Wednesday, June 15, 2016

SMR 171 Everyone believes in something

Smoky Mountain Reflections #171

            Who is your God? Comparative religion classes on university campuses lack analyses of some belief systems that therefore avoid being studied critically. While not normally referred to as “religions”, they should be addressed because they, just like all other religions, have an ultimate authority and a system of beliefs driving their worldviews. Here are four ‘belief systems’ which I think should be added to the studied list and a summarization of their beliefs as I see them.

Atheism is the belief that there is no God. It follows naturally then, that the atheist views himself as the ultimate source of authority in his own world; functionally speaking, his own god. Psalm 14:1 says “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” (It would be logical to celebrate Atheist day on April 1st.) J

Secular Humanism embraces human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making. To a secular humanist, the ultimate source of authority is the collective goodness of mankind. Therefore, one can logically deduce that functionally speaking, in this view, mankind is the benevolent god of the universe. This, however, is a fantasy. World history flies in the face of the idea that mankind is capable of moral decision-making.  Romans 3:23 tells us “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.”

Scientism is the belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or the most valuable part of human learning, to the exclusion of other viewpoints. To someone who holds to this view, the scientific process is god. In the not-so-famous words of Esqulieto of the movie Nacho Libre, “I believe in science”.

Similar to eastern mysticism, one can hold one or all three of the aforementioned views simultaneously, and since they each have logical inconsistencies, they can all occupy the same mind and not be concerned enough with each other to cause any conflict. We then come to the last on my list today.

Agnosticism is the view that the truth of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether God, the divine, or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable. This position sits on the fence between theism and atheism. It expresses skepticism, but is not foolish enough to assert atheism because logic, history, and truth demand the existence of a god.

            Most other religions claim the existence of one or more gods or at least some form of divine consciousness, and are therefore addressed in comparative religion classes. Let me conclude with this thought: Christianity rests on the evidence of real events testified to by witnesses who saw the risen Lord. Many of them gave their lives rather than deny that witness and thousands of copies were made of their firsthand accounts. The truth of the Bible’s claims are affirmed by the findings of history, archeology, and science, and the unique nature of that truth is this: the goal of the individual in non-Christian belief systems is to get themselves to whatever their version of god is, while the metanarrative of Holy Scripture is how God came to you in the person and work of Jesus Christ, for the purpose of redeeming you to Himself. He is the only way, not one among many. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Have a blessed summer
In Christ,

Pastor Portier

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