holocaust or ecological collapse, that must be accepted as a natural act in the evolving universe.
The mere fact that man can reason about ecology and the survival of species is proof enough that he is not the product of such forces, but, having the power to interfere with them, must have a higher origin. Man was created in the image of God. Only an intelligent Creator could have brought mankind’s reasoning powers and moral and ethical concerns into existence. Consequently, the solution to the problem of evil on this earth is not in hugging trees and getting in touch with nature. True love? In the bloody Cross, as declared in the Bible, God is saying to all mankind, “I love you.” Accepting His love is man’s only hope. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). TBC
1. Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006), 24.
3. Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
4. Harris, Letter, 14-19.
5. Cited in Peter Berger, Facing Up to Modernity: Excursions in Society, Politics, and Religion (New York: Basic Books, 1977), 155.
6. Surah 4:156-59.
8. Quoted in Henry M. Morris, Men of Science-Men of God (El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1988), 85.
To love God with all our heart we must first of all will to do so. We should repent our lack of love and determine from this moment on to make God the object of our devotion. We shall soon find to our great delight that our feelings are beginning to move in the direction of the “willed tendency of the heart.” Our emotions will become disciplined and directed. We shall begin to taste the “piercing sweetness” of the love of Christ. The whole life, like a delicate instrument, will be tuned to sing the praises of Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. But first of all we must will, for the will is master of the heart.
A. W. Tozer
(The Berean Call published with permission).