‘I Believe in God, But—’
Poll after polls shows the overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God; and most of them profess to be Christians of one sort or another.
And yet, the culture and the politics of the country seem to be firmly in the hands of those who do not believe. How can that be, in a mostly Christian nation?
Could it be because American Christians are not really all that sure what they believe?
For God to be God, He must be the supreme and absolute authority, infallible. There must be no other on a par with Him. But do Christians in America believe in such a God?
It’s not so easy to hold that belief. It’s more like, “Oh, I believe in God, all right… but—“ And then comes the list of other things, the limits and restrictions that we put on God so we can have our own way. We do this because we are sinners, and rebellion is rooted in our flesh.
“I believe in God, but Science says…” By admitting that Science is self-correcting, scientists claim a kind of infallibility by default: “If we’ve got it wrong today, we’ll just learn more and get it right tomorrow.” So they never really have to get anything right, because they’ll always get it right eventually. And which shell is the penny under?
The Global Cooling/Impending Ice Age of the 1970s becomes Global Warming, becomes Climate Change, and so on. Each of these doom scenarios was presented to us as the authoritative word of Science. They don’t have to apologize for wrongly predicting an ice age because science is always self-correcting. Thus the Great Chain of Being evolves, if I may use the word, into Punctuated Equilibrium and whatever else will come next after P.E. has had its day. Whatever form it takes, Evolution is always handed down to us as “settled science,” authoritative and infallible. And along the way, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” sinks into the background.
“I believe in God, but everybody says…” If you think Science has undermined belief in God and in God’s word, it can hardly hold a candle to this. Jesus Himself had to deal with this fallacy, in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard it said…”
With the rise of public education, which confines us in a box of age-group peers, conformity became society’s guiding light. We are taught to do as others do, think as they think, like what they like, and reject what they reject. This is how fads take hold of us. This is why propaganda works.
We don’t have to make a conscious choice, for example, to redefine marriage and the family. We only have to go along with everybody else. And they go along with whatever their school teachers and college professors, TV and the movies, talking heads, and exalted leaders tell them. If these all made a concerted effort to convince us that racism is good, most of us would become racists. Or anything else they talked us into being.
So deeply ingrained in us is the urge to conform, that we don’t even have to think about conforming; we just do it. “Everybody says” is such an unanswerable argument, that we don’t even try to answer it.
“I believe in God, sure. But I think…” Here is Original Sin in all its glory. This is what the Devil meant when he told Adam and Eve, “You shall be as gods, defining good and evil for yourselves.” Society aids and abets this inborn drive to sin by constructing scholarly doctrines to excuse it. Sin seems so much righter when tenured intellectuals tell you that it’s “right for you.” But we’re all pretty good at this without their help.
“I’m a good person—“ not true, according to the Bible—“but my wife and I don’t love each other anymore, and it would do me good to have a fling with someone else, and Jesus wouldn’t mind because He did say, ‘Judge not,’ and anyhow, love is love,” and so on. By the time we’re done rationalizing what we want to do, it isn’t a sin at all. And it’s nobody else’s business, so there.
We think that we believe in God. But if He didn’t create the earth, and can’t stop us from Destroying the Planet; and if He can’t protect His own creation, but Science and Government can Save the Planet, if only we obey; and if God’s moral laws aren’t really laws, but only customs we can change as we grow wiser and more worldly—
Well, if that’s the kind of God that we believe in, we really have to ask ourselves:
Is that any kind of a God at all?
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