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We are all one…
Man is above no living thing.
How do you view your relationship with the natural world? 

Not long ago this was posted on Facebook. Short, to the point, but it speaks volumes.
A few months back I had the pleasure of facilitating a series with the men’s group on responding to the statements or claims of unbelievers. It was a series by Greg Koukl titled ‘Tactics’, and in the series Christians learn how to ask questions of someone who may make a statement or claim that would be counter to their Christian world view. They don’t ask these questions to avoid answering the skeptic or unbeliever, but simply to make sure they understand the person’s point of view and therefore be better equipped to respond. Obviously, we don’t want to respond to a question or claim if we don’t understand what they are asking or claiming. Questions can clarify and help us understand the person’s point of view.  

1Peter 3:15 says. “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and  reverence.” 

So the first question I responded with was “If you don’t mind my asking, what do you mean by “We are all one…” One what? Thanks in advance.” 

She replied, “One being. We all come from the same substance and go to the same substance. ( the earth, the universe) We are responsible for each other and that “each other” includes every living thing around us. We are all connected to each other.” 

My wife, who was following the same thread, asked, “Can you clarify something for me? What do you mean by one being? Do you mean we are all god, or that God is in everything and we are all one being together…? I’m a little confused…” 

I also quickly followed after reading her above reply with another question, “Since you respect all life, you must be pro-life in the abortion issue?” 

At this point, I had a direction I wanted to pursue, that is a topic I wanted to discuss based on her original comment and question, and reply. I opted for the abortion topic because of her ‘pro-all life’ stance. 

She responded, “I will message you on the above, seeing as the issue of pro life and pro choice seems to be a far too sensitive issue for a public conversation.” 

That was disappointing. Not that I enjoy Facebook debates, but the topic of abortion I believe should be engaged publicly. People need to hear the reasons/arguments from both sides to make intelligent decisions concerning this ‘life’. Unfortunately, this was not my Facebook page, or thread, so I respected the PM she wanted to send and did not bring it up again.  

I will say, I had a host of directions and ideas to chase. For example:
1. If we are all one, what is our identity in the one?
2. If we are all one, where did the one come from?
3. Is your conclusion, we are all one, subjective? In other words, your individual opinion?
Concerning man’s standing with other life, these questions came to mind.
1. Is man of no greater value than a salmon, a frog, a gopher?
2. A person’s worth is not above the cedar tree, the manzanita bush, or tomato plant?
3. The meaningfulness of humans is not superior to an aphid, grasshopper, or house fly?  

These and other examples could be considered just from her first two statements, “We are all one.. Man is above no living thing.” I hadn’t even begun to address how I view our relationship with the natural world. 

Keep in mind, if someone is a materialist, they don’t believe in anything beyond what science can identify, measure, and quantify. If materialism is true, then the claim that man is above no living thing is true. We are nothing more than molecules in motion. What we do, how we behave, and what we believe, has no eternal consequence. The impact of our actions are limited to a few years, or possibly a few centuries. Yet, if that is the case we have no one and nothing to answer to beyond this evolutionary conscience that we should be concerned about others. How that could possibly develop when evolution is about survival of the fittest, and the one rule of the game is to get your genes into the next generation? 

She replied to our questions, “So I have to clarify something real quick, I do not identify anything with the word “God”, but as most people do I think the definition changes from person to person. When I was younger I thought that every religion had picked out a characteristic of “god” but not considered the sum of god as a whole entity. This “god” or creator is really unknown to mankind. With that said, when I say ” We are all one” I am referring to the Aristotelian view, which is based on science, realism, physical traits, basically things one can measure in a tangible way…I am referring to the genetic makeup of all things, atoms and energy…I believe we are all connected to each other because we all have life in us, breathing, eating, growing, and of course always changing…” 

I replied with some more questions. “No doubt the definition of God can and does change depending on who you talk to. Agreed.  

You talk about this entity, god, creator, being unknown to mankind. How is it then, you came to know it? Or more specifically, how is it you came to know about something that is unknown to mankind? 

You mention the Aristotelian view, science, physical, tangible, measurable traits. I get that. Then you explained we are all connected to each other because we all have life, breathing, eating, growing… Do you mean related instead of connected? I can see how life in various life forms can be related in the measurable, tangible Aristotelian view, but if you mean connected, how is that possible in a measurable way? How can that be known? 

Thanks again for your time and helping me understand your view.” 

I asked more questions in the hopes of understanding some of her statements; some of them were confusing. How could this god or creator be unknown to mankind, yet she was able to share something knowable about him, that he is unknown. Seems to be contradictory.  

She also mentioned Aristotle, who was a student of Plato and a tutor of Alexander The Great and that we are all connected in some way. I asked if she meant related, (as in atoms), instead of connected, because if we are limited to a materialist view there is no connection unless it is quantifiable. The way she described connected “because we all have life in us, breathing, eating, growing…” suggested to me the connection was somehow beyond the physical. Was not sure how she was viewing the connection between all living things.  

Some of you reading this probably have a child or loved one that was raised in the church, but have seen them walk away from their faith. Often just a couple years in high school, or a year in college with a skeptical teacher or professor, can be enough to seriously shake their Christian world view.

Many of these unbelievers are simply trying to point out the foolishness of believing in a Christian God, Muslim God, Hindu God’s, etc., and their varied religious teachings. They are, as we are, trying to persuade others to the truth of their world view. They ask difficult questions that many Christians are unable to answer. Questions they have never heard of before or wrestled with at home or church with mature believers who could provide answers. Questions like, why is man more valuable then other life? Why can’t we love who we want? What is wrong with gay marriage? Why are Christians responsible for the death of millions? Why does the Bible support slavery? Why do good people have to go to hell? How can an all powerful God allow evil in the world if He is able to stop it? What kind of God would order the slaughter of women and children? 

David Kinnaman wrote in his book, You Lost Me, “Faith switching is most likely to occur between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine.” In their research, the Barna Group discovered, “The most common response was that they had done so during their twenties, and 71 percent of those who had significantly changed faith views did so before the age of thirty.”1 Well meaning parents often isolate their children, even older teens, from ideas that are critical of Christianity instead of dealing with the questions head on. For some parents, and I have been guilty of this, objections to Christianity were promptly dismissed without giving a thoughtful answer. Kinnaman shared what young and former Christians have to say about the Church.

  • Christians demonize everything outside of church. Anything not Christian is evil.
  • Christians are afraid of pop culture, especially its movies and music. That they have been conditioned to fear the world.
  • Christians do not want to deal with the complexity or reality of the world.  

What I should have done in years past is to wrestle with counter ideas at home with the my children. In other words, I am suggesting you inoculate your children, don’t isolate them. That way, the first time an objection is raised to Jesus, the Bible, or their faith, it’s not away from home surrounded by unbelievers, who can’t understand how someone could be so ignorant and foolish to believe what the Bible says.  

Paul Copan, author and Christian philosopher explains “…genuinely saving experiences are life-transforming and self-authenticating not officially requiring evidence or argument (1John 2:20, 27). Thoughtful Christians, though, must recognize the need to offer public reasons for belief to the questioning outsider. An argument from religious experience is only part of the broader explanatory case for our examinable faith.”

In her new book, Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side, Natasha Crain shared that in a study of 11,000 teen’s only 12 percent have regular conversations about their faith with their mom. She pointed out as the numbers of Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox believers has been steadily dropping, the numbers of atheist or skeptics is increasing. She wrote, “Even with steadily rising numbers, the total percent of atheists and agnostics is currently only 5% in America. That number is highly misleading…Atheists and agnostics represent much more than 5 percent of the voices kids will hear in the media and see online because so many of them are passionately engaged in advocating their world view.”3 I would add that a large percent of those who profess a belief are marginalized by a very inactive or double minded faith that James alludes to in chapter 1.  

I don’t know if my questions or comments will produce any fruit, but exchanging ideas, giving thoughtful responses, supplying proof or evidence for my faith is not unique to this generation. Acts 1:3, Acts 28:23, Acts 26:24-28

 

Sources:
1. Kinnaman, David. You Lost Me. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011. Print
2. Copan, Paul. When God Goes to Starbucks – A Guide to Everyday Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008. Print.
3. Crain, Natasha. Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2016. Print. 

 

 

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How do you respond to… by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog.

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