Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What is the true arbitrator of morality? Part 1

One Professor Coyne of Chicago recently published an editorial in USAtoday in support of his book, “Why Evolution is True.” The thesis of his editorial is that our genes that have been carefully developed through the agency of natural selection and Human reason are the rightful and best arbitrators of morality. He rejects, as the good atheist he professes to be, the idea of a god being such an arbitrator, because God, being inherently good, could only commit moral acts; yet a quick reading of the Bible shows God sanctioning the deaths of thousands of people. No, he says; evolution has created the moral code in people for the strengthening of Human society. People are moral even as atheists. Prof. Coyne supports this by reminding us how moral people in the liberal and atheist European countries are. We don’t need religion; we only need our instincts to be guided by our intellect.

I wrote a letter to the Editor of USAtoday in rebuttal of Coyne’s thesis; it’s unlikely they will publish it. Consequently, I will use this blog over the next few weeks to challenge Prof. Coyne’s assertions.

First, any truly moral act is founded on pure justice and mercy. Only God acts purely morally because only He is perfectly just and merciful. We can only act morally, therefore, if we are walking with God.

Everything God does is moral, even if it doesn’t appear so to us. Even the slaughter of thousands of people as described in the Old Testament? Prof. Coyne would no doubt counter. We are in rebellion against our Creator. He would certainly be just in vaporizing everything and starting over. But throughout the OT God was establishing His plan for restoration, and this required the execution of justice to pave the way for the ultimate expression of mercy in justice to be revealed: the advent, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of the God-Man, Jesus the Christ. God knows what He is doing, we don’t.

This is a difficult teaching. But Jesus told us the basis of judgment is very simple: one either enters the light or one doesn’t. Those who resolutely ignore God’s call to turn back to Him and remain in the dark will enter into eternal reprobation. There is nothing complex in this. God empowers us in every way because of the faithfulness of Jesus the Christ to enable us to turn to Him. And then He empowers us to enter and remain in the Light by faith alone (believing Him, trusting Him, and doing what He expects on the basis of that belief and trust). Jesus said come to Me all who are weary and weighed down (isn’t this all of us?) and He will give them rest, and then learn from Him because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Why aren’t people coming by the droves into the light? The answer is pride. They like Prof. Coyne, and I wish him no ill will, want to be their own arbitrators of moral behavior, and they have adopted a system of thought that appeases their consciences so they can do that without regret. Prof. Coyne spoke in pride how he rescued a hapless postman who had dropped his parcels--certainly a nice act. Yet, contrary to what the noble professor might admit, he will assess the next occasion using his reason, which he stated is our best dictator of morality, and decide against it, despite the protestations of instinct to the contrary. The reasoning will be quite convincing, I’m sure, such as the professor is late to an important meeting; or, in the interim the professor learned that the postman is a theist, so the professor decides the extra work will be due penance for the postman’s stupidity.

God’s moral economy doesn’t work that way. If we walk in the light, which is how it must be with God because he is perfectly just and merciful and He doesn’t change, then we must always do the moral thing, regardless of whether it’s an inconvenience or not, or our opinion of the person(s)in question.

Therefore people chose to stay in the dark because God’s moral economy appears too expensive. The irony, as I have already intimated, is that it isn't; because of Jesus’ faithfulness, God impels, empowers, picks up, and forgives everyone remaining in the light. And, instead of eternal reprobation, all such light-dwellers will have eternal life. This is the restoration I spoke of that God has accomplished through Jesus the Christ.

God will restore the right order of all things, where everyone walks with God, and, therefore, the cosmos remains just (right order is maintained, hence the concept of justice vanishes because justice is really only a course adjustment back to the right order of things), and all relationships, starting between God and Humans and proceeding to all those between Humans, subsist perfectly in Love (the concept of mercy disappears because the right order of things has been restored, hence there is no injustice to be reckoned).

God is faithful to His promise of restoration, and, therefore, perfectly just and perfectly merciful. And we can be certain of this because Christ is alive!