Every day of your life is a day in which you must weigh the messages that rain down upon you. While many of those signals are simply lost in the informational deluge, there are a great number that reinforce or subtly erode the convictions that drive you and guide you in the choices you make as you navigate life. Never think for a moment that your convictions are an immutable substance that cannot be touched by outside forces or that they compose a structure that can never fall in upon itself. There are support beams constantly being erected or knocked down in the house that is your “world view”.
I was very keenly reminded of this as I recently listened to a discussion on a public radio station between the radio show’s host and Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible. The novel describes a supposed missionary family, but Kingsolver is clearly not acquainted with a biblical understanding of Christianity as she concludes that humanity is simply one animal among many and that God is rooting not only for the “dollies” (meaning human boys and girls) but also for the various varieties of flesh-eating microorganisms that dwell unseen in the dusty floor of the African savannah (after a character in the book watches dreadful diseases wither and waste away little boys and girls).
“We think we’re so smart,” the author snidely remarks, “top-heavy hominids who are animals indeed.” But then her voice turns cheery and says, “But I happen to be one of those who think that’s a wonderful thing.”
Say what? One might strive to unravel the mysterious conundrum raised by the worldview of the author but, unless one lingers merely in the shallow waters of her last statement, “… I think that’s a wonderful thing,” one will inevitably wade out into the deep waters of the statement’s implication. There are two principal “perks” for being “one animal among many”. The first is that one may consider him or herself “free”. Free of moral responsibility: if man is merely an animal, he’s no more moral or ethical than a rattlesnake or a sea anemone (morals and ethics being merely a biological illusion). Free of divine accountability: if man evolved or was created with a spiritual ranking no higher than an aardvark or a frill-necked lizard, how could God justly hold us accountable for what comes “naturally?” After all, we’d simply be driven by Darwin’s so-called law, “survival of the fittest”.
Well, it turns out that some folks like this worldview because they believe that it makes them free. But it is in reality a most serious and dastardly form of slavery because it places upon humanity an unbearable yoke of biological fatalism. First, everything one does is rendered nothing more than an insignificant fluke of blind forces streaking towards oblivion. As one animal in a world teeming with countless hordes of creatures, you would have no more value or worth than an amoeba or paramecium. And second, your life is just another part of an incessant string of biological glitches. Your choices, dreams, and values, as well as the relationships that you hold dear, although not predetermined in the precise sense, are still “preprogrammed” by the unsympathetic “powers that be” that we call genetic coding. “Someone mugged someone else?” one might say. “Well, we ARE governed by the rule of survival of the fittest!” Or “Someone raped someone?” one might hear. “Ah, well it IS natural, you know.”
If we are only one species among many, then all that we call good is no nobler than the craving a dung beetle has for its food source. You could never truly be unique or possess a wonder that is yours alone. Even an E Coli bacterium would be as important as you.
And this, of course, leads us to the other supposed “perk” of the worldview of naturalism, that there is an incredible array of wonder over-arching and surrounding us in which we are ourselves an intricate part.
But again, when we dive into this concept’s deeper waters, we find that whatever wonder we might have enjoyed in the “wonder” is also haunted by a shroud of profound dread. When, for instance, we ask the question, “What does it all mean?”, we’re met with silence for we are after all asking either nothing (if “nothing” created us) or we’re trying to talk to a “god” who pays us no more heed than if we were pond scum. If such a worldview is right, then all of reality is an exercise in futility. Why do anything? Why care for anyone else? Why bother trying to do “good deeds” if all that is “good” is just an illusion anyway?
But clearly, the idea of a god who “roots” for microbes as much as he roots for people is inconsistent with what the Bible says about the nature of the world, humanity, and God’s attitude towards us. First off, out of all the beings that God created, humanity alone was shaped in God’s own image and into humanity alone was breathed the breath of God that they would become “living souls” (Genesis 2:7). The Bible declares that the scope of creation was placed, so to speak, into the hands of humanity (Genesis 1:28-30) so that men and women might be stewards under God of the world that He had created, executing His will and authority in their governance of the physical world.
Secondly, the Bible acknowledges disease, violence, and sorrow, describing these as the fruits of the human inclination to choose to try to live independently of God (see Genesis 3:14-19). Christianity is therefore not a “Pollyanna” religion. It is a grim-laced statement of truth with hope in its wings. Yes, it is true that much is not what it should be and that bad things do happen to all of us. But God really is rooting for humanity after all in ways that the rest of creation can only be jealous. What did God’s Son come to do? To die for you and me. Why would He die for you and me? Because you and I were created in God’s image that we might enjoy fellowship with Him forever and only His sacrificial death could bridge the gap created by our sin. Why does evil continue still then, after He died and rose again? So that we might hunger for more than what we possess in this natural world and look forward to a day wherein we are united completely with the Creator of all that is.
In a world that tries to make sense of itself without God, remember that it makes no sense at all without God. So consider well the messages you heed and remember that you are priceless in the eyes of the One Who made you. And nothing can take that away.