IN GOD WE TRUST

The Pitched Battle for the Soul of America!

Copyright 2007 Victor Shane, all rights reserved

 

 

1) You shall have no other gods before Me.

2) You shall not make a god out of any created thing.

3) You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain....

4) You shall remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy....

5) You shall honor your father and your mother....

6) You shall not kill.

7) You shall not commit adultery.

8) You shall not steal.

9) You shall not bear false witness....

10) You shall not covet anything belonging to your neighbor...

(Exodus 20:2–17)

 

 

The Ten Commandments

 

ANTIDOTE TO DERIVATIVE LIVING

 

 

There is a pitched battle raging for the soul of America at this eleventh hour of history. One side believes that God exists and the cosmos is derivative. The other side believes the opposite, believing also that all this talk about “God, Moses and Jesus” is stuff and nonsense invented by some long dead patriarchy to enable it to arrogate political authority to itself.

 

Who is right? Who is wrong? What is “right?” What is “wrong?” What is “moral?” What is “immoral?” What is “good?” What is “evil?” Is there an objective standard or measure that can be used to judge between the two sides?

 

Does the Judeo-Christian ethic relate to the nature of the physical world or doesn’t it? Is Christianity just another “belief system,” or is it a true consciousness based in something real? Facts, if real, are in their nature capable of proof. What then? Is the Judeo-Christian ethic based on fact or fiction?

 

 

NECESSARY vs. CONTINGENT

 

In the history of ethics the general rule followed by great thinkers is that prescriptions should follow descriptions of the world. From Plato onward, great thinkers have also argued about the distinction between the necessary and the contingent. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) was among modern thinkers who went on to categorize necessary truths as a priori, and contingent truths as a posteriori. These two terms, a priori and a posteriori, have since come to be used to describe two species of truths, namely those whose knowledge does not depend on human experience (literally a priori), and those whose knowledge does depend on human experience (literally a posteriori).

 

For example, “2 + 2 = 4” is a necessary truth that can be known a priori. However, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain,” is a contingent truth that may or may not be true, and can only be known a posteriori. Let us define these terms for purposes of this publication:

 

 

NECESSARY: Ideally the necessary would correspond to something universal, something fundamental, something objective, authentic and transcendent, something whose reality is not subject to the limiting adjuncts of human experience and observation; i.e., a real and true state of being.

 

CONTINGENT: The contingent would correspond to the opposite of the necessary; i.e., a false consciousness, judgment, proposition, concept, idea or argument lacking universal truth to anchor it; an unreliable interpretation of reality based on something circumstantial, something situational, something relative, something incidental or accidental, something whose truth is very much subject to the vagaries of human experience and observation.

 

 

Let us expand our understanding of the concepts of the necessary and the contingent by way of an analogy relating to building and construction codes. When it comes to building a skyscraper, for example, a scientific description of gravity must precede prescriptions relating to construction codes. Are these construction codes necessary? Yes, they are necessary because they correspond to the nature of gravity here on earth.

 

Different nations, races and cultures have similar construction codes because the nature of gravity is uniform throughout the earth. The contractor who violates the law by building a weak or unsafe structure—one that gravity may cause to collapse, killing or injuring occupants—might then be judged unethical and have his license revoked in any nation on earth.

 

The analogy may be all too simple, but it serves to demonstrate the relationship between ethical prescriptions and descriptions of the physical world. The determination as to what is necessary and what is contingent—what is the right way of building a skyscraper, and what is the wrong way of building a skyscraper—can’t be based on societal moods, cultural swings, political expediency, political correctness or feel-good emotionalism. It has to correspond to something real, in this analogy, gravity.

 

Now let us take a quantum leap and apply the principle to the nature of the cosmos itself. As a description of the nature of gravity had to precede prescriptions relating to construction codes in our skyscraper analogy, so also a description of the nature of the world must precede prescriptions relating to moral and ethical codes here on earth.

 

What then? What shall we say about the Biblical code of ethics? Are the Ten Commandments necessary in the building of prosperous societies?

Construction codes are necessary because of the nature of gravity. But why should the Ten Commandments be necessary? If it is gravity that renders construction codes necessary, what is it that renders the Ten Commandments necessary?

 

PITFALLS OF CREATION

 

The sea is a wonderful playground, but its pitfalls have drowned many a sailor. To navigate the sea, mariners must abide by certain rules. The mountains are wonderful playgrounds, but their pitfalls have killed many a climber. To overcome Everest, a climber must abide by certain disciplines.

 

A simpler illustration may be sought in a beautiful mansion set on a high hill. Is the mansion a friendly place? The children playing in it would say “yes.” Their father might worry about its pitfalls and institute certain rules for their protection—“no sliding down the banisters, no leaning out of windows, no running up and down the stairs, no swimming in the pool unless grown-ups are present, no horseback riding or hiking in the hills without supervision.”

 

A reporter once asked Albert Einstein, “What is the most important question a person can ask?” Einstein answered, “I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’” It seems we are asking a similar question here, not so much whether the physical world is a friendly place or not, but whether it conceals certain pitfalls that would render the Ten Commandments necessary, in the same way that gravity renders construction codes necessary.

 

The physical world (the universe) is indeed a wonderful, grand and magnificent playground, but does it conceal pitfalls that would cause our Heavenly Father to institute certain rules for our protection—rules like the Ten Commandments?

 

If, for example, the physical world had some subtle property capable of producing within human nature an orientation toward violence, then the commandment “you shall not kill” would be necessary. If the physical world had some subtle property capable of producing within human nature a tendency to steal, then the commandment “you shall not steal” would be necessary. If the physical world had some subtle property capable of producing within human nature a temptation to commit adultery, then the commandment “you shall not commit adultery” would be necessary. So on and so forth.

 

Conversely, if the physical world had no such properties, if the cosmos (the sum of physical reality) was completely inert, passive, transparent and exerting no influence whatsoever within the sphere of human nature, then that in turn might render the Ten Commandments contingent and unnecessary. So then which is it? Is the gigantic behavioral field of the cosmos devoid of properties? Or does it have some subtle property capable of producing within human nature an “evil tendency” that would render the Ten Commandments necessary?

 

We put the question to the reader: Are the Ten Commandments necessary, or are they contingent? Christians would say that they are necessary, presumably because they resist some property or orientation inherent to the physical world. Contrariwise naturalists and atheists would say they are contingent, presumably because the world doesn’t have any fixed nature, property or orientation to speak of.

 

THE CULTURE WAR

The culture war pits the tenets of the Judeo-Christian worldview—embodied in the Ten Commandments—against those of the atheistic worldview. What exactly are the tenets of the atheistic worldview? They may read as follows:

 

There is no god—cosmos is all there is, or was, or ever will be.

There are no absolutes.

Man enjoys a gratuitous existence in an indeterminate universe.

Reality is observer-defined and depends on one’s point of view.

There is no such thing as sin or sin-nature.

Good and evil are situational and socially construed.

Morality is situational and socially construed.

All truth claims are subjective, relative, and equally valid.

Man decides what is real or unreal.

Man decides what is truth or untruth.

Man decides what is good or evil.

Man decides what is right or wrong.

Man is his own god.

 

 

These are the foundational premises of a derivative age that has jettisoned all frames of reference and tried to cut itself free from all anchors to the real world. 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 premises such as these, premises that are reinforced by a description of the physical world supposedly derived from the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Postmodern society, it seems, has now become the embodiment of so-called “quantum indeterminism.”

 

 

THE NATURE OF THE WORLD

The Derivative Nature of Man

 

In his New York Times bestseller Slouching Toward Gomorrah, former United States Acting Attorney General Robert H. Bork catalogs the events and legal precedents by which the liberal house of cards was built in America, producing in the span of a few decades a culture that is now in moral free-fall with no bottom in sight, a culture in which rationality itself is now frowned upon, as Bork explains:

 

 

Quite another form of irrationality afflicts portions of our intelligentsia: the astounding claim that rationality itself is neither possible nor legitimate. We have seen that some radical feminists make this claim ... that what counts as rationality is socially constructed, that there are different ways of knowing, which means that reality has no stable content, not even in principle.1

 

Does reality have stable content? Does it exist independently of the limiting adjuncts of human experience and observation? Most Christians would tend to answer “yes.” Contrariwise most naturalists, atheists, radical feminists, homosexuals, abortionists, and their ACLU lawyers would tend to answer with a resounding “NO,” perhaps adding: “Where have you been? Haven’t you ever heard of Einstein and relativity? Haven’t you ever heard of quantum indeterminacy?”

 

Most atheists and radical feminists tend to view the Christian notion of reality with a jaundiced eye, pointing to the moral and ethical prescriptions of the Bible as the source of all intolerance, injustice and misery on earth. Perhaps the accusation that they would now lay at the doorstep of the Christian Church would read something like this:

 

You Christians are trying to arrogate political authority to yourselves in the name of your make-believe god, basing your opposition to such things as abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia on contingent truths that you yourselves have invented!

 

 

The propaganda aside, this is a serious charge, but it isn’t new. Millennia ago the same charge was leveled against Moses and Aaron by Korah’s mob, accusing them of trying to arrogate political authority to themselves in the name of God (refer to the 16th chapter of the Book of Numbers). A few decades ago the same basic accusation was made by Marx and Engels in their Manifesto of the Communist Party:

 

 

The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eternal laws of nature and of reason the social forms springing from your present mode of production and form of property ... this misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you.2

 

 

Is there any substance to these charges? Can those who have positioned themselves on the left side of the culture war make these charges stick? Presently the answer would seem to be yes. Yes, they can make these charges stick because we Christians have yet to show a rational, scientific connection between the nature of the world and the Ten Commandments. Until we can do that, we might as well be arguing with the wind, trying to explain ourselves in religious terms that always evoke the same response: “You Christians are entitled to your own worldview, but there are many other worldviews just as valid as yours!”

 

Until we Christians can affirm the necessity of the Judeo-Christian ethic in rational and scientific terms, those who don’t believe in God will own the microphone and occupy the podium in the mainstream of public opinion in America and elsewhere in the world where the culture war is now raging. On the day that we Christians finally do affirm the necessity of the Judeo-Christian ethic, we will have reframed not only the culture war, but also the issue of history in its entirety.

 

Within the pages of In God We Trust you will learn how to affirm the necessity of the Ten Commandments in a rational, scientific way, confirming everything that the Bible has been saying about the fallen nature of man from Genesis to Revelation.

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1. Robert H. Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah (New York: Reagan Books, 1997), 264.

2. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto (English version published in 1888), Part II: Proletarians and Communists.

 

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