One of the most famous lines from The Da Vinci Code is when Tom Hanks’ character turns to the film’s heroine and says: “What matters really is what you believe.”
This is classic Frederich Nietzsche: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
It has a superficial appeal to it, because it represents the epitome of moral relativism – something human beings are all too comfortable with. In fact, it appears to be the default view of a majority of Americans. According to the Barna Research Group, only 22% of respondents believe in absolute truth. For the rest, truth depends on one’s circumstance or situation.
Popular and soothing though it may be, there is little rational basis for it. The consequent byproduct of this worthless, hopeless philosophy should be obvious to all. Society has little moral basis to judge child molesters, rapists, identity thieves, or greedy corporate embezzlers.
In response to this, most secularists and humanists settle on a broad, but vague idea that we can enforce a moral standard that prevents people from harming others. In other words, something becomes wrong if and when it transgresses the health, safety, and rights of another. But how do we define a “transgression”? And how do we establish what “rights” a person has to begin with?
Essentially, this becomes a circular argument. Humanists believe that humans should be governed by a moral value system developed by…..humans. This may work, and has worked, to some extent with our laws. But a legal system is ultimately based on a value system, and that leads you right back to the central moral and religious questions so many secularists try to evade.
Face it. You can’t have a solid, dependable moral framework – upon which to live and operate – absent God. George Washington said as much in his Farewell Address:
And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
In other words…..no religion = no morality. But the wisdom of the father of the United States of America is insufficient to dissuade the stubborn atheism of many humanists. Says one: “Philosophers as diverse as Plato, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, George Edward Moore, and John Rawls have demonstrated that it is possible to have a universal morality without God.” This is the view of Theodore Schick, Jr, so expressed in an article for the Council for Secular Humanism. But Schick goes on then to say that “what our society really needs is…a richer notion of the nature of morality.” He undercuts his own argument by acknowledging that the human race is STILL trying to find its way to moral stability without God.
Some atheists are rather defiant in their admission that we must make our way without God. In a 1994 issue of The Skeptical Review, an article declares:
God wasn’t much help to us in discovering how to cure or prevent smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, whooping cough, polio, measles, and dozens of other diseases. We had to do it on our own. God wasn’t much help to us in making the scientific discoveries that led to the technology that now makes life so comfortable for us. We had to do it on our own. So if we did all these things without God, surely we can make the moral discoveries that are necessary for society to function in an orderly, beneficial way.
Of course, if the Bible is any indication at all of how God works, a five-year old can quickly see that God chooses to do most of His work through people. Thus, the fact that people led revolutions, discovered scientific laws, cured diseases, and so forth does not disprove God or reduce Him to a no-show.
Returning to the main point, few will argue with the fact that, outside of God, there is no authoritative, external, objective, and absolute standard by which to judge right from wrong or to establish what is true or false. Even the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre observed (correctly), “If God is dead, everything is permitted.”
So….stop looking for ways to understand and interpret the world outside of God. It’s time for all of us to humble ourselves and admit. We need God. It is only through Him that we can understand and know real, substantive Truth.