Tag Archives: humanism

Are Human Beings Merely Biochemical Machines?

It is a principle of secular thinking that humans have no spiritual component. In other words, they say humans do not have souls or spirits. Secular thinkers believe that the universe described in the laws of physics is all there is, and they are adamant that humans cease to exist at the moment of death, except for the dead body that requires safe disposal.

It is hard for a real observer of human beings to agree with the secular worldview. Dogs, cats, worms and whales are all non-spiritual beings, and whales, for example, are extremely intelligent. So are apes, which seem so similar to humans that comparisons almost make sense. Yet even in the ape family of beings, there is not one that comes vaguely close to a human being.

If human beings have no spiritual component, and if human beings are simply one step farther down the evolutionary path than a chimpanzee, why are human beings so utterly different from chimpanzees? Can anyone believe that the differences between humans and chimpanzees are simply biochemical? I have a few questions:

  • Why don’t drugs fix problems such as depression, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder?
  • Why do humans insist on going beyond the need for nutrition and prefer food with flavor, color and artful presentation?
  • Why do humans need relationships beyond a partner for sexual intercourse and some association for personal safety?
  • Why do humans have aspirations that transcend their need for food, clothing and shelter? In other words, why are humans never satisfied with the way things are?
  • Why do humans change the space around them in so many ways when other animals hardly leave footprints?
  • Why don’t all homo sapiens make identical sounds for purposes of gathering crowds, finding sex partners or warning of predators? In fact, why do humans have so many ways to express language, laws, government, art, philosophy and religion? Why does no other creature even bother with these things? (Please refrain from the temptation to tell me that an elephant or a cat has produced real art.)
  • Why does every human culture include a religious element? Even the most atheistic, secularized humans on earth worship something—themselves.

Human beings obviously have facets to their existence that no other animal has, yet it is not possible to find an origin or reason for these differences that can be measured in the scientific way. The differences between humans and animals are vast and they cannot be expressed as equations or measurements. Human beings all have aspects that simply transcend the time/space world of physics and chemistry. Human beings are spiritual beings.

The Bible explains the phenomenon in many different ways, but there is one verse that sums up the real difference between humans and mere animals: “The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7 ESV). Human beings are the result of a specific act of creation by God in which God breathed his own breath into them.

Planned Parenthood, the women who go to them for abortions, and people all over the world who are trying to prevent women from “suffering” the “disease” of “unwanted pregnancy” need to pay attention to this truth. God put something of himself in every human being, and when an abortion provider is cutting the spinal cord of a living baby in order to harvest the baby’s head for research, all parties to that act are setting themselves up for a confrontation with God Almighty. This crime of murder is not the unforgivable sin, and any guilty party can come to God in repentance and obtain forgiveness, but in order to obtain forgiveness, the guilty party would need to recognize that he or she needed forgiveness.

If human beings are only biochemical machines, no forgiveness is required. Abortion simply cleanses an unwanted parasite from a woman’s uterus. It is no different from liposuction. I do have two questions:

  • If abortion is not the murder of a living baby human, what good are the body parts of this organism for research in the realm of human medicine?
  • If abortion is not the murder of a living baby human, why do couples post on Facebook an ultrasound of the lump of cells in a woman’s uterus and announce, “We’re pregnant! Meet Ellen!”

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

 

 

 

World Watch List #1 North Korea

This post is the first in a weekly series highlighting the fifty most dangerous countries in the world for Christians.

Flag_of_North_Korea_(WFB_2004)

The constitution of North Korea guarantees religious liberty with these words:

Citizens have freedom of religious beliefs. This right is granted by approving the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies. Religion must not be used as a pretext for drawing in foreign forces or for harming the State and social order.” These words are found in Article 68 of the constitution of North Korea.

When you read the words of the North Korean constitution that ostensibly protect religion, your first impression would naturally be to assume that all religions are treated well. Yet like all legal language in any country, the words are simply a cover for the ideas embodied in them.

When an American reads the words, “This right is granted by approving the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies,” an American mind believes that there must be church buildings and worship services within. If a tourist visits Pyongyang, he might actually see a few church buildings where there are occasional “worship” events. None of them have anything to do with Christianity despite their names. Christians in North Korea must worship in secret and hope government spies do not penetrate their secret churches.

The American mind must be advised to read the statement again. “This right is granted.” Governments do not grant human rights. The role of government is to protect rights granted to humans by God.

North Korea is the most dangerous nation on earth for a Christian.

If the US government ever attempts to instigate registration of church groups or church buildings, wise citizens will defeat such initiatives on sight, because that is a sure sign that government intends to suppress Christianity.

Christians in North Korea are persecuted because Christianity is considered a pretext for bringing in foreign ideas, and Christians are accused of being spies for foreign governments. It is not known how many Christians are imprisoned in North Korea, but the estimate is between 50,000 and 70,000. The population as a whole suffers from inadequate food and shelter. The little information available for the prisons indicates that conditions are deplorable and inhumane. Torture and starvation are common.

The guiding philosophy of North Korea is Juche. From the website of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, these words describe this philosophy:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea authored by President Kim Il Sung. The Juche idea means, in a nutshell, that the masters of the revolution and construction are the masses of the people and that they are also the motive force of the revolution and construction.

The Juche idea is based on the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything. It is the man-centred world outlook and also a political philosophy to materialize the independence of the popular masses, namely, a philosophy which elucidates the theoretical basis of politics that leads the development of society along the right path.

The Government of the DPRK steadfastly maintains Juche in all realms of the revolution and construction. 

The North Korean man-centered outlook is the most extreme development of secularism on the planet. This worldview is the reason that the government asserts its power to “grant” or withhold rights that derive from the Creator himself. North Korea’s government acknowledges nothing higher than itself. Its worldview is man-centered, and the man at the center of this worldview is Kim Jong-un. The “masses” may be the motive force behind revolution and construction, but the power in North Korea lies in one man: Kim Jong-un.

We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer in North Korea. We pray to be alert to developments in our own nation that move in the same direction as the philosophy that dominates North Korea.

Please Pray:

  • For the 50,000-70,000 Christians imprisoned in labor camps; ask God to sustain them
  • For the many Christians who don’t have enough food to survive and are forced to flee to China
  • That Christians may stay strong in their faith under unrelenting pressure from government spies

 

For more information visit http://www.opendoors.org

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: By US CIA (The World Factbook) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Secular Thinkers Have Discovered Sinful Human Nature

reconciliation

A recent article described a phenomenon called “microaggressions” which is the latest threat to good order in US culture. Microaggressions are bad acts by unthinking people against people sensitized to aggression by their marginalized positions in the culture. In other words, in plainer language, microaggessions are things people do and say that hurt other people without knowing that they have offended anyone.

Everybody is guilty. Anybody can commit aggression on a micro scale simply by using the pronoun he generically, or by saying something simple like, “I believe there are more Asian students in the chemistry department this year.” Microaggression can be microassault, microinsult, microinvalidation, or even microrape. There are lots of ways to hurt lots of people, and anybody can do it.

Secular thinkers appear to have discovered that human beings are born flawed and must live with eternal guilt, because there is no way they can ever be sure of doing the right thing. (Actually, it only feels like eternity, because secular thinkers are limited to time and space.) Human beings inherently hurt other people in a thousand different ways, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

This concept sounds just like sinful human nature. The apostle Paul wrote about it when he said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV) In response to that problem, Christians teach that sinful human beings “are justified by [God’s] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24 ESV). This same Christ Jesus lives to save people from the enslavement to Satan that was their fate due to sinful human nature, as manifested by microaggressions and other sins.

Secular thinking does not offer any help for the problem of microaggression, or sinful human nature. The offender is simply doomed. The offender has no defense against the person who alleges that offense was given, because by definition, the offender did not know about the offense. Yet the offender in secular thinking must always pay for the offense. There must be a fine or a jail sentence or re-education, or all these things. This is exactly what goes on in starkly secular countries such as VietNam or Kazakhstan or North Korea. Those governments deal with people who disobey the secular government’s moral guidelines with heavy judgments administered by courts. This sort of outcome is the natural result of progressively more assertive secular government.

Christian teaching offers what people really need if they want to recover from the blight of sinful human nature, or microaggressions. Christ himself. Even though people can sin with or without giving it a lot of prior thought and planning, they can be forgiven because Christ died for everyone. Even those who are guilty of microaggressions. Secularists pretend that punishments can be tailored to fit the crimes, but the truth is that the punishment of an offender provides no healing for the offended The beautiful truth is that Christ died for the person who was offended by microaggression also. Christ himself forgives the sins and heals the wounds. Christ leads people to forgive each other. Instead of the offender on one side of thick walls and the offended on the other, both suffering, Christ breaks down those walls and leads both parties to forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.

Secularists have discovered sinful human nature, but they don’t know what to do with it. Christians must demonstrate what Christ has done to cleanse, forgive and heal human beings trapped by their sinful human nature and doomed both to offend and to be offended at the drop of a microaggression. It is very hard to be a Christian in a secular world, but Christians have good news to share with secular thinkers, now that they understand what sinful human nature can do to people.

Jesus taught us how to deal with the problems caused by microaggressions and all sorts of other manifestations of sinful human nature. When he taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In other words, Jesus knew all about aggressions, macro and micro, and he taught the right way to handle them. He also sent the Holy Spirit to live within humans and empower people to do what was hardest of all–to forgive.

Christians must live the gospel so brightly that the Light of the World shines on offenders and offended alike. Christians must carry the good news on their sleeves and in their hearts to all the people suffering from the fear and the destruction of aggressions both macro and micro. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son to bring healing and reconciliation to all who suffer because of microaggresssion—sinful human nature. Even though all people are born that way, God’s good news is that all can be cleansed of the motivations for microaggression and all can be healed of the wounds inflicted by microaggressions.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. —Romans 5:8-10 ESV

by Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com

image source: http://eph.tuckdb.org/  licensed under cc by-sa

Stop and Think About a Hymn

hymnalAm I a Soldier of the Cross?

Am I a soldier of the cross,
a follower of the Lamb,
and shall I fear to own his cause,
or blush to speak his name?

Must I be carried to the skies
on flowery beds of ease,
while others fought to win the prize,
and sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
to help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
supported by thy word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
shall conquer though they die;
they see the triumph from afar,
by faith they bring it nigh.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
and all thy armies shine
in robes of victory through the skies,
the glory shall be thine.

Text: Isaac Watts
License: Public Domain
Source: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh511.sht

Isaac Watts lived in the 17th century in England, yet the words of this hymn strike a resonant chord with any Christian in the 21st century in the USA. The very first verse, for example, asks if I am willing to pay the price of standing firm in my faith and speaking or writing or singing the name of Jesus in the face of cultural pressure to be silent. Think of three instances in the past week when one or more Christians in the USA were asked to stop acting like Christians or ridiculed for refusing to stop.

Secular thinkers scorn the whole idea of heaven, because they scorn anything that is not part of the time/space continuum. They accuse Christians of doing worthless things in order to earn a heavenly reward. What two things are wrong with that accusation? Why do secular thinkers accuse Christians of things that are not part of Christian faith? Where do they get those ideas?

“Blending in” or “fitting in” are important principles of behavior for secular thinkers. On the one hand, each person is to find his own truth, but on the other hand, no person should, by his difference from others, appear to be judging the truth chosen by others. What does the hymn writer ask that expresses the dilemma of the Christian in a secular world?

How does the hymn writer expect to become strong enough and wise enough to stand firm?

What does he expect will be the outcome of his determination?

Secularism and Christianity are not the Same

Contemporary culture is confusing. A lot of words suffer from almost daily redefinition. This post will look at the word morality, as it is shaped in the context of secular, atheist, and Christian thinking.

A secular thinker by definition does not believe in God. The very idea of spirituality is alien to secular thinking, which asserts that only the world of time and space, the world science can weigh and measure, exists. To a secular thinker material existence is the only reality, and death is like the snuffing of a lamp. The end.

Some people equate the word atheist with the word secularist because of the secular rejection of spirituality. To do so, however, is to attempt to express the whole meaning of secularism with the single aspect of the rejection of the idea of God. While the secular thinker does reject God, that rejection is only a single element of a great spectrum of principles by which the secularist lives. An atheist may simply feel inoculated against the infection of belief in God the way a person might feel safe entering the home of a mumps patient if he had been vaccinated against that disease. It is possible for someone to be an atheist without feeling the need to root out religion from the culture. It is not possible to be a secularist and feel the same way.

Secular disbelief in God translates directly into an assertive, increasingly aggressive attitude that belief in God is a threat to humanity. Without a belief in God, the secular thinker turns to the highest form of life for all the things people expect from God. The term highest is expressed in traits of intelligence and creativity, for example. Tool-making. Language. Perception of time. Speculative thinking. Charitable instincts. Christians readily observe that none of these traits address the concepts of guilt, sin, or  morality, and they rightly observe that when secularists do speak of morality they are thinking in an entirely different frame of reference than Christians using the same term.

Christians believe that morality is grounded in the revelation of God and his personal attributes, a universal and absolute standard.

Secularists believe that morality is grounded in the evolving self-knowledge of human beings and their attributes, a diverse and mutable standard.

These two concepts could hardly be more different. These two standards cannot conceivably be reconciled to one another. It is not necessary that the relationship between people who hold these vastly different worldviews devolve into complete lack of respect, but increasingly, interaction between Christians and secularists is antagonistic and destructive.

Why?

Because each party sees that when the other party has the dominant influence, life becomes difficult. In a representative republic, the people who have the numbers, the votes, on their side have the power. They write the laws. They shape public policy. They decide who and what is taxed. They teach the children.

Some Christians and some secularists try to operate as if compromise between the two viewpoints is possible. Agreements that give each “side” something to hold on to can be crafted. They can be “agreed to” by majority vote. However, they never satisfy either “side” and they never finish the work each “side” believes must be done. Outside the agreement stand proponents for each “side” who will never be satisfied with partial success.

Why is the world this way? Why can the good never fully defeat the evil in this world? Why is it that no matter how many peace treaties are signed by no matter how many people of good will, there is no peace? Stomp out war in one place, and it breaks out somewhere else. Why?

Jesus explained how this works in his parable of the Wheat and the Tares. In this parable, despite the farmer’s great care in sowing good seed, he is ambushed by the devious work of his enemy who sows weeds in the field while the farmer sleeps. The farmer does not detect the presence of the bad seeds until they have sprouted alongside the growing wheat. Rather than lose the good crop altogether, the farmer defers destruction of the weeds till harvest time. Jesus said that this state of affairs exists in the world of time and space with good and evil growing side by side till the end of time. The moral of the story is, God wins. The lesson of the story is that good and evil, Christians and secularists, will always co-exist till the end of time.

Someone will take undoubtedly take umbrage at the implied equivalence between secularism and evil. Someone will say that he knows really good people who do not believe in God. Anybody can see that there are plenty of atheists and agnostics who do good in the world. There is an explanation of this apparent harsh judgment on atheists, but it is beyond the scope of this post. An upcoming post will answer the question: Why is anyone who is not a Christian depicted as evil in the parable of the wheat and the tares?