Psalm 14 - Part 3
Before I moved to Virginia, I developed a side job of taking care of the homes of well-to-do people in Stockton, CA. I hand-picked the jobs because I knew they would pay well for my expertise, plus I would get to tend to landscapes worth tending to.
One lady in particular lived in a mansion in the old part of town where the wealthy have lived for generations. Her home could not have been more spectacular: massive front and back lawns, beautiful pool, Grecian marble statues placed in strategic locations, wonderful topiaries and so forth. For her all I did was take care of her 150 to 200 bush rose garden located just inside the protective wall next to her large driveway. The garden was well-ordered, as you might expect. Every bush was symmetrically lined up and balanced . . . plant for plant . . . with the parallel row. Roses were grouped by color, too. One section popped with red, another with orange, some had a white hue, and my favorite were the pink and off-white color of the Double Delights.
When I finished my job, you could see how well-manicured the dirt was around the base of each plant. You could not miss the fact no dead wood could be found either, nor could you overlook how each bush had been strategically pruned to perfection to optimize health and beauty. Yes, to walk into this area of her property was to quickly conclude she must have a gardener who knew what he was doing. To conclude otherwise, to think this garden just evolved into this state of beauty through random chance, or to surmise this amazing effect had somehow caused itself would be to court extreme illogic.
Yes, this rose garden was a living example there was a master gardener at work.
The same can be said when we consider whether there is a Master Gardener, God, who has fashioned a complex cosmos, which is far more advanced and beautiful than a small rose garden. This observation leads to the question of all life questions:
What Are The Evidences There Is A Divine Gardener? (Psalm 14)
King David was convinced there was, and is, a living God. He was so convinced he drew this conclusion in Psalm 14:
1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God” (Ps. 14).
Why would he, a wise, intelligent, and powerful king over a vast, profitable empire, make this assertion? His faith in a personal Creator was based on general and special revelation. When he states in Psalm 19,
1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge (Ps. 19)
. . . he argues for the existence of God from the creation, or from general revelation. Three thousand years later, however, there are more robust divine proofs from this particular sector.
It appears that a divine being has embedded evidences in His spectacular creation to lead us to belief in Him. Sure, He has given us revelatory evidences in His book, the Bible, which is another study in and of itself; however, for our purposes we are stepping back to consider those evidences outside of the Bible which serve to guide thinking, searching people to Him. So far, we have considered and analyzed two of them.
Evidence From Causation
One, the horizontal cosmological argument:
1. 2. 3.
Everything that begins has a cause. The universe had a beginning. Therefore, the universe had a cause.
A Big Bang started it all so now the question is: Is the source of the Big Bang impersonal or personal? This query leads to the second facet of the argument: the vertical.
Something exists (I do)
Nothing cannot produce something
Therefore, something exists eternally and necessarily
I am not a necessary and eternal being (since I change)
Thus, both God (a Necessary Being) and I (a contingent being) exist (=theism).1
Granted, there are ways to rebut these syllogistic arguments; however, they do seem to be our best and most logical options for ascertaining whether a divine being exists.
A second line of argumentation and proof is this:
Evidence From Design
The argument from design is short and sweet:
All complex design implies a designer
The universe (especially life) has complex design
Therefore, the universe must have had a designer.
Sounds quite logical. To believe otherwise seems more illogical. The scientist who designed plastic lenses was once a friend of my mother-in-law. I am quite grateful for him since my glass lenses weighed a ton because of my blind factor (20-800), but to this day I just do not quite grasp how he took a piece of plastic and fashioned it to the proper power for me. I guess it is true: the more complex the design, the more complex the designer. My lenses just did not happen. This gifted, highly intellectual scientist initially crafted them in a well-equipped lab.
A third line of evidence there is a Master Gardener is most interesting.
Evidence From Morals
I am sure we would all agree similar morals exist across all cultures. The question, however, is: How did morals originate? In my estimation, this is one of the powerful evidences for belief in a personal divine being. Allow me to guide you to this logical, what I think is the most natural conclusion based on evidence. First, we will take a hard look at . . .
The Theistic Position. Geisler presents the syllogistic nature of this argument in the following progressive manner, moving from a major premise, to a minor premise, and then to a conclusion.
Major Premise: Every moral law has a moral law Giver.
Minor Premise: There is an objective moral law.
Conclusion: Therefore, there must be an objective Moral Law Giver.3
Collectively, I am sure we would all agree with the first premise, especially since we live in the heart of Washington, D.C. Laws just do not originate out of thin air. On the contrary, legislators devise, vote on, and implement them. Now, whether there is objective, not relative, absolute moral law, which never changes, is another question altogether.
Years ago, I read two books by C. S. Lewis, a former ardent atheist: The Case For Christianity, and Mere Christianity. The former book, which is not that known, contains radio lectures designed to address two concepts: One, right and wrong as a clue to the meaning of the universe, and two, what Christians believe in light of this. In fifty-six short, logic-filled pages, Lewis convincingly demonstrates how his atheism disintegrated before the reality of an absolute moral standard which transcends and permeates all talk about morality. As he states,
2 Norman L. Geisler, When Skeptics Ask (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013), 14.
3 Norman L. Geisler, Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True (Indian Trail: Norm Geisler International
The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other.
In Mere Christianity, he talks about how he hated the Nazis during the Second World War. Their unjust, ruthless behavior was something he could not stomach, and represented something which needed to be eradicated. Yet, as an atheist, this vehement aversion to the Nazis caused him great ideological consternation:
Just how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a lone corked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust . . . Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense.5
Tension like this is what drove Lewis to not only embrace the concept of a living God, but to give his life, mind, and writing abilities to the Creator, Jesus, the Christ. He was smart enough to know that a transcendent moral law existed, serving to tell us in any given situation what we, as people created in God’s likeness, ought to do. If atheism were true, how could there be any tension for we were all then just a product of mindless, random chances in a never ending evolutionary process? For Lewis, the tension between what he thought about man’s origins and the concern he felt in his soul about moral justice and injustice put him on a glide path to the feet to the God who had fashioned him. For Lewis, the presence of this transcendent feeling of justice clearly demonstrated that absolute objective moral truths do, in fact, exist.
Geisler does a fine job at taking some of the observations of Lewis, and wedding them to his own to help us understand the reality of absolute objective moral truth.
We would not know there was injustice unless there were an objective standard of Justice.
True progress is not possible unless we know an objective standard by which we measure that.
Things are getting better or worse (because we have a standard by which to measure movement).
Real moral disagreements are not possible without an objective moral standard.
The same basic moral codes are found in most cultures.
Guilt from breaking a moral law would not be universal if there were no objective moral law.
Even those who deny moral absolutes have moral principles they believe are
universal such as tolerance, freedom of expression, and the wrongness of bigotry and genocide.
We did not invent the moral law any more than we invented mathematical or physical laws. They are discovered, not created.
We sometimes chose duty to save a drowning person over instinct not to risk our own life. (Yes, instinct tells you to run from a grenade, while duty . . . or oughtness . . . tells you to jump on it to save your buddies.)
The basic moral law is discovered, not by how we behave, but by how we desire others to behave toward us. (Yes, the minute a person says they believe morals are relative and malleable, it is quite easy to prove they do not really believe this. For instance, when someone states, No Human Is Illegal, that sounds so nice and kind. But it is not true. Just back up your trailer into their open driveway, hook up to their water and power, and tell them thanks for their openness, and you will quickly find out they are, in fact, all humans not trespassing on their property).
It is true: objective moral law is woven into the warp and woof of the world we live and move in. There is no way around it. Where, then, did it come from? Best answer? From an absolute, moral lawgiver, God who built it not only into our world but into our souls. Paul develops this point well in Romans:
12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Rom. 2).
There is just no way of getting away from the fact that absolute and objective moral law is present in our cosmos. It is above us and in us, and one day we will all give account to God for how we submitted to or subverted it.
The theistic position is not without its opponents.
The Anti-Theistic Positions. Those who typically deny God’s existence, who are not convinced there is a gardener in the rose garden, argue in this manner:
Major Premise: There are moral imperfections in the world.
Minor Premise: A morally perfect God would not allow moral imperfections. Conclusion: Therefore, there is no morally perfect God.7
The major premise is true, but the second is false based on the biblical fact God gave us free wills to say “yes” or “no” to the objective laws He created. Hence, this argument does not adequately, nor honestly, rebut the argument for God based on moral law and behavior. Yet, it is what many hang their lives on based on their disdain and dislike to the God concept.
Atheism, which vehemently rejects the notion of God, weds itself to evolutionary thinking, which stresses we are just products of blind, random, mindless processes. This position, of course, looks at the presence of morals and moral law from a completely different perspective. If there is no God as the ultimate measure for morals, then man is the measure, and morals and moral law are, ipso facto, arbitrary, personal, malleable, and quite relative.
Why, then, do we act the way we do? How do we account for moral behavior? Francis Crick answers, man’s moral actions are “the behavior of a vast assembly of never cells and their associated molecules.” 8 You are not responsible for what you do since you are just a collection of never cells and an evolutionary assembly of various molecules. Interesting. Others argue we act based on what is best for society, or what the majority of people say is moral. Philosophically this is called normative relativism and it is alive and well in the United States, and brimming over on university campuses. Still others get even more radical by embracing individual ethical relativism, meaning they believe each person, not society, determines what is true for them.
The views are fraught with issues. Once you abandon the concept of an absolute God, you head down a road to moral confusion, inconsistency, and chaos.
View one would be quickly embraced by anyone locked up in our prison system, or anyone desiring to do anything against the law. After all, how easy it would be to simply blame your genes. Those who chose to live this way would still face one major life problem: their conscience. Once they would break a known law, the conscience would kick in, internally telling them they had sinned. Hard to get away from your divinely hard-wired conscience.
View two sounds great but has one major issue/problem. Suppose your society changes what has been moral truth for hundreds of years and choses to wholeheartedly embrace that which was formerly evil. Do you, would you, go along with them? Can you say Hitler and Nazi Germany in the late 1930 and 1940s? Years ago I ran into a German man who served as a translator for the Nuremburg trials. How did we actually judge the Germans for their atrocities during the war to end all wars? After all, many of them were just following orders and/or going along with what the society said constituted moral truth at the time. We judged the perpetrators based on the premise of absolute moral law which transcends all cultures. Murder of innocent people is always a criminal offense and is never deemed permissible.
View three is, well, where we are as a nation. Once we abandoned the Judeo-Christian God, we embraced relativism wholeheartedly, by default. At first, we went along with the notion that culture decides what constitutes moral behavior; however, this was embraced within the mindset of theism. Once, atheism started pushing God out of the public square, it was natural to start packing the courts with relativistically minded judges who devise new laws which reflect the ever-changing will of the people. Now, alarmingly, we are watching our next immoral descent as we fracture and balkanize along the lines of what individuals deem is true for them. Riot, loot, kill, destroy property, lie, attack the police, burn down precincts, and so forth and you are all right because you are, well, a demonstrator doing what is morally right for you. To classify you as a domestic terrorist is wrong, then, because you are a law unto yourself. This is, by the way, how ancient Israel slipped into darkness at the end of the period of the Judges:
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21).
Atheistic, agnostic thinking always heads in this chaotic direction because man is evil, as David argues in Psalm 14:2-3, which, by the way, is the text Paul uses in Romans 3 to describe man’s standing before a holy, divine God:
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. 2 The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one (Ps. 14).
Cultural chaos comes with the turf when your throw God to the wind, for you ultimately become the law, along with others vying either for your interpretation of law. God’s laws, however, are objective, timeless, and perfect and are never based on sinful, evil thinking or power-hungry, selfish, authoritarian desires.
In its base form, atheistic morality, which is wedded intrinsically to godless evolutionary thinking, is tenuous at many levels.
The claim that morals are relative and no absolute morals exists is, by definition, a contradiction. It assumes what it seeks to destroy: absolutism. It states it is absolutely against absolute morals thereby demonstrating that absolutes do, in fact, exist. The view, therefore, is hoisted by its own petard (a phrase from Hamlet which means the bomb-maker is ironically hoisted off the ground by his own bomb, viz., petard is a small explosive device). Strange how many in our culture who are seeking to alter how we, as Christians and a society, look at morality and moral causes passionately push it on us all while they are deeply committed relativists. Interesting. This glaring problem should cause them to look beyond themselves to the God of all morality.
Christian apologist Paul Copan shows the highly tenuous nature of atheistic/agnostic views of morality when he writes, “How do we move from a universe that originates from no prior matter into a universe of valueless matter and energy, eventually arriving at moral values, including human rights, human dignity, and moral obligation? It is hard to see how the naturalist could bridge the chasm. Matter just does not have moral properties, let alone mental ones.”9 How true, and logical. Earlier he asks, “If moral facts are just brute givens and necessarily true, there is left unexplained a huge cosmic coincidence between the existence of these moral facts and the eventual emergence of morally responsible agents who are obligated to them.” A few paragraphs later, he astutely observes: “How then do we best account for the existence of valuable, morally responsible, self-aware, reasoning, truth-seeking living human beings who inhabit a finely tuned, beautiful universe that came to exist a finite time ago? Is this best explained naturalistically—namely, the result of disparate valueless, mindless, lifeless physical processes in a universe that came into existence from nothing? Or is the better unifying explanation a supremely valuable, supremely aware, logical, truthful, powerful, intelligent, beautiful Being?”10 Using common sense, the wise apologist opts for the latter.
The question now is, What will you do with the evidences for God’s existence?
Years ago, Jay Budziszewski, a young, intellectually gifted atheist secured a B.A. in political science from the University of South Florida in 1975, then two years later he received a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Florida, and in 1981 he obtained a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale. He had the academic world by the proverbial tail, and he could out-think and out-speak and debate most educated people. However, he could not, wrap his analytical mind around the concept of evil, which he was well-aware of. It is best to hear him in his own words, “What actually led me back was a growing intuition that my condition was objectively evil . . . Evil is deficiency in good; there is no such thing as an evil ‘substance,’ and evil—in – itself. So if my condition really was evil, there had to be some good of which my condition was the ruination.” Translated, how could he objectively know there is evil if there existed an absolutely objective standard by which to measure it? That standard, of course, was God, who at this point became his God.
Do not tell me the moral argument is not powerful. Jay found Jesus by means of it. Now it is your turn. And you should not wait. Why? Listen to what David says in the rest of Psalm 14:
4 Do all the workers of wickedness not know, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord? 5 There they are in great dread, for God is with the righteous generation. 6 You would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted, But the LORD is his refuge (Psalm 14).
You should not wait to make this decision to place your faith in the living God, Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners, because God is keeping track of how you are living in light of your watered down view of morality. If your sin is not covered by the redemptive blood of His Son (23 for all have sinned being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; (Rom. 3), your sub-par moral life will be found highly lacking before the blaze of His holy perfection.