By Daniel H. King
The sentiment of skepticism and unbelief which pervades all of human society at the present time has a singular facet which has led to its appeal to a large segment of mankind. Strangely enough, that facet is that it leaves people oblivious to any purpose for existence. It may not sound as though this exactly jibes, but it is clear that the mail who is set on having his own way about things anyway is left with a free hand by such a sentiment. In fact, he is left to determine what he most wants to do with his own little span of mortality — that, even in the face of what every other individual wants to do with his. God does not even enter the picture.
There is no arguing the point that this is only a new form of license. It is different from the old forms in title and description only. Its effects are the same. Its contemporary title is “freedom,” but at a glance it is evident that it has formerly paraded under the designations “antinomianism” and “libertinisin.” In the past, as now, it has been the practice for such ideologies to undermine and then remove the thing which hindered its acceptance, Usually that has been the Bible or parts of it. In this case it involves the Bible and the One Who inspired it. The surgical removal of both from the consciences of men and women in our day has been successfully completed by, of all people, the “doctors” of the clerical profession. The success of the operation is evident all about us. People are now more than ever living with themselves in the center of their attention. Husbands, wives, parents, children, friends, country, and even religion, have given way to the preeminence of self. The past and the future are also put out of sight arid out of mind. The present is the going commodity. And, admittedly, all is well if the philosophy of our day is correct in assuming that there is no over-all, all-encompassing, all-engrossing purpose for the universe in general and man in particular, If this is true why should one be the least interested in anyone or anything except the all-important me in the all-important now.
By means of this applied philosophy the combined forces of religion have brought more genuine peril and misery upon humankind than ever a molten idol or apostate church dared to hope. Animated by it people go about from day to day undauntedly making decisions to lie to, steal from, cheat, rape, and even kill their fellow human beings when the other’s interests come into conflict with their own self-interests, Freed from the bonds of a so-called “out-dated” morality and motivated solely by beastly instincts, they prowl without pang of conscience or fear of destiny-alas, to their minds there is none. The religionists told them this when they compromised with current scientific theory and informed them that they were one with the animal kingdom, alike animals, and alike without future beyond the cessation of biological functioning. And, while platitudes and cliche’s are sufficient as motivation to acceptable moral behavior for the intellectual elite who peddle them to the rank and file they are an unsatisfactory substitute for religious law couched in divine imperatives the like of, “Thou shalt and “Thou shalt not. . .”
Why should we wonder that drugs and sex are the ,escape routes taken from the dog-eat-dog treadmill of life by so many of-our young? Why be surprised that the oldsters whose faith has been destroyed bury themselves in a grave of alcohol or materialism? And, when either finds that none of these offer any real repose, why are we shocked at suicide as an inviting alternative to the depressing aimlessness and purposelessness of it all? On the whole they are left a bit like the female salmon that has struggled long and hard to make her journey upstream to the place of her origin. She deposits her eggs and her purpose in the ongoing process of nature has been accomplished. She travelled the long distance to procreate, and having done so she swims about aimlessly, waiting to die. That’s all there is left for her. Similarly, to their hurt and to the hurt of the rest of society, that is all there is left for too large a portion of the world’s population today.
And, realistically now, is there any logical reason why Iliev should. not act like the lower creatures in their daily intercourse with their fellows? Their pupose in living has,been ascertained by their “intellectual” and “spiritual” leaders to be no higher-nor more noble than that of animals. What could be a possible reason for their making daily decisions in tune with any standard other than the biological urge or personal ambition which manifests itself at the time the decision is made? In light of !he presuppositions under which they operate, obviously there is none. Man enters the world selfishly crying out for nourishment and comfort for himself and usually leaves it wishing for more life for himself. During the interim why should he make moral decisions with anything in mind except his own personal gratification? If there is nothing outside of and superior to himself demanding of his attention and intention, then he should not. (And by “superior” we mean superiority in his estimation of it, whether in power or in worth or both). If he is going to practice selflessness there must be something in it for him (at least to get him started). All talk of selflessness or selfless action is just so much hogwash without an attendant conviction which makes even this a matter of personal gratification, This is a coarse reality, but it is simply true that practical (not theoretical) morality is unworkable without an undergirding “ulterior motive” to make it operable. In the past that motive was to enjoy heaven and avoid hell, with a vacillating primacy to the one or the other. With this motivation stripped away by the clerics themselves, however, men just will not be bounded by platitudes. The motivation is gone. So is absolute moral law. What is left is not very pretty to look at-and even worse to live with.
But it is all too clear that morality, goodness, justice, and the multitude of other excellent virtues that we love in others have their place in all of us and in the larger purpose of the universe as a whole. Furthermore, the ugly vices and malignities that we regard as contemptible in others: greed, haired, cruelty, etc., have no rightful place in either and serve only to thwart the worthy goal for which the creation evidences that it was brought into being. Notwithstanding the clarity of these truths, men live on in a haphazard fashion. It is even ludicrous to entertain the notion that they will not continue to lull themselves into aimlessness by promoting the idea that it is all a Grand Enigma, even though all of logic and reason (and even the very existence of logic and reason) militate against this comfortable illusion. The simple reason for this is that they like it better, nonsensical though it be. Meaninglessness is the basis upon which their philosophy of life is based as well as the reason that life can be exploited in pursuit of self-interest. Purpose and order, on the other hand, demand a moral standard in keeping with purposeful existence. Standards in the moral sphere enjoin restrictions and limitations. Enigma is therefore the much-to-be-preferred alternative.
Contrariwise, when we ask the seminal question “why?”, and answer it with “God!”, then all of the parts of the puzzle fall into place for us-even my part. Genuine virtue does not have to be legislated for us be human governments. We do not have to be cajoled into it by empty platitudes. Instead, virtue and right action is viewed by us as a functionary in a Grand Scheme in which we all play a real and important role. Those who do not take their cues are “wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 13). They are without purpose, unguided. And, the man is an utter fool who thinks that he can stimulate them to virtue as a regular response without God and the Bible being the stimuli. The present state of things should be sufficient argumentation to satisfy any questioner of this point. Not until men recognize that they are creatures made in the image of the eternal, benevolent, and glorious God (Gen. 1:27), and that all other people are alike fashioned in His image will they be able truly to love and respect their neighbors as they do themselves. Not until they see that their every decision for good or for evil is cosmic and eternal both in its significance and its consequence will they learn to make their judgements based on an external moral standard set up and enforced by One who loves them and has their best interest always in mind (1 John 5:3). And, not until men view their lives as filled with purpose and intent (Psa. 139:16) by God Who by His grace and mercy has granted them their few days of sojourn will they want to use them up in the pursuit of anything except self-interest (Eccl. 12:13).
Indeed, God is the Reason for it all. He is both the Ultimate Cause of everything and the Reason for the continuance of all that is. This world is riot without purpose and neither are we. Is God the Supreme Factor that motivates your every decision? Is His Word the standard for your conduct? Remember, you have a part in His Grand Scheme–and life would be, is, and always will be aimless without Him. If you do not believe that, then merely open your eyes and take a good look around you. Unknowing witnesses testify on every side. The aimlessness of their lives stands as a stark testimony to this principle. “Reverence God and observe His commandments; because this is the whole purpose of man.
Truth Magazine XX: 44, pp. 694-696
November 4, 1976