Richard Dawkins: ‘Benign’ Christianity is about to be replaced by ‘something worse’ – Islam 03/26/2018 by Mary Anne Hackett

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Richard Dawkins: ‘Benign’ Christianity is about to be replaced by ‘something worse’ – Islam

03/26/2018 at 9:57 AM Posted by Mary Anne Hackett


UNITED KINGDOM, March 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Despite his years of denouncing religion, Richard Dawkins does not welcome a European future without Christianity.

On Wednesday, the atheist author and evolutionary biologist warned those inclined to “rejoice at the death throes of the relatively benign Christian religion” to keep in mind the danger of “something worse” taking its place.

That worse alternative, Dawkins suggests, is Islam, which he has previously called “the most evil religion in the world.”

Dawkins was reacting to a Guardian report on recent polling that shows 70% of people in the United Kingdom between the ages of 16 and 29 do not identify with any religion, that 59% of them never attend religious services, and that almost two-thirds of them never pray.

The research, published by theology and sociology professor Stephen Bullivant of St. Mary’s University in London, finds similarly high numbers in other European nations. Sweden, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic all have even higher percentages of non-religious young people, while the young populations of France, Belgium, and Hungary are all more than 60% non-religious. More than half of the age group in Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Spain is non-religious, as well.

“Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good – or at least for the next 100 years,” Bullivant says. “Cultural religious identities just aren’t being passed on from parents to children. It just washes straight off them.”

The Guardian report quotes Bullivant as noting that “the Muslim birthrate is higher than the general population, and they have much higher [religious] retention rates.”

Despite having once claimed that government needs to “protect” children from being “indoctrinated in whatever religion their parents happen to have been brought up in,” Dawkins recognizes that European Christianity serves as a “bulwark against something worse.”

“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings,” Dawkins said. “I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death.”

While Dawkins holds far-left positions on issues such as abortion, his take on Islam echoes that of many conservative and religious observers. In January, the Turning Point Project’s William Kilpatrick wrote that Islam was “well on its way to controlling the public square in parts of Europe.”

Last year, the Guardian noted that non-Christian religions such as Islam quadrupled from 1983 to 2015 even as Christianity declined from 55% to 43%. The trend has been so stark that as of last May, the prevalence of Muslims and other migrant communities was the main reason making inner London the most religious area of the United Kingdom.

This is not the first time Dawkins has clashed with Islam. Last July, KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California disinvited him from a planned interview following complaints about his past comments on Islam.

“[W]e didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people,” the station said in a statement. Dawkins responded with an open letter declaring he would continue to condemn the “misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism,” and noting that he has been similarly critical of Christianity—to which none of his hosts have ever objected.

“Why do you give Islam a free pass?” he asked. “Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?”

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 284 Rolling Stones “Street Fighting Man” (Featured artist is Abigail DeVille )

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Image result for rolling stones street fighting man

The young generation in the 1960’s was searching for an alternative to the materialism of their parents and they wanted to revolt, but where could they turn? It was an age of Personal Peace and Affluence. Francis Schaeffer had a ministry to college students during this time and he knew what they were dealing with. The Rolling Stones and Beatles were two of the key bands that Schaeffer wrote about often.

How Should We Then Live – Episode 9 – The Age of Personal Peace & Affluence

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Francis Shaeffer

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Image result for francis schaeffer

Street Fightin’ Man
Ev’rywhere I hear the sound
Of marching charging feet, boy
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right
For fighting in the street, boy
Well now, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man, no
Hey think the time is right
For a palace revolution
But where I live the game
To play is compromise solution
Well now, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man, no. Get down.
Hey so my name is called Disturbance
I’ll shout and scream
I’ll kill the king, I’ll rail at all his servants
Well, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man, no
Get down
Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger

The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man

Street Fighting Man. The Rolling Stones Live 1969 (Full Song)

Uploaded on Nov 10, 2010

Taken from the the Stones last tour of the 60’s and just prior to Altamont. This performance when released in the movie included footage of a DJ voiceover as well as behind the scenes at Altamont. In this version there is edited in different footage with partial overdub audio to make a complete performance. Hope you enjoy it.

  • Category   Aldous Huxley belowImage result for aldous huxley

Francis A. Schaeffer  wrote something about the ROLLING STONES:
At about the same time as the Berkeley Free Speech Move- 
ment came a heavy participation in drugs. The beats had not 
been deeply into drugs the way the hippies were. But soon 
after 1964 the drug scene became the hallmark of young 
people.
The philosophic basis for the drug scene came from Aldous 
Huxley's concept that, since, for the rationalist, reason is not 
taking us anywhere, we should look for a final experience, one 
that can be produced "on call," one that we do not need to 
wait for. The drug scene, in other words, was at first an ideol- 
ogy, an ideology that had very practical consequences. Some of 
us at L'Abri have cried over the young people who have blown 
their minds. But many of them thought, like Alan Watts, Gary 
Snyder, Alan Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, that if you could 
simply turn everyone on, there would be an answer to man's 
longings. It wasn't just the far-out freaks who suggested that 
you could put drugs in the drinking water and turn on a whole 
city so that the "pigs" and the kids would all have flowers in 
their hair. In those days it really was an optimistic ideological 
concept. 

So two things have to be said here. FIRST, the young people's 
analysis of culture was right, and, SECOND, they really thought 
they had an answer to the problem. Up through Woodstock 
(1969) the YOUNG PEOPLE WERE OPTIMISTIC CONCERNING DRUGS-- 
BEING THE IDEOLOGICAL ANSWER. The desire for community and 
togetherness that was the impetus for Woodstock was not wrong, of course. God has made us in his own image, and he 
means for us to be in a strong horizontal relationship with each 
other. While Christianity appeals and applies to the individual, 
it is not individualistic. God means for us to have community. 
There are really two orthodoxies: an orthodoxy of doctrine 
and an orthodoxy of community, and both go together. So the 
longing for community in Woodstock was right. But the path 
was wrong. 

AFTER WOODSTOCK TWO EVENTS "ENDED THE AGE OF INNOCENCE," 
to use the expression of Rolling Stone magazine. The FIRST 
occurred at Altamont, California, where the ROLLING STONES put 
on a festival and hired the Hell's Angels (for several barrels of 
beer) to police the grounds. Instead, the Hell's Angels killed 
people without any cause, and it was a bad scene indeed. But 
people thought maybe this was a fluke, maybe it was just 
California! IT TOOK A SECOND EVENT TO BE CONVINCING. 

On the Isle of Wight, 450,000 people assembled, and it was 
totally ugly. A number of people from L'Abri were there, and I 
know a man closely associated with the rock world who knows 
the organizer of this festival. Everyone agrees that the situation 
was just plain hideous. 

THUS, AFTER THESE TWO ROCK FESTIVALS THE PICTURE CHANGED. IT IS  
NOT THAT KIDS HAVE STOPPED TAKING DRUGS, FOR MORE ARE TAKING  
DRUGS ALL THE TIME. And what the eventual outcome will be is 
certainly unpredictable. I know that in many places, California 
for example, drugs are down through the high schools and on 
into the heads of ten- and eleven-year-olds. But drugs are not 
considered a philosophic expression anymore; among the very 
young they are just a peer group thing. It's like permissive 
sexuality. You have to sleep with a certain number of boys or 
you're not in; you have to take a certain kind of drug or you're 
not in. THE OPTIMISTIC IDEOLOGY HAS DIED. 

Street Fighting Man

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Street Fighting Man”
Fightingmanstones.jpg
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Beggars Banquet
B-side No Expectations
Released August 1968
Format 7-inch single
Recorded April–May 1968
Genre
Length 3:09
Label London
Songwriter(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Jimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
(1968)
Street Fighting Man
(1968)
Honky Tonk Women
(1969)
Audio sample
MENU
0:00
Alternative covers
French single picture sleeve

French single picture sleeve

Street Fighting Man” is a song by English rock band the Rolling Stones featured on their 1968 album Beggars Banquet. Called the band’s “most political song”,[4] Rolling Stone ranked the song number 301 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Inspiration[edit]

Originally titled and recorded as “Did Everyone Pay Their Dues?”, containing the same music but very different lyrics, “Street Fighting Man” is known as one of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards‘ most politically inclined works to date. Jagger allegedly wrote it about Tariq Ali after he attended a 1968 anti-war rally at London‘s US embassy, during which mounted police attempted to control a crowd of 25,000.[5][6] He also found inspiration in the rising violence among student rioters on Paris‘s Left Bank,[7] the precursor to a period of civil unrest in May 1968.

On the writing, Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Jann Wenner in Rolling Stone,

Yeah, it was a direct inspiration, because by contrast, London was very quiet…It was a very strange time in France. But not only in France but also in America, because of the Vietnam War and these endless disruptions … I thought it was a very good thing at the time. There was all this violence going on. I mean, they almost toppled the government in France; de Gaulle went into this complete funk, as he had in the past, and he went and sort of locked himself in his house in the country. And so the government was almost inactive. And the French riot police were amazing.[8]

The song opens with a strummed acoustic riff. In his review, Richie Unterberger says of the song, “…it’s a great track, gripping the listener immediately with its sudden, springy guitar chords and thundering, offbeat drums. That unsettling, urgent guitar rhythm is the mainstay of the verses. Mick Jagger’s typically half-buried lyrics seem at casual listening like a call to revolution.”[9]

Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy

Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution, but where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Hey, said my name is called Disturbance;, I’ll shout and scream, I’ll kill the King, I’ll rail at all his servants

Well now what can a poor boy do, Except to sing for a rock & roll band?
Cause in sleepy London Town there’s just no place for a street fighting man, no

Unterberger continues, “Perhaps they were saying they wished they could be on the front lines, but were not in the right place at the right time; perhaps they were saying, as John Lennon did in the Beatles‘ “Revolution“, that they didn’t want to be involved in violent confrontation. Or perhaps they were even declaring indifference to the tumult.”[9] Other writers’ interpretations varied. In 1976, Roy Carr assessed it as a “great summer street-corner rock anthem on the same echelon as ‘Summer in the City‘, ‘Summertime Blues‘, and ‘Dancing in the Street‘.”[7] In 1979, Dave Marsh wrote that it was the keynote of Beggars Banquet, “with its teasing admonition to do something and its refusal to admit that doing it will make any difference; as usual, the Stones were more correct, if also more faithless, philosophers than any of their peers.”[10]

Recording[edit]

Recording on “Street Fighting Man” took place at Olympic Sound Studios from April until May 1968. With Jagger on lead vocals and both he and Richards on backing, Brian Jones performs the song’s distinctive sitar and also tamboura. Richards plays the song’s acoustic guitars as well as bass, the latter being the only electric instrument on the track. Charlie Watts performs drums while Nicky Hopkins performs the song’s piano which is most distinctly heard during the outro. Shehnai is performed on the track by Dave Mason. On the earlier, unreleased “Did Everybody Pay Their Dues” version, Rick Grech played a very prominent electric viola.[11]

Watts said in 2003,

“Street Fighting Man” was recorded on Keith’s cassette with a 1930s toy drum kit called a London Jazz Kit Set, which I bought in an antiques shop, and which I’ve still got at home. It came in a little suitcase, and there were wire brackets you put the drums in; they were like small tambourines with no jangles… The snare drum was fantastic because it had a really thin skin with a snare right underneath, but only two strands of gut… Keith loved playing with the early cassette machines because they would overload, and when they overload they sounded fantastic, although you weren’t meant to do that. We usually played in one of the bedrooms on tour. Keith would be sitting on a cushion playing a guitar and the tiny kit was a way of getting close to him. The drums were really loud compared to the acoustic guitar and the pitch of them would go right through the sound. You’d always have a great backbeat.[12]

On the recording process itself, Richards remembered,

The basic track of that was done on a mono cassette with very distorted overrecording, on a Phillips with no limiters. Brian is playing sitar, it twangs away. He’s holding notes that wouldn’t come through if you had a board, you wouldn’t be able to fit it in. But on a cassette if you just move the people, it does. Cut in the studio and then put on a tape. Started putting percussion and bass on it. That was really an electronic track, up in the realms.[13]

Bruce Springsteen would comment in 1985, after including “Street Fighting Man” in the encores of some of his Born in the U.S.A. Tour shows: “That one line, ‘What can a poor boy do but sing in a rock and roll band?’ is one of the greatest rock and roll lines of all time. … [The song] has that edge-of-the-cliff thing when you hit it. And it’s funny; it’s got humour to it.”[14]

Jagger continues in the Rolling Stone interview when asked about the song’s resonance thirty years on; “I don’t know if it [has any]. I don’t know whether we should really play it. I was persuaded to put it [on Voodoo Lounge Tour] because it seemed to fit in, but I’m not sure if it really has any resonance for the present day. I don’t really like it that much.”[8] Despite this, the song has been performed on a majority of the Stones’ tours since its introduction to their canon of work.[11]

On the song, Richards said, only a few years after recording the track in a 1971 Rolling Stone interview with Robert Greenfield, that the song had been “interpreted thousands of different ways”. He mentioned how Jagger went to the Grosvenor Square demonstrations in London and was even charged by the police, yet he ultimately claims, “it really is ambiguous as a song.”[13]

Musicians[edit]

The Rolling Stones[15]

Additional musicians

Release[edit]

Released as Beggars Banquets lead single in August 1968 in the US, “Street Fighting Man” was popular on release but was kept out of the Top 40 (reaching number 48) of the US charts in response to many radio stations’ refusal to play the song based on what were perceived as subversive lyrics.[16] This attitude would be reinforced as the song was released within a week of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.[9]

Because of the 1968 National Democratic Convention and the possibility of the song inciting further violence, Chicago radio stations refused to play the song. This was much to the delight of Mick, who stated: “I’m rather pleased to hear they have banned (the song). The last time they banned one of our records in America, it sold a million.”[17] Mick said he was told they thought the record was subversive, to which he snapped: “Of course it’s subversive! It’s stupid to think you can start a revolution with a record. I wish you could.”[18]

While many of the US London picture sleeves are rare and collectable, the sleeve for this single is particularly scarce and is considered their most valuable.

Keith weighed into the debate when he said that the fact a couple of radio stations in Chicago banned the record “just goes to show how paranoid they are”. At the same time they were still requested to do live appearances and Keith said: “If you really want us to cause trouble, we could do a few stage appearances. We are more subversive when we go on stage.”[18]

The single’s B-side was album-mate “No Expectations“. For reasons unknown, the single did not see a release in the United Kingdom until 1971 (backed with “Surprise, Surprise“, previously unreleased in the UK).

The US single’s version of the song, released in mono with an additional vocal overdub on the choruses, is different from the Beggars Banquet album’s stereo version.

The album version of the song has been included on the compilations albums Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), Hot Rocks 1964-1971, 30 Greatest Hits, Singles Collection: The London Years (album version on 1989 edition; US single version on 2002 remaster), Forty Licks, and GRRR! A staple at Rolling Stones live shows since the band’s American Tour of 1969, concert recordings of the song have been captured and released for the live albums Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (recorded 1969, released 1970), Stripped (1995; rereleased on Totally Stripped in 2016), Live Licks (recorded 2003, released 2004), and Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live (2013).

Charts[edit]

Chart (1968) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[19] 7
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[20] 13
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[21] 32
Germany (Official German Charts)[22] 7
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[23] 5
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[24] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[25] 48
Chart (1971) Peak
position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[26] 21

Legacy[edit]

“Street Fighting Man” has been covered by many artists. Rod Stewart covered it on the debut solo album An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down. Oasis recorded a version that was released as the B-side to their 1998 single “All Around the World“. The song can be found on the fourth and last studio album by Rage Against the Machine, titled Renegades. It appears on Mötley Crüe‘s Red, White & Crüe album as well as the Ramones‘ 2002 re-release of Too Tough to Die. The band Prima Donna performed a live cover early in their career. The band Lake Trout recorded the song for their album Not Them, You. The band Tesla also covered this song on their covers album Real to Reel which can be found on the rare disk 2 track number 5. (You needed to attend a concert during the Reel to Reel tour to obtain this disk.)[citation needed]

Guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who has claimed that the staccato beat–rhythm structure of “Street Fighting Man” is the inspiration for “I’m Free” on Tommy.[27]

Dave Perkins & Lynn Nichols covered the song in their side project “Passafist”.

In 2009, the Australian rock band Sick Puppies used the first 15 seconds of Rage Against The Machine’s version for their single “Street Fighter (War)”.

Radio personalities Opie and Anthony use Rage Against the Machine’s version as part of the opening theme for their show.

The song plays over the end credits of the film V for Vendetta (2006).

It appears during the documentary Sicko (2007) and is also used in the film State of Grace (1990).

Wes Anderson used the track in his 2009 stop-motion animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The song is referenced by Chris Farley in the movie Dirty Work (1998).

The Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League have used the song as their unofficial theme song, taking the ice at home games as the song plays in the First Niagara Center.

The title line of the song is sung by fictional character Jack T. Chance in the first issue of Green Lantern Corps Quarterly (1992; DC Comics).[28]

The song was played on Criminal Minds season 5 episode, “The Fight”.

The song is featured in the 2013 movie White House Down and it was played during the credits.

The song was played during the closing scene of the fourth-season finale of Southland.

References[edit]

    1. Jump up^ Milward, John (2013). Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues). Northeastern. p. 128. ISBN 978-1555537449.
    1. Jump up^ Willis, Ellen (2011). Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music. University of Minnesota Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0816672837.
    1. Jump up^ Schaffner, Nicholas (1982). The British Invasion: From the First Wave to the New Wave. Mcgraw-Hill. p. 77. ISBN 978-0070550896.
    1. Jump up^ “News”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
    1. Jump up^ Azania, Malcolm. “Tariq Ali: The time is right for a palace revolution”. Vue Weekly. 2008(accessed 14 November 2008).
    1. Jump up^ “Street Fighting Man”. Rolling Stone. 2004 (accessed 22 July 2007).
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b Roy Carr, The Rolling Stones: An Illustrated Record, Harmony Books, 1976. ISBN 0-517-52641-7. p. 55.
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b Wenner, Jann. “Jagger Remembers”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b c Unterberger, Richie. “Street Fighting Man”. allmusic. Retrieved 22 July 2006.
    1. Jump up^ Rolling Stone Record Guide, Rolling Stone Press, 1979. ISBN 0-394-73535-8.
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b Ian McPherson. “Street Fighting Man”. Timeisonourside.com. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
    1. Jump up^ ISBN 0-8118-4060-3 According to The Rolling Stones. Chronicle Books. 2003.
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b Greenfield, Robert. “Keith Richards – Interview”. Rolling Stone (magazine) 19 August 1971.
    1. Jump up^ Marsh, Dave. Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-54668-7. pp. 229-230.
    1. Jump up^ Ian McPherson. “Street Fighting Man”. Timeisonourside.com. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
    1. Jump up^ Paytress, Mark (2003). The Rolling Stones: Off the Record. Omnibus Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-7119-8869-2.
    1. Jump up^ The Rolling Stones – Off The Record by Mark Paytress, Omnibus Press, 2005, page 153. ISBN 1-84449-641-4
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b The Rolling Stones – Off The Record by Mark Paytress, Omnibus Press, 2005, page 153. ISBN 1-84449-641-4
    1. Jump up^ Austriancharts.at – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man” (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Ultratop.be – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man” (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Top RPM Singles: Issue 5863.” RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Offiziellecharts.de – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man”. GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Dutchcharts.nl – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man”(in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Swisscharts.com – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man”. Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ “The Rolling Stones – Chart history” Billboard Hot 100 for The Rolling Stones. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Rolling Stones: Artist Chart History” Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ “I’m Free”. thewho.net. 2001. Retrieved 6 August 2007.
  1. Jump up^ “Green Lantern Corps Quarterly #1 – Layin’ Down the Law (Issue)”. Comicvine.com. 1992-06-01. Retrieved 2016-10-02.

External links[edit]

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Abigail DeVille Listens to History | Art21 “New York Close Up”

Published on Mar 7, 2018

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How does an artist express both the joy and pain in harrowing histories? Through her immersive performances and installation works, Abigail DeVille celebrates the bravery and optimism—while also memorializing the suffering—embedded within the African American experience. Calling out official American history as “garbage,” Deville uses discarded materials herself, like old furniture and tattered flags, to construct complex room-sized installations evoking the overlooked histories of Black Americans in all its messiness and grandeur. “There’s something, that if you’re quiet enough and you listen,” says the artist, “you’re being guided or directed to uncover specific bits of information.” DeVille’s “The New Migration,” presented by the Studio Museum and staged on the streets of Harlem in 2014, was inspired by the women and men of the Great Migration—the millions of African Americans who escaped the systemic racism and state violence of the Jim Crow South in the twentieth century. Directed by collaborator Charlotte Brathwaite and also performed in Anacostia and Baltimore, “The New Migration” is a grand on-the-street procession of musicians, dancers, marching bands, and community members of all ages donning DeVille’s wearable sculptures, which for the artist signify the weight of history. The project also references the current gentrification of American cities like Harlem and Chicago as the next migration forcing communities of color from their homes. A reckoning facilitated through festivity, DeVille’s collaborative community performance honors the agency and hope of Black communities today. “It’s something for me to constantly be reminded of,” says DeVille, “that we as a people, we’re going to get there.” Featuring the artist’s installation “Only When It’s Dark Enough Can You See the Stars” at The Contemporary, Baltimore; and the artist’s 2014 Anacostia performance hosted by the Anacostia Arts Center. Locations include The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. Also featuring music by Artem Bemba, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, Cloudjumper, Jade Hicks, Justin Hicks, Kenita Miller-Hicks, New Edition Legacy Marching Band, and Pedro Santiago. Abigail DeVille (b. 1981, New York, New York, USA) lives and works in the Bronx, New York. Learn more about the artist at: https://art21.org/artist/abigail-devi… CREDITS | “New York Close Up” Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director & Producer: Wesley Miller. Editor: Anna Gustavi. Cinematography & Sound: Amitabh Joshi, Paul Lieber, John Marton, Michael T. Miller, Wesley Miller, Cauleen Smith, Think Out Loud Productions. Music: Artem Bemba, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, Cloudjumper, Jade Hicks, Justin Hicks, Kenita Miller-Hicks, New Edition Legacy Marching Band, Pedro Santiago. Design & Graphics: Open, Uros Perisic. Archival Photography: Library of Congress, Prelinger Archives. Artwork Courtesy: Abigail DeVille. Performance Co-Creator & Director: Charlotte Brathwaite. Performers: M. Liz Andrews, Mikel Banks, Asim Barnes, Flip Barnes, JM Denson, Avram Fefer, Asma Feyijinmi, Daniela Fifi, Paula Henderson, Ayesha Jordan, Ifasen Kwame, Shango Kwame, André Lassalle, Hiroyuki Matsuura, Nina Angela Mercer, Candace Mickens, Paul Pryce, Sheldon Scott, Jessica Silva, André D. Singleton, Greg Tate, Ibrahim Turay, LaFrae Sci, Ayinde Utsey. Thanks: Rushern Baker IV, Kent Barrett, Holly Bass, Asha Elana Casey, The Contemporary, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Oscar Cornejo, Sandra Cornejo, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, Stephen Crouch, Jessica Denson, The DeVille Family, David O. Fakunle, Catherine Feliz, Arianne Gelardin, Jackson Gilman-Forlini, Angela Goerner, Deana Haggag, Jennifer Harrison Newman, Lauren Haynes, Lee Heinemann, Ariel Jackson, Amanda Jiron-Murphy, Anthony Joshua, Nathan Lewis, The Loading Dock, Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams, Samuel Margai, Dr. Joanne Martin, Michael Metcalf, MICA, Kenita Miller, Morris-Jumel Mansion, National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Jared M. Nickerson, Mary Olin Geiger , The Peale Center for Baltimore History & Architecture, Philip A. Robinson, Terry Scott, Jazmin Smith, Ginevra Shay, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Monica Utsey, Kimberly J. Wade, Nico Wheadon. “New York Close Up” is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and by individual contributors.

Featured artist is Abigail DeVille

Abigail DeVille

Abigail DeVille was born in 1981 in New York, where she lives and works. Maintaining a long-standing interest in marginalized people and places, DeVille creates site-specific immersive installations designed to bring attention to these forgotten stories, such as with the sculpture she built on the site of a former African American burial ground in Harlem.

DeVille often works with objects and materials sourced from the area surrounding the exhibition site, and her theatrical aesthetic embodies the phrase, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Though collected objects are essential to her installations, DeVille’s priority is the stories her installations can tell. DeVille’s family roots in New York go back at least two generations; her interest in the city, and her work about it, is both personal and political.

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The Brook Kidron and Hezekiah’s Tunnel

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The Brook Kidron and Hezekiah’s Tunnel

2 Kings 20v20 states that Hezekiah ‘Made the Pool and the conduit and brought water into the city’

and in 2 Chronicles 32v30 that he closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the West side of the City of David.

This refers to the tunnel which connects the ‘Spring of Gihon’, through the rock to the reservoir called the Pool of Siloam.

It was found in 1838 when it was explored by the American traveller, Edward Robinson, and his missionary friend Eli Smith.

They first attempted to crawl through the tunnel from the Siloam end but found that they were not suitably dressed to crawl through the narrow passage. Three days later and dressed in only a wide pair of Arab drawers, they entered the tunnel from the ‘Spring of Gihon’. And advanced much of the way on their hands and knees and sometimes flat on their stomachs, they went the full distance.

They measured the tunnel and found it to be 1750 ft in length. The tunnel was full of twists and turns. The straight line distance from the Spring of Gihon to the Pool of Siloam is only 762 ft, less than half the length of the tunnel.

In 1867 Captain Charles Warren also explored the tunnel. He also excavated ‘Warren’s Shaft. which was the earlier tunnel through which the people of Jerusalem were able to obtain water.

In 1880 a boy, in the tunnel noticed an inscription on the walls and reported it to his school teacher Herr Conrad Schick who made the information available to schollars. It was written in old Hebrew (Canaanite), and said “..when (the tunnel) was driven through, while ….were still…..axes. Each man towards his fellow, and while there were still three cubits to be cut through there was heard the voice of a man calling to his fellow for there was an overlap in the rock on the right. And when the tunnel was driven through, the quarrymen hewed each man towards his fellow, axe against axe, and the water flowed from the spring towards the reservoir for 1200 cubits’.(Ancient Near Eastern Text). In 1890 a vandal entered the tunnel and cut the inscription out of the rock, and it was found, later, in several pieces, in the possession of a Greek in Jerusalem who had bought it off an Arab. At least two other conduits were built from the Spring of Gihon into Jerusalem before the Siloam Tunnel.

There had been a tunnel at that place since David’s time, and possibly before the Israelites conquered the Promised Land, because when David wanted the City as his capital city, the Bible records that it was still in the possession of a tribe of Canaanites called the Jebusites, and David conquered the city from the Jebusites by taking his soldiers from the Spring, through the tunnel, under the walls and into the Jebusite City.

The Gihon Spring is not at the bottom of the valley but is on the Western slope, from the City walls down to the Brook Kidron. (The water comes out of the limestone a little way up the valley slope). This seems to suggest that there is an underground, natural watercourse which collects the rainwater which falls on Mount Moriah (Jerusalem), travels under the City, errupts at the spring Gihon, in the valley of Kidron, only to be taken back into the City through both the ancient and Hezekiah’s tunnel.

There are deep wells within the City, (Captain Warren had to block one of these off, for safety reasons, when he was excavating Hezekiah’s tunnel). These wells could have been one of the reasons why Jerusalem was built there in the first place, way back in antiquity.

Hezekiah’s works were two-fold.
1. To improve the access to the water from the Gihon.
2. To hide the spring Gihon from attackers.

Before Hezekiah, the people in Jerusalem used to walk about 30 yards to a shaft where they lifted up the water using a bucket. (see the OPHEL diagram).

Jerusalem is on a hill and the Siloam Pool is on the lower slope of the hill and is lower than the Gihon Spring.


This picture shows the elevation of Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Warren’s Shaft in relation to the Gihon Spring and the Pool at Siloam.
See this site
Hezekiahs Tunnel

Some accounts say that Edward Robinson discovered Hezehiah’s Tunnel in 1838.
Some accounts say that Sir Charles Warren found Hezekiah’s Tunnel in 1867.
There are THREE known tunnels from the Spring Gihon, and a very good, and scollarly account, which questions whether the tunnel was built by Hezekiah at all, is given at this site
The Biblical Archaeologist

In 1880, a boy found the ‘Siloam Inscription’ in the tunnel entrance to Hezekiah’s tunnel.

This photo of the Pool of Hezekiah was taken in approx 1937

This shows Hexzekiah’s tunnel at the Siloam Exit in 1937

This photo was taken in approx 1890 and shows the Pool of Siloam before the tunnel was discovered.

This shows the Pool of Siloam. The Bible gives the dimensions as 55ft square. In 1937 it measured18ft wide, 53 ft long and 19ft deep. The opening of the tunnel can be seen on the left. Its original height was increased by cutting done in the fifth century AD

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Plan of Hezekiah’s Tunnel (165K)

The ‘Companion Bible’ has this account

If, as it has been confidently asserted, the Spring Gihon (or the Fount of the Virgin) is the only spring in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, then it would have been the one that was used by people before King David conquered the City from the Jebusites. That the Jebusies had access to this well or spring from within their walls is clear, but in the end it proved their undoing, for David’s men obtained possession of Jerusalem, (then called Jebus), by means of the ‘Zinnor’, (AV = gutter) i.e. the channel and shaft leading from the well to the City. The spring is intermittent, overflowing periodically, thus pointing to the existence of either a natural chasm or reservoir, or a man-made reservoir (made in antiquity), whose site is unknown. Possibly it is under mount Moriah itself. Tradition has much to say about a deep well within an unfailing water supply beneath the Temple area. It could have been one of the chief reasons why the City was built in that place originally. Somehow this well must have been forgotten and the people had to rely upon the Spring Gihon.

Before the time of Hezekiah, the City of David was dependant upon this source for its water supply in times of danger threatened from without in the same manner that the Jebusites were. The Jebusites were descended from Ophel by means of rock hewn passages with steps and slopes (still in existence) till they reached the top of ‘Warren’s Shaft’, and by means of buckets drew their water from the unfailing well spring some 40 to 50 feet below. At the top of this shaft is still to be seen the iron ring employed for this purpose.

Warrens Shaft


Elevation of ‘Warren’s Shaft’ (147K)

The rock hewn conduit and tunnel discovered by Sir Charles Warren in 1867 conveyed the overflow water from the Spring to the Pool of Siloam. (Before Hezekiah’s time the overflow wate rmust have escaped from the Virgin’s fountain at a lower level than is now possible and flowed out and down the lower end of the Kidron Valley, past the King’s Garden, possibly being the feeder for Joab’s Well.)

Hezekiah, before the Assyrian invasion in 603 BC constructed the tunnel and brought the water from Gihon to a new pool that he had made for the purpose. (2 Kings 20v20). This pool henseforth became known as the King’s Pool (Neh 2v14). When the Assyrian Army approached, Hezekiah stopped the waters from the fountains that were without the City (he concealed their extra mural approaches and outlets.

The ‘Siloam Inscription’ discovered in 1880 on a stone on the right wall of the tunnel about 20ft from its exit into the Pool of Siloam is undoubtedly the work of Hezekiah. An interesting fact with regard to its inscription is that it giveds the length of the conduit in cubits which being compared to the modern measurement in English feet yield a cubit of 17½ inches.

Sir Charles Warren wrote “It is impossible that any of the plans of the aqueduct can be rigidly correct because the roof is so low that your head is horizontal in looking at the compass so that you can only squint at it. It is necessary to remember this warning coming from such a source. Never-the -less the figures as above shown are highly interesting.”

The Siloam Inscription is graven in ancient Hebrew characters similar to those of the Moabite Stone on occupies six lines the translation of which is given below.

Line 1. [Behold] the excavation. Now is the history of the breaking through. While the workmen were still lifting up

Line 2. The pickaxe, each towards his neighbour, and while three cubits still remained to [cut through, each heard] the voice of the other calling.

Line 3. To his neighbour, for there was an excess (or cleft) in the rock on the right.And on the day of the

Line 4. Breaking through the excavators struck, each to meet the other, pickaxe against pickaxe, and their flowed

Line 5. The waters from the spring to the pool over [a space of] one thousand and two hundred cubits. And…

Line 6. Of a cubit was the height of the rock above the heads of the excavators.

The Zondervan Pictoral Bible Dictionary has this

Through the Kidron Valley ran a winter torrent but was dry much of the year. The earliest knowledge of the tunnel dates from 1838 when it was explored by the American traveler and scholar Edward Robinson.and his missionary friend Eli Smith. They first attemped to crawl through the tunnel from the Siloam End but found that they were nt suitably dressed to crawl through the passages. Three days later dressed only in a wide pair of Arab drawers they entered the tunnel from the spring of Gihon and advancing much of the way on their hands and knees and sometimes flat on their stomachs they went the full distance. They measured the tunnel and found it to be 1750ft in length.

The tunnel is full of twists and turns. The straight-line distance from the Spring Gihon to the Pool of Siloam is only 762 feet, less than half the length of the tunnel. Why it follows such a circuitous route has never been adequately explained. Grollenberg suggests that it may have been “to avoid at all costs any interference with the royal tombs, which were quite deeply hewn into the rock on the eastern slope of Ophel” (Atlas of the Bible, New York: Nelson, 1956, p. 93).

In 1867 Captain Charles Warren also explored the tunnel, but neither he nor Robinson and Smith before him, noticed the inscription on the wall of the tunnel near the Siloam end. This was discovered in 1880 by a native boy who, while wading in the tunnel, slipped and fell into the water. When he looked up he noticed the inscription. The boy reported his discovery to his teacher, Herr Conrad Schick, who made the information available to scholars. The inscription was deciphered by A. H.

Sayce, with the help of others. It consists of six lines written in Old Hebrew (Canaanite) with prong-like characters. The first half of the inscription is missing, but what remains reads as follows:

“[… when] (the tunnel) was driven through: while [ . . . ] (were) still [ . . . ] axe(s), each man toward his fellow, and while there were still three cubits to be cut through, [there was heard] the voice of a man calling to his fellow, for there was an overlap in the rock on the right [and on the left]. And when the tunnel was driven through, the quarrymen hewed (the rock), each man toward his fellow, axe against axe; and the water flowed from the spring toward the reservoir for 1,200 cubits, and the height of the rock above the head(s) of the quarrymen was 100 cubits”

(Ancient Near Eastern Texts ed. James B. Prichard, Princeton ‘1 University Press, 1955, p. 321).

In 1890 a vandal entered the tunnel and cut the inscription out of the rock. It was subsequently found in several pieces in the possession of a Greek in Jerusalem who claimed he had purchased it from an Arab. The Turkish officials seized the pieces and removed them to Istanbul where they are today.

The Siloam tunnel was not the only conduit which had been built to bring water from the Spring of Gihon into Jerusalem. At least two others preceded it, but neither was adequately protected against enemy attack. It was probably to one of these former conduits that Isaiah referred in the words, “the waters of Shiloah that flow gently” (Isa. 8:6).

The New Bible Dictionary has this

SILOAM. One of the principal sources of water supply to Jerusalem was the intermittent pool of Gihon (‘Virgin’s Fountain’) below the Fountain Gate (Ne. iii. 15) and ESE of the city. It fed water along an open canal, which flowed slowly along the south-eastern slopes, called Siloah (Is. viii. 6). It followed the line of the later ‘second aqueduct’ which fell only ~ inch in 300 yards, discharging into the Lower or Old Pool (mod. Birket ei~!5Iamra) at the end of the central valley between the walls of the south-eastern and south-western hills. It thus ran below ‘the svall of the pool of Shiloah’ (Ne. iii. 15) and watered the ‘king’s garden’ on the adjacent slopes.

This Old Pool was probably the ‘Pool of Siloam’ in use in New Testament times for sick persons and others to wash (Jn. ix. 7—il). The ‘Tower of Siloam’ which fell and killed eighteen persons – a disaster well known in our Lord’s day (Lk. xiii. 4)—was probably sited on the Ophel ridge above the pool which, according to Josephus (BJ v. 4. 1), was near the bend of the old wall below Ophlas (Ophel). According to the Talmud (Sukkoth iv. 9), water was drawn from Siloam’s Pooi in a golden vessel to be carried in procession to the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles. Though there are traces of a Herodian bath and open reservoir (about 58 feet x 18 feet, originally 71 feet x 71 feet with steps on the west side), there can be no certainty that this was the actual pool in question. It has been suggested that the part of the city round the Upper Pool (‘Am Silwdn) 100 yards above was called ‘Siloam’, the Lower being the King’s Pool (Ne. ii. 14) or Lower Gihon.

When Hezekiah was faced with the threat of invasion by the Assyrian army under Sennacherib he ‘stopped all the fountains’, that is, all the rivulets and subsidiary canals leading down into the Kedron ‘brook that ran through the midst of the land’ (2 Ch. xxxii. 4). Traces of canals blocked at about this time were found by the Parker Mission. The king then diverted the upper Gihon waters through a ‘conduit’ or tunnel into an upper cistern or pool (the normal method of storing water) on the west side of the city of David (2 Ki. xx. 20). Ben Sira tells how ‘Hezekiah fortified his city and brought the water into its midst; he pierced the rock with iron and enclosed the pool with mountains’ (Ecclus. xlviii. 17—19). Hezekiah clearly defended the new source of supply with a rampart (2 Ch. xxxii. 30). The digging of the reservoir may be referred to by Isaiah (xxii. 11).

In 1880 bathers in the upper pool (also called hirket siht’dn) found the entrance to a tunnel and about 15 feet inside a cursive Hebrew inscription, now in Istanbul, which reads:

” was being dug out. It was cut in the following manner . . . axes, each man towards his fellow, and while there were still three cubits to be cut through, the voice of one man calling to the other was heard, showing that he was deviating to the right. When the tunnel was driven through, the excavators met man to man, axe to axe, and the water flowed for 1,200 cubits from the spring to the reservoir. The height of the rock above the heads of the excavators was 100 cubits’ .

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(The Bible as History romances this story but gives an eye witness account of walking through the tunnel. It says…

Two Arab boys were playing there, one of them fell in. Paddling for all he was worth he landed on the other side where a rock wall rose above the pool. Suddenly it was pitch black all round him. He groped about anxiously and discovered a small passage. The name of the Arab boy was forgotten but not his story. It was followed up and a long underground tunnel was discovered. A narrow passage about 2ft wide and barely 5ft high had been cut through the limestone. It can only be negotiated with rubber boots and a slight stoop. Water, knee deep rushes to meet you. For about 500 yards the passage winds imperceptibly uphill. It ends at the Virgin’s fountain, Jerusalem’s Water supply since ancient times. In Biblical days it was called ‘The Fountain of Gihon’. As experts were examining the passage they noticed by the light of their torches old Hebrew letter on the wall. The inscription which was scratched on the rock only a few paces from the entrance at the pool of Siloam reads as follows….”The boring through is completed and this is the story of the boring. While yet they plied the pick each towards his fellow and while yet there were three cubits to be bored through there was heard the voice of one calling to the other that there was a hole in the rock on the right hand and on the left hand, And on the day of the boring the workers in the tunnel struck each to meet his fellow, pick upon pick. Then the water poured from the source to the pool twelve hundred cubits and a hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the workers in the tunnel.”

The Turkish Government had the inscription prized out before the First World War. It is now exhibited in the museum at Istanbul.

During a siege the number one problem is that of drinking water. The founders of Jerusalem, the Jebusites, had sunk a shaft through the rock to the Fountain of Gihon. Hezehiah directed its water, which would have otherwise flowed into the Kidron Valley through the mountain to the west side of the City. The Pool of Siloam lies inside the second perimeter wall which he constructed.

There was no time to lose. Assyrian troops could be at the gates of Jerusalem overnight. The workmen therefore tackled the tunnel from both ends. The marks of the pickaxes point to each other as the inscription describes.

Oddly enough the canal takes an ‘S’ shaped course through the rock. Why did the workmen not dig this underground tunnel the shortest way to meet each other, that is in a straight line. The wretched job would have been finished quicker. 700ft of hard work would have been saved out of a total of 1700ft.

Locally there is an old story which has been handed down which claims to explain why they had to go the long way round. Deep in the rock between the spring and the pool are supposed to lie the graves of David and Solomon. Archaeologists took this remarkable piece of folk-law seriously and systematically tapped the walls of the narrow damp tunnel. They sank shafts into the rock from the summit, but they found nothing.

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When this remarkable Judean engineering feat was excavated the marks of the picks and deviations to effect a junction midway were traced. The tunnel traverses 1,777 feet (others 1,749 feet), twisting to avoid constructions or rock faults or to follow a fissure, to cover a direct line of 1,090 feet. It is about 6 feet high and in parts only 20 inches wide. It has been suggested that this or a similar tunnel was the gutter (sjnndr) up which David’s men climbed to capture the Jebusite city (2 Sa. v. 8). Modern buildings prevent any archaeological check that the upper pool is the ‘reservoir’ (bereicd) of Hezekiah or that from this the waters overflowed direct to the lower pool.

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The New Bible dictionary has this…

Below the southern wall, in the bill opposite the village of Silwan (Siloam) where the old Jebusite stronghold stood that afterwards became the city of David, the famous Siloam inscription was found cut in Hebraic characters of the time of King Hezekiah on the rocky side of the water channel made by this monarch, when he “turned the upper water course of Gihon and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David” The piece of rock bearing this inscription has recently been removed and broken, but was fortunately recovered, and now rests in the Ottoman Museum at Constantinople. Another inscription of almost equal importance was found at the north-west corner of the Haram enclosure, on a tablet that formerly served as a notice forbidding strangers to enter the Temple Courts on pain of death. Built in the wall over the Double Gate on the south side of the Temple Area, is a Latin inscription that originally belonged to a statue of Hadrian. On this, the south side of the city, but further west, below Neby Daud, where excavations are being carried on at the present time, old Jebusite houses have been brought to light. Other work is in contemplation that will probably settle the position of the city of David and open the tombs of the Kings of Judah.

The Kidron is the only stream of water in Jerusalem the people of Jerusalem ever see without setting out on a day’s journey. It appears at rare intervals of one or two years, and then only after a plentiful supply of rain. As soon as the water begins to flow the news spreads over the City and men women and children flock to see it, In their anxiety to see most of the wonder they picnic there all day long and hold a general holiday.

It now runs only from ‘Bir Eyub’ (Job’s Well) when this overflows; but in the days of old, when Hezekiah was King, and compelled to keep constant watch over his Assyrian enemy, Sennacherib, it ran all down the valley from Ain Umm ed Deraj (Spring of the Mother of Steps), the Virgin’s Fountain, and was known as ‘the brook that overflowed in the midst of the land’. (2 Chron 32v4).

Its course was, however, perverted by the primitive Jewish Engineers in order to provide for the wants of the City, and cut off the water supply of the besieging army. (see 2 Chron 32v30).

“The same Hezekiah also stopped up the upper watercourse of Gihon and brought it straight down to the west side of the City of David”.

The channels that were made for this purpose have since been found and one contained the famous Siloam inscription, one of the most valuable and interesting ever discovered. It has lately been removed and broken but a photograph of a squeeze with a translation is sold by the Palestine Exploration Fund. This practically settles the site of the ‘City of David’. ‘the stronghold of Zion’, the hill above the spring through which these channels were cut from the Virgin’s Fountain, (the upper watercourse of Gihon).in the Kedron Valley.on the East to the ‘King’s Pool.’ ‘The Pool of Hezekiah’ now the ‘Pool of Siloam’ in the Tyropean Valley on the ‘west side’.

The upper watercourse of Gihon that played such an important part in the reign of Hezekiahis an intermittent spring in the Kedron Valley below the southern wall of the City. It is now known to Europeans as the ‘Virgin’s Fountain. And to the natives as ‘Ain Umm ed Deraj’. The peasants call it also the ‘Dragon’s Well’ because they believe a dragon lives in the bottom who swallows up the water, which can only escape when he is asleap. This spring has been a subject of many a conroversy, and is still, but has fairly proven to be the ‘Upper Watercourse of Gihon’, and is claimed by some to be ‘En Rogel’. mentioned in Joshua 15v7.and again in 18v16 as well.

“And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before the valley of the son of Hinnom to the side of Jebusi on the South and descended to En Rogel

The identification of the large stone near the ‘Virgin’s Fountain’ on the rocky side of the village of Silwan (Siloam) by M. Clermont-Gannneau now called in Arabic ‘Zehwele’ with the ‘stone of Zoheleth’ naturally assisted in identifying this as the mark of the tribal border of Judah and Benjamin.

But, unfortunately, its position does not answer the requirements of the text quoted above, “to the end of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom to the side of Jebusi on the south.” “The end of the mountain” is lower down the valley, below the Pool of Siloam, where the Tyropeon joins the Kedron, and near to this is “Bir Eyub” (Job’s Well), “before the valley of the son of Hinnom.”

Before the water of the “upper watercourse of Gihon” was turned by the Jewish king to the Pool of Siloam (the lower pool of Gihon’), it flowed straight down the valley to Job’s Well (En Rogel), and watered the King’s gardens that lay between, where now the best vegetables are grown for the Jerusalem market.

Job’s Well (Bir Eyub), or, as it is often termed, Joab’s Well, on account of its identification as En Rogel, has never been properly examined. It was opened by the Crusaders in 1184 A.D., and during the 15th and 16th centuries was known as the well of Nehemiah. There can be no doubt that it is in some way connected with an intermittent spring, as the flow from it after heavy rains is more than enough to empty the well itself. The hillside on the east of this well has the same rocky character as that above the Virgin’s Fountain When Adonijah was making his feast (1 Kings 1v9), on being proclaimed King, the noise of the revellers was heard in the city. So Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, went to the aged King David, and told him what was taking place, reminding him at the same time of his promise of the kingdom for her son. After seeing the prophet Nathan, he said: “Cause Solomon, my son, to ride upon mine own mule and bring him down to Gihon.” He was there anointed King, and the sound of rejoicing that went through the city was heard also by Adonijah and his adherents, but a bend in the valley hid the scene from view. Soon, however, the news was carried to him that Solomon had been anointed king in Gihon. This could very easily have been the lower Gihon if the En Rogel is the “Upper Gihon,” as one is on the eastern side of the hill, and the other on the “west side.”

(See 1 Kings 1.)

The most reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that Bir Eyub is En Rogel, and the spring further up the valley, Virgin’s Fountain, is the upper watercourse of Gihon, The pool on the “west side” of the hill, that separates the Kedron Valley from the Tyropeon, is the lower pool of Gihon, the pool of Hezekiah,’ “King’s Pool” (of Nehemiah), and the pooi of Siloam, in the time of our Saviour.

See (Joshua 15. 7 and 17v16, 2 Chron. 17v4-30, I. Kings 1)

The Brook Kedron (2 Sam. 15v23, 1. Kings 15v13, 2 Kings 23v6, 2. Chron. 29v16, Jer. 31v40, John 18v1)

is now a dry torrent bed, except what is seen in the picture, and that, as before mentioned, appears only once or twice in as many years. It runs along the eastern side of Jerusalem, commencing some distance to the north-east, broad and shallow at first, deepening only as it separates the city from the slope of the Mount of Olives. Between the south-east corner and the village of Silwan (Siloam) it becomes a deep ravine, widening out again towards the Virgin’s Fountain (Mn Umm ed Deraj) into the King’s gardens, where it is joined, after passing the Pool of Siloam on the west, by the Valley of Hinnom, close to Bir Eyub, and afterwards pursues its course towards the wilderness of the Dead Sea, as Wady en Nar, i.e., the Valley of Fire.

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 53 THE BEATLES (Part E, Stg. Pepper’s and John Lennon’s search in 1967 for truth was through drugs, money, laughter, etc & similar to King Solomon’s, LOTS OF PICTURES OF JOHN AND CYNTHIA) (Feature on artist Yoko Ono)

The John Lennon and the Beatles really were on a long search for meaning and fulfillment in their lives  just like King Solomon did in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon looked into learning (1:12-18, 2:12-17), laughter, ladies, luxuries, and liquor (2:1-2, 8, 10, 11), and labor (2:4-6, 18-20). He fount that without God in the picture all […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 52 THE BEATLES (Part D, There is evidence that the Beatles may have been exposed to Francis Schaeffer!!!) (Feature on artist Anna Margaret Rose Freeman )

______________   George Harrison Swears & Insults Paul and Yoko Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds- The Beatles The Beatles:   I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 51 THE BEATLES (Part C, List of those on cover of Stg.Pepper’s ) (Feature on artist Raqib Shaw )

  The Beatles in a press conference after their Return from the USA Uploaded on Nov 29, 2010 The Beatles in a press conference after their Return from the USA. The Beatles:   I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 50 THE BEATLES (Part B, The Psychedelic Music of the Beatles) (Feature on artist Peter Blake )

__________________   Beatles 1966 Last interview I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking and writing about them and their impact on the culture of the 1960’s. In this […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 49 THE BEATLES (Part A, The Meaning of Stg. Pepper’s Cover) (Feature on artist Mika Tajima)

_______________ The Beatles documentary || A Long and Winding Road || Episode 5 (This video discusses Stg. Pepper’s creation I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking and writing about […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 48 “BLOW UP” by Michelangelo Antonioni makes Philosophic Statement (Feature on artist Nancy Holt)

_______________ Francis Schaeffer pictured below: _____________________ I have included the 27 minute  episode THE AGE OF NONREASON by Francis Schaeffer. In that video Schaeffer noted,  ” Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. It expressed the essence of their lives, thoughts and their feelings.” How Should […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 47 Woody Allen and Professor Levy and the death of “Optimistic Humanism” from the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS Plus Charles Darwin’s comments too!!! (Feature on artist Rodney Graham)

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1 ___________________________________ Today I will answer the simple question: IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE AN OPTIMISTIC SECULAR HUMANIST THAT DOES NOT BELIEVE IN GOD OR AN AFTERLIFE? This question has been around for a long time and you can go back to the 19th century and read this same […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 46 Friedrich Nietzsche (Featured artist is Thomas Schütte)

____________________________________ Francis Schaeffer pictured below: __________ Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” , episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”, episode 8 […]

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A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World Article By Alex McLellan

A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World

Article ByAlex McLellan

Many people look at this broken world and think we can’t make sense of it all. However, like when were doing a jigsaw, if we want to see the big picture we don’t need every piece of a puzzle. All we need is enough important parts that stand out and fit together.

Taken from A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World by Alex McLellan. Copyright(c) 2012 by Alex McLellan. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com.

My eldest daughter used to love doing jigsaws as a young girl, and one day I spoke to her about a puzzle she was working on. “Sophia, I wonder what the picture is?” She confidently responded, “Dad, it’s Cinderella!” I recognized a teachable moment and pointed out, “But you haven’t put all the pieces together.” She merely tilted her head and said, “Dad, it’s Cinderella!”

I faked a serious expression and challenged her again, this time with more emotion. “Sophia, wait, it’s not too late to change your mind. You can’t be sure because you haven’t completed the puzzle.” Sophia, who is used to her dad asking unusual questions, merely rolled her eyes the way only a daughter can. “Dad, it’s Cinderella and I’m sure because I have enough pieces in place.”

Clearly Sophia had seen the box and retained this picture in her mind. In fact, it would be easy to assume this was what she was referring to when I asked her about the big picture. But note what she said: “Dad, I have enough pieces in place.” Sophia’s attention had shifted from the box to the puzzle pieces. These were now responsible for her confidence about the big picture. My daughter had stumbled on something significant about this broken world, and I wanted to be sure she remembered it: We can know the truth—and we can know the truth without knowing everything.

I have lost count of the number of times a meaningful conversation has ground to a halt when someone shrugged his or her shoulders and said, “Well, we can’t really know because we’ll never have all the answers.” I normally agree that we’ll never find every answer to every question, but I like to get the conversation back on track. Many people look at this broken world and think we can’t make sense of it all. However, like when we’re doing a jigsaw, if we want to see the big picture we don’t need every piece of a puzzle. All we need is enough important parts that stand out and fit together.

Don’t be put off by things in life that don’t make sense or stumped by parts that don’t seem to fit. Turn your attention to what clearly stands out and start snapping things into place. While it can be frustrating to know we’ll never complete this puzzle, it’s worth the effort to try to see the big picture. When you’ve done enough to see enough, you’ll be confident you know the truth.

This is a jigsaw guide to making sense of the world, and it is a strategy that comes naturally. Transcending boundaries of age, language, intellect and culture, the jigsaw idea has connected with people around the world, and we can use it everywhere to talk about things that really matter. I’ve stood before the Scottish Parliament and used the jigsaw to make a cumulative case for the truth and reasonableness of the Christian worldview. When you hold this key to confident Christianity, you are prepared to share anywhere!

For a long time I’ve known that Christianity is more than endorsing tradition or subscribing to a religion because it offers a unique relationship with God that changes lives. I learned this firsthand as a young boy growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland. My parents, Alex and June McLellan, were unchurched and non-Christian. By the time I was three years old, my sister Paula and I joined the long list of children whose families had been fragmented by divorce. However, a few years later my parents became Christians, radically changed for the better and decided to get remarried—to each other. Witnessing this transformation got my attention and encouraged me to commit my life to Jesus Christ.

If Christianity is real, change is important, but I came to understand that change is not enough. The ultimate question is not “does it work?” but “is it true?” In my teenage years I wrestled with this question until an absence of answers made it easier to drift away from God, and this steady slide continued until difficult circumstances drew me back to faith. The sharp edges of life remind us that we cannot put off until tomorrow what we need to do today. I knew I had to decide where I stood in relation to God and his Son, Jesus Christ. I needed to switch my attention from the missing pieces of the puzzle to what I believed about the big picture. I realized my faith still stood—and stood strong—because it rang true. Therefore I was responsible to do something about it, and I wholeheartedly recommitted my life to Christ.

C.S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christian writers of the twentieth century, said, “If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?”1 I knew the danger of this, so I was determined to do whatever it took to strengthen my belief and add weight to the anchor in my soul: to know what I believed and the reasons I believed it. This was the first step on a lifelong journey. I knew I needed God’s help, so like the man in Mark’s Gospel I prayed, “[Lord,] I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24).

Today I am the founder and executive director of Reason Why International, traveling broadly to speak at churches, universities, schools, camps, conferences and a variety of outreach events and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. What changed? My overwhelming conviction that Christianity is true! How did this happen? I was not zapped by a supernatural bolt of understanding. Rather, I learned many good reasons to believe that a biblical perspective provides the right framework for life and resonates with reality.

Be Prepared to See It

Imagine the wonder of waking up every morning knowing you have discovered the meaning of life—and that it is good news. What would you do? Who would you tell? It may sound too good to be true, but this should be the confident claim of every Christian. Followers of Jesus Christ hold a belief that is supernaturally signed and sealed, but it is also a faith anchored in the real world. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has defended this message in some of the most prestigious religious, academic and political settings around the world. He notes, “God has a script. He has spoken of it in His Scriptures. Finding the script moves us closer to solving the mystery.”2

Life is mysterious, but God’s natural revelation is designed to shine light on the truth and point us in the direction of his supernatural revelation (Rom 1:20Ps 19:1). As author Paul Little has said, “God expects us to believe in him based on comprehensible evidence. He gives us intelligent and logical reasons. He is saying, ‘Look at the natural world, even the universe or your own body and you will have ample evidence for belief.’”3

G.K. Chesterton is one of my favorite authors. A prolific and engaging writer, he has been described as a man of colossal genius, and his classic work Orthodoxy powerfully captures the role of reason in his journey to Christian faith. It also discusses the limits of responsibility when it comes to sharing one’s faith with others: “It is the purpose of the writer to attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it.”4 As a Christian, I am responsible to share why I believe what I believe with those who are willing to listen. I cannot make anyone believe anything, nor should I try. Yet like Chesterton I firmly believe that ultimate answers are within the reach of everyone who is prepared to look for them with open eyes and an open mind. We will never exhaust the wonders of this world but we can still grasp—and gasp at—the significance of the big picture.

Whenever we are disillusioned by missing pieces of the puzzle or parts that don’t seem to fit, we can turn our attention to things that do snap into place. There is a basic level of revelation that allows everyone to grasp something of the wonder of this world without ever exhausting the depths of knowledge available. Chesterton demonstrates this paradox powerfully: “The good news is so simple a child can understand it at once, and so subtle that the greatest intellects never quite get to the bottom of it.”5 We will never complete the puzzle of this world, but people of all ages and stages can do enough to see the big picture, and the jigsaw puzzle provides a simple mechanism that drives home this wonderful reality. 

A Strategy That Comes Naturally 

Earlier I described how my daughter was able to look at the jumbled pieces of a Cinderella puzzle and snap them into place. But what if she was able to do this only because she had seen the box? Sophia may have switched her attention to the puzzle pieces, yet it’s possible she was relying on her previous exposure to the picture to guide her. In real life we don’t have this advantage; we are not granted direct access to life’s big picture— which is the reason many people are so confused. And any illustration that offers hope of making sense of the real world must take this into consideration. 

Jigsaw 2.0. 

Let’s consider a situation where Sophia is confronted by a puzzle and hasn’t had access to the big picture. We’ll call this illustration jigsaw 2.0. Let’s say there was a mix-up at the factory and the Cinderella puzzle pieces were placed in a box with a picture of Sleeping Beauty on it. Sophia is given the jigsaw, but she does not have the picture on the box to guide her. Even worse, she doesn’t know she’s contending with the wrong box. This would be a frustrating experience, and the disparity would encourage her to eventually forget about the box and focus entirely on the puzzle pieces. What is curious—and crucial—is we would expect her to find a way to snap important pieces into place, perhaps enough to see the big picture begin to emerge.

Still, while Sophia lacks the right picture in her hand, she still has the right picture in her mind. She’s already familiar with Cinderella. Perhaps through sheer luck she stumbles on the fact that this is what the jigsaw represents. If so, her progress from that point on will still owe everything to having the right guide, albeit one planted in her mind rather than painted on a box. If this explains the outcome, then once again the illustration loses its luster. Skeptics will contend that in real life we don’t have access to the big picture—one painted on a box or planted in our mind.

Jigsaw 3.0.

We need to anticipate this objection and undercut it by going straight to jigsaw 3.0. This time Sophia is given a blank box with a Dinderella puzzle inside. (Dinderella is my imaginary addition to the princess hall of fame; I’m willing to develop her if Disney shows an interest.) Sophia has no previous knowledge of this character. There is no concrete image to guide her—in her mind or on a box. Yet we would still expect her to find a way to fit things together. Examining the broken puzzle would take more time, but she could still snap important pieces into place. With patience and perseverance, Sophia would do enough to start to glimpse the big picture, discovering the general nature of this new character without knowing her name or what she looks like, and this suggests that something else is going on.

Sophia has a basic level of understanding about the world—prior knowledge of the way princesses (or people) are and ought to be—and this helps her recognize particular patterns that stand out and fit together. She never really starts with a clean slate or works with a blank canvas; she has a fuzzy familiarity that allows her to look at a broken puzzle and naturally put pieces together. This admission does not undermine the jigsaw approach to making sense of the world. In fact, it provides the transition we need to illustrate why it works.

Sophia can look at a broken puzzle with a sense of the way things are and ought to be, and the jigsaw analogy suggests that we look at the world the same way. We do not start out in life with a clean slate, nor do we work with a blank canvas. We have a fuzzy familiarity with the world that helps us see that it is broken, and this allows us to put important pieces back together. There may be no concrete image in our minds to guide us, but there is a degree of awareness that makes particular pieces of the puzzle stand out and get our attention. Whether it’s Cinderella, Dinderella or making sense of the world, we have a basic ability to snap a number of important things into place, and if we can do enough to see the big picture we will have good reason to believe we know the truth.5

Digging Deeper 

You don’t have to dig too deep to remind people that they do know some things are and ought to be, and some things ought not to be. But reason is never enough to convince those determined to resist a particular conclusion. I once spoke at a high school conference on ethical issues and one student was eager to speak to me afterward. He rejected my defense of absolute moral values, defiantly stating, “It all depends on the situation.” I said I appreciated that there are gray areas when it comes to ethics, adding, “But surely we can know that particular acts—for example, the torture of innocent children for fun—are absolutely wrong.” He hesitated before shaking his head. “I couldn’t say it was absolutely wrong.” This kind of steely determination to turn away from an objective moral value, one that slaps us in the face, was disturbing, but he was ready to do what was necessary to keep up the pretense of his moral autonomy.

The encounter reminded me of a story told by one of my philosophy professors. J. P. Moreland is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, and he once had a similar dialogue with a student who was holding tight to everyone’s right to do what they want. Eventually J. P. pretended to end the conversation and walk away, stopping only long enough to pick up the student’s music player on his way out the door. As the young man rose to his feet in protest, J. P. paused and asked why this was a problem.6 In practice we do not really support everyone’s right to do what they want, but we like to superficially suggest it whenever it’s convenient, using it as a thinly veiled warning for people to leave us alone.

Identifying examples of absolute right and absolute wrong is a powerful way to start talking about things that really matter. We can make a good case for the way the world ought to be and ought not to be. It is worth sounding a note of caution: this will take us into sensitive areas, so we need to tread carefully—but the fact is we need to tread. There is a natural order that we can recognize, standards above and beyond us that serve as an ultimate guide to putting things right. Even Greek philosopher Plato said, “In heaven … there is laid up a pattern for it, methinks, which he who desires may behold, and beholding, may set his own house in order.”7 So our goal should be to discern and learn from this heavenly sense of direction, snapping things into place on earth so we can see the big picture and start living in light of the truth.

The challenge is that every religion claims to grant such heavenly insight, and many peer groups will pull together to defend what is common sense, at least to them. They may even point to a few pieces of the puzzle that seem to go together and support their view. A small sample of life can give you a glimpse of the big picture but it can also distort it, and when someone has drifted off course we need to try to steer them back in the right direction. Raising questions and reflecting on critical issues encourages people to stand back and take stock, and we can share the reasons we believe our worldview fills in critical gaps and captures the big picture better than anything else. Our goal is to arrive at that “Eureka!” moment when someone starts to make sense of the world. But a number of obstacles stand in the way.

The First Obstacle: A Random World 

If you were presented with a completely random assortment of broken puzzle pieces, there would be no point trying to fit things together. You could amuse yourself by creating pretty patterns, but there would be nothing reasonable or rational for you to discover. The first obstacle relates to the fact that some people look at the world the same way and come to the same conclusion. Influential atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950, and he famously said we are simply “the accidental outcome of a collocation of atoms.”8 If this is true, the world is only a random collection of broken parts that will not make sense in any satisfying way, and it’s not worth the effort to look for ultimate answers when the world is the result of cosmic disorder. But it’s worth considering how an accidental outcome of a collocation of atoms is able to figure out that he is an accidental outcome of a collocation of atoms. As John Gray has argued, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true … the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth,”9 and the outworking of atheism is that “humans cannot be other than irrational. Curiously, this is a conclusion that few rationalists have been ready to accept.”10 Gray has written several books on politics and philosophy, and his honesty about the logical consequences of atheism is admirable, particularly since he seems to hold an atheistic outlook on life.11One cannot help but wonder about the self-defeating nature of Russell’s statement. Chesterton remarked on this kind of curiosity (with a smile, I am sure): “Descartes said, ‘I think; therefore I am!’ The philosophic evolutionist reverses and negates this epigram. He says, ‘I am not; therefore I cannot think.’”12 However, let us be gracious and give Russell (and Gray?) the benefit of the doubt, thinking for a moment about this natural perspective, since it drives the anchor of the first obstacle deep into the ground.

Seeing the world without God’s glasses means seeing reality as a random array of broken bits and pieces and, as a consequence, our lives as insignificant pieces of a meaningless puzzle. This worldview has special prominence in our culture. Indeed, it shapes many people’s outlook on life, and if it’s true, we are simply the byproduct of a cosmic accident. I enjoy standing up in schools and being open and honest about what this means for young people today: You are a grown-up germ! What surprises me is that a secular education that preaches this with such passion wrinkles its collective forehead when students take it to heart and start acting like it. We rebuke rowdy students for behaving like animals—after indoctrinating them with the belief that they are animals. What should we expect from an evolved bacterium that has learned to survive by selfishly promoting its own ends and eradicating everything that stands in its way?

Despite this embarrassing ancestry, atheists still like to inject meaning into a meaningless existence, as the Philosopher’s Magazine cofounder Julian Baggini demonstrates: “What most atheists do believe is that although there is only one kind of stuff in the universe and it is physical, out of this stuff comes minds, beauty, emotions, moral values—in short the full gamut of phenomena that gives richness to human life.”13 A natural ability to recognize this world of wonders comes as no surprise to those who hold a Christian worldview, but the real issue is that a godless perspective has no philosophical justification for it. In other words, Baggini et al. are writing existential checks their worldview cannot cash.

I am thrilled when people have an opportunity to hear what atheism has to say, particularly when Christians can stand on the same platform and point out the logical consequences of this worldview. Atheism results in a world where there is no basis for rationality, human beings have no intrinsic value, life has no absolute meaning, and there is no hope for the future—all beliefs that strike us as deeply problematic. It is not just that these conclusions are uncomfortable; they completely contradict our experience and fall short of our expectations.

The idea that the world is meaningless does not sit comfortably with us, and this should raise a red flag. To suggest that we are simply an insignificant part of a meaningless picture troubles us and reveals something very important. We do not live like this is true, we do not want to live like this is true, and we are unable to live like this is true. So it is worth considering why we should believe this is true when we seem to be wired for so much more. Turn your attention for a moment to the Christian worldview and you discover there is a basis for rationality, every person has absolute value, life has real meaning, and there is hope for the future. When you discover that a number of important arrows are pointing in one direction, it makes sense to pay attention. Atheism, on the other hand, seems to be pointing us in the wrong direction. We need to engage those whose minds have been subtly saturated by this way of thinking to share the reasons it does not fit and is not true. Christians are called to invest their hearts, minds and souls in meeting this challenge, and when we share the good news it is tremendously exciting to see eternal hope rise from the ashes of ultimate despair.

G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis unmask the insufficiency of a godless worldview grounded in meaninglessness, pointing out, “Christian optimism is based on the fact that we do not fit this world,”14 and “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”15 We are born with the expectation that the world ought to make sense, life really means something, and we live in hope of finding ultimate answers. Naturalism, curiously enough, does not come naturally, and despite the pressure of a secular society that indirectly promotes these “values,” our internal compass stubbornly steers us in another direction. This overcomes the suggestion that there is no point in trying to make sense of the world—there is—or that we have no hope of finding ultimate answers—we do. So we are ready to move on and consider the next obstacle to a jigsaw guide to making sense of the world: what about the picture on the box?

The Second Obstacle: A World Without A Box 

There are generally two ways to tackle a jigsaw puzzle: top-down and bottom-up. The top-down method is when you start with a big picture and search for puzzle pieces that correspond to it. The bottom-up approach is when you immediately start trying to snap the puzzle pieces into place. Typically you employ both methods at the same time, but when it comes to solving the puzzle of the world we will consider each in turn. The top-down approach overcomes the second obstacle (a world without a box), and we will return to the bottom-up approach when we focus on the third obstacle (a world of broken pieces).

The beauty of the top-down approach is that it addresses the concerns of someone who looks at life and wonders how to find the right guide to making sense of the world. Many people assume we live in a world without the box, yet many others are looking for the right box to fit this world. Look around and you see that there is no lack of ultimate guides on offer, but how do you know which one is the right one—if any of them are? The best way to begin is to choose one and put it to the test. Every worldview claims to paint the big picture, representing the right way to see the real world; therefore it should connect with life’s broken pieces. The more it corresponds to critical things that stand out in this world, the more we will be inclined to believe it is accurate—and truly reflects the big picture. So when you hear someone say we cannot make sense of the world because we cannot be sure we have the right guide, ask them: why not try one to see how it measures up?

All individuals have a worldview, whether or not they realize it, and it’s possible to put your worldview to the test to see what it’s made of. No one can boast of twenty-twenty vision when it comes to making sense of the world, but we can discover the extent of our shortsightedness. Francis Schaeffer was a Christian author and speaker who was responsible for starting L’Abri Fellowship, a community that has grown into an international network of study centers for those seeking answers to life’s ultimate questions. He noted, “People’s presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring forth into the external world. Their presuppositions also provide a basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions. ‘As a man thinketh, so is he.’”16Internal forces are at work that taint the way we see things, so we do not approach the world directly as a blank slate, or tabula rasa,17 but neither do we have the power to “create a world or environment from scratch and then live in it,” says R. C. Sproul. “Rather we step into a world and culture that already exists, and we learn to interact with it.”18There is an objective world out there, existing in spite of us and independent from us. And while some things are out of focus and out of reach, there are times when we can directly engage with the world and see it as it is.

We all have a worldview, but this does not mean we are locked in to a particular perspective. Any disconnect between what we expect and what we experience will raise the question: does my worldview really measure up? Earlier I pointed out the hollow outcome of viewing the human race as a byproduct of a chemical collision, and some people even suggest that it more closely resembles a virus. “The human species is now so numerous as to constitute a serious planetary malady … a plague of people.”19 If this big picture is true, our lives do not add up to much. Those who hold to naturalism do not shout this from the rooftops but it is the logical outworking of their worldview. It presents the picture on the box and suggests that it is up to us (or others) whether to assign value to human existence. We should be thankful that most atheists who hold this view do not practice what they preach.

Those with the power to promote this kind of godless ideology have demonstrated how damaging it can be. The pages of human history were deeply stained when Hitler attached his political ambition to a philosophy inspired by the writings of atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche preached Darwin’s survival of the fittest, arguing that our creed should be to ensure the evolution of human beings and the realization of their full potential through the “will to power.”20 Hitler embraced this ideology and put it into practice, combining it with his Darwinian ideals focused on survival of the strong.21 When people talk about survival of the fittest, they tend to forget the other side of the coin: eradication of the weak.22 Hitler did not, and six million people lost their lives when they were deemed worse than worthless and weeded out of the human gene pool.

Many of Darwin’s defenders argue that any social application of his theories is a misapplication, but on what basis? How can you defend the red tooth and claw of the animal kingdom and then suggest that it does not apply to us? Peter Singer is an ethicist from Princeton University who would argue that this is simply speciesism: “a prejudice or attitude of bias toward the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of another species.”23Naturalism is a worldview that runs into trouble when we try to use it consistently as a guide to life, and our persistent belief in human life as absolutely valuable is a serious stumbling block to its success. It presents the kind of big picture that does not make sense of the world, others or ourselves, and this is a good reason to reject it and look for another to take its place.

The Christian worldview presents a radically different top-down approach. Rather than undermine the belief that human life is absolutely valuable, the biblical perspective promotes it and provides a reasonable basis for it. Every human being is made by God, for God and in the image of God. This means every person is stamped with absolute value, and it is not up to us to assign value to human beings or take it away. This cornerstone of Christian belief has motivated acts of kindness and sacrifice throughout history. Jesus himself set the ultimate standard of altruism by giving everything—literally—for everyone else. This is the kind of behavior that is generally lauded and applauded, deemed to be a good thing, even described as something we ought to do—but why? A popular cosmetics company coined a phrase that inadvertently answers this question and captures the ethos of the Christian worldview: “Because you’re worth it!”

The value of human life, in real terms, is one of the most fundamental issues we can address, and to dismiss the fact that Christianity explains it and sustains it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. We cannot deny that there are difficult pieces of the puzzle, whatever our worldview, but the jigsaw encourages us to build on the things that do make sense and do the best we can fitting the other pieces together. If we have enough pieces in place, we can be confident we know the truth.

The Third Obstacle: A World of Broken Pieces 

We now turn our attention to the third obstacle, switching to a bottom-up approach to making sense of the world. Instead of starting with the picture on the box that represents a particular worldview, we focus directly on the broken pieces of life to see whether anything stands out and gets our attention.

Just as you can look at an ordinary puzzle and pick out corners, straight edges, and colorful details, so we can naturally identify things in the real world that help us understand more about life and see it in its true context. This chapter has already considered the belief that human beings are absolutely valuable, working from the top down, and we seem to know this is true from the bottom up, without referring to a big picture. There is something special about a person that sets him or her apart from other physical things, and our natural ability to recognize this helps us build a worldview that resembles reality.

Another important piece of the puzzle that stands out and shapes our understanding relates to the world and where it came from. Consider the origin of the universe. There is good reason to believe the universe started to exist, and if it did, then the universe must have a cause.24 The universe could not have brought itself into existence, since it was not around at the time, so we need to posit the existence of something outside the universe, to be responsible. While this sounds reasonable, it is often viewed as fighting talk among those who have closed their minds to such a possibility.

When you hear the statement “the universe came into existence from nothing,” you cannot assume that truly means nothing. I encountered serious equivocation on this issue in a debate at the National Law Library of Scotland. Pointing out the problem with a universe that came into existence from nothing without a cause, one of my opponents, a physics teacher, accused me of ignorance: “You don’t understand what nothing is. If you know a bit of physics, nothing is not nothing, it’s things emerging in and out of existence.”25 I could counter that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. The belief that things can “emerge in and out of existence” moves beyond the test tube, since we have no physical apparatus to confirm something is out of existence, and if you mean what you say it is always better to say what you mean.

Yet many people, some physicists included, will do anything to resist the conclusion that something exists outside the physical universe. Equivocation is employed to balance the scientific evidence that suggests the universe started from nothing with a philosophical presupposition that nothing can exist outside the physical universe—to start it. In other words, you can talk about a big bang while refusing to concede there had to be a big banger. The statement “the universe started from nothing” must be subtly manipulated in light of the profound consequences. Otherwise you are effectively admitting something (or someone) incredibly powerful (and personal) was responsible. As Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s giants of science, has admitted, “Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.”26

Working from the bottom up, we know that human life is absolutely valuable, a universe that began to exist must have a cause, and particular human actions and attitudes seem to be right, that is, consider the belief that we ought to have a basic level of respect for other people. This moral value has not always been promoted, but wherever it has gone wrong it has resulted in serious damage until powerful forces emerged to try to put it right. It seems to be the way things ought to be. Philosophers may debate the merits of objective morality, but I take comfort from the fact that those who deny it continue to demonstrate it. Michel Foucault was a twentieth-century French philosopher, one of the leading lights in a movement to break free from absolute moral values, yet he could not restrain himself in reacting to the immorality of France’s war in Algeria.27 This brought him into conflict with others who shared his worldview, as they knew he was undermining his own position by indirectly suggesting we can make sense of the world and recognize the way things ought to be.

As you start putting the pieces together to make sense of this broken world, the first thing to do is always the thing to do first: start with what you do know. I was granted the opportunity to do this at the Scottish Parliament, and my confidence was not based on the belief that I know it all (I do not know it all, and I know that I don’t). I was prepared to share because I knew I could put the pieces together and make a cumulative case for the truth and reasonableness of the Christian worldview. There remain many, many things that I do not know, but what I do know clearly stands out.

Consider the universe—where did it come from? I believe in God because something from someone is more probable than something from nothing.

Consider Jesus of Nazareth—a man who lived in a remote place with little money, no political power and no military might. He never wrote a book, taught for only three years and yet turned the history of the world upside-down. I believe that the life, teaching and impact of Jesus Christ confirms he is the Son of God. Consider our experience—a desire for significance in a universe where we are less than a speck, a desire for relationship in a world that is socially broken and fragmented, and a desire for permanence in a life that is fleeting. I believe the Bible makes sense when it says we were made by God (significance), we were created to know God (relationship) and God wants us to spend eternity with him (permanence). As G. K. Chesterton said, the fact that we do not fit this world is the best evidence that we were made for another world, and Christianity offers the reason why.

It’s fascinating that in such a diverse and complex world we share an amazing level of agreement about the way the world is and ought to be. Not that we agree on everything or automatically rubber-stamp whatever appears to be the consensus. Consensus (or what we believe the consensus to be) can often take us in the wrong direction. However, particular beliefs persist and seem to have a transcendent quality; they deserve our special attention. For example, those who experience the bitter taste of injustice feel a searing pain that suggests something significant: the reversal of a universal standard. As Chesterton observed, “Reason and justice grip the remotest and the loneliest star…. On plains of opal, under cliffs cut out of pearl, you would still find a notice-board, ‘Thou shall not steal!’”28 C. S. Lewis extended this thought when he remarked, “Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five.”29 In cases where such “universal” standards break down, we generally believe these countercultures to be the result of a broken understanding, and this is reinforced when those who hold such views are willing to reject them in favor of embracing another way of looking at the world.30

The Fourth Obstacle: A World Out of Reach 

We can empathize with those who think making sense of the world is a pointless exercise. The scale of the problem can be overwhelming, and that’s why some people choose to stand back and hold their head in their hands. When we don’t know what to do, sometimes it’s easier to do nothing. However, a jigsaw guide helps us overcome the fourth obstacle, grasping a world that seems out of reach. The answer? Think big by starting small. Do not be daunted; just look for the next piece of the puzzle. Take hold of what stands out in this world and then consider what comes next.

There’s a good illustration of this in the movie What About Bob? The main character, played by Bill Murray, suffers from numerous phobias and visits a respected psychiatrist who helps him move toward recovery by introducing him to his latest book, Baby Steps. Suddenly all of Bob’s greatest fears are reduced to bite-sized chunks, small enough to swallow, and he’s able to move forward and overcome them (here’s the comic twist) by breaking everything down into baby steps. When Bob leaves the psychiatrist’s office he doesn’t know how he’ll get home, but he’s willing to put one foot in front of the other, which is enough to get him where he needs to go. If we are going to make sense of the world we need to take it one step at a time. Think big by starting small, and put the pieces in place one at a time.

What does this look like? Take one important piece we’ve already identified: a universe that started to exist needs a cause. This raises the next question, or presents the next piece of the puzzle: what kind of cause? The universe that exists is incredibly ordered and complex, which makes it hard to believe that it’s the result of unguided forces.31 While it is possible that such a finely tuned universe is the accidental outcome of a cosmic explosion, science—as well as our own experience—tells us that order does not tend to come from disorder.32 Therefore, it is more reasonable to believe that some kind of intelligence is responsible, so we can fit these two things together and get a better idea about the big picture: our universe was created by an intelligence that is out of this world.

I remember meeting a medical doctor who surprised me when he said, “Hemoglobin encouraged me to believe in God.” The function of this protein in our blood shouted purpose and design, loud enough to get his attention. Even among those who eventually go a different direction, many are willing to admit that the evidence initially supports this conclusion.33 Much in this world strongly suggests that an intelligent agent is necessary to make sense of it all, and with every piece that fits together there is more reason to believe it is true.

It is exciting when you use a jigsaw guide to making sense of the world and start to see things taking shape, and I enjoy turning to popular atheist Richard Dawkins to reinforce the way things seem to fit together. A scientist with a gift for communicating with the general public, Dawkins seems to have taken on responsibility for shooting down the reasonable foundation for all religious belief. Yet even in his book The God Delusion he cannot deny the remarkable truth that the planet earth resides in “the Goldilocks zone.” In the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, the little girl wanders into the forest and ends up in the home of three bears. She decides to sample the three bowls of porridge on the table. The first bowl is too hot, the second too cold, so she turns to the last bowl and exclaims it is just right! This picture of perfection has been used to describe the earth’s position in relation to the sun, since “it is not too hot and not too cold, but just right.”34 Hence the Goldilocks zone. The science behind this is incredibly complex, and while Dawkins and others try to put it down to unbelievable good fortune on our part,35 the probability of this naturally occurring—as the product of unguided forces—is off the chart. 36

For a scientist who should always make an inference to the best explanation, Dawkins seems determined to believe in anything but God. But for those who are more open-minded there should be a growing sense that something else is going on: someone or something out there must be responsible for it all. The Goldilocks zone is a great piece of this broken world that stands out and gets our attention.

This kind of revelation stirs a sense of excitement in my soul. People are not condemned to look at the stars and wonder, “Is anybody out there?” We can make sense of the world and begin to see things clearly. There are good reasons to believe that life and intelligence out there are responsible for what we see down here. Do not look at the world and be overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. Take baby steps toward finding the solution. Think big by starting small.

Other Barriers 

Christianity is entirely reasonable and we need to share good reasons to believe it, but making the intellectual case clears away only one level of obstacles. There are still reasons to reject the big picture, and among the most powerful are moral, emotional and spiritual reasons.

Moral resistance: Multiple barriers stand in the way of someone hearing, understanding and embracing the Christian worldview. So when it comes to knowing how much is enough to see the big picture, Christians are responsible only to prayerfully and practically do their best and trust God to take care of the rest. We need to live as a good example of the truth, speak in a way that makes people think about the truth, and allow God to deal with the heart of the matter—the matter of the heart. 37

Jesus understood this better than anyone, and he exposed the underlying obstacles in his conversation with a rich young ruler (Mt 19:16-22). This man appeared to be ready to follow Jesus, having overcome the intellectual obstacles and realizing he spoke the truth; however, his instructions to “go sell your possessions and give to the poor” identified the greater issue and the real stumbling block. Instead of doing what Jesus asked, the man turned and walked away. You do not have to be rich to count the cost of following Christ because we all understand the aversion to giving up what we cling to in life. God requires us to let go and let him take control, while we are determined to hang on to our life with white knuckles. Moral obstacles are often what really stand in the way of people embracing the truth of the Christian worldview, and when this is the case no reason to believe will ever be good enough.

Hitting back in hurt: Emotions are another powerful force at work in our lives, and when we have been deeply wounded in some way it is not unusual to take this out on God. I have read the arguments of some of Christianity’s fiercest critics, and what they lack in substance they generally make up for with rage or sarcasm. A degree of knowledge about God can encourage this response, because God has revealed that he chooses to make himself vulnerable to our actions and attitudes; people can cause God pain (Gen 6:6Eph 4:30). Among those who resist him the most are those trying to hurt him the best. C. S. Lewis was reflecting on his own experience when he said, “All that stuff about the cosmic sadist was not so much the expression of thought as of hatred. I was getting from it the only pleasure a man in anguish can get; the pleasure of hitting back.”38 

Other people may be less vindictive but equally scarred by life’s circumstances. They would rather resist God if it means they can hold on to their pain or anger. Christianity offers forgiveness from God, but it also demands that we be willing to forgive others (and ourselves). When the greater attraction is holding a grudge against those responsible for our deepest hurts, emotional barriers will stand between us and doing what it takes to embrace the Christian worldview.

Spiritual blindness: Another obstacle that leads to resistance, perhaps starting out as a moral or emotional barrier, is spiritual blindness. The Bible says everyone has a natural inclination to resist God’s truth and revelation in the world (Jn 3:19-20), so you could say we are all spiritually shortsighted. No one can see the truth until God supernaturally makes the truth known. However, some people persist in denying God’s revelation (and prompting) for so long that their hearts become hardened (Ps 95:8Heb 3:8). This is not irrevocable, since God will open eyes and reveal the truth to all those who genuinely seek it (Jer 29:12-13), but when spiritual blindness stands in the way there is nothing more you can do or say but pray.

When I was a student at seminary I found a part-time job gardening for a retired couple, and while the lady was very warm and friendly to me her husband had a strong revulsion toward Christianity. It was intense in a way I had never witnessed before. I could not even raise the subject of my studies without him hardening his expression and turning away, as if something seized him from within. There was no willingness to discuss anything related to the Christian worldview, and he made me think of a seafarer determined to remain onboard as captain of his ship even when that ship was sinking. The tragedy was that this man wasn’t in good health, and in real terms his ship was sinking, but he seemed determined to grit his teeth and resist anything I could do or say.

While I look back on this I regret never breaking through this barrier to talk about things that really matter, but I take heart from the fact that no one is out of reach of the truth. In fact, the apostle Paul, one of the greatest ambassadors of the Christian message, started out as one of its fiercest opponents. A violent persecutor of Christians, he was determined to eradicate Christian faith from the world, and there is no natural explanation for why his life completely turned around. That is why Paul’s conversion has been long regarded as a substantial evidence for the truth of.39 I can only hope that the power of God was at work in this man’s life too, able to turn things around in time.

The best worldview is always the one that resonates with reality. While some people automatically rule out anything supernatural, there is no valid reason to do so—without demonstrating an antisupernatural bias. We should be open to natural and supernatural explanations as we try to make sense of the world, and the Christian worldview draws from both realms to put the pieces together. Seeing the big picture is never enough for someone to embrace Christianity and follow Jesus Christ; however, demonstrating that it is the best way to make sense of the world will do three important things: those who grasp it will have reason to hold on to it, those who seek truth will have reason to consider it, and those who reject it will have reason to regret it (and hopefully take time to reconsider).

Putting the Pieces Together 

G. K. Chesterton became convinced that Christianity was true and reflective of the real world based on “an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts.”40 Certainly Chesterton’s faith was built on more than his intellect, but this reasonable foundation gave him tremendous confidence in the truth of the gospel and enabled him to successfully share his faith with others. Chesterton effectively used a jigsaw guide to making sense of the world to anchor his belief and undercut popular arguments that life’s big questions were too hard or too heavy. On the contrary, ultimate answers are available, and while people have different levels of access to the world there is sufficient evidence—within the world and within us—to point us in the right direction (see Rom 1:20). Identify things that stand out in the world, start putting the pieces together, and when you have enough pieces of the puzzle in place you can be confident that you see the big picture.

A jigsaw guide to making sense of the world will not answer every question, but it will help you start putting the pieces together so you can make sense of this broken world and see the big picture. Listen before you leap into a conversation that counts, learn to talk about things that really matter and be prepared to share the reason why the Christian worldview resonates with reality.

____________________

Alex McLellan is founder and executive director of Reason Why International and serves as an associate with RZIM Europe.

1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Scribner, 1952), 109.

2 Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2000), 128.

3 Paul Little, How to Give Away Your Faith, 2nd ed. (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 22.

4 G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Colorado Springs, CO: Shaw Books, 2001), xxiii.

5 A jigsaw guide to making sense of the world could be described as “exploratory particularism.” See Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, ed., J. P. Moreland & William Lane Craig (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 99-102.

6 J.P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress 1997), 153.

7 Plato, “Knowledge and Virtue” in Great Traditions in Ethics, ed. Theodore Denise, Sheldon Peterfreund and Nicholas White (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999), 21.

8 Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Why I Am Not A Christianed. Paul Edwards (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957), 107.

9 John Gray, Straw Dogs, 3rd ed. (London: Granta Publications, 2003), 26.

10Ibid., 28.

11Ibid., xi.

12Orthodoxy, 43.

13 Julian Baggini, Atheism: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 6.

14 Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 116.

15Mere Christianity, 106.

16 Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1976), 19.

17 John Locke, the seventeenth -century British philosopher, coined this term to describe the belief that the mind at birth is a blank tablet and the only input is ideas of sensation and reflection. See Nicholas P. Wolterstorff, “The Essay” in Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophyed. Robert Audi, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 506.

18 R.C. Sproul, The Consequences of Ideas(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2000), 9.

19 Gray (quoting James Lovelock), Straw Dogs, 6.

20 Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Transvaluation of Values” in Ethical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings, ed. Louis P. Pojman, 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1998), 161-168.

21 “The Fuhrer exhorted them to have no mercy. ‘Might is right.’” See John Toland, Adolf Hitler (New York: First Anchor Books Edition, 1992), 544.

22 “Over and over he preached his pseudo-Darwinist sermon of nature’s way: conquest of the weak by the strong.” Ibid., 226.

23 Peter Singer, “All Animals Are Equal,” Morality and Moral Controversiesed. John Arthur, 5th ed., (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall 1981), 134.

24 This presents one form of the cosmological argument for the existence of God.

25 One of my opponents, a physics teacher, made this statement during a debate at the National Law Library in Edinburgh, Scotland, October 2009.

26 Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time(New York: Bantam, 1998), 49.

27 James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 185.

28 G.K. Chesterton, The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown (New York: Dover Publications, 1998), 35.

29Mere Christianity, 5.

30 See Don Richardson, Peace Child (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2005) and Lords of the Earth (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2008) as good examples of those standards that generally reflect a broken society in need of repair.

31 “The theistic conclusion is not logically coercive, but it can claim serious consideration as an intellectually satisfying understanding of what would otherwise be unintelligible good fortune.” John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press 1998), 10.

32 The second law of thermodynamics, or the law of entropy, confirms that order tends towards disorder.

33 “The process that Darwin discovered … does all the work of explaining the means/ends economy of biological nature that shouts out ‘purpose’ or ‘design’ at us.” See “The Disenchanted Naturalist’s Guide to Reality,” On the Human: A project of the National Humanities Center, www.onthehuman.org/2009/11/the-disenchanted-naturalists-guide-to-reality.

34 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion(London: Bantam Press, 2006), 135.

35Ibid., 140.

36 John Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (Oxford, England: Lion Books 2007), 69.

37 I use the word heart in the biblical sense—that is it applies to the essence of the whole person, not simply the emotions.

38 C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (New York: Harper One, 2001), p.52.

39 F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 76.

40Orthodoxy, 216.

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Humanism is the primary modern philosophical enemy of Christianity. Even so, most Christians know little, if anything about it – what it is, or how it functions. The term “humanism” has been around since the Renaissance, although only recently has the man on the street began to use it. Many who do use the term do not sufficiently understand its ideals and concepts.

To help clarify this lack of understanding, “humanism” and some of its related terms will be defined within their historical and philosophical contexts and some short working philosophical definitions of modern humanism will be given. Humanism will be shown to be a method for making decisions. Major philosophical concepts of humanism will be briefly noted, after which terms that modify humanism will be discussed. Finally the seriousness of humanism will be demonstrated by noting its progress in its opposition to Christianity.

Humanistic Terms Often Need Clarification

Humanism is often confusing to people because the primary meanings of many of its basic words have changed. Humanism is often associated with related words such as “humanist,” “humane,” “humanities,” and “humanitarian.” Words may sometimes have dual meanings. However, their primary meanings are generally consistent with the time period in which they are used. Modern humanism frequently promotes its acceptance by utilizing confusion created by words that have dual meanings. A proper understanding of humanism requires knowledge of how a particular word is used within its historical or philosophical context. The original meanings of words related to humanism are generally best understood within their historical context. The current meanings of these words are generally best understood within their philosophical context.

Humanism

Although “humanism” is a philosophical, religious and moral point of view as old as human civilization itself,”[2] and although “humanism traces its roots from ancient China, classical Greece and Rome, through the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment to the scientific revolution of the modern world,”[3] the primary impetus toward the development of modern humanism comes from the Renaissance era, and was strongly re-enforced by the so-called age of Enlightenment.

Petrarch (1304-1374) is considered to be “the father of the new humanism.”[4] A steady stream of professional humanists came after Petrarch. For Petrarch and his peers, humanism meant veneration for the works of ancient humanity, especially the literature of Greece and Rome. Although the content of humanistic studies at first included early church history, Renaissance humanism clearly emphasized non-Christian literature.

Humanist

Most humanists of the early Renaissance, being Catholic, would have claimed themselves to be Christians. Strictly speaking, a “humanist” then was a scholar who engaged in the study of “humane” literature. It was then called “profane” to distinguish it from biblical literature. The “humane” literature then studied was primarily the classical Greek and Latin languages and the ancient non-Christian literary documents written in those languages. Since these scholars studied primarily the “humane” literary works of humanity, their studies were categorically referred to as the “humanities”.

The word “humanists” during the Renaissance era simply described an individual who was a student of humane literature. Although a “humanist” may still be a student of humane literature, the term today does not necessarily refer to a student of humanities. That’s because as Renaissance humanists studied ancient humane literature, they began to accept the beliefs, values, and concepts they read from non-Christian literature. It was not long until they came to prefer a sort of human autonomy rooted in the belief that man is his own judge – totally independent from God. God was either removed from their portraits of reality, or God was placed in the far distant background, and man was positioned at center stage.

Because humanists rejected God in practical matters, the word “humanist” came to mean not only one who studied ancient works of humanity, but also one who believed ancient non-Christian human ideals and values. Whereas the word “humanist” had originally designated what a person did, it came in time to designate what a person believed. The word “humanist” may now describe one who is not even a student of the humanities, but who nonetheless believes those concepts that have come to public consciousness from “humane” literature.

Humanities

The study of humanities for university students today differs from the study of humanities by Renaissance humanists. University students today generally read modern translations of ancient literary words such as Homer’s Illiad and The Odyssey, and the Latin works by Ovid and Virgil, etc., although they do not generally study these works in their original languages. Moreover humanities as studied by modern university students is not limited to literature. Rather, the study of humanities generally includes many other type works of humanity in such fields as music and the arts, in addition to a historical study of the Renaissance humanists and their works.

Humane

Like the words “humanities” and “humanist,” the word “humane” sometimes undergoes changes in its meaning. Whereas it was once designated non-Christian literature, it is now often used to imply human conduct that is kind, tender, merciful and compassionate. This meaning of “humane” is changed because of its association with a concept of modern humanism about the nature of man, namely, that man is basically good.

The Bible does not teach that mankind is basically good. Rather it declares that by Adam sin entered into the world (Romans 5:12), that everyone sins (Roman 3:23; 3:10), and that therefore all everyone is in need of salvation (Romans 1:16, 17; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:9). This does not mean, however, that all people are basically evil. Rather, the Bible declares that people are free to choose whether they will do good or whether they will do evil (John 5:28-29; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

The humanist portrayal of mankind as basically good reflects the strong influence of modern humanism upon our culture. Moreover, cultural acceptance of humanity as “humane” has now influenced the general concept of humanism, so that many, who do not realize the horrible consequences of modern humanism, mistakenly think that a humanistic lifestyle is one of compassionate concern and caring for humanity.

Humanitarian

Likewise, the word “humanitarian” has also changed its meaning from what it was originally. “Humanitarianism was the term originally applied to the followers of a group of eighteenth-century theologians who affirmed the humanity but denied the deity of Christ. It was later used when speaking of the Religion of Humanity, and it carries the subsidiary meaning of the worship of the human race. It is only recently that humanitarianism has come to imply almost exclusively the doing of good deeds that help people. That recent usage should not be allowed to obscure the origins and motivations of humanitarianism. It is above all a religious term.”[5]

Just as words related to humanism have had their meanings changed, so also the meaning of “humanism” itself has also changed. Whereas “humanism” once referred to respect for classical writings of antiquity, the term has now come to mean a respect for human (as opposed to Godly) values that are recorded in these non-Christian documents. Modern humanism must therefore be understood within its philosophical context, not its historical origins.

Humanism May Be Defined Philosophically

There is no single philosophical definition of humanism that is a commonly accepted standard for everyone. There are about as many definitions as there are scholars who discuss the subject. Nonetheless, some basic ideals of humanism may be perceived through reviewing some short working philosophical definitions. 

“Simply defined, humanism is man’s attempt to solve his problems independently of God.”[6]

“Humanism is the religion which deifies man and dethrones God.”[7]

Humanism is “a pre-occupation with man as the supreme value in the universe and the sole solver of the problems of the universe.”[8]

“Humanism is a philosophy which affirms the value of what is human, or which holds that humans have value in and of themselves.”[9]

“Humanism is the viewpoint that men have but one life to live and that human happiness is its own justification and needs no sanction or support from supernatural sources; that, in any case, the supernatural does not exist.”[10]

“Humanism is the placing of Man at the center of all things and making him the measure of all things.” It “means Man beginning from himself, with no knowledge except what he himself can discover and no standards outside himself.”[11]

The basic idea of humanism was expressed by the ancient Greek, Protagoras (c. 485-415 BC) when he said, “Man is the measure of all things, of things that are, that they are; and of things that are not, that they are not.”[12] Humanism sounds positive, being for man. However, to the Christian, humanism is really negative, being against God. “Humanism is a polite term for atheism.”[13] In practice, humanism is a system of beliefs about humanity that excludes God from reality and makes man the judge of all things.

Humanism Is A Method For Making Decisions

However helpful scholarly definitions may be, humanism cannot really be understood until it’s realized that it is primarily a method to be used in making moral decisions. As Paul Kurtz puts it, “[s]ecular humanism is not so much a specific morality as it is a method for the explanation and discovery of rational principles.”[14]

This method is best understood when illustrated. Below are three paragraphs of a magazine article designed for teenagers.[15] As you read these paragraphs, see if you recognize modern humanism. You’ll notice that the word “humanism” (or its related terms) does not appear in these paragraphs. However, some basic concepts of modern humanism are there. Ask yourself whether you agree with the ideas expressed in these paragraphs. Here’s the first one.

“Decisions are an essential part of living. You have to make decisions every day of your life, from deciding what to wear to school to deciding what type work you want to do for the rest of your life. You even have to decide whether or not you want to have a sexual relationship. This is what the decisions section is about.”

That paragraph is primarily introductory. While there may be nothing within it with which we would disagree explicitly, an older generation than ours would have been shocked to read that there are implied alternatives regarding “whether or not you want to have a sexual relationship.”

Godly people understand that a “sexual relationship” outside of marriage is sinful. “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18) “Flee fornication” (I Corinthians 6:18), and “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28), are but a few prohibitions from God on this subject. For all who respect God’s authority, there is no reason to even consider the question of “whether or not you want to have a sexual relationship.”

Now read the second paragraph.

“We’ve asked a doctor, a minister, two parents and three teenagers to tell us how they feel about sex. These are their opinions and not necessarily yours. We only hope that when you read their letters, you will be able to understand why they made the kind of decisions that they did. This will hopefully help you find the why’s behind your decisions.”

Did you notice the implication in that paragraph? What is implicit there is explicit in the next paragraph.

“The decision of whether or not to have sex is not a one-time thing. Each time that you have or do not have sex, when the opportunity arises, a choice is made. It takes careful thought. Think about your feelings, important people’s opinions that you value, your religious beliefs, and any other thing that influences how you think, feel, or behave. You are the only person who knows what is right for you. The final decision is yours.”

Do you agree that you are the only person who knows what is right for you? Did you notice that in these paragraphs appealed to the only human authorities? These paragraphs do not appeal to Divine authority – God, Christ, or the Bible. Nor do they suggest that any human authority is better for you than you are for yourself! In other words, these paragraphs teach that you are sovereign in determining your own conduct!

In contrast, the Bible teaches that God is the only sovereign being (Genesis 1:1; 14:19; Exodus 8:22; 15:18; Deuteronomy 4:39; I Chronicles 19:11-12; Psalms 22:28: 24:1; Acts 17:24-31; Romans 14:11). The Bible teaches that man needs guidance from God because “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).

Placing humanity at the center of all things, and making humanity the judge of all things is the primary belief and method of modern humanism. While modern humanism may be considered a type of atheism, it is unlike atheism in that it does not generally argue about the existence of God. Its method is simply to assume that God does not exist. By assuming that God does not exist, humanism dismisses God as irrelevant and makes man his own God. Because humanism rejects God and the Bible, moral decisions can then be based only upon what man learns from nature through natural experiences and observations. While all men may glean from the best of human wisdom in arriving at personal moral decisions, in the final analysis, each man determines for himself what is right and what is wrong.

This belief and process of modern humanism is boldly declared within basic documents of humanism. Humanism affirms that “moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human needs and interest.”[16] “We reject all religious, ideological, or moral codes that denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect, dehumanize personality. We believe in maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility . . . the possibilities of individual freedom of choice exist in human life and should be increased.”[17] The sixth article of Humanist Manifesto II declares that “individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their life-styles as they desire.” The fourth item of A Secular Humanist Declaration states that “secularists deny that morality needs to be deduced from religious belief or that those who do not espouse a religious doctrine are immoral.” And the conclusion of that document includes the statement that “secular humanism places trust in human intelligence rather than in divine guidance.”

Philosophical Concepts of Humanism 

Modern humanism is a method of thinking that dethrones God and deifies humanity. It is also a philosophical worldview that has certain well-defined major concepts. While all humanists do not necessarily subscribe to every aspect of these concepts, they are generally agreed upon a broad consensus. These concepts are clearly documented by Humanist Manifestos I and IIA Secular Humanist Declaration, and A Declaration of Interdependence: A New Global Ethics.[18]

Major philosophical concepts of modern humanism can be summarized under three basic categories – God, nature, and man. Concepts regarding the first two categories can be quickly and easily summarized. Regarding God – humanist generally believe either that God does not exist, or that, if he does, he is not relevant to mankind. Humanists therefore believe that theism is unrealistic and detrimental to humanity. Regarding nature – humanists believe that the universe is “self-existing,” that nature is all there is, and that all things within nature, including mankind, evolve by chance.

Humanist concepts regarding mankind are not so briefly summarized. Humanism is essentially a human-centered philosophy. It is concerned primarily with mankind’s physical and moral natures. But these must be understood, according to humanists, by human reasoning, scientific observations, and critical thinking rather than by divine revelation. 

Humanists realize that tensions exist between themselves and theists and that if humanism is to prevail over theism, then God and Divine revelation must be excluded from the process by which people acquire knowledge of all things. They therefore insist upon the right to inquire freely about everything and to act according to their own understandings of humanity and nature without social or legal restrictions imposed upon them by believers in God. If humanists are to achieve their desired freedoms and objectives, they think it essential to their cause that public policies in governmental, professional and social areas of human life not be determined according to Divine revelation, but only from knowledge gleaned by human reasoning, scientific discoveries, and critical intelligence.

Humanists believe that humans have only a physical nature. They deny that mankind is spiritual, or that humans have life after death. Humanists believe that mankind is self-sufficient through the use of reason and critical intelligence. That is, they think that humanity needs no Divine guidance or direction from any source other than humanity. Humanists believe that humanity is basically good. That is, they think people do not sin, and therefore that people have no need of eternal salvation. Since humanity is assumed to be basically good, then whatever mankind does which does not encroach on others’ freedoms is also thought to be good. Thus, the use of pornography, by those who desire it, is sanctioned by humanism.

Humanists believe that man is a moral being. Morality to humanists, however, does not mean the same thing as it does to Christians. Christians believe that moral standard is set by God. It is absolute, constant, and fixed by God in scripture. For humanists, however, moral standards are relative, situational, and autonomous. That is, for humanists, morality is pluralistic, determined by each person for himself. A person is moral, according to humanism, whenever he or she does whatever he of she thinks is right. For Christians, however, a person is moral whenever he or she does whatever God says is right.

Humanists believe there is one moral principle that is universal to all people. That’s the principle of “moral equality.” By that, humanists mean that all people are morally equal. Therefore, all discrimination, whether based on age, sex, religion, race, color, national origin, etc., is considered to be immoral. Humanists apply their principle of moral equality to all people in two major ways. One is related to sex, the other is related to economics.

As applied to sex, the humanistic principle of moral equality means that men and women have equal authority, rights, and functions, in every aspect of life. In other words, there should be no distinguishable differences of authority between men and women in society, and neither should there be distinguishable differences of sexual roles between men and women. In practical terms, this means that husbands should have no more authority over their families than do their wives, that wives should have no more responsibility for house-keeping than do their husbands, and that husbands should have no more responsibility for providing for their families than do their wives. It also means that marriage is but only one legitimate arrangement of convenience for cohabitation between men and women. It means that homosexual and lesbian marriages are just as permissible as are heterosexual marriages. It means that unmarried couples living together are equally as respectable as are married couples and that “short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire.”[19]

As applied to economics, the humanistic principle of moral equality means that society “should provide means to satisfy basic [individual] economic, health, and cultural needs, including wherever resources make possible, a guaranteed annual income.”[20] In other words, humanism is generally opposed to an economy based upon capitalism. It usually insists upon an economy based upon socialistic premises. In practical terms, this means that there should be no economic categories of the rich and the poor, but that all individuals should be economically equal. It means that individuals are not necessarily responsible to provide economically for themselves and their families, but that civil governments are responsible for providing economic needs for all their citizens. It also means, whenever this principle is carried to its logical conclusion, that nationalism must eventually be eliminated, and that in its place must be established an international one-world government. Since economic growth and development is worldwide in scope, humanism declares that “it is the moral obligation of the developed nations to provide – through an international authority that safeguards human rights – massive technical, agricultural, medical, and economic assistance, including birth control techniques, to the developing portions of the globe.”[21]Humanists believe that in order to help less-developed nations become more self-sufficient “we need to work out some equitable form of taxation on a worldwide basis.”[22]

Modifiers of Humanism: Secular, Religious, and Christian

Any assessment of humanism would not be complete if it did not include an understanding of terms that sometimes are used to modify the word “humanism”. Three major terms often used to modify humanism are “secular,” “religious,” and “Christian.” Confusion often surrounds these terms as modifiers of humanism just as confusion surrounds the word “humanism” itself.

Secular Humanism

The most common term now used to modify humanism is the word “secular,” which comes from the Latin saeculum. It means ‘time’ or ‘age.’ Secular is that which pertains to this world, temporal, related to, or connected with worldly things. Secularism knows nothing of the majesty of a sovereign God who transcends and rules over the universe. 

In contrast to secularism, Christianity promotes belief in God and in heavenly and eternal things. No one doubts that Christianity is a religion. Humanists want people to equate religion with concerns about God, the church, personal salvation, and things heavenly and eternal. Since humanists reject beliefs about God, personal salvation, eternal life, etc., humanists want people to think of humanism as secular, not as religious. 

A major modern popular concept of the secular is that there are certain areas of human life and activity that may be legitimately separated from religion. These areas of life are now generally presumed to include politics, the arts, education, science, commerce, entertainment, economics, foreign affairs, environmental issues, industry, journalism, transportation, business, civil governments, etc. By applying the term “secular” to all these areas, humanism identifies itself with all these areas, and seeks to separate them from the influence of religion. 

Humanists argue that religious people should confine their religion to matters of worship and attending to the spiritual needs of individuals in their private lives. They argue that religion is only a private matter, and that therefore Christians should have nothing to do with these public matters. Many who profess Christianity seem to have accepted this humanistic way of thinking. Humanists have deceived many professed Christians into believing that the categorical distinction between the secular and the religious is a proper distinction. It is not! The Bible never makes a categorical distinction between the secular and the religious. In fact, the modern concept of the secular, as distinguished from the religious, is never found in the Bible. This categorical distinction is a relatively modern concept, unknown to history until after the time of Thomas Acquinas (1225-1274 AD).

Religion touches all areas of life. The Christian religion is just as concerned with life in this world as it is with eternal life. For Christians, there is no area of life that should not be regulated by the word of God. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). Any Christian who thinks his religion is only a private matter has too limited an understanding of Christianity. Christians cannot be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, or a leavening influence within the world unless the Christian faith is applied to all public and private sectors of life.

Religious Humanism

Humanists have not always wanted people to think of humanism as secular. They now want people to think of them as secular because that now seems to be to their advantage. There was a time, however, when humanists thought it was to their advantage to be known as a religion. They then used the word “religious” to modify humanism. Although modern humanists do not now generally refer to their philosophy as a religion, and although many of them will object to modern humanism being classified as a religion, it is nonetheless true that modern humanism is indeed a religion. 

Modern humanism claims to be a religion. Claims made by humanists that humanism is a religion date back more than a century. “As early as 1872, Octavius B. Frothingham wrote Religion of Humanity in which he used the doctrine of evolution to establish a humanistic, naturalistic concept of religious and ethical values.”[23] In 1930, Charles F. Potter, one of the signers of Humanist Manifesto I, wrote a book entitled Humanism: A New Religion. The first sentence in the preface states, “The purpose of this book is to set forth . . . the main outline and principal points of the new religion called humanism.”[24] Many other statements in that book also claim that humanism is a religion. The signers of Humanist Manifesto I believed that the circumstances of their world had “created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion.”[25] They believed that “to establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present.”[26] They declared that in “order that religious humanism may be better understood, we, the undersigned, desire to make certain affirmations which we believe the facts of our contemporary life demonstrate.”[27] Humanist Manifesto I affirmed fifteen principles. Of these, eight use language that requires recognition that humanism be considered a religion. The last paragraph of that document begins with the words, “So stands the theses of religious humanism.”[28] Forty years later, Paul Kurtz stated that Humanist Manifesto I “was concerned with expressing a general religious and philosophical outlook”[29] He also noted that Humanist Manifesto II also addressed itself to “the problems of religion.”[30]

In addition to claiming to be a religion, humanism has religious characteristics. Among these are faith assumptions, attempts to answer basic and ultimate religious concerns, creedal statements, etc.[31] Moreover, humanism has been legally declared, on several occasions, to be a religion. The U. S. Supreme Court declared in 1961 that among “religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, secular Humanism and others.”[32]

Humanists apparently do not now wish for humanism to be considered a religion because – with the prevailing concept of the secular as opposed to the religious, if humanism were generally thought of as a religion – humanism would then have no better standing in the popular mind than is now generally given to Christianity. Moreover, humanism would then not be able to identify itself with the secular. In short, religion was once held in high esteem in this country. Now, however, religion is out, secularism is in!

As religion, humanism is a form of self-worship. Humanism as self-worship in our society manifests itself in two primary ways. One is the quest for things (materialism) and the other is the quest for pleasure (hedonism). The quest for these makes many moderns act like they think humanity is only physical and temporal. Whereas humanism emphasizes self-hood, Christianity emphasizes self-denial (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). For Christians, material things and pleasurable experiences are not evil in themselves, but their singular pursuit causes modern man to forget the spiritual nature and eternal destiny of his soul. Christians should remember that Jesus taught that in order to gain life, one must lose it (Matthew 16:25; Luke 17:33; John 12:25).

Christian Humanism

Just as the term “religious” preceded “secular” in modifying humanism, so also did the word “Christian” precede “religious” in modifying humanism. There are two senses in which the word “Christian” has been used as a modifier of humanism. The first sense is of Catholic scholars like Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas More in England who studied ancient classical literature, but who professed belief in Christ. The other sense relates to persons of more recently times, like C. S. Lewis and other Christian apologists. For them, humanism meant something different from that indicated by modern humanism. For them, humanism referred to the dignity of man as created by God and made in Cod’s image. Man’s eternal worth, his dominion over nature, his immortality and his creative ability were central concepts of Christian humanism. Even here, however, many who considered themselves Christian humanists had so compromised Christianity with naturalism that they were often more in tune with modern humanism than they were with Christianity.[33]

The strength of modern humanism is such that, for all practical purposes, the expression “Christian humanism” is now a contradiction in terms inasmuch as genuine Christianity is generally realized to be just the opposite of humanism. Paul Kurtz, a leading spokesman of modern humanism and former editor of The Humanist magazine, says “Humanism cannot in any fair sense of the word apply to one who still believes in God as the source and the creator of the universe. Christian Humanism would be possible only for those who are willing to admit that they are atheistic Humanists. It surely does not apply to God-intoxicated believers.”[34]

Humanism Is Now The Primary Philosophical Enemy of Christianity

Until the 1960s the word “humanism” was seldom heard by the man on the street. Most Christians seem to find it difficult to believe that in the battle for the mind of modern men, humanism has confronted Christianity and now appears to have greater influence in the Western World than does Christianity. Christians know that biblical morality has severely deteriorated since mid-twentieth century, but Christians have generally not known why.

Now, all of a sudden, Christians are beginning to learn that humanism has ruling control over every discipline of study in all public elementary and secondary schools, and in all state colleges and universities; that humanism is the major ruling philosophy in all major professions such as law, medicine, the media, sociology and psychology; and that it’s values dictate most policies of our federal and state bureaucracies. Humanism rules in industry and commerce, in the arts and in foreign affairs. Humanism has turned the Christian world upside down – a reversal from accomplishments of apostolic Christianity! (See Acts 17:6).

A thought provoking assessment of changes humanism has brought about in modern America is given by William A. Stanmeyer. He writes that . . . 

“in the watershed generation since World War II, secular humanism took an aggressive, intolerant, even imperialistic stance. Through variegated cultural and legal changes, secular humanists have modified the public order so that it no longer reinforces Christian values or supports private religious efforts to transmit traditional standards, norms, and values to one’s children. Society’s public policies and laws are no longer a simple extension of the basic commitments and priorities of the Christian individuals who make up that society. In field after field of human endeavor, an extraordinary transformation has take place, as if a butterfly has reversed the process of metamorphosis and changed from a beautiful winged flutterer back to an ugly crawling caterpillar. A society not long ago Christian is now pagan, and the change took place right before our eyes! At the risk of some over-simplification one could summarize the metamorphosis this way: three decades ago, the secular humanist voice was scarcely heard in public policy; two decades ago, it was one among a few; one decade ago, it became the loudest and most influential; in the decade to come, it will seek to silence all other voices. As they seek to gain control of the organs of public policy, the secular humanists will attack enclaves of Christian communal life, such as schools, hospitals, and other charitable organizations transfused with religious commitment. Their goal will be to reduce Christian influence on public morality to the most token and accidental sort”[35]

After giving numerous examples of how humanism has changed, and is still changing our society, Stanmeyer then says, “an ominous pattern is developing: a multifaceted campaign is mounting to remove Christian influence from society entirely – from its schools, its medical practice, its social service institutions, its laws.”[36]

Conclusion

We who claim to be Christians have allowed humanism to make fundamental changes within our culture. Humanism will continue to change our culture until and unless we Christians understand it. We must rise up against modern humanism, “stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30), do battle against it where it is most operative and powerful, and restore the principles of Christianity to the cultural and legal foundations which govern our society.


[1]Copyright © by Robert L. Waggoner, 1987, Revised, 2001. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this document for non-commercial educational purposes when unaltered provided that copyright and authorship is given. All other rights reserved. 

[2]Paul Kurtz, “Preface,” Humanist Manifestos I and II. (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973), 3.

[3]Paul Kurtz, Same as above, 15. 

[4]Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Old Tappan, N. J.: Fleming H. Revell Company. 1976), 58.

[5]Herbert Schlossberg. Idols For Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), 50, with footnote, “See the Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 5, 445; also Encyclopedia Brittanica, 11th ed., 1911, Vol. 13, 872.”

[6]Tim LaHaye. The Battle For the Mind. (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1980), 26.

[7]Homer Duncan. Secular Humanism: The Most Dangerous Religion in America (Lubbock, TX: Missionary Crusader, 1979), 7.

[8]John Eidsmoe. The Christian Legal Advisor (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1984), 180.

[9]Norman Geisler. Is Man the Measure? An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983), 104.

[10]Corliss Lamont. The Philosophy of Humanism. (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1949).

[11]Francis Schaeffer. The Christian Manifesto(Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1981), 23-24. 

[12]Milton C. Nahm, ed. Selections From Early Greek Philosophy. (Crofts, 1934), 239, as cited by A. James Reichley. Religion in American Public Life (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1985), 42.

[13]James Curry, President of American Humanist Association. Quoted from FAC-Sheet #18-A, “Humanism,” Plymouth Rock Foundation, O. Box 425, Martborough, NH 03455-1425.

[14]Paul Kurtz. “A Secular Humanist Declaration”, Free Inquiry, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter, 1980/81, 5.

[15]The source of this article is unknown to me. I received it as a clipping from a friend.

[16]Humanist Manifesto II, Third.

[17]Humanist Manifesto II, Fifth.

[18]Humanist Manifesto I was drafted by Roy Wood Sellers. It was first published in The New Humanist, (May/June, 1933, Vol. VI, No. 3). It was signed by thirty-four people, including John Dewey. Humanist Manifesto II was first published in The Humanist, (September/October, 1973, Vol. XXXIII, No. 5). It was signed by 114 prominent persons, including Isaac Asimov, Edd Doerr, Anthony Flew, Sidney Hook, Lester Kirkendall, Paul Kurtz, Corless Lamont, Lester Mondale, and B. F. Skinner. A Secular Humanist Declaration was drafted by Paul Kurtz. It first appeared in Free Inquiry, (Winter, 1980/81, Vol. 1, No. 1. 3-6). In that issue it was endorsed by fifty-eight people from eight countries, among which were Isaac Asimov, Joseph Fletcher, Sidney Hook, Floyd Matson, and B. F. Skinner. Twenty-three additional endorsements too late for publication then arrived for listing in the next issue. A Declaration of Interdependence: A New Global Ethics first appeared in Free Inquiry, (Fall, 1988, Vol. 8, No. 4, 4-7). It was endorsed by fourteen Humanist Laureates of the Academy of Humanism. This document was also endorsed by the Board of Directors of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and the Tenth World Congress of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. 

[19]Humanist Manifesto II, Sixth. 

[20]Humanist Manifesto II, Eleventh. 

[21]Humanist Manifesto II, Fifteenth.

[22]Paul Kurtz, “A Declaration of Interdependence: A New Global Ethics,” Free Inquiry, (Fall, 1988, Vol. 8, No. 4, 6). 

[23]John Eidsmoe, 189. (See chapter 12, “Humanism as an Establishment of Religion,” 179-199). 

[24]Charles F. Potter, Humanism: A New Religion, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1930). 

[25]Paul Kurtz, Humanist Manifestos I and II, 8. 

[26]Same as above. 

[27]Same source, 7.

[28]Same source, 10. 

[29]Same source, 3, opening statement in Preface. 

[30]Same source.

[31]For further discussion of humanism as a religion, read Chapter 12, “Humanism as an Establishment of Religion,” of John Eidsmoe, The Christian Legal Advisor, 170-199; and Homer Duncan, The Religion of Secular Humanism and The Public Schools, (Lubbock, TX: Missionary Crusader, 1983) 

[32]367 U.S. 488 (196), footnote 11.

[33]For a discussion of “Christian humanism,” read Chapter 8, “Christian Humanism,” of Norman L. Geisler, Is Man The Measure? An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism, (Grand Rapids: Baker book House, 1983), 95-107.

[34]Cited by James Hitchcock, What Is Secular Humanism? Why Humanism Became Secular and How It Is Changing Our World, (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1982), 15, 17.

[35]William A. Stanmeyer, Clear and Present Danger: Church and State in Post-Christian America. (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1983), 4-5. 

[36]Same source, 7.

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Woody Allen on the Emptiness of Life

In the final scene of Manhattan, Woody Allen’s character, Isaac, is lying on the sofa with a microphone and a tape-recorder, dictating to himself an idea for a short story. It’ll be about “people in Manhattan,” he says, “who are constantly creating these real unnecessary, neurotic problems for themselves” because they cannot bear to confront the “more unsolvable, terrible problems about the universe.” In an attempt to keep it optimistic, he begins by asking himself the question, “Why is life worth living?” He gives it some thought. “That’s a very good question,” he says, “There are certain things, I guess, that make it worthwhile.” And then the list begins: Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, the second movement of Mozart’s ‘Jupiter Symphony,’ Louis Armstrong’s recording of Potato Head Blues, “Swedish movies, naturally,” Flaubert’s Sentimental Education, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, “those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne, the crabs at Sam Wo’s … Tracy’s face.”

This list acts as an important hinge in the film’s narrative, the point at which Isaac suddenly becomes aware of his feelings for Tracy and resolves to go after her. But within the list there is also something far greater being communicated, something which, I believe, can be described as the central subject of nearly every Woody Allen film, or, perhaps, as the thing that compels him to make films in the first place. Isaac is conveying here a belief in the sheer power of art, its ability to provide a sense of worth to an otherwise empty existence. Art, Woody Allen seems to be saying, is the only valuable response – or the only conceivable response – to the dreadful human predicament as he sees it.

~ ~ ~

“My relationship with death remains the same: I’m strongly against it.”

~ ~ ~

Recently, at the Cannes Film Festival, Woody Allen was asked about what motivates him. He simply laughed and said, “Fear is what drives me.” Work, for Allen, is a wonderful distraction from the “terrible truth” – the ostensible meaninglessness of life, the apparent futility of all human endeavour, the inevitability of sickness, the unescapable prognosis of death. Film-making, like the “unnecessay, neurotic problems” dreamt up by the characters in Isaac’s short story, diverts Allen’s attention away from this reality, from the fear that presents itself when he stops to think about the fact that eventually everybody dies, “the sun burns out, and the earth is gone, and … all the stars, all the planets, the entire universe, goes, disappears.” So this fear is the reason for his prolificity, the impulse behind all of his artistic achievements. Manhattan, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Sleeper came about, first of all, as distractions, projects that prevented him from having to “sit in a chair and think about what a terrible situation all human beings are in.”

I believe there’s a lot of truth in Woody Allen’s perspective. We distract ourselves constantly, we refuse to think about the meaning of our existence, we skirt around the inevitable. Certainly – and he acknowledges this – Allen is not the first person to have hit upon this truth. It’s been recognised by thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Sartre, the Buddha and the writer of Ecclesiastes. And Allen knows, too, that one can’t live in a perpetual awareness of this fact. Such a life would be crippling torment. Indeed, it’s this very torment that Tolstoy found himself in after having realised that there was “nothing ahead other than deception of life and of happiness, and the reality of suffering and death: of complete annihilation.” After realising, in other words, the sheer absurdness of human existence, the meaninglessness of life without God. In his Confession he writes:

My life came to a standstill. I could breathe, eat, drink and sleep and I could not help breathing, eating, drinking and sleeping; but there was no life in me because I had no desires whose gratification I would have deemed it reasonable to fulfil. If I wanted something I knew in advance that whether or not I satisfied my desire nothing would come of it.

We can’t live like this, says Woody Allen. We must provide ourselves with necessary delusions in order to carry ourselves through life. He remarks that, in fact, it’s only those people whom he calls “self-deluded” that seem to find any kind of real satisfaction in living, any peace or enjoyment. These people can say, “Well, my priest, or my rabbi tells me everthing’s going to be all right,” and they find their answers in what he calls “magical solutions.” And this recourse to the “magical” he dismisses as nonsense.

It’s worth comparing Woody Allen’s pessimistic agnosticism with the utopian atheism of someone like Richard Dawkins. Evidently, the former worldview is entirely consistent with non-belief in God, but it’s not clear that the latter is. In fact, it appears unfounded, false. Dawkins removes God from the picture entirely, yet clings persistently to a belief in life’s meaning, grounding this meaning, it appears, in natural selection. There’s a contradiction here in Dawkins’ thought. On the one hand, he claims that science “can tell us why we are here, tell us the purpose of human existence,” yet, on the other, he insists on characterising natural selection itself as a blind mechanism, containing “no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference.”

Whilst I myself do believe in God and don’t share Woody Allen’s agnostic belief, I can respect his consistency, his willingness to acknowledge an existence without God for what it really is: “a grim, painful, nightmarish, meaningless experience.” His worldview follows naturally from what Heidegger termed the state of human “abandonment,” the absence of God in all human affairs. Dawkins’ worldview, however, doesn’t – it’s an embarrassing mishmash of strict empricist and naturalistic belief with what really amounts to a kind of foggy mysticism, a belief system according to which human beings can create for themselves an objective purpose. What he fails to realise is that this purpose is nothing more than a delusion, a mere appearance of purpose. It might get us up in the morning, but, once again, it’s no more real than the neurotic problems dreamt up by Isaac’s characters.

~ ~ ~

“It is impossible to experience one’s death objectively and still carry a tune.”

~ ~ ~

Let’s return to Woody Allen’s seemingly affirmative opinion of art. Given his lifelong insistence on the belief that human existence is “a big, meaningless thing,” how are we to make sense of Isaac’s list? Is it really possible to reconcile Woody Allen’s adament nihilism with his invocation of the power of art, its ability to stand firm in the face of such a “terrible truth”? The point to be made, I believe, is a very subtle one. In that same interview at Cannes, Allen talks about the role of the artist as he sees it: essentially, they must respond to the question that Isaac poses, “Why is life worth living?” Faced with the emptiness of life, they must try to “figure out – knowing that it’s trueknowing the worst – why it’s still worthwhile.” Allen isn’t, I believe, claiming that art can provide objective meaning to life. Such an assertion would conflict with his unswerving pessimism. Instead, he’s saying that the essence of art, what animates it, what inspires it to flourish, is a courageous struggle against this “terrible truth.” The artist, he says, must confront the futility of life, look at it in the face, embrace it in all of its hopelessness and despair, and provide humanity with an honest reply. The question we should ask in response, then, isn’t, ‘Can Woody Allen justify his belief in objective meaning as embodied in art?’ I don’t think he believes in objective meaning, a necessary purpose for human existence. Rather, the question should be, ‘Is it possible for the artist to look squarely at the human predicament and supply humanity with a worthwhile answer?’

And this, I want to say, still isn’t possible. As we’ve seen in the example of Tolstoy, one can’t live one’s life in full awareness of its apparent futility, of the imminence of death, of the falsity of one’s happiness, and yet carry on as normal. One would end up utterly debilitated. And if this is indeed how artists have been living for centuries, confronting the inevitable, facing the dismal truth, then art itself is an inexplicable phenomenon.

~ ~ ~

“On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.”

~ ~ ~

The answer isn’t to appeal to art as something that can provide human existence with objective meaning. Such a ‘faith in art’ would merely beg the question, ‘But why is art so special?’ How can art, if viewed as just another custom, an event within the world, give purpose and value to human life? How can that which is within the world give meaning to that which is also within the world? Meaning, I believe, can only come from without, from a personal God who transcends the world, yet is immanent within it, actively involved in human existence, instilling it with significance and worth. One of the purposes of art, I believe, is to reflect the being and glory of God, who is the ground of being itself. Far from art being an escape from a “terrible truth” or a desperate attempt to confront and suppress nihilism, it should be seen as an affirmative activity, an act of creative celebration to be enjoyed in the company of our good Creator God.

Here is a complete list of all the posts I did on the film “Midnight in Paris”

What can we learn from Woody Allen Films?, August 1, 2011 – 6:30 am

Movie Review of “Midnight in Paris” lastest movie by Woody Allen, July 30, 2011 – 6:52 am

Leo Stein and sister Gertrude Stein’s salon is in the Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris”, July 28, 2011 – 6:22 am

Great review on Midnight in Paris with talk about artists being disatisfied, July 27, 2011 – 6:20 am

Critical review of Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris”, July 24, 2011 – 5:56 am

Not everyone liked “Midnight in Paris”, July 22, 2011 – 5:38 am

“Midnight in Paris” one of Woody Allen’s biggest movie hits in recent years, July 18, 2011 – 6:00 am

(Part 32, Jean-Paul Sartre)July 10, 2011 – 5:53 am

 (Part 29, Pablo Picasso) July 7, 2011 – 4:33 am

(Part 28,Van Gogh) July 6, 2011 – 4:03 am

(Part 27, Man Ray) July 5, 2011 – 4:49 am

(Part 26,James Joyce) July 4, 2011 – 5:55 am

(Part 25, T.S.Elliot) July 3, 2011 – 4:46 am

(Part 24, Djuna Barnes) July 2, 2011 – 7:28 am

(Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso) July 1, 2011 – 12:28 am

(Part 22, Silvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore) June 30, 2011 – 12:58 am

(Part 21,Versailles and the French Revolution) June 29, 2011 – 5:34 am

(Part 16, Josephine Baker) June 24, 2011 – 5:18 am

(Part 15, Luis Bunuel) June 23, 2011 – 5:37 am

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Francis Schaeffer’s term the “Mannishness of Man” and how it relates to Woody Allen and Charles Darwin!!!

___________

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Naturalistic, Materialistic, World View

Francis Schaeffer and  Gospel of Christ in the pages of the Bible

Francis Schaeffer’s term the “Mannishness of Man” and how it relates to Woody Allen and Charles Darwin!!! Schaeffer noted that everyone has these two things constantly pulling at them. First, it is the universe and its form and second, it is the mannishness of man. If one does not realize that God created them in the image of God where they can know right and wrong and worship their Creator then they will be longing throughout their life and even though they may say that we are a product of chance, like Allen did in his recent film MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT, he still is left with an empty feeling. Furthermore, Paul in  Romans 1 brings out these same two factors. In this post I am not going to spend much time on the demonstration that Woody Allen has dealt with the issues for the simple reason that I have done that over and over again in my previous posts. However, I will look at what Schaeffer says about Allen but mostly what he says about Charles Darwin and I will be providing extensive quotes from Darwin’s own autobiography Darwin, Francis ed. 1892. Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters [abridged edition]. London: John Murray.

The Search for an Adequate World-View: A Question of Method
Before we consider various possibilities, we must settle the question of method. What is it we are expecting our “answer” to answer?
There are a number of things we could consider, but at this point we want to concentrate on just two. The first is what we will call “the universe and its form,” and the second is “the mannishness of man.” The first draws attention to the fact that the universe around us is like an amazing jigsaw puzzle. We see many details, and we want to know how they fit together. That is what science is all about. Scientists look at the details and try to find out how they all cohere. So the first question that has to be answered is: how did the universe get this way? How did it get this form, this pattern, this jigsawlike quality it now has?
Second, “the mannishness of man” draws attention to the fact that human beings are different from all other things in the world. Think, for example, of creativity. People in all cultures of all ages have created many kinds of things, from “High Art” to flower arrangements, from silver ornaments to high-technology supersonic aircraft. This is in contrast to the animals about us. People also fear death, and they have the aspiration to truly choose. Incidentally, even those who in their writings say we only think we choose quickly fall into words and phrases that only make sense if they are wrong and we do truly choose. Human beings are also unique in that they verbalize. That is, people put concrete and abstract concepts into words which communicate these concepts to other people. People also have an inner life of the mind; they remember the past and make projections into the future. One could name other factors, but these are enough to differentiate people from other things in the world.
What world-view adequately explains the remarkable phenomenon of the distinctiveness of human beings? There is one world-view which can explain the explain the existence of the universe, its form, and the uniqueness of people – the world-view given to us in the Bible. There is a remarkable parallel between the way scientists go about checking to see if what they think about reality does in fact correspond to it and the way the biblical world-view can be checked to see if it is true.
Many people, however, react strongly against this sort of claim. They see the problem – Where has everything come from and why is it the way it is? – but they do not want to consider a solution which involves God. God, they say, belongs to “religion,” and religious answers, they say, do not deal with facts. Only science deals with facts. Thus, they say, Christian answers are not real answers; they are “faith answers.”
This is a strange reaction, because modern people pride themselves on being open to new ideas, on being willing to consider opinions which contradict what has been believed for a long time. They think this is what “being scientific” necessitates. Suddenly, however, when one crosses into the area of the “big” and most basic questions (like those we are considering now) with an answer involving God, the shutters are pulled down, the open mind closes and a very different attitude, a dogmatic rationalism, takes over.80
This is curious -first, because few seem to notice that the humanist explanations of the big and most basic questions is just as much a “faith answer” as any could be. With the humanist world-view everything begins with only matter; whatever has developed has developed only within matter, a reordering of matter by chance.
Even though materialistic scientists have no scientific understanding of why things exist, nor any certain scientific understanding of how life began, and even though this world-view leaves them with vast problems – the problems Woody Allen has described of “alienation, loneliness [and] emptiness verging on madness” – many modern people still reject at once any solution which uses the word God, in favor of the materialistic humanist “answer” which answers nothing. This is simply prejudice at work.
We need to understand, however, that this prejudice is both recent and arbitrary. Professor Ernest Becker, who taught at the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco State College, said that for the last half-million years people have always believed in two worlds – one that was visible and one that was invisible. The visible world was where they lived their everyday lives; the invisible world was more powerful, for the meaning and existence of the visible world was dependent on it. Suddenly in the last century and a half, as the ideas of the Enlightenment have spread to the whole of Western culture, we have been told quite arbitrarily that there is no invisible world. This has become dogma for many secular people today.
Christians try to answer prejudices like these by pointing out that the biblical system does not have to be accepted blindly, any more than the scientific hypotheses have to be accepted blindly. What a scientist does is to examine certain phenomena in the world. He then casts about for an explanation that will make sense of these phenomena. That is the hypothesis. But the hypothesis has to be checked. So a careful checking operation is set up, designed to see if there is, in fact, a correspondence between what has been observed and what has been hypothesized. If it does correspond, a scientist accepts the explanation as correct; if it does not, he rejects it as false and looks for an alternative explanation. Depending on how substantially the statement has been “verified,” it becomes accepted as a “law” within science, such as the law of gravity or the second law of thermodynamics.
What we should notice is the method. It is rather like trying to find the right key to fit a particular lock. We try the first key and then the next and the next until finally, if we are fortunate, one of them fits. The same principle applies, so Christians maintain, when we consider the big questions. Here are the phenomena. What key unlocks their meaning? What explanation is correct?
We may consider the materialistic humanist alternative, the Eastern religious alternative, and so on. But each of these leaves at least a part of these most basic questions unanswered. So we turn to examine the Christian alternative.
Obviously, Christians do not look on the Bible as simply an alternative. As Christians we consider it to be objectively true, because we have found that it does give the answers both in knowledge and in life. For the purposes of discussion, however, we invite non-Christians to consider it as an alternative – not to be accepted blindly, but for good and sufficient reasons.
But note this – the physical scientist does something very easy, compared to those who tackle the really important and central questions for mankind. He examines a tiny portion of the real world – a leaf, a cell, an atom, a particle – and, because these things are not personal and obey very precise laws, he is able to arrive at explanations with relative ease. C. F. A. Pantin, who was professor of zoology at Cambridge University, once said: “Very clever men are answering the relatively easy questions of the natural examination paper.” This is not to disparage physical science. It works consistently with its own principles of investigation, looking further and further into the material of the world around us. But it only looks at part of the world. As Professor W. H. Thorpe of Cambridge University says, it is “a deliberate restriction to certain areas of our total experience – a technique for understanding certain parts of that experience and achieving mastery over nature.”
We are not then moving from definite things to indefinite things, when we look at those aspects of our experience which are more central than the study of an individual physical thing such as a leaf, a cell, an atom, or a particle. Rather, we are turning from a small part of reality to a larger part of reality. Picture a scientist for a moment: he is looking at a particular detail and carrying out his scientific investigation according to the recognized procedures. We have already discussed the method he uses to find the answers. Now we need to draw back and consider the whole phenomenon we are looking at, that is, the scientist carrying out his experiment. When the scientist is seated at his desk, he is able to find answers to his questions only because he has made two colossal assumptions about his situation, in fact about the entire world. He is assuming first of all that the things he is looking at do fit together somehow, even if some areas – such as particle physics – cannot at this time be fitted into a simple explanation. If the scientist did not assume that the things he is studying somehow fit together, he would not be trying to find an answer. Second, he is assuming that he as a person is able to find answers.
In other words, the big questions constitute the very framework within which the scientist is operating. To quote Thorpe again, “I recently heard one of the most distinguished theoretical scientists state that his own scientific drive was based on two fundamental attitudes: a conviction of his own responsibility and an awe at the beauty and harmony of nature.” So we have to resist any suggestion that to be involved in answering the big questions is somehow to be getting further and further away from “the real world.”
The opposite is the case. It is as we come to these big questions that we approach the real world that every one of us is living in twenty-four hours a day – the world of real persons who can think and so work out problems such as how to get to the other side of town, persons who can love, persons who can make moral decisions. These are, in other words, the phenomena which cry out for an adequate explanation. These are the things we know best about ourselves and the world around us. What world-view can encompass them?
C. S. Lewis pointed out that there are only two alternatives to the Christian answer – the humanist philosophy of the West and the pantheist philosophy of the East. We would agree. We agree, too, with his observation that Eastern philosophy is an “opposite” to the Christian system, but we shall look at that later. For the present our attention is directed toward the materialistic world-view of the West.
From time to time we read in the press or hear on the radio that an oil tanker has run aground on rocks and that the crude oil is being driven by the wind and currents onto an otherwise beautiful coast. We can picture the problem of humanism in that way. There is a rock on which all humanist philosophy must run aground. It is the problem of relative knowledge and relative morality or, to put it another way, the problem of finiteness or limitation. Even if mankind now had perfect moral integrity regarding the world, people would still be finite. People are limited. This fact, coupled with the rejection of the possibility of having answers from God, leads humanists into the problem of relative knowledge. There has been no alternative to this relativity for the past 200 years, and there can be no alternative within the humanist world-view. That is what we want to show now.

Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

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A nice parallel can be made between Woody Allen’s struggle with the issue of the mannishness of man and that of Charles Darwin. Below is something that Charles Darwin wrote looking back on his life:

“It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.

Francis Schaeffer observed:

So he sees here exactly the same that I would labor and what Paul gives in Romans chapter one, and that is first this tremendous universe [and it’s form] and the second thing, the mannishness of man and the concept of this arising from chance is very difficult for him to come to accept and he is forced to leap into this, his own kind of Kierkegaardian leap, but he is forced to leap into this because of his presuppositions but when in reality the real world troubles him. He sees there is no third alternative. If you do not have the existence of God then you only have chance. In my own lectures I am constantly pointing out there are only two possibilities, a personal God or this concept of the impersonal plus time plus chance.  You will notice that he divides it into the same two points that Paul does in Romans into and that Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) will in the problem of existence, the external universe, and man and his consciousness. Paul points out there are these two things that man is confronted with. Two things is the real world, the universe and its form and I usually quote Jean Paul Sartre here, and Sartre says the basic philosophic problem is that something is there rather than nothing is there and I then I add at the point the very thing that Darwin feels and that is it isn’t a bare universe that is out there, it is an universe in a specific form. I always bring in Einstein and the uniformity of the form of the universe and that it is constructed as a well formulated word puzzle or you have Carl Gustav Jung who says two things cut across a man’s will that he can not truly be automous, the external world and what Carl Gustav Jung would call his “collected unconsciousness.” It is the thing that curns up out of man, the mannishness of man. Darwin understood way back here this is a real problem. So he says “the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrouse universe,” part one, the real world, the external universe, and part two “with our conscious selves arose through chance” and then he goes on and says this is not “an argument of real value.” This only thing he has to put in its place is his faith in his own theory.

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Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is  “the universe and it’s form.”

Romans 1:18-22Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],

21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor andglorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile andgodless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

Francis Schaeffer commented:

Now Darwin is going to set forth two arguments for God in this and again you will find when he comes to the end of this that he is in tremendous tension. Darwin wrote, 

“At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons. Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body; but now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind,

 

Francis Schaeffer observed:

 

Now Darwin says when I look back and when I look at nature I came to the conclusion that man can not be just a fly! But now Darwin has moved from being a younger man to an older man and he has allowed his presuppositions to enter in to block his logic. These things at the end of his life he had no intellectual answer for. To block them out in favor of his theory. Remember the letter of his that said he had lost all aesthetic senses when he had got older and he had become a clod himself. Now interesting he says just the same thing, but not in relation to the arts, namely music, pictures, etc, but to nature itself. Darwin said, “But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions  and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind…” So now you see that his presuppositions have not only robbed him of the beauty of man’s creation in art, but now the universe. He can’t look at it now and see the beauty. The reason he can’t see the beauty is very simple: THE BEAUTY DRIVES HIM TO DISTRACTION. THIS IS WHERE MODERN MAN IS AND IT IS HELL. The art is hell because it reminds him of man and how great man is, and where does it fit in his system? It doesn’t. When he looks at nature and it’s beauty he is driven to the same distraction and so consequently you find what has built up inside him is a real death, not  only the beauty of the artistic but the beauty of nature. 

Darwin wrote:

…and the universal belief by men of the existence of redness makes my present loss of perception of not the least value as evidence. This argument would be a valid one if all men of all races had the same inward conviction of the existence of one God; but we know that this is very far from being the case. Therefore I cannot see that such inward convictions and feelings are of any weight as evidence of what really exists. The state of mind which grand scenes formerly excited in me, and which was intimately connected with a belief in God, did not essentially differ from that which is often called the sense of sublimity; and however difficult it may be to explain the genesis of this sense, it can hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, any more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings excited by music.

Francis Schaeffer noted:

You notice that Darwin had already said he had lost his sense of music [appreciation]. However, he brings forth what I think is a false argument. I usually use it in the area of morality. I mention that anthropologists point out that different people have different moral [systems]  and this is perfectly true, but what the materialist anthropologist can never point out is why man has a sense of moral motion and that is the problem here. Therefore, it is perfectly true that men have different concepts of God and different concepts of moral motion, but Darwin himself is not satisfied in his own position and WHERE DO THEY [MORAL MOTIONS] COME FROM AT ALL? So you are wrestling with the same dilemma here in this reference as you do in the area of all things human. For these men it is not the distinction that raises the problem, but it is the overwhelming factor of the existence of the humanness of man, the mannishness of man. The simple fact is he saw that you are shut up to either God or chance, and he said basically “I don’t see how it could be chance” and at the same time he looks at a mountain or listens to a piece of music it is a testimony that really chance isn’t sufficient enough. So gradually with the sensitivity of his own inborn self conscience he kills it. He deliberately  kills the beauty so it doesn’t argue with his theory. Maybe I am being false to Darwin here. Who can say about Darwin’s subconscious thoughts? It seems to me though this is exactly the case. What you find is a man who can’t stand the argument of the external beauty and the mannishness of man so he just gives it up in this particular place.

The Best Art References in Woody Allen Films Image via Complex / APJAC Productions

Film: Play It Again, Sam (1972)

In 1972’s Play It Again, Sam, Allen plays a film critic trying to get over his wife’s leaving him by dating again. In one scene, Allen tries to pick up a depressive woman in front of the early Jackson Pollock work. This painting, because of its elusive title, has been the subject of much debate as to what it portrays. This makes for a nifty gag when Allen strolls up and asks the suicidal belle, “What does it say to you?”

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Woody Allen in Play It Again Sam

Uploaded on May 20, 2009

Scene from ‘Play it Again Sam’ (1972)

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Allan: That’s quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn’t it?

Museum Girl: Yes, it is.

Allan: What does it say to you?

Museum Girl: It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos.

Allan: What are you doing Saturday night?

Museum Girl: Committing suicide.

Allan: What about Friday night?

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Woody Allen Contemplates God in “Hannah & Her Sisters”

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Woody Allen on insanity and Cate Blanchett

 

12 Questions for Woody Allen

 

 

 

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Francis Schaeffer analyzes Woody Allen!!

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Annie Hall – The Opening Scene [HD]

Manhattan

Francis Schaeffer two months before he died said if he was talking to a gentleman he was sitting next to on an airplane about Christ he wouldn’t start off quoting Bible verses. Schaeffer asserted:

I would go back rather to their dilemma if they hold the modern worldview of the final reality only being energy, etc., I would start with that. I would begin as I stress in the book THE GOD WHO IS THERE about their own [humanist] prophets who really show where their view goes. For instance, Jacques Monod, Nobel Prize winner from France, in his book NECESSITY AND CHANCE said there is no way to tell the OUGHT from the IS. In other words, you live in a totally silent universe. 

The men like Monod and Sartre or whoever the man might know that is his [humanist] prophet and they point out quite properly and conclusively what life is like, not just that there is no meaningfulness in life but everyone according to modern man is just living out some kind of game plan. It may be knocking 1/10th of a second off a downhill ski run or making one more million dollars. But all you are doing is making a game plan within the mix of a meaningless situation. WOODY ALLEN exploits this very strongly in his films. He really lives it. I feel for that man, and he has expressed it so thoroughly in ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN and so on.

According to the Humanist worldview Jacques Monod the universe is silent about values and therefore his good friend Woody Allen demonstrated this very fact so well in his 1989 movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. In other words, if we can’t get our values from the Bible then  the answer is MIGHT MAKES RIGHT!!!!

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The question now becomes do you want to know if there is a God or not? Are you willing to examine the same evidence that I provided to the world’s leading atheistic philosopher in 1994 (Antony Flew)? Here some are links below that examine the subjects that Antony Flew studied before he switched from away from atheism, followed by the sermon by Adrian Rogers that I provided to Antony Flew and he said he enjoyed listening to.

Former atheist Antony Flew: “Although I was once sharply critical of the argument to design, I have since come to see that, when correctly formulated, this argument constitutes a persuasive case for the existence of God!

Former atheist Antony Flew said, “I was particularly impressed with Gerry Schroeder’s point-by-point refutation of what I call the MONKEY THEOREM!

Why the world’s most famous atheist (Antony Flew) now believes in God by James A. Beverley

BP)–Antony Flew, a legendary British philosopher and atheist, has changed his mind about the existence of God in light of recent scientific evidence.Flew –

Former Atheist Antony Flew noted that Evolutionists failed to show “Where did a living, self-reproducing organism come from in the first place?”

Former atheist Antony Flew pointed out that natural selection can’t explain the origin of first life and in every other case, information necessarily points to an intelligent source!

 

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Former atheist Antony Flew pointed out that natural selection can’t explain the origin of first life and in every other case, information necessarily points to an intelligent source!

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THE QUESTION OF MORALITY (Woody Allen v Francis Schaeffer)

THE QUESTION OF MORALITY

“THE PROBLEM OF MODERN MAN IS A FEELING OF COSMIC ALIENATION, INCLUDING THE AREA OF MORALS.  MAN HAS A FEELING  OF MORAL MOTIONS, YET IN THE UNIVERSE AS IT IS, IT IS COMPLETELY OUT OF LINE WITH WHAT IS THERE.”

– FRANCIS SCHAEFFER

As we consider man’s finiteness and his cruelty, it would certainly seem that these things are not one, but two.  Mankind has always thought of these things as being different.  Man’s finiteness is his smallness; he is not a sufficient reference point to himself.  But his cruelty has always been considered as distinct from his finiteness.  Yet we must notice something.  If we accept the impersonal beginning, finally we will come to the place where man’s finiteness and his cruelty become the same thing.

With an impersonal beginning, everything is finally equal in the area of morals.  With an impersonal beginning, eventually morals is just another form of metaphysics, of being.  Morals disappear and there is only one area rather than two.  Left in this position, we can talk about what is antisocial, or what society does not like, or even what I do not like, but we cannot talk about what is really right and what is really wrong.

Hence, what is left may be worded in many different ways in different cultures, but it is only the relative – that which is sociological, statistical, situational – nothing else.  You have situational, statistical ethics – the standard of averages – but you cannot have morality . . . we are just the little against the big, and nothing that has meaning in right and wrong.

Now let us look at the opposite answer – the personal beginning.  In this answer, there is a possibility of keeping morals and metaphysics separate.  This is a profound thing, though it may sound simple.  Whereas the impersonal beginning leads us to a merging of morals and metaphysics, the personal beginning provides the possibility of keeping them separate.  In other words, man’s finiteness may be separated from his cruelty.  God’s character is the moral absolute of the universe.  Plato was entirely right when he held that unless you have absolutes morals do not exist.

Again, as in the area of metaphysics, we must understand that this is not simply the best answer – it is the only answer in morals for man.  The only answer in the area of morals, as true morals, turns upon the fact of God’s being there.  If God is not there (not just the word “God,” but God himself being there), there is no answer and at all to the problem of evil, and morals.

(These selections are from the book, He is there and he is not silent, Chapter 2, “The Moral Necessity” where this is further discussed.)

“I JUST WANTED TO ILLUSTRATE IN AN ENTERTAINING WAY THAT THERE’S NO GOD, THAT WE’RE ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE, AND THAT THERE IS NOBODY OUT THERE TO PUNISH YOU, THAT THERE’S NOT GOING TO BE ANY KIND OF HOLLYWOOD ENDING TO YOUR LIFE IN ANY WAY, AND THAT YOUR MORALITY IS STRICTLY UP TO YOU.”

– WOODY ALLEN, COMMENTING ON THE FILM, “CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS.”

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Dr Shirley sermon “Four Fearsome Factors” Romans 1

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Four Fearsome Factors

Romans 1:16–20

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Is God a righteous God? Is God a just God? Is God fair to let a person die and go to Hell who has never even once heard the name of Jesus? You’ll have to admit that’s a good question, isn’t it?

God is righteous, and God is just. And there is no other way to Heaven apart from Jesus Christ. Don’t get the sentimental idea that all the world religions are somehow connected. Oh, no. Jesus Christ said, in John chapter 14, verse 6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”—now listen to this—and “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Now, if somebody can come some other way, then what does that make Jesus? That makes Jesus a liar. And, if Jesus Christ is a liar, not only is He not their Savior, He’s not my Savior, because a liar is nobody’s Savior. And, what did the apostles say in Acts chapter 4, verse 12, when they said this: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved?” (Acts 4:12).

This puts us on the horns of a major dilemma. Can a righteous, a good, a loving, a holy God let a man die and go to Hell who never once heard the name of Jesus? How are we going to answer that question? Well, the Apostle Paul is going to answer it for us in Romans chapter 1. So, I pray that you will listen and listen carefully, because we don’t have to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Notice how Paul begins in verse 16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16). And, look up here, and let me give you a good look at a man who also is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I’ve been preaching it now for 20 years. The more I preach it, the more I marvel at it, the more I thank God for it, the more I stand by it, the more I believe in it. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it”—the gospel—“is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth;”

Read vv. 17–20

Now, what about those who’ve never heard the gospel, those who are lost, who’ve never heard the gospel? Is God just? Is God righteous? Is God good?

Is God loving if He could let such an one go to hell? I want to write four things upon your heart, this morning. I want to give you four factors that will help you to understand this, and put it all together.

I. The Revelation Factor

Factor number one is the revelation factor. All men have some light.

I want you to imagine that the end of time has come, that time we know as the final judgment, and I want you to see out there what we would call the heathen—those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. The accusation is made, the indictment is given: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness … of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). The heathen, the pagans, they say, “Your Honor, not guilty, not guilty! We never heard the gospel, we never knew how to be saved; we are innocent by reason of ignorance. We never heard, we never knew.” And, the Apostle Paul becomes the prosecuting attorney. And, the Apostle Paul says to the Father, “Your Honor, I will prove that they are guilty; I will prove that they are not innocent because of ignorance. I will show that they cannot say they’ve never had a fair and an equal chance. And, I call two witnesses to testify against these who say they never knew, they never heard.

Witness number one: Will you take the stand? Witness number one: Give the court your name.” He says, “My name is Creation.” “Oh, Creation, you’re the witness that God exists?” “Yes, I am the witness that God exists.”

vv. 19-20

Creation testifies to the fact of God. Psalm 19, verse 1 says: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Now, if you have a creation, you have to have a Creator, and the Bible says that the Creator is clearly seen by the things that are made. When I see a piano, here, and it’s finely tuned, I know that somebody crafted it. When I see a watch that runs with precision, I say that somebody crafted that watch. When I see a building put together in symmetry and balance and purpose, I say that there is an architect. And, when I see this mighty universe put together, when I see creation, I say Creator. When I see order and system, I say intelligence. When I see design, I know there’s a Designer!

That’s the reason the Bible says: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). Because, witness number one is creation.

But then, Creation steps down from the witness stand, and the Apostle Paul says, “Now I call my second witness. Would you take the stand? Will you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” “I will.” “Will you give your name?” Witness number two says, “My name is Conscience.” So, there are two witnesses. Number one is Creation; that is, the outward, objective witness. The second is Conscience; that is, the inward, subjective witness.

v. 19

Unto them is Creation, in them is Conscience.

2:14-15    “For when the Gentiles”—now, another word for Gentiles is pagan, or those who’ve never heard the gospel—“For when the Gentiles, who have not the law”—the law here means the Old Testament law—“For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:14–15).

So, there are two witnesses that all pagans, all heathen, and all the people on all the face of the Earth have. One is the outward objective witness called Creation. The other is the inward subjective witness called Conscience. There is a built-in knowledge of God. It’s a God shaped void inside of us put in us by our Creator.

ill.–Augustine said the soul of man is restless until it finds its rest in God. God made man to serve him, to know him, and until he does, he’s like a round peg in a square hole, or he is out of fellowship.

Now, what is an atheist? There’s no real intellectual atheist. Atheists are not atheists because of intellectual problems; they’re atheists because of moral problems. “Ah,” you say, “but I know some brilliant people who are atheists.” Well, so what? I know some brilliant people who are not. You say, “Well, I know some foolish people who believe in God.” Well, I know everybody who doesn’t believe is foolish. You see, it’s not a matter of intelligence. The Bible says in v. 22 “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). Why? Because, you see, all of us have a God-consciousness. It is not a matter of intellectualism; it is a matter of morality. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

An atheist is somebody who has the idea of God that makes him uncomfortable, so he says, “If I can get rid of this idea of God, I can get rid of this uncomfortable feeling.” But, he really doesn’t get rid of it, not down deep. He’s like the man who bought a new boomerang and killed himself trying to throw the old one away. The idea of God is still there; and, the more he tries to get rid of it subconsciously, the more he knows that God exists, because down in his heart is that conscience.

“Me thinks thou dost protest too much” wrote Shakespeare in Hamlet.  Have you noticed how adamantly so called atheists make their point.  They harp on it so continuously because they are forever trying to convince themselves…and they are so threatened by the truth that they cannot just drop it and step away. They are very defensive about it. Too much…they give away how deeply plagued they are with it all. It’s like those who blast Sarah Palin day in and day out.  If she’s really the ‘nothing’ that they claim, they should be able to walk away from it after they say their peace.  But they are deeply threatened by what she represents, and they have to fight that battle everyday because it won’t go away in their conscience!

So, what is the first factor? It is the revelation factor. All men have some light.

John 1:9 
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

You can’t get around that. “[Christ is] the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). Two witnesses, Creation and Conscience, testify that the heathen, the pagans, no matter who they are or where they are, have some light. I didn’t say all light, just some.

II. The Refusal Factor

Now, here’s the second proposition. The first factor is the revelation factor. The second factor is the refusal factor. And, what is this factor? Light refused increases darkness.

vv. 21-22

“Because, when they knew God”—that is, they know by creation and conscience that God exists—“they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). Darkened. All men have some light. But light refused increases darkness. Now, you see, you cannot just simply take light or truth and put it on ice. You cannot put truth in your pocket and say, “That’s very interesting, I’ll spend it some day if I need it.” No, when God gives you light, when creation and conscience speak to the heart of any pagan or any individual anywhere on the face of this earth, when God gives him some light, if he does not glorify God, if he does not believe in God, if he does not trust God, he does not remain stationary; he begins to regress and he loses even the light that he has. His foolish heart will be darkened.

In the Bible, the opposite of truth is not error; it issin. Now, the error is the baggage that comes with the sin. I’m not saying that a man does not have error if he refuses truth. But, why does he refuse truth? He refuses truth because of the sin that is in his heart.

v. 18        ‘hold the truth in unrighteousness.’

Now, look at the word ‘hold.’ You know what that word hold means? It literally means “who resist the truth, who smother the truth, who hold back the truth.” And, how do they hold back the truth? Not in error, but in unrighteousness. Why does a man not believe in God? Because, to believe in God means that he has to adjust his lifestyle. His lifestyle is his unrighteousness…let’s picture it on his left. Creation and Conscience…here on his right…tell him there’s a God. His lifestyle says, “If I admit that, I’m going to have to change this.” So, he’s in a quandary between the two. If he turns this way, he turns from that; but if he turns this way, he turns from that. So, when he says, “I will resist the truth in unrighteousness,” then, when he turns this way, he gets further from that. And, he goes away into the darkness, and his foolish heart is darkened.

The unbelief is the baggage that comes with his sin. Now, I don’t think it’s more graphically illustrated than in the book of 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.

        I want you to listen to it. I think it is some of the most terrifying Scripture in all of the Bible. It speaks of the Antichrist who’s coming, and it says: “Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved”—now, listen to verses 11 and 12—“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–11). “Hold it, Pastor, hold it! God doesn’t send anybody delusion.” Well, you’d better go back and read it.  It says that God will send them strong delusion. Well, why on Earth would God send them strong delusion? Well, just continue to read: “That they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). It gets worse, doesn’t it? God sends delusion. And, why does God send delusion? “That they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Well, why would God send a lie? Well, let’s continue to read: “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all might be damned” (2 Thessalonians 2:11–12). Seems to get worse, doesn’t it? God sends delusion; they believe a lie, that they all might be damned. Why? Why would God do that? Well, continue to read: “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth”—they had the truth, they believed not the truth—“but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). They heard the truth; they knew the truth; they turned from the truth; and they had pleasure in their filthy, dirty, rotten sin! And, God says, “All right, that’s what you want. You want your sin, and with that sin, the baggage is delusion, a lie, and damnation.” You understand it?

Maybe I can illustrate it this way: Here’s a man who comes to Grace on Easter, and we’re taking a love offering for Jesus. He goes away and he says, “Ha! Those Baptists! All they ever talk about is money.” And, he goes away all steamed, hot under the collar. “It’s the last time I’m ever going to go down to that church. All they ever talk about is money, money, money.” That’s a lie. We talk about Jesus here, and we talk about giving to Jesus, and we’re glad to do it. But, you see, this man’s problem is not the truth. He doesn’t stop to ask, “Are we preaching the truth?” That’s not his problem at all. He knows, if he’ll open the Bible and listen to the Spirit of God, that the truth is there. But, the problem is his rotten greed—his greed! That’s why he got so upset to begin with. So, he leaves, and he says, “I am never going back to that church again.” Now, his problem, there, is not between truth and error, but between truth and greed. And so, he chooses his greed. Now, what happens? He’s home on a Sunday morning, several months from now. Somebody knocks at the door. He’s sitting there watching television, reading the sports page, got a six-pack of embalming fluid there, by his side, and he’s unshaven—just sitting there, on Sunday morning—wife and kids are off at church. He’s by himself. There’s a knock at the door. He opens the door and it’s two of Jehovah’s False Witnesses. And, he says, “What do you want?” And, to cut to the chase, “we’re here to tell you there is no Hell.” He says, “Come in, come in.” And, he listens to them. They tell him a lie. He believes a lie. He’s damned, and lost, and on the road to the very Hell he says he doesn’t believe in. Why? “[He] received not the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). “[He] had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). “For this cause God shall send [him] strong delusion, that [he] should believe the lie, that [he] might be damned” (2 Thessalonians 2:11–12).

Now, folks, you listen to me. All people have some light. That’s the revelation factor. The refusal factor is: Light refused increases darkness.

By the way, these people who are in darkness, really think that they are in the light—if you would look in verse 22: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). They’re the ones who think we’re the fools. Now, they may have a PhD, but in spiritual things it stands for phenomenal dud. They worship science as a god, rather than worshipping the God of science. They never asked, “How did all of this get here?”  Or they worship themselves, because they don’t want to humble themselves and worship God.

—–

pt. 2

 

III. The Reception Factor

All men have some light. That’s the revelation factor. The refusal factor is: light refused increases darkness, “their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).

The reception factor is this: Light obeyed increases light. But some may say, “Now Pastor, there’s a flaw in what you’ve been saying thus far. You’ve been saying that no man can go to Heaven apart from Jesus, and neither creation nor conscience tells you about Jesus. And so, when you say that all men have some light, that’s still not enough to save them, according to what you’ve said.” And, you’re absolutely right. Creation and conscience only bring us to the fact of God. But, if a man is not interested in the fact of God, he’s certainly not going to be interested in the way to God. And, God is under no obligation to show any man the way to God who’s not even interested in the fact of God.

So, what is the reception factor? The reception factor is that light obeyed increases light. Light refused increases darkness. Light obeyed increases light.

vv. 16-17

How is the righteousness of God revealed? “From faith to faith”. That’s the revelation factor. God gives you truth. You believe that truth, and God gives you more truth. You see, “unto every one who hath shall be given” (Matthew 25:29). The more you obey the light, the more light you get.

Here’s a man—God speaks to him, thru the witnesses of Creation and Conscience. He says, “God, I want to know You, I need to know You, I believe that You exist.” That’s faith, and he goes from faith to faith. God gives him more light. He says, “I believe that,” and he goes from faith to faith, and he goes stepping in the light until he comes to the Lord Jesus Christ. When a man is ready to receive the gospel, God will get the gospel to that man if he has to wreck an airplane and parachute a missionary in. I believe with all of my heart there’s never been a man who ever lived on the face of this Earth, or a woman who died, without some opportunity to have received Christ, had they lived up to the light that God gave them. While all men don’t have enough light to save them, all men have enough light to damn them. Had they lived up to the light that they had, they would’ve received more light.

You can find illustrations of this in the Bible. What about that Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8? He’d been to Jerusalem, the most religious city on the face of the Earth. Why had he gone there? He had gone there to worship. He had come all the way from northern Africa, from Ethiopia, in that day when there were no airplanes. He’s traveling now by chariot—can you imagine that—all the way to Jerusalem. And, why had he gone? It was the most religious city on the face of the Earth. He was seeking for God. But, the wells of religion were dry. He’s coming back. He’s reading the prophet Isaiah. He’s trying to understand. Do you know what God does for this man who’s living up to the light that he has? God goes down to Samaria. He gets a preacher named Philip who’s in the middle of a big revival campaign. He says, “Son, leave that revival campaign. I want you to go out in the desert. I’ve got one man out there, and I want you to tell him how to be saved.” You remember that story in Acts chapter 8? That Ethiopian eunuch, that “opportunity on wheels,” got saved, and God brought a missionary to that man to tell him how to be saved (Acts 8). And very cool, when done, God whisked him away…he vanished!

There was another man in Acts chapter 10; his name was Cornelius. The Bible says he was a Gentile, he was not of the household of Israel. But, Cornelius, an army officer, had a hunger to know God. He looked up in the starry heavens, one night, perhaps, as a private on sentry duty, and he said, “Oh, that didn’t just happen. O God, whoever You are, wherever You are, whatever You are, I want to know You.” And, God gave Cornelius a vision. And then, God got Simon Peter over here in the house of Simon the tanner, and said, “Simon Peter, I want you to go over there. There’s a man named Cornelius. I have spoken to him in a vision. You go tell him and his house how to be saved.” And God got the two together (Acts 10).

When you obey the light that you have, God will give you more light. Now, I want to say this to all of those of you who are saved: The reason that some of us don’t understand the Bible any more than we do is that we have not been living up to the light that God is already giving us. Why should God show you morein the Word of God until you obey what you already know? Isn’t that a good question? Some have never submitted to believer’s baptism. They know what the Bible teaches. But they say, “Well, I’ve got a forty dollar hairdo I don’t want to mess up.” And then later, they’re reading a passage of Scripture, and they’re saying, “I wonder why I don’t understand this. God show me what this means.” God says, “Why should I show you what that means? You haven’t obeyed what I’ve already showed you?” “Unto every one who hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him” (Matthew 25:29). What I’m trying to say is: Light obeyed increases light. And, if you want to understand the part of the Bible you don’t understand, begin to obey the part you do understand, and you’ll understand what you didn’t understand.

Again, the problem is not in the head; the problem is in the heart. One of the greatest promises in all of the Bible is in John chapter 7, verse 17. They were wondering about Jesus Christ: “Who is Jesus Christ?” The Pharisees were testing Him, taunting Him, picking at Him, and Jesus, said: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me”—and then, Jesus gave this challenge. He said—“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16–17). Do you will to do the will of God? Then, you’ll know.

Listen to this story I heard Dr. Adrian Rogers share:

“When I was in the Space Center, down at Merritt Island, I was in my office, one day, and a man came up in a big Cadillac, parked his car, came in, and said, “Mr. Rogers, I need to talk with you.” He was one of the big shots out at the Space Center, helping to put a man on the moon. I said to him, “Well, what do you want to talk about?” He said, “I want to talk about my wife. She wants to commit suicide, and I don’t want her to.” Well, I thought that was nice—he didn’t want her to commit suicide. So, he said, “Would you talk with my wife?” I said, “Well, I will if you’ll come with her.” So, the two of them came and sat down, and I said, “Tell me, lady, what your problems are.” And, her problems were this man! This man was a liar. He was a drunkard. He was an adulterer. He was a gambler. He was a blasphemer. A wife abuser. I mean, he was rotten. And, that’s mildly put. And so, I just stopped talking to her, and I started talking to him. I said, “Sir, I want to ask you a question. Are you a Christian?” He laughed a scornful laugh, and said, “No! I’m not a Christian; I’m an atheist.” I said, “Oh, an atheist.” I said, “An atheist is a man who says there’s no God and he knows there’s no God. Do you know there’s no God?” And, he said, “Yes.” I said, “Well, that’s interesting.” I said, “Of all there is to know, how much do you know? Do you know half of everything there is to know?” He said, “Of course not.” “But, you said you know there’s no God. Wouldn’t you have to admit the possibility that God might exist in that half of the knowledge you don’t have?” “Well,” he said, “okay, you got me. I’m not an atheist, I’m an agnostic.” I didn’t tell him the Latin equivalent of agnostic is ignoramus. It’s the same word in Latin or Greek: agnostic in Greek, Latin ignoramus. It means just, “I don’t know, I’m ignorant.” I said, “That’s just a fancy word for a doubter. Are you a doubter?” He said, “Yes, and a big one.” I said, “I don’t care what size; I want to know what kind.” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, there are two kinds of doubters: There are honest doubters and dishonest doubters. Which kind are you?” He said, “Well, what’s the difference?” I said, “An honest doubter doesn’t know, but he wants to know, and therefore he investigates. A dishonest doubter doesn’t know because he doesn’t want to know. And, he can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman. Jesus said, ‘They hate the light, and they will not come to the light, because their deeds are evil’” (John 3:20). He said, “Well…” I said, “Sir, would you like to find out whether you’re an honest doubter or a dishonest doubter?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Would you sign this statement: ‘God, I don’t know whether You exist or not. I don’t know whether the Bible is Your Word or not. I don’t know whether Jesus Christ is Your Son or not. I don’t know, but I want to know. And, because I want to know, I will make an honest investigation. And, because it is an honest investigation, I will follow the results of that investigation wherever they lead me, regardless of the cost?’” I said, “Would you sign that statement?” He said, “I’d like to be honest.” I said, “Wonderful!” I gave him an assignment. I said, “I want you to begin to read the gospel of John. He said, “But, I don’t believe.” I said, “That’s all right. You just make an honest investigation. You say to God, ‘God, I don’t know whether this is Your Word or not. If this is Your Word, show me, and I’ll make up my mind before the fact that I will obey You, only if you show me this is Your Word and speak to my heart.’” He said, “That’s fair enough.” What happened? In a few weeks, he came back, said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” got on his knees like a little child and wept his way to the arms of Jesus. That was many, many years ago. I got a letter from him a while back. He’s up in Bangor, Maine now. He has a tape ministry and is teaching the Bible. And, this is what he said to me: He said, “Mr. Rogers, I want to thank you for spending time with this general in the devil’s army.”

Where was that man’s problem? He thought his problem was intellectual. His problem was his will. When a man surrenders his will, God will speak to him. Light obeyed increases light. Live up to the light that you have and God will give you more light.

IV. The Reckoning Factor

When God comes to judge us, what is God going to judge us by? Do you think that God is going to judge us by the sin that we’ve committed? No! God is going to judge us by the light that we’ve rejected.

2:5, 11

He’s just simply saying that God knows how much light you have. Many of us have far more light than other people. Not because you necessarily sought it; you just happen to live in America where there’s a church on every street corner. There are Bibles everywhere. And, it’s not so much because you sought it; it’s just simply by the providence of God that you have more light than others. Now, what is God going to do? God is going to hold you accountable more so than the person who’s never heard.

Luke 12:48 
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

It would be bad enough for the pagan in darkest Africa to die and go to Hell, who never heard the name of Jesus, who refused to live up to the light that even he did have. But, how much more for a person who would sit in an auditorium like this, air-conditioned, with a Bible in their hand, hear a preacher tear his heart out and beg people to be saved, and say “no.” If I had to go to Hell, I’d much rather go to Hell as a pagan never having heard the name of Jesus than to go to Hell from GBC, from a service like this.

Listen to me: The burning question is not, “What is God going to do with the heathen who never heard?” The burning question is, “What is God going to do with you who heard the gospel of Jesus?” You’ve heard the message that Jesus died in agony and blood upon the cross, and you said “no” to the Lord Jesus. Do you know what our Lord said? Our Lord said to a soul winner, “When you go out soul winning, you knock on a door and the people won’t hear you”—He said—“shake the dust off your shoes. Shake the dust off your shoes” (Matthew 10:14). Well, why would He do that? God says, “Because, there’s coming a judgment, and in that day, in that judgment, you may stand before God and say, ‘O God, O God, have mercy. I didn’t have a chance.’” And God can say, “Officer, would you bring the evidence into the court?” “What is that evidence?” “Would you look at that, sir?” “What is that?” “That’s the dust off Jerry’s shoes. Those are the shoes he was wearing when he preached the gospel to you.”

        And, Jesus said to Capernaum, His headquarter city, It would be better for Sodom and Gomorrah in the judgment than for that city where He preached and taught, and yet, they turned their back on Him and never received Him. All men have some light. Light refused increases darkness. Light obeyed increases light. And, men are judged according to the light that they have.

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