FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 134 H.J.Blackham Part B (Featured artist is Richard M. Loving)

H.J.Blackham pictured below:

Image result for h.j. blackham british humanist

I had to pleasure of corresponding with Paul Kurtz in the 1990’s and he like H. J. Blackham firmly believed that religion was needed to have a basis for morals. At H. J. Blackham’s funeral in 2009 these words were read from Paul Kurtz:

Paul Kurtz Founder and Chair, Prometheus Books and the Center for Inquiry.

I am pleased to bring greetings from across the Atlantic to honour Harold J Blackham, a man that I first met in the late 1960s at meetings of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Indeed it was in 1969, forty years ago, that I made a special trip to England to see Harold. I was in the process of founding Prometheus Books and wished to talk to him and Hector Hawton about cooperating with the Rationalist Press Association and Pemberton Books in importing books from British authors. I have remained in contact with Harold Blackham over the years on my many trips to the United Kingdom and to meetings of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and also I visited him at his home. Blackham was one of the great heroes of Humanism in the twentieth century – indeed probably the best known of British humanists worldwide. There are many famous British humanists – scientists, philosophers and intellectuals – but not a humanist humanist per se committed to the cause. I appreciate the fact that Harold did so much to create the British Humanist Association, leaving the Ethical Union and its religious focus behind. He was a tireless worker on behalf of organised Humanism and he was devoted to many progressive causes. Especially noteworthy is moral education for children, as an alternative to religious education.

Blackham was not a professional philosopher but he published many books on philosophical themes. Indeed, Prometheus Books was pleased to publish his work The Future of Our Past in 1996, in which he exploresthe roots of European civilisation, beginning with the humanism of Greece, Romanitas and the challenge of Zion. He concluded in his many writings that humanity possesses self awareness as never before to determine the future of our planet and to reshape our genetic heritage. We have a responsibility, he said, to develop one world collectively and individually – the bond of human union supersedes the claims of Hellas, Romanitas and Zion.

In The Humanist Alternative, a book that I edited, he provided a definition of Humanism. Humanism, he said, is a concept of man; the notion of human responsibility is the nuclear idea in the definition of Humanism. Man and woman in their own terms rule an end.

Human life is in human hands. Here is the humanist faith – a reasonable faith in intelligent action. This call comes home to everyone’s possibilities to respond. Personal life is choice, not obligation, a work of art, not a set task, an offering not a requirement, a creation, not a prize. Abstractly, said Harold Blackham, Humanism is a concept of the human, focussed on a programme of humanity. Concretely, he added, it is my idea of and my commitment to my part in that programme which includes the life that is in my own hands.

A fitting, rather eloquent statement, in the celebration of the life of a great person, Harold J Blackham.

Below is a portion of a debate between William Lane Craig and Paul Kurtz on the issue of morals without God.

Goodness Without God is Good Enough: William Lane Craig vs Paul Kurtz 4/7

Goodness Without God is Good Enough: William Lane Craig vs Paul Kurtz 6/7

Goodness Without God is Good Enough: William Lane Craig vs Paul Kurtz 7/7

The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality

William Lane Craig

Theism and naturalism are contrasted with respect to furnishing an adequate foundation for the moral life. It is shown that on a theistic worldview an adequate foundation exists for the affirmation of objective moral values, moral duties, and moral accountability. By contrast, naturalism fails in all three respects. Insofar as we believe that moral values and duties do exist, we therefore have good grounds for believing that God exists. Moreover, a practical argument for believing in God is offered on the basis of moral accountability.

Source: “The Indispensability of Theological Meta-ethical Foundations for Morality.” Foundations 5 (1997): 9-12.

Can we be good without God? At first the answer to this question may seem so obvious that even to pose it arouses indignation. For while those of us who are Christian theists undoubtedly find in God a source of moral strength and resolve which enables us to live lives that are better than those we should live without Him, nevertheless it would seem arrogant and ignorant to claim that those who do not share a belief in God do not often live good moral lives–indeed, embarrassingly, lives that sometimes put our own to shame.

But wait. It would, indeed, be arrogant and ignorant to claim that people cannot be good without belief in God. But that was not the question. The question was: can we be good without God? When we ask that question, we are posing in a provocative way the meta-ethical question of the objectivity of moral values. Are the values we hold dear and guide our lives by mere social conventions akin to driving on the left versus right side of the road or mere expressions of personal preference akin to having a taste for certain foods or not? Or are they valid independently of our apprehension of them, and if so, what is their foundation? Moreover, if morality is just a human convention, then why should we act morally, especially when it conflicts with self-interest? Or are we in some way held accountable for our moral decisions and actions?

Today I want to argue that if God exists, then the objectivity of moral values, moral duties, and moral accountability is secured, but that in the absence of God, that is, if God does not exist, then morality is just a human convention, that is to say, morality is wholly subjective and non-binding. We might act in precisely the same ways that we do in fact act, but in the absence of God, such actions would no longer count as good (or evil), since if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. Thus, we cannot truly be good without God. On the other hand, if we do believe that moral values and duties are objective, that provides moral grounds for believing in God.

Consider, then, the hypothesis that God exists. First, if God exists, objective moral values exist. To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so. It is to say, for example, that Nazi anti-Semitism was morally wrong, even though the Nazis who carried out the Holocaust thought that it was good; and it would still be wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them.

On the theistic view, objective moral values are rooted in God. God’s own holy and perfectly good nature supplies the absolute standard against which all actions and decisions are measured. God’s moral nature is what Plato called the “Good.” He is the locus and source of moral value. He is by nature loving, generous, just, faithful, kind, and so forth.

Moreover, God’s moral nature is expressed in relation to us in the form of divine commands which constitute our moral duties or obligations. Far from being arbitrary, these commands flow necessarily from His moral nature. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the whole moral duty of man can be summed up in the two great commandments: First, you shall love the Lord your God with all your strength and with all your soul and with all your heart and with all your mind, and, second, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On this foundation we can affirm the objective goodness and rightness of love, generosity, self-sacrifice, and equality, and condemn as objectively evil and wrong selfishness, hatred, abuse, discrimination, and oppression.

Finally, on the theistic hypothesis God holds all persons morally accountable for their actions. Evil and wrong will be punished; righteousness will be vindicated. Good ultimately triumphs over evil, and we shall finally see that we do live in a moral universe after all. Despite the inequities of this life, in the end the scales of God’s justice will be balanced. Thus, the moral choices we make in this life are infused with an eternal significance. We can with consistency make moral choices which run contrary to our self-interest and even undertake acts of extreme self-sacrifice, knowing that such decisions are not empty and ultimately meaningless gestures. Rather our moral lives have a paramount significance. So I think it is evident that theism provides a sound foundation for morality.

Contrast this with the atheistic hypothesis. First, if atheism is true, objective moral values do not exist. If God does not exist, then what is the foundation for moral values? More particularly, what is the basis for the value of human beings? If God does not exist, then it is difficult to see any reason to think that human beings are special or that their morality is objectively true. Moreover, why think that we have any moral obligations to do anything? Who or what imposes any moral duties upon us? Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science from the University of Guelph, writes,

The position of the modern evolutionist . . . is that humans have an awareness of morality . . . because such an awareness is of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth . . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves . . . . Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory . . . .1

As a result of socio-biological pressures, there has evolved among homo sapiens a sort of “herd morality” which functions well in the perpetuation of our species in the struggle for survival. But there does not seem to be anything about homo sapiens that makes this morality objectively true.

Moreover, on the atheistic view there is no divine lawgiver. But then what source is there for moral obligation? Richard Taylor, an eminent ethicist, writes,

The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, not noticing that, in casting God aside, they have also abolished the conditions of meaningfulness for moral right and wrong as well.

Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things are war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights, are ‘morally wrong,’ and they imagine that they have said something true and significant.

Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion.2

He concludes,

Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning.3

Now it is important that we remain clear in understanding the issue before us. The question is not: Must we believe in God in order to live moral lives? There is no reason to think that atheists and theists alike may not live what we normally characterize as good and decent lives. Similarly, the question is not: Can we formulate a system of ethics without reference to God? If the non-theist grants that human beings do have objective value, then there is no reason to think that he cannot work out a system of ethics with which the theist would also largely agree. Or again, the question is not: Can we recognize the existence of objective moral values without reference to God? The theist will typically maintain that a person need not believe in God in order to recognize, say, that we should love our children. Rather, as humanist philosopher Paul Kurtz puts it, “The central question about moral and ethical principles concerns this ontological foundation. If they are neither derived from God nor anchored in some transcendent ground, are they purely ephemeral?”4

If there is no God, then any ground for regarding the herd morality evolved by homo sapiens as objectively true seems to have been removed. After all, what is so special about human beings? They are just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. Some action, say, incest, may not be biologically or socially advantageous and so in the course of human evolution has become taboo; but there is on the atheistic view nothing really wrong about committing incest. If, as Kurtz states, “The moral principles that govern our behavior are rooted in habit and custom, feeling and fashion,”5 then the non-conformist who chooses to flout the herd morality is doing nothing more serious than acting unfashionably.

The objective worthlessness of human beings on a naturalistic world view is underscored by two implications of that world view: materialism and determinism. Naturalists are typically materialists or physicalists, who regard man as a purely animal organism. But if man has no immaterial aspect to his being (call it soul or mind or what have you), then he is not qualitatively different from other animal species. For him to regard human morality as objective is to fall into the trap of specie-ism. On a materialistic anthropology there is no reason to think that human beings are objectively more valuable than rats. Secondly, if there is no mind distinct from the brain, then everything we think and do is determined by the input of our five senses and our genetic make-up. There is no personal agent who freely decides to do something. But without freedom, none of our choices is morally significant. They are like the jerks of a puppet’s limbs, controlled by the strings of sensory input and physical constitution. And what moral value does a puppet or its movements have?

Thus, if naturalism is true, it becomes impossible to condemn war, oppression, or crime as evil. Nor can one praise brotherhood, equality, or love as good. It does not matter what values you choose–for there is no right and wrong; good and evil do not exist. That means that an atrocity like the Holocaust was really morally indifferent. You may think that it was wrong, but your opinion has no more validity than that of the Nazi war criminal who thought it was good. In his book Morality after Auschwitz, Peter Haas asks how an entire society could have willingly participated in a state-sponsored program of mass torture and genocide for over a decade without any serious opposition. He argues that

far from being contemptuous of ethics, the perpetrators acted in strict conformity with an ethic which held that, however difficult and unpleasant the task might have been, mass extermination of the Jews and Gypsies was entirely justified. . . . the Holocaust as a sustained effort was possible only because a new ethic was in place that did not define the arrest and deportation of Jews as wrong and in fact defined it as ethically tolerable and ever good.6

Moreover, Haas points out, because of its coherence and internal consistency, the Nazi ethic could not be discredited from within. Only from a transcendent vantage point which stands above relativistic, socio-cultural mores could such a critique be launched. But in the absence of God, it is precisely such a vantage point that we lack. One Rabbi who was imprisoned at Auschwitz said that it was as though all the Ten Commandments had been reversed: thou shalt kill, thou shalt lie, thou shalt steal. Mankind has never seen such a hell. And yet, in a real sense, if naturalism is true, our world is Auschwitz. There is no good and evil, no right and wrong. Objective moral values do not exist.

Moreover, if atheism is true, there is no moral accountability for one’s actions. Even if there were objective moral values and duties under naturalism, they are irrelevant because there is no moral accountability. If life ends at the grave, it makes no difference whether one lives as a Stalin or as a saint. As the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky rightly said: “If there is no immortality, then all things are permitted.”7

The state torturers in Soviet prisons understood this all too well. Richard Wurmbrand reports,

The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The Communist torturers often said, ‘There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.’ I have heard one torturer even say, ‘I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.’ He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflected on prisoners.8

Given the finality of death, it really does not matter how you live. So what do you say to someone who concludes that we may as well just live as we please, out of pure self-interest? This presents a pretty grim picture for an atheistic ethicist like Kai Nielsen of the University of Calgary. He writes,

We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view, or that all really rational persons should not be individual egoists or classical amoralists. Reason doesn’t decide here. The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me . . . . Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.9

Somebody might say that it is in our best self-interest to adopt a moral life-style. But clearly, that is not always true: we all know situations in which self-interest runs smack in the face of morality. Moreover, if one is sufficiently powerful, like a Ferdinand Marcos or a Papa Doc Duvalier or even a Donald Trump, then one can pretty much ignore the dictates of conscience and safely live in self-indulgence. Historian Stewart C. Easton sums it up well when he writes, “There is no objective reason why man should be moral, unless morality ‘pays off’ in his social life or makes him ‘feel good.’ There is no objective reason why man should do anything save for the pleasure it affords him.”10

Acts of self-sacrifice become particularly inept on a naturalistic world view. Why should you sacrifice your self-interest and especially your life for the sake of someone else? There can be no good reason for adopting such a self-negating course of action on the naturalistic world view. Considered from the socio-biological point of view, such altruistic behavior is merely the result of evolutionary conditioning which helps to perpetuate the species. A mother rushing into a burning house to rescue her children or a soldier throwing his body over a hand grenade to save his comrades does nothing more significant or praiseworthy, morally speaking, than a fighter ant which sacrifices itself for the sake of the ant hill. Common sense dictates that we should resist, if we can, the socio-biological pressures to such self-destructive activity and choose instead to act in our best self-interest. The philosopher of religion John Hick invites us to imagine an ant suddenly endowed with the insights of socio-biology and the freedom to make personal decisions. He writes:

Suppose him to be called upon to immolate himself for the sake of the ant-hill. He feels the powerful pressure of instinct pushing him towards this self-destruction. But he asks himself why he should voluntarily . . . carry out the suicidal programme to which instinct prompts him? Why should he regard the future existence of a million million other ants as more important to him than his own continued existence? . . . Since all that he is and has or ever can have is his own present existence, surely in so far as he is free from the domination of the blind force of instinct he will opt for life–his own life.11

Now why should we choose any differently? Life is too short to jeopardize it by acting out of anything but pure self-interest. Sacrifice for another person is just stupid. Thus the absence of moral accountability from the philosophy of naturalism makes an ethic of compassion and self-sacrifice a hollow abstraction. R. Z. Friedman, a philosopher of the University of Toronto, concludes, “Without religion the coherence of an ethic of compassion cannot be established. The principle of respect for persons and the principle of the survival of the fittest are mutually exclusive.”12

We thus come to radically different perspectives on morality depending upon whether or not God exists. If God exists, there is a sound foundation for morality. If God does not exist, then, as Nietzsche saw, we are ultimately landed in nihilism.

But the choice between the two need not be arbitrarily made. On the contrary, the very considerations we have been discussing can constitute moral justification for the existence of God.

For example, if we do think that objective moral values exist, then we shall be led logically to the conclusion that God exists. And could anything be more obvious than that objective moral values do exist? There is no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world. The reasoning of Ruse is at worst a text-book example of the genetic fallacy and at best only proves that our subjective perception of objective moral values has evolved. But if moral values are gradually discovered, not invented, then such a gradual and fallible apprehension of the moral realm no more undermines the objective reality of that realm than our gradual, fallible perception of the physical world undermines the objectivity of that realm. The fact is that we do apprehend objective values, and we all know it. Actions like rape, torture, child abuse, and brutality are not just socially unacceptable behavior–they are moral abominations. As Ruse himself states, “The man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says, 2+2=5.”13 By the same token, love, generosity, equality, and self-sacrifice are really good. People who fail to see this are just morally handicapped, and there is no reason to allow their impaired vision to call into question what we see clearly. Thus, the existence of objective moral values serves to demonstrate the existence of God.

Or consider the nature of moral obligation. What makes certain actions right or wrong for us? What or who imposes moral duties upon us? Why is it that we ought to do certain things and ought not to do other things? Where does this ‘ought’ come from? Traditionally, our moral obligations were thought to be laid upon us by God’s moral commands. But if we deny God’s existence, then it is difficult to make sense of moral duty or right and wrong, as Richard Taylor explains,

A duty is something that is owed . . . . But something can be owed only to some person or persons. There can be no such thing as duty in isolation . . . . The idea of political or legal obligation is clear enough . . . . Similarly, the idea of an obligation higher than this, and referred to as moral obligation, is clear enough, provided reference to some lawmaker higher . . . . than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations can . . . be understood as those that are imposed by God. This does give a clear sense to the claim that our moral obligations are more binding upon us than our political obligations . . . . But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account? Does the concept of a moral obligation . . . still make sense? . . . . the concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart form the idea of God. The words remain, but their meaning is gone.14

It follows that moral obligations and right and wrong necessitate God’s existence. And certainly we do have such obligations. Speaking recently on a Canadian University campus, I noticed a poster put up by the Sexual Assault & Information Center. It read: “Sexual Assault: No One Has the Right to Abuse a Child, Woman, or Man.” Most of us recognize that that statement is evidently true. But the atheist can make no sense of a person’s right not to be sexually abused by another. The best answer to the question as to the source of moral obligation is that moral rightness or wrongness consists in agreement or disagreement with the will or commands of a holy, loving God.

Finally, take the problem of moral accountability. Here we find a powerful practical argument for believing in God. According to William James, practical arguments can only be used when theoretical arguments are insufficient to decide a question of urgent and pragmatic importance. But it seems obvious that a practical argument could also be used to back up or motivate acceptance of the conclusion of a sound theoretical argument. To believe, then, that God does not exist and that there is thus no moral accountability would be quite literally de-moralizing, for then we should have to believe that our moral choices are ultimately insignificant, since both our fate and that of the universe will be the same regardless of what we do. By “de-moralization” I mean a deterioration of moral motivation. It is hard to do the right thing when that means sacrificing one’s own self-interest and to resist temptation to do wrong when desire is strong, and the belief that ultimately it does not matter what you choose or do is apt to sap one’s moral strength and so undermine one’s moral life. As Robert Adams observes, “Having to regard it as very likely that the history of the universe will not be good on the whole, no matter what one does, seems apt to induce a cynical sense of futility about the moral life, undermining one’s moral resolve and one’s interest in moral considerations.”15 By contrast there is nothing so likely to strengthen the moral life as the beliefs that one will be held accountable for one’s actions and that one’s choices do make a difference in bringing about the good. Theism is thus a morally advantageous belief, and this, in the absence of any theoretical argument establishing atheism to be the case, provides practical grounds to believe in God and motivation to accept the conclusions of the two theoretical arguments I just gave above.

In summary, theological meta-ethical foundations do seem to be necessary for morality. If God does not exist, then it is plausible to think that there are no objective moral values, that we have no moral duties, and that there is no moral accountability for how we live and act. The horror of such a morally neutral world is obvious. If, on the other hand, we hold, as it seems rational to do, that objective moral values and duties do exist, then we have good grounds for believing in the existence of God. In addition, we have powerful practical reasons for embracing theism in view of the morally bracing effects which belief in moral accountability produces. We cannot, then, truly be good without God; but if we can in some measure be good, then it follows that God exists.

Notes

1 Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” inThe Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262, 268-9.

2 Richard Taylor,Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1985), pp. 2-3.

3 Ibid., p. 7.

4 Paul Kurtz,Forbidden Fruit (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1988) p. 65.

5 Ibid., p. 73.

6 Critical notice of Peter Haas,Morality after Auschwitz: The Radical Challenge of the Nazi Ethic (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), by R. L.Rubenstein, Journal of the Americn Academy of Religion 60 (1992): 158.

7 Fyodor Dostoyevsky,The Brothers Karamazov, trans. C. Garnett (New York: Signet Classics, 1957), bk. II, chap. 6; bk. V, chap. 4; bk. XI, chap. 8.

8 Richard Wurmbrand,Tortured for Christ (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1967), p. 34.

9 Kai Nielsen, “Why Should I Be Moral?” American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1984): 90.

10 Stewart C. Easton,The Western Heritage, 2d ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1966), p. 878.

11 John Hick,Arguments for the Existence of God (New York: Herder & Herder, 1971), p. 63.

12 R. Z. Friedman, “Does the ‘Death of God’ Really Matter?” International Philosophical Quarterly 23 (1983): 322.

13 Michael Ruse,Darwinism Defended (London: Addison-Wesley, 1982), p. 275.

14 Taylor,Ethics, Faith, and Reason, pp. 83-4.

15 Robert Merrihew Adams, “Moral Arguments for Theistic Belief,” inRationality and Religious Belief, ed. C. F. Delaney (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre dame Press, 1979), p. 127.

 

I have written on the Book of Ecclesiasteand the subject of the meaninof our lives on several occasions on this blog. Today again  I hope to show how the secular humanist person can not hope to fina lasting meaning to his life in a closed system without bringing God back into the picture. This is the same exact case with Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Three thousanyears ago, Solomon took a look at life under the sun” in his book of Ecclesiastes. Christian scholaRavi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.”

Let me show you some inescapable conclusions that Francis Schaeffer said you will face if you choose to live without God in the picture. Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “under the sun.”

  1. Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
  2. Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13)
  3. Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1)
  4. Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including knowledge (1:16-18), ladies and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and great building projects (2:4-6, 18-20).

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Just like Hugh Hefner you will fail in getting satisfaction in life without God in the picture and like Solomon you will become depressed and many very learned people have discussed this issue such as Will Durant, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Stephen Jay Gould,Richard Dawkins, Jean-Paul Sartre,Bertrand Russell, Leo Tolstoy, Loren Eiseley,Aldous Huxley, G.K. Chesterton, Ravi Zacharias, and C.S. Lewis.

Ecclesiastes 1

Published on Sep 4, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 2, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

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Ecclesiastes 2-3

Published on Sep 19, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 16, 2012 | Derek Neider

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The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt)

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I want to make two points today. 1. There is no way for an atheist to achieve last meaning. 2. The atheist can not come up with any intellectual basis for the “Golden Rule.” In a world of time and chance the survival of the fittest is the best he can come with. (Woody Allen’s movie makes that point very well with his reference to “might makes right.”)

In response to John Brummett’s article “Irony abounds as religion arises,” Arkansas News Bureau, August 16, 2011,

mudfishin Says:
August 16th, 2011 at 9:46 am

Atheists understand that life is wonderful because we only have one. It’s not about having a purpose in life as much as it’s about living life to the fullest extent while trying to make the world a happy place for ALLThe latter part of that statement is why Atheists advertise and proselytize – because religion often gives a person a sense of superiority over others from different faiths and the non-religious, and that often leads to prejudice, division, and violence.

I am an Atheist, yet I believe whole-heartedly in the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you. It’s the core belief in over 20 of the largest world religions, believe it or not. .. The fact is this, if you truly follow that rule then you won’t kill or steal or lie or covet thy neighbors anything because you would never want someone doing that to you. It’s common sense, it’s simple human morality, nothing implanted by gods. 

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Christians have a basis for their morality because the infinite personal God of the Bible has spoken in the Bible to them. The Bible was written in a space time setting and many of the passages of the Bible have been verified as historically accurate.

On the other hand, many of the passages of the Book of Mormon has been disproved (For instance, use of horses and chariots in the USA 2000 years ago). Jesus said that he was the only way to God (John 14:6) and that he was the truth and the light.  Those who do not have revealed truth are left in the dark when it comes to morals. Let me give you a perfect example concerning the “Golden Rule.”

Earlier I took a look at the Woody Allen film “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  In that film Judah has his troublesome mistress killed because she was about to destroy him by revealing his past illegal activities. Judah is told by his agnostic to not be troubled by guilt and that he is home free. She noted that Hitler proved that might makes right.  (Martin Landau played the part of Judah and he revealed that several men had confided to him that they wished they had done the same deed as Judah because they would have been happier.)

The basic question Woody Allen is presenting to his own agnostic humanistic worldview is: If you really believe there is no God there to punish you in an afterlife, then why not murder if you can get away with it?  The secular humanist worldview that modern man has adopted does not work in the real world that God has created. God “has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is a direct result of our God-given conscience. The apostle Paul said it best in Romans 1:19, “For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God  has shown it to them” (Amplified Version).

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” The Humanist, May/June 1997, pp.38-39). Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism.

Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (The Humanist, September/October 1997, p. 2.). Humanists don’t really have an intellectual basis for saying that Hitler was wrong, but their God-given conscience tells them that they are wrong on this issue AND THEY HAVE NO BASIS FOR DEFENDING THE GOLDEN RULE. ABOVE WE READ mudfishin say “It’s common sense, it’s simple human morality…” BUT I KNEW Gloria Leitner WOULD BE CHALLENGED BY A FELLOW HUMANIST WHO THOUGHT THROUGH THEIR WORLDVIEW WITH A LOGICAL MIND, AND SURE ENOUGH IT HAPPENED.

Solomon showed us in the first 11 chapters of Ecclesiastes what the world “under the sun” without God in the picture looks like and it forces one to embrace nihilism.(See previous post on this about Solomon’s search.) However, the atheist has to live in the world that God made with the conscience that God gave him. This creates a tension. The agnostic Carl Sagan felt the tension too.

What does Dr. Sagan have Dr. Arroway say at the end of the movie Contact when she is testifying before Congress about the alien that  communicated with her? See if you can pick out the one illogical word in her statement: “I was given a vision how tiny, insignificant, rare and precious we all are. We belong to something that is greater than ourselves and none of us are alone.”

Dr Sagan deep down knew that we are special so he could not avoid putting the word “precious” in there. Francis Schaeffer said unbelievers are put in a place of tension when they have to live in the world that God has made because deep down they know they are special because God has put that knowledge in their hearts.We are not the result of survival of the fittest and headed back to the dirt forevermore. WOODY ALLEN REALIZES THAT IF GOD DOES NOT EXIST THEN WE ARE NOT PRECIOUS AND ALL IS MEANINGLESS!!!

Image result for h.j. blackham british humanist

(H.J. Blackham pictured above)

I would love to hear from any atheist that would present a case for lasting meaning in life apart from God. It seems to me that the British humanist H. J. Blackham was right in his accessment of the predictament that atheists face:

On humanist assumptions [the assumption that there is no God and life has evolved by time and chance alone], life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does notis a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance andends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, oneafter another they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads to nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere. . . It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all . . . such a situation is a model of futility (H. J. Blackham et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967 AS QUOTED BY FRANCIS SCHAEFFER IN HIS BOOK “Whatever happened to the Human Race?”).)

Image result for francis schaeffer

Woody Allen’s film does a great job of showing the need for the “enforcement factor.” One reviewer made it sound like the movie was unrealistic and Judah could have smoothtalked his way out of this. However, Woody Allen anticipated this objection and that is why he threw in the illegal financial dealings of Judah that his former girlfriend knew about. Now instead of just losing his marriage he may have to go to jail.

Richard M. Loving is the featured artist today:

ascension by richard m. loving

__________

Artist Richard M. Loving - FindArtinfo

R I C H A R D    L O V I N G

EDUCATION

1945-46 Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
1947 The New School for Social Research, New York, NY

GRANTS

1983 National Endowment of Art – Senior Fellowship Grant

FACULTY

Professor Emeritus – The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1971-2004

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2010 “Recent Views of an Inner World: Paintings by Richard Loving,” Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso, IN
2008 “in the world,” Oak Park Public Library, Oak Park, IL
2007 “30 Year Review,” Evanston Art Center & The Art Center of Highland Park, Evanston & Highland Park, IL, catalog essays by James Yood and Sue Taylor
2003 “Recent Works on Paper,” Printworks Gallery Chicago, IL, essay, Sue Taylor
2000 Jan Cicero Gallery, Chicago, IL
1998 “Dissections,” Recent Works on Paper, Printworks Gallery, Chicago, IL
1996 Bottler Dane, Santa Fe, NM
“Undercurrents,” Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, IL
1993 Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, IL
1991 The Jung Center, Evanston, IL
“Seed Godesses and Water Themes,” Anderson University, Anderson, IN
1990 “Markings: Paintings, Prints and Constructions,” State of Illinois Art Gallery, Chicago, IL
1987 Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, IL
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
1984 Roy Boyd Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1983 Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, IL
1982 Lerner Heller, New York, NY
Baret College, Lake Forest, IL
1981 Jan Cicero Gallery, Chicago, IL
1973 Gallery Bernard, Chicago, IL
1963 Lawrence College, Appleton, WI
1957 Bloomington Art Assocation, Bloomington, IL

TWO-PERSON EXHIBITIONS

1979 Jan Cicero Gallery, Chicago IL
1977 Name Gallery, Chicago, IL
1972 Benjamin Gallery, Chicago, IL
1969 Kovler Gallery, Chicago, IL

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

1998 “Primary Colors,” Jean Albano Gallery, Chicago, IL
“Pleasure Beyond Guilt,” Artemesia, Chicago, IL
“Second Sight,” Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, curated by James Yood
1995 “Selections from the Toni Gutfreund Collection,” Oakton Community College, Chicago, IL
“Painting and Sculpture Today,” Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN
“Art in the Midwest,” University of Notre Dame, IN
1993 “Three Person Show/Enamels,” The Art Institute of Chicago, IL
1991 “Spirited Visions-Portraits of Artists,” State of Illinois Gallery, Chicago, IL
1986-88 “Contemporary Screens, Function, DecorationSculpture, Metaphor,” circulated by the Art Museum Association of America (travelling)
1988 “Drawings,” Galarie Anton Meier, Geneva, Switzerland
“The Grande Example of La Grande Jatte: Seurat and Chicago Art,” Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, IL, curated by Mary Mathews Gedo
1986 ”Artists’ Alternate Media,” NIU Art Gallery, Chicago, IL
“Elegant Abstraction,” Paine Art Center, Oshkosh, WI
1985 “Eighty-first Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity,” Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
“American Abstraction” / Four Currents, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY
1984 ”Abstract Painting in Chicago,” Roy Boyd Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
“Abstract, Symbol, Image,” Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL (travelling)
“Chicago: Some Other Traditions,” Madison Art Center, Madison, WI (travelling), curated by Dennis Adrian
“FORUM,” Zurich, Switzerland
“Chicago Cross Sections,” Triisolini Gallery, University of Ohio
1983 “The Fan Show,” Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL, curated by Ellen Lanyon
“Chicago Artists: Continuity and Change,” Printer’s Row, Chicago, IL
“Chicago Abstract Painting,” Chesney Cowles Memorial Museum, Spokane, WA
1982 “Chicago Abstract Painting,” Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA
1980 “32nd Illinos Invitational,” Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL
1979 “Chicago / Karlsruhe,” Germany, curated by Franz Schulze
1977 “Two Painters-Two Sculptors,” The School of the Art Institute Gallery, Chicago, IL
1976 “Selections from the Painting Department,” The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1969 “Chicago and Vicinity Show,” Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1968 “Drawings, U.S.A.,” St. Paul Art Center, St. Paul, MN
1959 “Contemporary Enamelling,” Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY

SELECTED COLLECTIONS

AT & T Corporate Headquarters, NJ
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Mary and Leigh Block Gallery, Northwesterm University, Evanston, IL
Borg Warner Corporation, Chicago, IL
Continental Bank of Illinois, Chicago, IL
First National Bank of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL
Industrial Trust and Savings, Muncie, IN
Jocelyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE
David and Alfred Smart Museum, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL
Kemper Group, Long Grove, IL
State of Illinois Collection, Chicago, IL
Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, CA
Needham, Harper & Steers, Chicago, IL
Prudential Insurance Company, NJ
Gardner, Carton and Douglas Inc., Chicago, IL
Katten, Muchin, Pearl, & Galler Ltd., Chicago, IL
Ruth Horwich Collection, Chicago, IL
Sangamon State University, Springfield, IL

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

“Exhibits feature Chicago painter, small-town America,” Valparaiso University News, Monday, November 1, 2010.
Hertzlieb, Gregg, “Richard Loving: Cover Art Commentary,” Valparaiso Poetry Review: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Spring/Summer 2011: Volume XII, Number.
“Brauer Museum of Art’s 2010-2011 Season is Approaching,” duneland.com, July 12, 2010.
Hawkins, Margaret, “Loving has left his marks in evolution as a painter,” Chicago Sun-Times, March 23, 2007.
Artner, Alan G., “2 Loving exhibitions double the pleasure,” Chicago Tribune, March 29, 2007.
Artner, Alan G., “Richard Loving is enamored of breathing,” Chicago Tribune, February 21, 2003.
Camper, Fred, New Art Examiner, February 2001.
Holg, Garrett, Art News, December 2000.
Pulanski, G. Jurek, “Self Portraits 2000: A Twentieth Century Celebration,” Art Scope.net,November 2000.
Buchholtz, Barbara, Chicago Tribune, April 24, 1998, Gallery Watch.
Pascale, Mark, “Dissections”, Printworks Gallery, March 1998.
Loving, Richard, “Speakeasy,” New Art Examiner, February 1993.
Taylor, Sue, “Richard Loving:Two Kinds of Order,” Roy Boyd Gallery, March 1993.
Wiens, Ann, New Art Examiner, May 1993: “On View,” pp. 36-37.
Artner, Alan G., “2 Unusual exhibitions at State of Illinois Gallery,” Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1990.
Artner, Alan G., “Richard Loving (Boyd, 739 N. Wells St.),” Chicago Tribune, October 27, 1989.
Artner, Alan G., “Loving’s painting is decorative and seductive,” Chicago Tribune, March 12, 1987.
Gedo, Mary Matthews, “Chicago Artists Celebrate La Grande Jatte,” New Art Examiner, March 1986, pp. 26 – 28.
Argyropoulos, Andy, New Art Examiner, January 1986.
Lucie – Smith, Edward, American Art Now: Morrow & Co., 1985,  pp. 128-129.
Pincus, Robert L., Los Angeles Times, July 1984.
Artner, Alan, Chicago Tribune, October 14, 1983.
Gedo, Mary Matthews, “Interconnections: Study of Chicago-Style Relationships in Painting,” Arts Magazine, October 1982 pp. 112 – 117 and Art News, November 1982.
Schulze, Franz, “Artists, the Critics are Watching,” Art News, May 1981.
Schulze, Franz, “Richard Loving’s Abstract Imagism,” New Art Examiner, April 1981.
Schulze, Franz, “False Starts? Whatever, Richard Loving finally Got it Right,” Chicago Sun Times, November 29, 1981.
Elliot, David, Chicago Sun Times, December 2, 1979.
Lust, Herbert, “Richard Loving: Image Destroyer,” Gallery Essay, 1973.
Schulze, Franz, “Some Good Bullfights, a Blob of Pig’s Hair and…,”Chicago Daily News, April 29-30, 1972.
Haydon, Harold, Chicago Sun-Times, April 14, 1972.
Schulze, Franz, “Surreal Drawing and Cool Sculpture,” Chicago Daily News, March 8, 1969.
Anderson, Don J., Review: “Work in Enamels,” Kovler Gallery, Chicago American, June 26, 1966.
The Chicago Tribune, “Work in Enamels”, Kovler Gallery, July 3, 1966.
Buchwald, Wesley R., Mulder, John W. Craftsmen in Illinois, 1965, pp. 6-7 catalog, Illinois Art Education Association.
“Art In Chicago,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Ill 1945-1995 (various catalog references) .

OTHER

“Visual Arts of Chicago,” Wikipedia.com
“Richard Loving,” The Enamel Arts Foundation, 1704 Armacost Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024.

Image result for richard m. loving artist

_____

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