Does Truth Matter?
There is a question that we seldom really seem to ask. It is a question that is always in the background when we engage the skeptic, but it is one that we seem to not realize is there. I believe it is a side effect of our world today in which truth of the “real world” is seen as all-important, and religious truths don’t really matter. The question is “Does truth matter?”
I have met many atheists through my time on the forum of the internet. I have been on AOL, on Yahoo, on PALtalk, and on Theology Web. My question will begin with them. I have often been told that we are sometimes Christians because Christianity brings meaning and purpose to life and we need that. I am not here to argue that that is wrong. I am here to argue that that is right.
Do not take me as first-rate philosopher now. I claim no such thing. I just claim to be one who likes to think on the many issues I see in the world around them and analyze them in minute detail. I will also clarify that the above reason is not the only reason for being a Christian. Of course, the real reason anyone should hold any worldview is because it is true. The main reason we as Christians see our worldview as true is simply because of Jesus. It is because of who he is and what he did.
However, it is because of who he is that life has meaning and purpose. As Paul said “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” Indeed, if there were no resurrection, there would be no Christianity. There would be no point. The problem goes much further than that though.
Through prophecies like Daniel 9, we can see an exact time for then the Messiah would come. What if it had not happened? What if what we believed was supposed to happen had not happened? Daniel 9 is a hard passage to deny as it has a clear time reference that is certainly passed by now. Many things were to happen before the destruction of the second temple involving the Messiah. What if none of them happened?
In that case, I would have no problem with repudiating the work of the OT writers as largely the work of men. It would mean that God had supposedly revealed something to us, but when we got to the important details, God could not be trusted. God had even pulled a massive joke on us promising us deliverance and providing none. Such a God would be more of a sadist than of a holy and righteous and loving God.
We can only know God if God reveals himself to us. Yet if God has not revealed himself to us clearly, or has worse even given us false information, what am I to conclude? I can only conclude that God does not really care about us. From natural revelation, I can look at creation and see a universe that is greatly designed, something both sides of the creation age debate gladly admit. If this God is far smarter than I am and says I am not worth caring about, who am I to disagree?
Which is what surprises me about the modern liberal theologian. God has not really revealed himself. It’s all one big giant guessing game. All we are to do is love one another and that will be enough. If God does not love us enough to reveal a correct path to us, then why should I even bother loving my neighbor?
And what would happen when we die? Well the “liberal Christian” could say we’ll go to Heaven, but says who? How can that be known? Maybe God’s tricking us there also. Maybe God secretly plans to throw us into Hell or destroy us or send us to an alternate universe where we’d be forced to watch TBN televangelists for all eternity. (Oops. I already mentioned Hell. My mistake.)
Paul asks that if the trumpet is not clear, will any go to battle? (1 Cor. 14:8) If God is not clear, will any do what he says? Now I will grant that there are some passages of Scripture hard to understand, but there are many simple to understand. But what if you not only have to consider what the Bible says but also what the Vedas say, and the Qu’ran, and the Book of Mormon, and Science and Health?
I am told that God has revealed himself in all these faiths and yet all these faiths are valid. Then God does not care about truth? After all, they all contradict. If God does not care about truth, then why should I? If he does not care about truth, why should I even be discussing it with the skeptic who holds to the pluralistic worldview?
I must admit that I think such a view could only have arisen in modern times. The Romans persecuted the Christians for a reason and the Christians preached to the pagans and the Jews for a reason. The Muslims put people to the sword for a reason and the JWs condemn Christendom for a reason. It would make far more sense to say that all religions are wrong than that all religions are right.
But what does that get us? Let us suppose that we go the whole way and say the atheist is right. Let us suppose that God does not exist. My mind goes to a scene at the mall a couple of months ago. I do not know the details and had no way of finding them out. All I know is that a young kid was in one of the chairs unconscious. He was probably around 18-20.
What happened? I found at least from the guards that it was drug induced. He’d been sticking himself with a needle. They would try to grab him, but he would take his hands and start swinging them in the air as if batting away annoying bugs. Then he would slump back down.
The paramedics soon arrived and rolled out a stretcher and picked him up. The whole time, the kid was not aware of where he was. I have no idea how the story ends. For all I know, the kid could have woken up, if he even did, in a hospital bed and still been clueless how he got there. I pray that kid got counseling and help.
But if the belief that God does not exist is true, who is to say that kid didn’t act properly? If this world is an accident, why should I expect to find meaning in it? Does matter contain the innate property of meaning? Is it not realistic to find that life is meaningless and then live like my life has no meaning?
I might be told to make my own meaning. My problem though is how long will such meaning last? Peter Kreeft says to think about the perfect Heaven. Put all you want in that Heaven and you have eternal life. How long will it take you to get bored? Think about it. A Heaven so wonderful you have to commit suicide to escape it.
As Ravi Zacharias has said, “Meaninglessness in life does
not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness in life comes from being
weary of pleasure.” Why else do we see so many who are rich CEO’s or
Pleasure is a good thing of course. G.K. Chesterton said that he’d explain to the atheist the problem of pain as soon as they explained to him the problem of pleasure. Why does the world have rich color or foods that taste good or romantic love that is so appealing? How can the atheistic worldview explain beauty? “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Maybe in some cases, but who will look at a total eclipse and call it ugly, or a newborn baby and say that it’s disgusting. Why do the advertising types seem to know that the huge majority of men will like looking at a beautiful lady?
But is pleasure going to be a clue to reality or is it going to be a denial of reality? Do you create pleasure to avoid knowing that “tomorrow we die” or do you take the Christian view. We enjoy pleasure because “tomorrow we live.” We will live in an eternity of pleasure, so we might as well get used to it now.
What has caused all of this? Could it be the emphasis placed on the rise of modern science, which has supposedly done such things as explained away all those superstitious miracles of the past, though you will never be told which scientific discovery did this or when it happened or what branch it’s involved in?
Stephen Jay Gould for instance, came up with NOMA. NOMA is Non-Overlapping Magisteria. Science will deal with matters of facts and reality. Religion will deal with matters of faith and feeling. Such is the dichotomy that the modern world has presented to us. The problem is, so many of us have bought into it.
Of course, we could all bear some more insight into realizing the logical ramifications of our worldview. I can readily agree that without evidence backing it, we do believe some things that would be odd. We believe that a God created a huge universe and invested in one little dot of a planet in it. We believe that he revealed himself to a small and insignificant tribe and gave them his holy law. We believe that from that tribe a virgin gave birth. We believe the child she gave birth to was fully God and fully man and performed miracles such as walking on water and multiplying food instantly and healing the sick. We believe that this one who is fully God and fully man allowed himself to be crucified on a cross for the sins of the world but rose again from the dead three days later and will one day return again. On top of this, we believe that to believe this is the only way to salvation and if you deny this, that you will spend eternity apart from God in Hell.
If we had no evidence, and were believing this blindly, I could safely say we were crazy. However, we do have evidence, and this is not a blind leap. It’s because of this ultimately that life has meaning. It’s because God has revealed himself to us. God loves us and cares about us and has given us the chance to enter a relationship with him.
Indeed, I have often said that if Christ has not risen, the smartest thing to do is drive your car the wrong way down the interstate. Why would I say such a thing? Because apart from the revelation of God fulfilled in Christ, life is meaningless. If God does not care, why should I? Yet God care, for he has revealed himself in Christ who claimed to be the truth, and ultimately, truth does matter then.