Sex or Shelter

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Part of the beauty and wonder of being alive is the opportunity to make your own choices and create your own meaning. Instead of having a predetermined “destiny” or some powerful guiding hand calling the shots in your life, you are free to seek your own meaning and value by making your own choices and discovering your own unique path.1

There is no outside force imposing meaning on the events of your life. There is not evidence whatsoever that people’s life events conform to some sort of divine plan or predestination. Life is, objectively meaningless; given the size and scope of the universe and our tiny role within it, it’s absurd to think that we might have any sort of cosmically vital role.2

We have the ability to create meaning for our lives by setting worthwhile goals, working to improve the lives of those around us, enjoying our time on earth, making connections to other humans and loving our families. All of these activities are worthwhile, and none of them require the existence of God.3

These above statements are an unabashed post-modern world view made by Armin Navabi in his book, Why There Is No God, a view that each and everyone of us has the ability to make our own life meaningful, in our own way. There is no set meaning or purpose that guides or directs our behavior.

Since there is no objective meaning in life, it is simply subjective. What does that mean? Subjective meaning is substance of life based on feelings, tastes, opinions, and emotions. If I ask you what your favorite flavor of ice cream is, you opinion will be ‘subjective’. It will be based on your taste of ice cream. Your favorite flavor may be Chocolate Chip Mint, while mine may be Pralines and Cream. No right or wrong answer is possible since it is a subjective opinion.

We may have a most popular flavor of Baskin Robbins ice cream, but popularity does not make it right. In fact, the top five most popular flavors are: Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pralines and Cream and Chocolate Chip. Howard Hughes’ favorite flavor for a time was Banana Nut, but after ordering 350 gallons, he only wanted French Vanilla.4 That is the nice feature about subjective meaning, you can change it any time you want, any time it suits your purpose or meaning in life. It is up to you and your feelings only.

So when Navabi says we can create meaning for our lives with worthwhile goals and making efforts to improve the lives of those around us, it is based on subjective meaning. That is, it may be meaningful to him, but maybe not to me because it is a subjective opinion. Just like the flavor of ice cream.

When he stated, “Life is, objectively meaningless;” he removed any possibility of significant meaning beyond the flavor of ice cream. One man may set his worthwhile goal as to have sex with a different woman every week for the next year. Another man may set his worthwhile goal as providing shelter to a different homeless person every week for a year. When you remove an objective standard for good, then you are only left with a subjective standard. Sex or shelter, vanilla or banana nut. You pick, it is your own opinion, your own feelings that matter, not anyone else.

While exploring the idea of an objective moral law that applies to our very nature, C.S. Lewis put it this way, “Consequently, this Rule of right and wrong, or law of human nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow or other be a real thing – a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves…It begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behavior, and yet quite definitely real – a real law, which none of use made, but which we find pressing on us.”5

Navabi mistakenly claims that there is no objective meaning to life, but in his next breath tells us we can set worthwhile goals such as, “…working to improve the lives of those around us, enjoying our time on earth, making connections to other humans and loving our families.” How can they be worthwhile if they are simply an opinion, like a favorite flavor of ice cream?

Sadists enjoy hurting others. They find satisfaction, pleasure, in worsening people’s lives, not improving them. They enjoy their time on earth by connecting with others and making them suffer. Not only that, they actually will make the extra effort, extra work, to ruin the lives of those around them. Two studies at the University of British of Columbia by Erin Buckels found, “People who score high on a measure of sadism seem to derive pleasure from behaviors that hurt others, and are even willing to expend extra effort to make someone else suffer.”6

Making people suffer is a worthwhile goal for sadists. It give them meaning to live, even a desire. Without an objective moral standard, a banner we can all rally to, then the meaning of life is nothing more than an opinion on what is meaningful to the individual. Everyone can say, ‘That is just your opinion’, and what you, I, or anyone else, thinks of their opinion, does not matter.

Atheist Sam Harris wrote in his book, Waking Up – A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, “Sometime around her third birthday, my daughter asked, ‘Where does gravity come from?’ After talking about objects that attract each other – and wisely ignoring the curvature of space-time – my wife and I arrived at our deepest and most honest answer: ‘We don’t know. Gravity is a mystery. People are still trying to figure it out.’”7

Harris is correct, science is still trying to figure out gravity, but there is something else about gravity that is significant in this post I will share. Gravity is true for you and true for me. You may stand on the edge of Shanghai Tower, (2nd tallest building in the world, most use the 1st) and say that gravity is a subjective reality, but the truth is, gravity is true for me and true for you, because if you jump off without a chute, you will find out how wrong you are. Gravity is an objective truth, not a flavor of ice cream. It is true for everyone no matter what they say, no matter what they believe.

Claiming that you can make your own meaning in life is like claiming that you can make your own gravity, or even dispense yourself of it. This view of truth is a Post-modern view of truth. David Noebel wrote in his book, Understanding The Times, “For Postmodernists, since there is no universal Truth (capital ‘T’), there are only ‘truths’ (small ‘t’) that are particular to a society or group of people and limited to individual perception. Written or verbal statements can reflect only a particular localized culture or individual point of view. A well-worn catchphrase we hear in this regard is, ‘That may be true for you, but not for me.’”8

Small t’s or small ‘truths’ have not only invaded our culture, but the church.

Christians everywhere are unwilling to engage on issues such as abortion because it has become a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. A personal small ‘t’ truth choice. Yet, when you see a friend who is pregnant, do you ever ask her, “How is your body?” No, we all ask, “How is the baby?”

Christians everywhere are unwilling to engage on the issue of homosexuality because sexual orientation is a personal, small t ‘truth’. Yet it is obvious to everyone that as a rule, as a group, and by nature, heterosexual’s produce the next generation. It should come as no surprise that governments, until recent years, provided incentives toward heterosexual couples, and not same sex couples.

Christians everywhere are unwilling to engage on the issue of tolerance toward other religions because religion is a small t ‘truth’. Christianity may be true for you, but not for me. All roads lead to Rome. All path’s lead to God. There is no one ‘correct’ religion. Yet, with only a moment’s consideration, we realize that Jesus either was the Son of God or He was not. There is no middle option. Christianity is true or false, just like every other religious view the world has seen.

Christians have been unwilling or unable to address post-modern views, but with a little effort in the area of apologetics, (defending the faith), they can give thoughtful comments to some of the most pressing issues in our culture today.

 

Sources:

1. Navabi, Armin. Why There Is No God. Atheist Republic, 2014. Print.
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. “Fun Facts.” Baskin Robbins. Baskinrobbins.com, n.d. Web. 30 August 2015
5. Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins, 1952. Print.
6. “Everyday Sadists Take Pleasure In Others’ Pain.” Association For Psychological Science. Psychologicalscience.org, 12 September 2013. Web. 2 September 2015.
7. Harris, Sam. Waking Up A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014. Print.
8. Noebel, David A. Understanding The Times. Manitou Springs: Summit Press, 2006. Print.

 

 

Creative Commons License
Sex or Shelter 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/.

The whole picture

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you tell what this is a picture of? View1

I have learned over the years that making decisions or judgments on situations or people without having a full view, or at least a satisfactory vantage point can lead to some serious mistakes.

I remember out of High School I considered applying for a position with Aramco, a Kuwait Gulf Oil Company. This was prior to the Internet, so the fliers and paperwork came through the snail mail. Weeks went by as they would send me information pertaining to the various positions available. I would have started at the bottom, but after a few years with the company, things looked promising. I don’t recall all events that steered me away from heading to Kuwait, but one was a job up in Calaveras county. No telling how things would have turned out had I accepted one of the many entry level positions Aramco offered when just a few years later Kuwait was invaded by Iraq.

On August 2nd, 1990, General Georges Sada received a call from the air force headquarters in Baghdad; he was to meet with Saddam Hussein and his cabinet, and act as an adviser for the invasion of Kuwait. General Sada had retired 10 years prior and had been teaching at the three military colleges in Iraq. His field of expertise was the air war, strategy, tactics, and logistics.

In the coming months, General Sada met with Saddam Hussein and his military intelligent staff multiple times to discuss the American air power in the Red Sea, Mediterranean, and the capabilities of the Israeli air-force. Then in November of 1990, General Sada learned they were looking into attacking Israel.

Before General Sada spoke openly to Saddam, he asked for “permission to speak freely, with immunity.” 1 Sada was fearful, and rightfully so, of being killed on the very spot he stood for delivering bad news. Others before him had suffered such a fate, and many of the advisers in the room had seen it first hand.

He told Saddam that, “attacking Israel would be like the blind attacking the sighted…I told Saddam that the reason I had used that expression is because the Israeli aircraft have very advanced radar, with the capability to see more than 125 miles in any direction. On the other hand, 75 percent of Iraqi aircraft were Russian-made, and the range of the radar on our fighters was only about fifteen miles.” 2

CusterIf Custer had a bird’s eye view of the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho encampments in June of 1876, he and his men might not have been killed.

 

 

 

 

PearlIf Admiral Yamamoto, who planned the Pearl Harbor attack in World War II, had seen the absence of our aircraft carriers from Pearl, he could have delayed the attack and dealt the U.S. an even more destructive blow by sinking our aircraft carriers.

 

 

 

TsunamiHad Indonesia seen the coming earthquake and tsunami in 2004, 14 countries would not have lost over 230,000 people.

 

 

 

 

Folsom LakeIf our meteorologists had more advanced technology, maybe California could have better prepared for the drought we are experiencing.

 

 

 

 

Rim fireHad the hunter known his camp fire would start the massive Rim Fire, on August 17th, 2013, he may have been more careful, or not started it at all.

 

 

 

 

As adults, we can see the obvious advantages to having a full picture. We understand the reasons for a flu shot are to avoid illness during the flu season. If we did not see the reasoning for having a sharp needle stuck in our arm or butt cheek, why on earth would we pay someone do that?

As adults, we understand the reasons for chemotherapy or radiation treatment to fight cancer. Without the threat of death from cancer, no one would subject themselves to poisonous treatments in an effort to kill the cancer.

All of us have experienced something that was disappointing, painful, or heart wrenching, but later we were able to look back at the event or events with a wider a view of the circumstances, and see some possible reasons, or even benefit for it having taken place. That was certainly the case of the crew on the U.S.S. Hornet, when they watched the men of Torpedo 8 Squadron launch, never to return. All of them died without laying a scratch on an enemy ship, but thankfully their story did not end there.

What is difficult for all of us are the events that, despite a wide view, don’t make any sense. Events that bring pain, suffering, or even death, but for no apparent reason. Even years later, some never see any possible justification for what they went through. I don’t think this is any more obvious than the death of a child or unexpected loss of a loved one.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest sacrifices in World War II was suffered by Thomas and Alleta Sullivan. All five of their sons wouldn’t sign up unless they were allowed to serve together on the same ship. The Navy acquiesced, and all the brothers all served on the USS Juneau (CL-52). During the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Juneau was hit by two torpedos and sank, taking down most of the crew. The few survivors reported that three of the Sullivan brothers were killed instantly, a fourth succumbed to his injuries the next day. George, the oldest of the brothers survived several days on the open sea, continually calling for his brothers. He finally swam away from his raft to an imagined shore to get help for his siblings, but was never seen again. 3

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek list the five most consequential questions we can ask ourselves.
1. Origin: Where did we come from?
2. Identity: Who we are?
3. Meaning: Why we are here?
4. Morality: How should we live?
5. Destiny: Where are we going?

They rightfully point out that each of these questions, or more specifically, how we answer these questions, depends on the existence of a higher power. 4 If there is not a God that created us in his image, with meaning and purpose, then what transpires in our lives has no meaning. Pleasure, victory, success, or suffering, defeat, and failure, amount to the same. Ultimately dust and nothingness.

Those who believe in God know and understand that despite the suffering and loss we experience, our lives do have meaning and purpose. Some times the reasons are revealed in our lives, (John 9:1-7) and other times they are not. (Prov. 3:5-6)

This weekend, my students are having to memorize some quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson. One of my favorites is, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” (John 20:29) We will never understand all the pain and suffering in our own lives, and in the lives of those around us, but those that can put their trust in a Savior can find deep joy and satisfaction, despite their circumstances. (Philippians 4:6-7)

That first picture? If you want to know what it was, just click here.

 

Sources:

1. Sada, Georges. Saddam’s Secrets How an Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein. Brentwood: Integrity Publishers, 2006. Print.
2. Ibid.
3. Patterson, Michael. “The Sullivan Brothers” Arlington cemetery. Arlingtoncemetery.net, 24 August 2005. Web 14 March 2015
4. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Print.

 

 

Creative Commons License
The Whole Picture 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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