Ravi

...now browsing by tag

 
 

The Moral Bankruptcy of Secularism & Naturalism (A quote from Ravi Zacharias)

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

“Not only has secularization brought us a silent universe with no voice from without, it has also brought us a silence from within as it has redefined the whole role of con–science. It has removed any possibility of an objective supernatural revelation and supplanted it with the so-called inner voice of reason. It was only a matter of time before there would be no way to differentiate between the inner voice of reason and the inner promptings of unreason. Let me sustain this argument, because now we will see not merely the theoretical incoherence of secularism and its primary carriers; we will see that it leads to a pragmatism that is unworkable and an evil that is devastating.

  As I have previously stated, implicit to the secularized world-view is not just the marginalization of any religious idea but its complete eviction from public credence in informing social policy. If an idea or a belief is ‘religiously based,’ be it in a matter of sexuality or marriage or education or whatever, then by that very virtue it is deemed unsuitable for public usage . . . How irrational. How repressive. How irrelevant to the secularized consciousness is the invocation of a religious belief when establishing social moral boundaries and imposing them upon the ever-shifting soil of ‘community standards.’ But we may well ask from which side the imposition and irrationality really comes . . . one cannot defend the particulars of a moral choice without first defending the theory in general upon which that choice is made. Secularism, on the other hand, can defend any choice because it is never compelled to defend its first principles, which are basically reduced to an antireligious bias. But secularists do not take into account that on their own terms no position needs to be defended if a commitment to it is sufficient reason in itself. If it is believed that all moralizing is purely one’s private view then ought not that view itself be kept private? The secularist never answers how he or she determines whether anything is wrong with anything except by sheer choice. Secular belief grants itself privileges that it does not equally distribute.”

Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us from Evil. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 58-59. [Italics original.]

“In a purely naturalistic universe there is nothing to transcend matter there is no soul or spirit because that would imply the supernatural. This dehumanizing ‘net worth’ is all that secularism has left when life is seen through the eyes of the Spirit of the Age . . .”

Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us from Evil. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 61.

“Granted, in some cases there is no difference between art and pornography, not because art is the same as pornography, but because some art is nothing more than pornography masquerading as aesthetics in the name of art. But here is the point. If an artist seeks to portray the unclothed human body as art while actually bringing to that rendering his or her own lustful and vile intentions, the unworthy motive of the artist cannot be denounced by the unthinking canvas. The canvas cannot come to the artist and say, ‘Stop.’ But by contrast, the undisguised purpose of pornography is erotic and seductive. One would like to hope that the unclad individual, used as such bait in the marketing of her flesh for the sensually insatiable, would raise her hands in embarrassment, saying, ‘Stop, please don’t do this to me.’ But that does not happen. Such objections are not forthcoming because when secularism has spawned its offspring, it produces a loss of a sense of shame. There is no voice within to say, ‘No, this is wrong. Don’t do this to yourself.’

  This pathetic, psychological, voiceless posture where shame is excised from our cultural intercourse, leaves behind a hell of possibilities and swings wide the door to evil in any and every form. This is the unworkable pragmatism of secular thinking. All attitudes and all behavior find avenues of unbridled expression, and no one reserves the right to say, ‘It is not enough to say you’re sorry–you ought to feel sorry and ashamed of what you have done.’ Ah! But this is too much to ask of the postmodern mind where self-congratulation is the mood engendered by irreligious social policies.

  Let us be certain: It is our philosophical commitment that ends up legitimizing shamelessness that puts an individual on the road to incorrigibility. The difference between criminals who try desperately to cover their faces when they are escorted into court and those who smile remorselessly as they strut into the courtroom is civilizations apart. The ones covering their faces or shedding a tear have at least a vestige of reachability. There is at least the hint of the possibility of change, because there is a point of reference for wrong, some shared meanings between the wrongdoer and society. For any corrective in behavior or for punitive measures to be effective there must be some point of hurt or undesired feeling within the one who has done wrong. Shame or remorse or society’s disapproval is powerless today to induce a desire to change, because the ideas that shape our culture make shame a hangover of an antiquated religious world-view . . . Shame is to the moral health of a society what pain is to the body. It is the sense of shame that provides an indicator to the mind. There is a powerful analogy even from the physical world of the materialist. It comes to us from the scanner theory of cancer causation.2 His theory propounds that an incurable cancer is not ultimately caused by the cancer itself as much as by a detection system that has broken down. According to this hypothesis, healthy cells in the body routinely be come cancerous. But built into the body is a system of detection and a mechanism that comes into play to identify the cancerous cells and destroy them before they take over. It is not the cancer but the breakdown of the detection system that proves fatal.

  How pitiful is the condition we have reached if we smother that sense of shame that was part of society’s scanner system to detect wrongdoing and deal with it. Is it any wonder that our news journals are filled with page after page of incidents that continually shock us and are steadily bleeding decency out of life’s mainstream?

  The loss of shame in a society is ultimately an attack upon all of civilization. Why is that so? Put succinctly, it is this. The man who molests a child and feels a sense of shame expresses that shame because he has denuded and defaced that one person. The person who commits this same act and feels no shame in effect denudes and defaces the whole world because he is thereby telling us that our self-respect and the sacredness of physical privacy are worthless. His loss of shame is an attack upon all of humanity, because shame was given to us as a guardian, not only of ourselves, but of our fellow human being . . . It can be carved into the national ethos that the loss of belief in the supernatural, which secularism implies, has led to an eradication of the sense of shame, which secularism cannot deal with. That may well have been the goal in the minds of some societal engineers, but let us be sure that it produces a completely different soil than the one that brought America to its greatness. The soil of shamelessness gives root to evil in its most violent forms. The unbearable reality of secularism’s consequential loss of shame is that the ones we victimize by evil can even be the ones we claim to love.

  To raise a child without shame is to raise one with no immune system against evil . . . This is the crime we end up witnessing when family members kill their own offspring or their parents. To remove shame is to perpetuate evil even toward the ones we love.

  The catalog of crimes within families and between friends is one of the most painful and incomprehensible. The evils we foist upon children at the hands of responsible adults are not crimes born of hate. They are passions unleashed and justified by a conscience bereft of shame or remorse. Any conversation with a police officer who investigates such criminality within families reveals horror stories that stun the mind. Almost every such officer I have met has said to me that if we were to know even a fraction of all that goes on in homes behind closed doors the knowledge would be heartbreaking. Shame is meant to protect the very ones we love. But our culture has killed it. With the name of God now unhallowed and His kingdom not welcome does it make any sense to cry, ‘Deliver us from evil’? . . . Through secularism, this mood of a society without shame now covers the land. We may analyze the carriers and progenitors that led to this state ad nauseum, but it all ultimately points back to the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis. The big question Adam and Eve were asked was, ‘Has God really said . . . ?’ When they questioned the reality of His voice and supplanted it with their own authority, they made themselves the measure of all things. No sooner had that choice been made and God’s voice overridden than the feelings of fear and shame overcame them, and they tried to cover themselves.

  Shortly thereafter, the Voice from Without came to them again: ‘Adam, where are you?’ God knew the answer to that, but it was an opportunity for them to recognize their transgression and to repent of it. God in His grace provided a covering for their sin.

  Just one generation later when Cain murdered his brother Abel, the Voice from Without came again: ‘Cain, where is your brother Abel?’

  Now there was no shame, no remorse. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ thundered forth the response, bereft of shame. There was no covering this time. The divine pronouncement was unequivocal. ‘You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’4 The silence would now be one of apprehension, of ever looking over his shoulder . . . It was Luther of old who once cried out, ‘Bless us, oh Lord; yea, even curse us, but please be not silent.’ Secularization the silencing of the supernatural–brings about an eerie silence.”

Ftnt. #2: Scanner theory is described by M. Scott Peck in A World Waiting to Be Born. (New York: Bantam, 1993), IO.

Ftnt. #4: See Gen. 4:9-12.

Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us from Evil. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 63-67. [Italics original.]

“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy Word is truth.” John 17:17

The Virgin Birth & Naturalism

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

“Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Materialists believe in the virgin birth of the cosmos. Choose your miracle.” Glen Scrivener, on his twitter feed, @glenscrivener, 5 January 2014.

*

“We find one virgin birth in the story of the Incarnation:

‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:38).

Admittedly, this is out of the ordinary. But criticism without alternative is empty; a hypothesis is only plausible or implausible relative to what alternative hypotheses present themselves. So what exactly is the alternative?

My colleague Professor John Lennox debated another Princeton professor, Peter Singer, one of the world’s most influential atheists. Lennox challenged him to answer this question: ‘Why are we here?’ And this was Professor Singer’s response:

We can assume that somehow in the primeval soup we got collections of molecules that became self-replicating; and I don’t think we need any miraculous or mysterious [explanation].1

Self-replicating molecules somehow emerging out of a primeval soup strikes me as leaving substantial room for mystery. In fact, without further clarification, this theory sounds not dissimilar to a virgin birth. Or take Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking’s latest attempt to propose an atheistic explanation for our universe:

‘…the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.’2

But physical matter doesn’t normally materialize out of nothing, so this account also presents itself as outside the realm of the ordinary. Is this a less miraculous birth than the story of Jesus?

Or, finally, consider the position of the prominent atheist philosopher Quentin Smith:

The fact of the matter is that the most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing and for nothing . . . We should . . . acknowledge our foundation in nothingness and feel awe at the marvelous fact that we have a chance to participate briefly in this incredible sunburst that interrupts without reason the reign of non-being.’3

That is a refreshingly honest characterization, but again it is not at all clear why a foundation in nothingness should be viewed as comparatively more reasonable than a foundation in God.

The fact is, we live in a miraculous world. Regardless of a person’s worldview, the extraordinariness of the universe is evident to theists, atheists, and agnostics alike. It is therefore not a matter of whether we believe in a virgin birth, but which virgin birth we choose to accept.

We can believe in the virgin birth of an atheistic universe that is indifferent to us—a universe where ‘there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.’4

Alternatively, we can believe in the virgin birth of a God who loves us so deeply that he ‘became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (John 1:14). Emmanuel, God with us.”

Ftnt.#1:“Is There a God,” Melbourne, Australia, 20 July 2011.

Ftnt.#2: Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam, 2010), 180.

Ftnt.#3: Quentin Smith, “The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism,” Philo 4.2., 2000.

Ftnt.#4: Richard Dawkins, A River Out of Eden (New York: Perseus, 1995), 133.

Vince Vitale, “Everyone Believes In A Virgin Birth,” 6/16/17, on the blog, A Slice of Infinity; electronic ed. accessed on 6/20/17 here: http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/everyone-believes-in-a-virgin-birth/ [Italics original.]

*Art: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gabrielle_et_Jean,_by_Pierre-Auguste_Renoir,_from_C2RMF_cropped.jpg [Labelled for noncommercial reuse.]