I would like to address the matter of humanities knowledge of good and evil from the Christian worldview. At this point, I am going to deal with the topic in a foundational philosophical manner that would be agreed upon by all theists. While theism is broader than Christianity, Christianity has the foundational adherence to the position I am herein presenting. Therefore I am not delving into Scripture nor Christian doctrine to address this topic at this point. In future posts, I will develop it out and provide a more detailed response as prompted by questions this post will undoubtedly produce.
As far as I have deduced, my audience accepts that there are good actions and behaviors as well as bad ones and that humans for the most part know the difference between the two. Further, I think all cultures no matter how remote have a system of right and wrong even if their standard of moral judgment is different than the next culture. So where does that idea come from? How did we gain a moral construct of right and wrong? Is it mere social conditioning? Is it merely instinctual impulses of survival? Is something wrong because society says it’s wrong? Can one culture condemn the actions of another as wrong? If so, by what standard?
Theists maintain that we have knowledge of the difference between good and evil (even if we disagree sometimes on specifics) because there is a standard of good outside of nature because a good God exists. When we break from that standard we have the conscious to know something doesn’t line up with the way we are created to live. We know when something is foreign to goodness.
From what has been presented to me thus far, atheists maintain that because they know right from wrong without believing in or fearing God that is proof that moral knowledge is not something related to knowing God. However, Christians maintain that we have a moral compass even if we are not brought up in Christianity or in religion. A person in the most remote village of
Atheists, from my rudimentary observations, maintain that Christians believe morality is connected to a system of punishment and rewards of a demanding judgmental invisible God. They believe, therefore, that Christianity is a manmade system of controlling people into an outdated conservative system of morality by manipulation and the promulgation of the fear of hell.
I can understand why it may look like this is a fair description of Christianity. If the only Christians I had ever met were the ones I encountered this summer at the beach holding signs listing sins God was going to judge people for and shouting about hell into a crowd of teenagers--I would run the other way too and declare it a barbaric brainless religion. I cannot say strongly enough that people like that are not representing true Christianity and are decidedly giving Jesus a bad name by their shameful actions. My husband, a pastor, spoke with these people when we came across them and asked that they cease antagonizing the crowd of angry youth. We emphatically urged the crowd to disperse, to no avail. They were having too much fun heckling the beach preachers. I don’t blame the young people for their responses. My husband and I were greatly disturbed by this misrepresentation of the heart of God towards people.
I would asks that people look past the extremist and religious nut cases to the real nature of truth and examine the truth claims themselves despite some of the misleading representations often depicted in the media and sometimes observed in real life. Please don’t let the attitude and actions of some keep you away from really examining the truth claims of the Christian worldview.
To touch briefly on a more specific Christian view of morality: it isn’t about adhering to rules out of fear of divine retribution or hope of divine rewards. For some, granted, it is thus. However, for many others it is simply this: that man is separated from God because of our sinful nature and consequently fails to live up to even his own standard of right and wrong perfectly. However, because Jesus paid the price of sin in our place we are freed from the bondage of sin and empowered by Christ to love and know God and love and live with our fellow humans the way we were created to do so.
What God asks from man, is not blind obedience, but a real tangible relationship that starts with accepting the free gift of salvation from sin and death offered through Jesus. Thus we become reconciled back to God, ensconced in His love, and we begin life anew learning from God how to be all he created us to be. The work Jesus did on the cross is not simply to redeem mankind, but to redeem all of creation back to its full glory.