The Rage Against God

Peter HitchensI thought this gesture [burning the Bible] was a way of showing that I had finally rejected all the things that I had been brought up to believe, and I went on to behave for the next 20 years of my life exactly as if I didn’t believe in him [God], and that’s how I discovered in the end that what I had rejected was right.

The current intellectual assault on God in Europe and North America is, in fact, a specific attack on Christianity – the faith that stubbornly persists in the morality, laws, and government of the major Western countries. . . .The God they fight is the Christian God. . . .God is the leftists’ chief rival. Christian belief, by subjecting all men to divine authority and by asserting in the words ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ that the ideal society does not exist in this life, is the most coherent and potent obstacle to secular utopianism. . . . the Bible angers and frustrates those who believe that the pursuit of a perfect society justifies the quest for absolute power.

…when it comes to the millions of small and tedious good deeds that are needed for a society to function with charity, honesty, and kindness, a shortage of believing Christians will lead to that society’s decay.

–Peter Hitchens,
The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith

The Hidden Spring

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There was once a powerful dictator who ruled his country with an iron will. Every aspect of life was thought through and worked out according to a rational system. Nothing was left to chance.

The dictator noticed that the water sources around the country were erratic and in some cases dangerous. There were thousands of springs of water, often in the middle of towns and cities. They could be useful, but sometimes they caused floods, sometimes they got polluted, and often they burst out in new places and damaged roads, fields, and houses.

The dictator decided on a sensible, rational policy. The whole country, or at least every part where there was any suggestion of water, would be paved over with concrete so thick that no spring of water could ever penetrate it. The water that people needed would be brought to them by a complex system of pipes. Furthermore, the dictator decided, he would use the opportunity, while he was at it, to put into the water various chemicals that would make the people healthy. With the dictator controlling the supply, everyone would have what he decided they needed, and there wouldn’t be any more nuisance from unregulated springs.

For many years the plan worked just fine. People got used to their water coming from the new system. It sometimes tasted a bit strange, and from time to time they would look back wistfully to the bubbling streams and fresh springs they used to enjoy. Some of the problems that people had formerly blamed on unregulated water hadn’t gone away. It turned out that the air was just as polluted as the water had sometimes been, but the dictator couldn’t, or didn’t, do much about that. But mostly the new system seemed efficient. People praised the dictator for his forward-looking wisdom.

_67297997_watermain4A generation passed. All seemed to be well. Then, without warning, the springs that had gone on bubbling and sparkling beneath the solid concrete could no longer be contained. In a sudden explosion – a cross between a volcano and an earthquake – they burst through the concrete that people had come to take for granted. Muddy, dirty water shot into the air and rushed through the streets and into houses, shops, and factories. Roads were torn up; whole cities were in chaos. Some people were delighted: at last they could get water again without depending on The System. But the people who ran the official water pipes were at a loss: suddenly everyone had more than enough water, but it wasn’t pure and couldn’t be controlled.

We in the Western world are the citizens of that country. The dictator is the philosophy that has shaped our world for the past two or more centuries, making most people materialists by default. And the water is what we today call “spirituality,” the hidden spring that bubbles up within human hearts and human societies.

Many people today hear the very word “spirituality” like travelers in a desert hearing news of an oasis. This isn’t surprising. The skepticism that we’ve been taught for the last two hundred years has paved our world with concrete, making people ashamed to admit that they have had profound and powerful “religious” experiences. Where before they would have gone to church, said their prayers, worshiped in this way or that, and understood what they were doing as part of the warp and woof of the rest of life, the mood of the Western world from roughly the 1780s through to the 1980s was very different. We will pipe you (said the prevailing philosophy) the water you need; we will arrange for “religion” to become a small subdepartment of ordinary life; it will be quite safe—harmless in fact—with church life carefully separated off from everything else in the world, whether politics, art, sex, economics, or whatever. Those who want it can have enough to keep them going. Those who don’t want their life, and their way of life, disrupted by anything “religious” can enjoy driving along concrete roads, visiting concrete-based shopping malls, living in concrete-floored houses. Live as if the rumor of God had never existed! We are, after all, in charge of our own fate! We are the captains of our own souls (whatever they may be)! That is the philosophy which has dominated our culture. From this point of view, spirituality is a private hobby, an up-market version of daydreaming for those who like that kind of thing.

shutterstock_97397987-800x430Millions in the Western world have enjoyed the temporary separation from “religious” interference that this philosophy has brought. Millions more, aware of the deep subterranean bubblings and yearnings of the water systems we call “spirituality,” which can no more ultimately be denied than can endless springs of water under thick concrete, have done their best secretly to tap into it, using the official channels (the churches), but aware that there’s more water available than most churches have let on. Many more again have been aware of an indefinable thirst, a longing for springs of living, refreshing water that they can bathe in, delight in, and drink to the full.

–N. T. Wright,
Simply Christian

The Unshakable Longing

arton5686-07aa4We are not merely a lost generation . . . Our predicament is much deeper and of much longer duration. Centuries of skepticism, doubt, and contempt have taken their toll. Millions of us across the Western world have been rendered spiritual eunuchs. It’s not that we don’t long for God. The problem is that we’re incapable of consummating the relationship. Faith and grace have been drained from us, leaving only those most primitive of instincts: our obsessions with self and things material. We are a race of accountants counting the grains of sand on our beaches. We are a tribe of technicians, fixing the hands of a clock that counts down the seconds of our lives.

Yet the desire, the longing for God—this remains. No thoughtful human can deny it . . . The desire is real, and it is breaking our hearts. Yet in our incapacity to believe we find ourselves staring, paralyzed, as the love of our lives disappears into the distance.

–David Brog,
In Defense of Faith

God, Government, and Freedom

icon-fa-institutionWe must realize that the Reformation worldview leads in the direction of government freedom. But the humanist worldview with inevitable certainty leads in the direction of statism. This is so because humanists, having no god, must put something at the center, and it is inevitably society, government, or the state.

― Francis A. Schaeffer

Secularism’s Ongoing Debt to Christianity

Christianity“Although I am a secularist (atheist, if you will), I accept that the great majority of people would be morally and spiritually lost without religion. Can anyone seriously argue that crime and debauchery are not held in check by religion? Is it not comforting to live in a community where the rule of law and fairness are respected? Would such be likely if Christianity were not there to provide a moral compass to the great majority? Do we secularists not benefit out of all proportion from a morally responsible society?”

“Secularism has never offered the people a practical substitute for religion.”

“Succinctly put: Western civilization’s survival, including the survival of open secular thought, depends on the continuance within our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

-John Steinrucken,
Secularism’s Ongoing Debt to Christianity
http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2010/03/secularisms_ongoing_debt_to_ch.html