IN GOD WE TRUST

The Pitched Battle for the Soul of America!

Copyright � 2007 Victor Shane, all rights reserved

 

Understanding the Cultural Stalemate:

AN OVERVIEW

 

As the culture war reaches its boiling point, conservative Americans find themselves on the horns of a dilemma. The nature of that dilemma—the problem that is paralyzing Christianity today—can be understood in the following analogy:

 

 

(A) WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

 

Engineer:.......There is a right way and a wrong way of building a skyscraper!

 

Non-believer: There is no “right way,” there is no “wrong way”! “Right” and “wrong” are situational and depend on one's point of view!

 

Engineer:........But if you build it the wrong way, it will fall down!

 

Non-believer: Well, ok, fine, that's YOUR opinion and YOU are welcome to it, but please don't try to force your worldview on other people!

 

 

(B) WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

 

Christian:........God says abortion and homosexuality are wrong!

 

Non-believer: There is no God and no such thing as “wrong” either! Carl Sagan says cosmos is all there is, Darwin says we are accidents, Einstein says everything is relative, quantum mechanics says reality is observer-dependent, Karl Marx says ethics are situational, Kinsey says morality is socially construed and the ACLU says right and wrong depend on one's point of view!

 

Christian:........But we believe abortion and homosexuality will destroy the fabric of American society and expose it to the judgments of God!

 

Non-believer: Well, ok, fine, that's YOUR belief system, YOUR truth claim and YOU are welcome to it! But there are many other truth claims just as valid as yours, so keep your “morality” to yourself!

 

 

In this analogy (A) and (B) represent similar controversies, the difference being that the engineer can ground his argument in the nature of the physical world (laws of physics), but up to now Christians have not been able to do something similar.

 

What then? what are we to think? Is the Judeo-Christian ethic grounded in the nature of the physical world, or is it stuff and nonsense invented by some long dead “bigoted and homophobic patriarchy,” as some radical feminists claim?

 

And what about the Ten Commandments? What can we infer from the repetition of the words, you shall not ... you shall not, in the Decalogue? Obviously the repetition of the words, you shall not ....you shall not, presupposes a tendency to the contrary, i.e., “something” in human nature that would tend to encourage murder, stealing, adultery, covetousness, etc. But what?

 

Can Christians explain that “something” in rational/scientific terms and go on the offensive in the culture war? NO! At the present time Christians don’t seem to be able to explain themselves in rational/scientific terms! THAT, is exactly what is paralyzing Christianity today in the arena of academia in particular!

 

The failure of the conservative right to show correlation between the Judeo-Christian ethic and the nature of the physical world gives the impression that Christianity is driven by “backward superstition” whereas atheism is driven by “enlightened science.” In reality the reverse is true:

 

Carl Sagan’s statement, delivered like a salvo at the onset of his PBS Cosmos series (“Cosmos is all there is, or was, or ever will be,”) ranks as one of the most intolerant and arrogant pronouncements in history! Spoken from a posture of superhuman infallibility, it smacks of absolutism that lies outside the realm of scientific investigation and falsification. So then why did he utter it? Why would any “scientist” make an overarching and careless statement like that?

 

Darwin himself never claimed to know how life started on earth. Even today there isn’t a scientist on earth who can explain the origins of life.

 

Einstein himself was incensed (steaming mad!) to find out that people were drawing ridiculous analogies between physical and moral relativity.

 

So-called “quantum indeterminacy” does not imply a lawless subnature in which anything goes! While individual quantum events may, from an anthropocentric and purely human perspective, appear to behave in indeterminate and unpredictable ways, sufficiently large collections of quantum events behave in very predictable ways, otherwise science wouldn’t have a leg to stand on—scientists would not be in a position to predict anything, let alone design such things as satellites, atom smashers and superconductors.

 

Karl Marx is dead and so are the 20,000,000 who were starved to death by Marxist ideology (AKA “scientific socialism”) in the former Soviet Union.

 

Kinsey’s “scientific sex research” produced a Pavlovian culture now mired in permissiveness, pornography, obscenity, sexually transmitted disease and every form of sexual degradation, perversion and addiction imaginable.

 

The truth be known, there is nothing “rational” or “scientific” about the agenda of the liberal left. The house of cards that has since come to be known as postmodern culture, sheltering within its walls what may be called the liberal view of human nature, is built on nothing more than shifting sand, and it is about to crumble.

 

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Christian Worldview vs. Naturalist Worldview

 

ORIGINAL vs. DERIVATIVE

 

The opening verse of Genesis provides the premise from which the Judeo-Christian worldview flows. According to Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” In this statement, the Bible is telling us that the cosmos is derivative.

 

Contrariwise, the words of the late Carl Sagan, delivered like a salvo at the beginning of his PBS Cosmos series, embody the premise from which naturalistic and atheistic worldviews flow. According to Sagan, “The cosmos is all there is, or was, or ever will be.” In this statement, Sagan is in effect saying that there is no God and the cosmos is original.

 

The belief that the cosmos is derivative is foundational to the Judeo-Christian worldview. The belief that the cosmos is original (has no creator) is foundational to the naturalistic-atheistic worldview. The clash of these two worldviews is at the root of the culture war and the pitched battle now raging for the soul of America. All the skirmishes of the culture war, whether taking place on the battlefields of “abortion,” “same-sex marriage,” or “death on demand,” divide America along these two worldviews.

 

One side believes that God exists and the cosmos is derivative (God-made). The other side believes that the cosmos is original and “gods” are derivative (man-made). One side believes that God is the head and cosmos the tail. The other side believes the opposite, believing also that all this talk about “God, Moses and Jesus” is stuff and nonsense invented by ruling classes so they can arrogate political authority to themselves.

 

Viewed from the perspective of the liberal left, Christian belief in an “imaginary god” has now grown into an absolutist, fanatical and intolerant tail that is wagging the head of a secular American society, making it unfit for pacifist and socialist habitation...

 

Viewed from the perspective of the conservative right, atheistic denial of a benevolent Creator has now grown into an idolatrous, perverted and insolent tail that is wagging the head of the Founding Fathers’ America, making it unfit for Christian habitation...

 

To say that there is “profound disagreement” between these two worldviews would be the understatement of all time! Therefore, the culture war rages, its temperature rising toward some boiling point. Who is right and who is wrong? Well, that would depend on the existence of God, wouldn’t it? If God exists, the primacy must be given to Him as Creator.

 

 

PRIMACY vs. SUBORDINACY

 

In all branches of human endeavor, primacy is given to creators and relative subordinacy to created things. Consider all the great works of art: ancient, classic, medieval, Gothic, renaissance, Flemish, romantic, realist, etc. In all these great works the primacy is given to creators, and relative subordinacy to their works. Although we marvel at the great fresco in the Vatican called School of Athens, the primacy belongs to its creator, Raphael. Although we marvel at the Mona Lisa, the primacy belongs to its creator, da Vinci. The primacy belongs to Michelangelo, not his statue of David. It belongs to Velazquez, not his masterpiece Las Meninas. It belongs to Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Tiepolo, Fragonard, Blake, Martin, Delacroix, Goya, Boudin, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, Monet, van Gogh, Gauguin, C�zanne, Rodin, Matisse, Picasso, etc.—not their created works.

 

Do we give the primacy to Brandenburg Concerto, or to Johann Sebastian Bach? Does the primacy belong to his Ninth Symphony, or to Beethoven himself? It can be seen that in all these cases the primacy belongs to the creator, and relative subordinacy to the created thing. Although the created thing may be a truly wonderful, unique and priceless work of art, although it may be a magnificent and moving symphony, although it may be an awe-inspiring and fascinating cosmos, it is nevertheless derivative.

 

To marvel at Brandenburg Concerto and deny the existence of Johann Sebastian Bach would be irrational. To marvel at the universe and deny the existence of God would be idolatry. Be it ever so unimaginably huge, be it populated by billions of galaxies each teaming with billions of stars, be it ever so magnificent, be it ever so breathtaking, be it ever so grand and awesome, the cosmos is still derivative if God exists. Otherwise it would be original and deserving the full measure of the primacy, precedence and veneration that naturalists of Sagan’s ilk would heap upon it.

 

 

THE WORLDVIEW OF AMERICA’S FOUNDERS

 

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible separates between Creator and created thing respectively, repeatedly warning mankind not to venerate the created thing in idolatry, but always to give the primacy to the Creator. Coincident with the Biblical worldview, America’s Founders gave the primacy to the Creator and relative subordinacy to the created state, binding God, man and government in one indissoluble bond:

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all MEN are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, GOVERNMENTS are instituted among men....

(Declaration of Independence, emphasis added.)

 

 

The Declaration of Independence is the premise from which flow the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It was only by giving the primacy to the Creator that America’s Founders succeeded in rendering the rights of Americans immune to the caprices of Caesars, Czars, emperors, kings, queens, pontiffs, priests, pashas, dictators, despots, oppressors, tyrants, autocrats, magnates, moguls, politicians, bankers, academicians and bioethicists.

 

Had America’s Founders been atheists, there would have been no “Creator” and no “unalienable rights” to speak of. We should remind ourselves of the words of the internationally recognized Christian philosopher Francis A. Schaeffer in the speech that he gave at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in 1982:

 

 

We must understand something very thoroughly. If society—if the state—gives the rights, it can take them away, they’re not unalienable. If the states give the rights, they can change them and manipulate them. But this was not the view of the Founding Fathers of this country. They believed, although not all of them were individual Christians, that there was a Creator and that this Creator gave the unalienable rights....

What we have, and take so poorly for granted, is unique. It was brought forth by a specific worldview and that specific worldview was the Judeo-Christian worldview.... All the benefits which we know... which we have taken so easily and so much for granted, are unique. They have been founded on a certain worldview that there was a Creator there to give unalienable rights. And this other [naturalistic] view over here, which has become increasingly dominant, of the material energy final worldview (shaped by pure chance) never would have, could not, has no basis of values in order to give, such a balance of freedom that we have known....1

 

 

 

In his book, A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer described the culture war in this way:

 

 

These two [Christian vs. naturalistic] worldviews stand as totals in complete antithesis to each other in content and also in their natural results—including sociological and governmental results, and specifically including law. It is not that these two worldviews are different only in how they understand the nature of reality and existence. They also inevitably produce totally different results. The operative word here is inevitably. It is not just that they happen to bring forth different results, but it is absolutely inevitable that they will bring forth different results.2

 

 

 

The culture war is rooted in these two opposing worldviews. One side believes in the God of the Bible. The other side doesn’t. One side sees the cosmos as derivative. The other side sees the cosmos as original. One side gives the primacy to the Creator of the universe. The other side gives the primacy to the universe itself.

 

One side believes man to have been created in the image of the Creator, endowed with unalienable (absolute) rights that governments are instituted to protect. The other side believes man to be a product of random processes in a meaningless universe, invested with relative worth and situational value determined by social consensus and prevailing zeitgeist.

 

Within the pages of In God We Trust you will learn a great deal more about these opposing worldviews and the ways in which they divide America at the eleventh hour of history.

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1. Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, speech given in 1982 at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church; video transcription made available by Coral Ridge Ministries in 2006.

 

2. Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981), 18.

 

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