Today I saw three guys from a nearby high school crammed in a little Toyota pickup truck. A fourth guy lay in the bed of the truck hoping to avoid detection by the highway patrol. The driver and his comrades were clearly aware of the danger and illegality of their actions. But I wondered if those guys knew of another danger close by. You see, they were in the drive through line at Carl’s Jr. (just kidding Carl’s, I know you’ve added healthy items to your menu). That’s the thing about dangers: you think you’ve dodged one, when another catches you unaware.
A Few days ago I listened to a young woman being interviewed on the radio about the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Spain. The woman was part of a group protesting the Pope’s visit. I didn’t catch her entire beef with the Pope and religion, but I clearly heard her say she did not believe in God. And she said it with an invective (that’s a nice word for hateful) tone, as if she despised even the concept of God. Clearly this woman thought her culture would be better off without any manifestation of religion or God.
That woman’s diatribe might be nothing more than youthful naïveté, but I’m hearing this mantra more frequently of late. I don’t know if the numbers of those who don’t believe in God are increasing or they are just more zealous.
I look at the universe and see orderly design by a gifted artist. Some look at the universe and see chaos; they believe the universe is indifferent. Atheists point at believers and shout you don’t know for certain God exists. Believers point at atheists and shout yes I do because I’ve experienced his love that changed my life. To which atheists often cry hypocrites and cite examples of imperfections in the lives of those who believe in God. And back and forth it goes.
I think a lot of people these days are angry for many reasons, and denying God’s existence is one manifestation of that anger. And yet I’m often astounded by the righteous indignation of vehement atheists over injustice in the world. Where, I wonder, do they think their strong convictions about right and wrong come from? After all, isn’t the universe indifferent? And if the universe is indifferent, why should people give a rip about right and wrong? Do we care because of some evolutionary survival mechanism? Still, I can see how some people genuinely believe no deity exists. They rely on their God-given physical senses (pun intended) that tell them the presence of God can’t be confirmed. They boast of their intellect through dismissive statements about religion as superstition.
Some societies have gone before us and tried to eliminate God or make God irrelevant. The former Soviet Union comes to mind. On the other hand, some countries have eliminated God without obvious repercussions. But having perused the Old Testament Bible, I see a pattern—cultures that drifted away from God didn’t fare well. I mentioned this in the previous blog: how God withdraws his presence when a people group withdraws from God; which leaves them exposed to natural physical and spiritual consequences. Of course, archaeologists and scientists provide practical reasons for the demise of cultures. But think of it this way: nature abhors a vacuum. Remove God from a society, and something else will take God’s place. It might be the government, humanism, individualism, pacifism, secular activism, consumerism, environmentalism, malaise, or whatever. Of course not all these things are bad, but if that’s all there is, well, to me it’s depressing. I believe removing God from a culture also diminishes human creativity, but that’s a topic for another time. It’s clear to me that removing God from a culture exposes the culture to inconspicuous dangers, sort of like eating hamburgers every day at Carl’s Jr.