Can we be good enough without God?

Farmville Enterprise July 19, 2017

Yesterday there was a television interview with a social scientist who for years was a self-described agnostic. The journalist questioned a comment he had made recently that he was “increasingly shaky” in his “unbelief.” He went on to describe that, in writing a book on the global history of human accomplishments, he was struck with the positive force that Christianity had been in western civilization. He also said that the older he had gotten the more he recognized that his wife was much further along in certain areas than he was.  He saw her taking things seriously that needed to be taken seriously. Her faith was having an effect on him.

The motto of the American Humanist Association is “good without a god.” Humanism is the idea that people are completely capable of living a valuable life without the belief in a higher power.  Humanitarian agnostics and atheists see in themselves and others the power to improve society without the belief in or help from any divine being. They feel capable of accomplishing all that needs to be accomplished and solving all that needs to be solved through rational thinking, creativity and communal effort. Although many humanists are quite humble and down-to-earth, they cannot escape the fact that their philosophy is centered on the innate abilities of people. The focus is on human effort or human power. At its root is pride in and reliance on humanity.

Christianity and the Judeo-Christian tradition, on the other hand, are based on God’s initiative and power. God lovingly created us to be his image-bearers and to be his hands and feet on this earth. We were each uniquely formed and are loved unconditionally.  God does not leave us to fend for ourselves. The love that we share with others is only possible because God first loved us. The good that we do is only a reality because God is good and the Holy Spirit lives within us. The Bible teaches us to deflect the focus being on ourselves and our abilities. The wonderful characteristics and gifts that we all have can be ascribed only to God.

How could we ever be wise enough, good enough or capable enough? On our own that would be impossible. We never could fulfill the deepest needs of others. We never could be completely unselfish or all-knowing in order to make every right move for those around us. It is actually quite freeing to understand that we do not have all of the answers and that the future of society does not depend on us.

We can’t save the world. Our own strength and ingenuity will get us only so far. Each of us has limitations. Numerous things are outside of our control.

“No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33: 16-22)

 

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