The Invisible Things

Articles in Apologetics

Yearning for Eternal Purpose

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Looking at the many humanist objections to God can be quite revealing of what the implicit purpose of humanity is in such a worldview. For instance, within the question “how can a God of love allow so much human suffering in the world?” is the implication that humanity aught not to be suffering- that if the world was the result of an intelligent act of creation, its purpose must be human happiness. Now, the Christian is aware that the circumstances of the Fall have lead to the removal of the happiness man was meant to have living according to the will of God, for the rebellion of Adam and Eve created a leaving of man from his Creator, and a cleaving to the earth. But God’s purpose for Man has always been the same- to know Him and to worship Him. That is our simple but grand purpose! It is interesting to consider, however, the point of view of the materialist or atheist.

Remember that the atheist has removed the possibility of transcendence from his entire cosmology, thus limiting the scope of purpose to his own experiences and choices, and removing also the possibility of objective morality. Confronting the finality of a life that does not continue, the reasonable deduction becomes placing high value on the immediate and selfish carnal desires of man- an attitude reflected in the words ‘eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.’ This hedonism becomes the purpose of life. Yet here is the problem: how can a life that is going nowhere have any purpose at all? Somehow, man knows in his heart that he is meant for a purpose; it is a deduction he cannot avoid, and a desire he cannot satisfy. The heart of man yearns for eternal purpose, despite the direction in which the search proceeds. So, the denier of God invents his own futile purpose, while the follower of God realizes his purpose both in the immediate sense of worldly life, and in the confrontation and anticipation of eternity. And yet as the denier groans and travails in the angst of purposelessness, he somehow invokes morality to challenge the existence of God.

To ask how a God of love could allow so much suffering implies the idea that it aught to have been, or could have been, different for humanity- or more simply, that human suffering is objectively wrong. Is that not a notion poised upon a position of morality? The problem becomes: How can a denier of purpose and objective morality distinguish between right and wrong without a transcendent law by which to differentiate? He cannot! Any statement made such as this must be (by the materialist’s own rules) relegated to personal preference, or rejected for its subjectivity. Even if he were to acknowledge the existence of an objective morality or transcendent law, he must account for its creation. Where did if come from, if not from a transcendent lawmaker? (Remember that transcendence requires a separate or elevated state from that to which it is relative.) If morality is invoked to deny purpose, creation, and even morality itself, then there is no valid argument of defense left and the statement is made invalid by its own contradiction. The transcendent law remains, and so also must the transcendent lawmaker, whom we know to be God. If He remains, then we must follow Him. If our revealed purpose is to know Him and to worship Him, than we must celebrate having purpose and rejoice in Him who bestows it upon us.

Written by Christopher Butler

August 24, 2005 at 2:30 am

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  1. […] Webster defines transcendence as ‘surpassing; excelling; extraordinary,’ as well as ‘beyond the limits of possible experience; existing apart from the material universe.’ (It should be added that when the word ‘apart,’ is used, it aught to refer to the state of being reserved in purpose and separate in essence, rather than simply by external factors of space and time.) God, regardless of the theological or philosophical perspective from which one approaches Him, is understood to be implicitly transcendent, as from a philosophical level we approach him as embodying that which we cannot be- supernatural, immortal, worthy of worship, etc. Anyone seeking to know Him does so out of the innate desire to transcend our physical existence. Our conscious minds force us to consider the nature of our existence on a metaphysical level, rather than simply a matter of chance and time, while our hearts yearn for eternity in a way that is unquenchable by worldly means.One way to begin exploring the concept of God is by considering objective morality, and how it seems to be in the nature of mankind to be governed by it. For the purposes of this article, I will bypass the systematic setup for establishing the relevancy of objective morality, and assume that it is recognized and accepted (for more information see Yearning for Eternal Purpose or perhaps a future post in which I will address a specific defense of objective morality). This objective morality by nature points us to God, as a law that is such and specifically developed for humanity must come from an intelligent source. However, the laws which constitute our objective morality are given for man, not for God. God, being all that we philosophically classify him to be (eternal, transcendent, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc.), would have no need of governing Himself- in fact the suggestion of a self-governing god is somewhat ridiculous. Laws are given in relation to a defined standard; in this case, the law relates to the standard of God’s very existence- his Holiness. If God is holy, or set apart from all that is not God, then only He may set the parameters for how one may be reconciled to Him. When He commands that we shall worship no other gods except Him (Ex 34:14, De 4:19, De 8:19, De 11:16, De 30:17, etc.), it is implicit in this law that He would not be bound by it- not that God would have the freedom to worship other gods while we do not, but that it would be impossible for God to worship any other gods, as there are none. Worship is reserved for that which transcends its creation; God is the apex of transcendence. […]

  2. janousek

    July 2, 2006 at 3:02 pm

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