Kids love to ask why. Why is the sky blue? Why does the snow melt? Why do I have to go to bed now? Why can’t we have pizza for breakfast?
We answer these questions to the best of our ability, knowing that their curiosity is good because it stimulates learning. But their questions can test our knowledge and our patience!
Sometimes the only answer we can give to kids’ questions is this: “Because I say so!” In these cases, the answer comes not from evidence but from authority, our authority. . . .
Even as adults, we still need the “Why?” question. It can drive us to discover answers and solutions that would otherwise remain hidden.
One question we should ask is this: Why do we believe that some things are right and others are wrong? In other words, what is the basis for our moral standards?
They tell me that I must stop for a red traffic signal. Why? We organize traffic laws in order to avoid accidents. I want to travel without death or injury and so I obey those laws and I hope others will too. In addition, running red lights can cost me expensive interaction with the legal system (a combination of reasoning and authority).
So some actions, like our driving habits, are defined to be right or wrong not because they are inherently good or evil, but because they are practical. They protect life and property. Other actions, however, are of a different sort. They appeal to a higher standard of good and evil.
What about giving to the poor? We all agree that helping the poor is the right thing to do. We also believe that it is right for the wealthy to contribute more in order to relieve the hardships of poverty.
But why? Why should I give away things that belong to me? It seems impractical. What if my family and I need it? What if I want it? Why should I give it to someone else, someone I don’t even know?
Why should I spend time cooperating with others (government) in order to make wealthy people give away more of what they have (taxes) in order to help the poor (welfare)? Why should I care what others do?
For generations we have answered these questions by appealing to the Bible. God’s word tells us that people are created in God’s image, so every human life is of inestimable value. Therefore, I help others, even though it costs me personally.
The Bible tells us that we are expected to be good stewards of our resources, which includes helping those who cannot help themselves. The Bible condemns selfishness. I must be willing to share.
In addition, the Bible tells us that God commands us to help the poor. So we help the poor, because people are precious and because God tells us to do so. I want to please God, so I obey his commands.
But a new voice in culture is trying to convince us that we can be good without God and his commands. We can still help the poor and hold the rich responsible without any appeal to spiritual truth or special revelation, so they say.
According to these secular voices, we can love our neighbor without a word from God. All we need is a scientific worldview. Nature will show us the way.
But will this pass the “Why?” question? Let’s see: No God means no Creator. No Creator means that we are a fortuitous cosmic accident, a happenstance. As such, we are not accountable to anyone but nature (whoever that is!).
Now the godless ‘natural’ version of reality is clear. In order to grow smarter and stronger we have evolved by ruthlessly taking hold of every possible advantage. The strongest, smartest and fastest get the natural resources they need to survive and thrive and everyone else . . . well, everyone else does not deserve to survive.
The weak and slow ones cannot be favored because they will use resources that should go to the stronger and smarter. The weak and slow should not reproduce because they will impede or even permanently derail the evolution of the race, according to the God-free version of reality.
The stronger and smarter ones survive and propagate the race. Each generation gets a little better because the weak are weeded out, so the ‘natural’ scientific view says.
At this point the secular crowd must interrupt and say that being kind to the poor will somehow make us stronger and better, so it is right to help the poor and weak even if you only appeal to natural forces. They must convince us that a more compassionate humanity is a stronger humanity.
But is that true? Why? How? How does it propagate the race and help humanity to grow stronger if we keep the weak ones alive?
Nature is heartless with the weak. In the animal kingdom the weak are food for others. Now we are told by secularists that people should go against nature and act as if nature is wrong. Why? The Bible has the answer, the only answer. Because the natural world is broken as a result of sin and God made people superior to animals; he made us in his image.
The love ethic that is advanced by the Bible generally and by Christianity especially is built upon the firm foundation of God’s revealed word. The love ethic is not a free-floating ethical notion.
We help the poor because we believe that human lives are valuable and worthy of dignity. We believe this about human lives because the Bible tells us that people are created in the image of God and that God loves his creation; he loves people so we should love people.
We believe that God is the creator and sustainer and that he holds successful people responsible for how they use the wealth which he has enabled them to gain. We expect the rich to give because God says they should do so.
Secular humanists wish to retain this kindness toward the poor and this responsibility for the rich but they want to remove the foundation of trust in God as Maker, Sustainer, Judge and Savior. We can help the poor and exhort the rich without believing in God, we are told. But will this house of love stand on a foundation of natural selection? If God is not Maker, Sustainer, Judge and Savior, then who is?
Darwinian evolution is no foundation for loving our neighbor. God’s word is. More than that, Jesus and his personal sacrifice at Calvary, a sacrifice made for the sins of a world that is hostile to him, this is more than a foundation for an ethic of love. Jesus is the ultimate inspiration for sacrificial love.
Sometimes we discover what is right from an authority, from someone who has the right to tell us, “Because I say so!” Sacrificial love is so out-of-step with the heartless forces of nature that we must either abandon such an ethic or build it on another foundation, a higher authority. That higher authority is the Living God, who sent Jesus to die for our sins so that we can be saved from this broken world.
If we ignore God then we abandon the ethic of love and compassion. Instead of trying to ignore our Maker, we should abandon atheism and embrace Christian love.