Month: March 2015

Trusting in God’s Strength through Trials

Credit: The Leading Edge Blog

Credit: The Leading Edge Blog

We depend on many things to get us through our daily lives. A couple of months ago, I was driving to the college campus and I hit a huge pot hole. I didn’t realize it at the time, but air was slowly leaking and I continued to drive on it back home. The next day I got in my car to drive to work and I thought there was a box underneath my front right tire. Nope, it was completely flat. Good news I had a second car, but it reminded me of my dependence on material objects, especially when one of them fails. Can you think of any other material objects we depend on daily?

Though we may rely on material objects, they can let us down. The one we should ultimately depend on is God Himself. We can trust in his salvation and rest because of the strength and guidance He gives us. In this Psalm, David flees from Absalom to Jerusalem. No matter the trial David was experiencing, God was his shelter and protector. Let’s Read Psalm 27:1-2

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom should I be afraid? This Scripture Identifies God in three ways:

  1. Light – God’s guidance directed David’s steps.
  2. Salvation – Physically, God could rescue David from any temptation.
  3. Stronghold of his life – God could be trusted. He provided security to David numerous times.

God’s presence in David’s life in those ways meant something else was removed. What was that? Fear: In what kind of situations do you feel afraid? I know for me, it’s when I am uncertain what the future holds. The thought of driving can be fearful for me because you don’t know what to expect. Someone might run a red light and crash right into you.

Fear can come in the form of finances, relationship problems, or spiritual separation. The light that God provides is His salvation, and it eliminates the fear of eternal separation. The reason that we can trust in this light is because it is a person and not just a thing. He keeps His promises and we know that He loves us. Let’s read the next two verses.

V.2-3: “When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid; though a war breaks out against me, still I am confidence.”

In these two verses, David highlighted that evildoers who were against him did not cause him to be afraid; he was still confident in God. Because he knew the Lord’s power was so much greater, David trusted in his God. How does the confidence in your salvation affect how you face the dangers of life? For me, I don’t have to worry about death because God has defeated it. What are some positive and negative ways to face our dangers in life? Positive: pro-active, negative: worry, anger. Recognizing God’s provision and protection led David to worship. Let’s now read verses 4-6.

“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple. For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock. Then my head will be high above my enemies around me; I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord.”

We all want something: to fulfill a childhood dream, to work in a certain career, to have a spouse and/or children some day. However, David recognized that he could only find security through the presence of God. No human achievement, level of self-righteousness and morality, or power influence can deliver security to us. So David decided to ask for the one thing from God that would give him security. What was it that he asked for? Dwell in God’s presence. What does it mean to seek God’s presence?

I pray you seek His presence today through the Bible, prayer, and fellowship with a local, bible-believing church. God bless.

Is God the Basis for Morality? Part 2

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As you recall from part 1, I argued that it is more rational to believe that morals originated from an intrinsically valuable, intelligent Creator (commonly known as God) than for morals to have emerged evolutionarily through a valueless, non-intelligent, cause-effect physical process.

To defend this argument, I suggested three criteria that every valid ethical system of morality should require. First, any sufficient moral system should have an objective standard of what is right and wrong. Second, any sufficient moral system should explain the connection between free will and human responsibility. Third, any sufficient moral system should present justification for human value. In this paper, I will argue the second point.

#2. Any sufficient moral system should explain the connection between free will and human responsibility.

The Oxford dictionary defines free will as “the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.” When we say a person has free will, we are assuming the person is responsible for his or her action. Why? Because humans are capable of freely choosing to do either good or evil.

This makes sense if God exists. Because God is a non-physical being, God is not controlled by anything external or internal. Since we as human beings are created in God’s image, we all possess a non-physical mind that is not determined by the physical and chemical processes in our brain state. So then, if I speak rudely to my wife, I am obligated to confess my wrongness, seek forgiveness, and take responsibility for my wrong behavior. I can’t say that my prefrontal cortex was acting up that day as an excuse not to apologize.

Atheist Sam Harris states in his book Free Will, that “A person’s conscious thoughts, intentions, and efforts at every moment are preceded by causes of which he is unaware. What is more, they are preceded by deep causes—genes, childhood experience—for which no one, however evil, can be held morally responsible.” Even Michael Shermer said in his book The Science of Good and Evil: If you abandon free will in favor of Naturalism, moral responsibility flies out the courtroom window.

So then, next time you say something rude to your friend, cheat on your exam, or get pulled over speeding by a cop, just tell them: “I am simply an organic machine at the mercy of the chemical and physical reactions occurring in my body. See if they let you off the hook…

Is God the Basis for Morality? Part 1

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Before I argue that God is the best explanation for moral values, I want to first clear up four misconceptions that people have regarding morality.

  1. You do not have to believe in God to perform moral actions. An Atheist can give his wife flowers on Valentine’s Day, be a crying shoulder for a friend, or give charitable donations to those in need.
  2. You do not have to believe in God to know morality. Everyone is capable of recognizing moral values because they are embedded in our consciences by God. Romans 2:15 says that the laws of God are written on the hearts of mankind.
  3. You can believe in God and do bad things, and even do them in the name of religion. The Medieval Inquisition in 1252 led by Pope Innocent IV, who was not so innocent, tortured apostates by roping their hands behind their back and painfully dislocating their joints. These actions were morally reprehensible because of our understanding of human dignity. People can do bad things by distorting religious creeds just as easily as people can do bad things by distorting the methodology of science. For example, Nazi doctors infecting innocent humans with gangrene to experiment for future biological warfare. The argument goes both ways.
  4. The definition of morality – Most people would approve that morality deals with the intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good or right and those that are bad and wrong.

Now that common ground has been established, here is my main argument for why God is the best explanation for the origin of moral values: It is more rational to believe that morals originated from an intrinsically valuable, intelligent Creator (commonly known as God) than for morals to have emerged evolutionarily through a valueless, non-intelligent, cause-effect physical process.

To defend this argument, I suggest three criteria that every valid ethical system of morality should require. First, any sufficient moral system should have an objective standard of what is right and wrong. Second, any sufficient moral system should explain the connection between free will and human responsibility. Third, any sufficient moral system should present justification for human value.

Let’s now focus on the first criteria. #1. Any sufficient moral system should have an objective standard of what is right and wrong. To say that morality is objective is to argue that the idea of right and wrong are universally fixed for all times and all cultures, regardless of human opinion. Saying “murdering an innocent person is wrong” is just as objectively true as 2+2=4 or the speed of light travels at 186,000 miles per second. So, even if someone believed that 2+2=something other than 4, or said “murdering an innocent person was okay” their opinion would still be wrong.

My grandmother-in-law lived during the diabolical reign of Josef Stalin. Between the years 1937 and 1938, commonly known as the great purge, Stalin authorized the execution of over 40,000 innocent people, 90% of which were confirmed to have been systematically shot to death. The historian Dmitri Volkogonov in his book, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, said that Stalin was reported saying: “Who is going to remember all this in ten or twenty years of time? No one.”

Stalin was wrong. Today, we still remember the evil atrocities that happened during the Soviet Union. Both the skeptic and I would agree that what he did was evil. Even if Stalin thought it was morally permissible, or the Communist Party in the Union justified genocide since they were just following orders from their leader, it was still wrong. International law today, which supersedes particular cultures, would condemn this act as a human rights violation, just like suppression of women’s rights, human trafficking, and racial discrimination.

If an Atheist was asked, why was this wrong?” I think they could make a case, even without referencing God. They might say mass genocide does not lead to the survival and flourishing of human beings; it leads to starvation, pain, and psychological trauma. Also, randomly killing people will not build trust and cooperation within a species group. A Naturalist might further add that evolution favors genes that cooperate, which will aid you in survival.

I would agree with some of these statements, but then I would ask the skeptic the following question: Is genocide evil because it prevents human well-being, or is it evil regardless of what you or your DNA thinks? If you say it is evil because genocide prevents human well-being, what if we conceive of a world in which Stalin won the war, brainwashed everyone into believing what he did was okay, and it became a social norm. Even if you’re genes in DNA “used to think” genocide was evil, wouldn’t it need to adapt to this new way of thinking to survive? If you don’t adapt, you are not socially cooperating with the majority’s opinion. If you don’t cooperate with the majority’s opinion, your being a rebellious genetic mutation. And if the majority finds out, you could be exterminated. This will not maximize your human well-being. Richard Dawkins even said on p.69 of his book, the Selfish gene: “The best strategy for an individual depends upon what the majority of the population are doing.” I hope Richard Dawkins doesn’t think that premise is true in a corrupt society.

If you say that “genocide” is wrong regardless of what you or your genes think, then it must be grounded in something other than your opinion or the process of Naturalistic evolution. The example above eliminates Naturalistic evolution as a valid source for objective morals since it can be shown to change depending on the situation. So then, the best option for objective moral values is that they are found in God’s unchanging character. Contrary to what Atheists might say, God’s commands are not random like evolution and are not independent of His character. God is the greatest good, full of love, and is the standard that informs us the objective rightness of justice and the wrongness of hatred, discrimination, and “genocide.”

Please leave any comments or questions below. In my next post, I will demonstrate that any sufficient moral system should explain the connection between free will and human responsibility.