Wow, it has been so long since I posted here. The last post before this one was all the way back in June! There are a few reasons for this. I have really been reorienting myself before God, getting back into the Bible, finding my spiritual fervour again (which I had allowed to dim a lot due to general concerns of life, busyness, work etc). On one hand, I am always upset at myself for any long absences on my blogs. I like to be consistent in my posting, and on both of my currently active blogs I love looking back and seeing all those rows of articles published regularly and faithfully, week in week out. On the other hand, I am also quite happy at the absence of those few months on this blog. I sincerely did not have any pearls of wisdom to share, and this demonstrates to me that when I am lacking inspiration from God I cannot force myself to write posts, even if I wanted to do so. Conversely I hope it is also true that when I do share things, it is because they genuinely come from a place of closeness to God, and depth in His word, generally speaking. That said, I must admit that many of my most recent posts here were lacking in any deep inspiration, and were mostly just good ideas that had occurred to me (which is probably why I’ve been writing far more posts for my other blog, Finding Mr Huggie-Wuggie). By the grace of God though, as I am getting back into the Bible (recently ploughing through Romans, and now 1 Corinthians, as well as other books – The Gospels, Genesis etc) – general ideas and relevant blog post ideas have started to occur to me once again, which is… reassuring!
So this particular post that I am going to share with you now is something that occurred to me just earlier today. I was remembering a blog post that I had written here a few years ago, which touched on atheism. This post made the point that many world leaders who have committed serious atrocities such as murdering their own people were in fact atheists or aligned with atheistic ideologies (like communism). On this post I had attracted comments from someone whom I deduce to be an atheist, because he argued that Hitler was not an atheist. Well we exchanged a few comments and reflecting on it today I had to acknowledge to myself that I did not respond with a deep level of grace, in my determination to prove my point. As well as being persecuted by “Christians” in church I have also been persecuted on a much lower level by atheists, and my response to him reflected that residual anger somewhat. But as I was thinking about it today (and I believe that this is the Spirit of God at work in me) it occurred to me that I had been so focused on proving my point/justifying myself that in a way I had missed the heart of where I now believe that he was coming from. And for the first time, today, it occurred to me that I actually have a lot more in common with atheists than I had ever realised. And yes, I believe it was the Spirit of God that was prompting me on this!
This is the radical thing that I realised: that like true Christians, many atheists also want to save the world! Woahhhhhh! They are as driven and as determined and as committed about it as I am! The difference comes in this: casting around for a golden bullet, they have decided/agreed that “religion” is that one thing that could make the world a better place by its extermination. And today, I believe that for the first time I saw the attractiveness of this kind of thinking. I have often heard atheists say things that ultimately suggest that it is religion that makes people bad, so if we could only remove religion, then people would on the whole be restored to a natural, innate “decency”. I hope it is fair to say that most atheists would say/believe/argue that people are inherently good (but for religion). Is that not an attractive proposition? The corollary of this is that the world which we currently know to be full of evil and injustice could be restored to being a positive place, with all the evil taken out from it. I was thinking to myself that if this was indeed true, and “religion” was truly the root of the world’s ills, then I would be the one advocating the loudest for the abolition of religion or any expression of faith. And then there’s the science thing. Instead of trying to develop faith to hear whatever God might or might not be saying, humanity can bypass that altogether, and put its faith into rational, definite and neutral science for the progress of humanity; there is also a kind of fairness in being able to look at world religions and proclaim that they are all equally wrong. For me it has always been utterly self-evident that there must be a God. I’m sure I have heard many self-professed atheists proclaim that they know that there must be something (or Someone) “up there”. And yet in their determination/desperation to save the world they would even go so far as to try to get rid of God Himself, to embrace a thinking that makes Him unnecessary (even while many “atheists” privately acknowledge that “Something” indeed must exist): people do not need God to save the world, because we human beings ourselves will save our own world, thank you very much! And this is what I realised about this man that I was arguing with on my earlier blog post; without wanting to put words into his mouth I now suspect that it was this worldview that he was trying to protect, where atheistic thinking is the true salvation of the world, delivering humanity from those antiquated and evil-inducing religious thoughts that weighed it down for so long. It is so attractive to think that the solution to the world’s problems could be so easy, that it does not surprise me that people would cling so tightly to it.
And yet, unfortunately, as desirable as this ideology might be, as fair as it might seem to be and as hope-flled as it might seem to be regarding the basic inherent “goodness” of people, the problem is that it is simply not true. I was thinking today that even though I have invested my entire life into the pursuit of Christ and His truth, I would almost prefer it if atheists were right. But they are not! This is like saying that I would prefer it if people did not have to die. Of course I would! But as awful and painful as death is, as much as I would prefer it if it did not exist, that in itself does not change the fact that it does exist! The single worst part of all this is this: that human beings are not inherently good. Has anyone else ever noticed those scientific studies that try to get to the bottom of people’s immoral behaviour? The thinking seems to be that if only we had the necessary knowledge, then we could correct genetic wrongs. However there is no amount of scientific knowledge that could reprogram people to act in a morally upright way. People are not inherently good. Rather we are all inherently bad. We are all capable of profound acts of selflessness, we are all capable of heroic behaviour. However we are all also capable of sacrificing other people for the sake of our own interests.
Unfortunately, removing religion will not be the golden bullet that the world needs, because there simply is no golden bullet. As painful as it is to consider this, the problem of the world is people. We are not going to be able to “save the world” at all until we get rid of all people. This is the one way that the faith of Christ differs from every other worldview out there, including atheism; in acknowledging that we are not as good as we like to think, and that we cannot save our selves, but rather need a Saviour.
So now if I was able to talk with that man again, I hope I would be able to do so from a more compassionate understanding. Listen, you and I both want to save the world – I hear you! You and I are both frustrated at the injustice and evil that swirl around us, and fill our social media streams day in day out. And yet, ultimately, what help can it be to hold onto a lie, even an attractive lie? Jesus is truth. Jesus’ word is truth. The way that He taught us to live is truth. Seriously Jesus is real, and everything about Him is true. If we really want to save the world, then each one of us must start by letting Him in to clear up the mess in our own hearts.