This is the written transcript for Lesson 9 in this series of presentations on evidence for the existence of God — (it is likely that transcripts will vary somewhat from the actual video recordings).
Why would God care about good and evil?
As a Bible believer, I have felt the brunt of oppression generated by a modern, materialistic, and relativistic society seeking to undermine the divine morality so intimately imposed by God upon every human heart. One line of thinking that seems to pervade our world today is conveyed in terms something like this: If there really is a God, or some higher power, why would such a mighty being—omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (universal presence)—be the least bit concerned about the minor details of “good and evil,” or one particular person’s “sin” problem? After all, he’s got a whole universe to run, why would he even deal in something as trivial as right and wrong, or what you people refer to as “morality”? What’s the big deal with all this “sin” stuff, anyway?
When I encounter or contemplate people’s attempts to trivialize morality, or to rewrite the script and redefine for themselves the meaning of “good” and “evil,” or to make themselves the final authority for determining what “sin” is, I am led back to the very essence and nature of God and who scripture says that He is. One passage that I like, from the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy, describes God as “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (I Timothy 6:15-16, NASB). God is so powerful, so radiant, so pure and holy that He is described as dwelling in “unapproachable light.” As He conveyed to Moses on one occasion, and for the very same reasons, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Exodus 33:20, NASB).
What then does such a One, with all the energy of the universe, perhaps even multidimensional universes, at His disposal, and after wielding all that power and glory and manifesting all that unimaginable creativity, have left to be concerned about? In other words, what really matters beyond mere matter? Would such a divine entity remain content with merely orchestrating and arranging material processes (as intriguing as they may appear to us human beings)? Clearly, from scripture, we get the picture that here is something more to the existence of God than what mere material substance, regardless of how magnificently arranged, can testify to. Something beyond the mere exertion of limitless, divine power. That “something more” transcends the mere fact of His existence and probes the realm of “Who” God is—the core content of His character. Even we human beings, created in His image, are far more concerned with “who” a person is than we are merely with “what” he or she has done or is capable of doing, aren’t we? We understand that, because we are like Him, “character” is far more important to our identity, to our being, than is talent or industry.
So, how can God not be concerned with good and evil; particularly, as evidence of His own divine character? How could He not care about, or refuse to delve into, the arena of right and wrong; as evidence of His righteousness and His justice? How could He not deal with humanity’s “sin” problem; as evidence of His compassion, His patience, His loving kindness and mercy in the face of justice? This is why we are told that: “He [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (I Peter 1: 20-21, NASB). God does not want it to be just all about His power and great glory, but about “faith, hope, and love.” (I Corinthians 13:13, NASB).
God had this issue of morality—right and wrong, good and evil—in view even before the creation. He also had the whole issue of sin and salvation—and what He would do in order to be able to offer us the hope of eternal life with Him—in view before the creation. God’s moral character—is woven into every thread and fiber of the creation and our existence in it. And so, we dare not trivialize the morality God universally calls us to and instills within our hearts.
Now, this is where we need to be very careful with this argument because, you see, even though human beings are created in the image of God and endowed by Him with an innate understanding of good and evil, the Bible makes clear that people can be corrupted. And, sadly, this corruption can begin very, very early in the life of a child. In fact, generation by generation, whole civilizations can be corrupted to the point where virtually no one in that society lives by God’s standards of right and wrong. The Apostle Paul gives us dire warning, saying:
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
(Romans 1:18-32, NASB)
We have seen this kind of corruption spread like a cancer throughout virtually every great society that has ever existed down through the annals of human history; often leading to the destruction of that society.
I hope that what you will remember from this lesson is that there is an axiological argument to be made for the existence of God. As Smith (2012) states: “Common moral laws indicate a moral Lawgiver with the power to implant these laws in mankind” (p. 2). The very fact that we human beings—who are made in His likeness—have this innate knowledge of basic morality testifies to both the existence and the character of the One who made us. But, friends, please be careful how you choose to use this argument – the argument from morality; lest you find yourself, as Jesus said, “casting your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). Obviously, we should not expect someone whose moral value system has been, or is being, corrupted by evil influences to agree with us on this point.
May God fill you with His grace and wisdom as you continue to journey on toward eternity…
Resources and References
Axiology. (2012). In Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/axiology
Axiom. (2012). In Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/axiom?show=0&t=1350596042
Smith, B. (2012). Argument by morality – The axiological argument. Retrieved from the knowtruth.com website at: http://www.knowtruth.com/god/existence/morality_argument_1.php
Scripture taken from:
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright (c) 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972, 1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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