I am more absent from the blog as of late (and for the coming weeks) as I am video directing an educational DVD series on the side. The topic is Creation with a Christian worldview, and Gary Bates of Creation Ministries International is the speaker. Here’s some previews of the production (these clips are still in the works):
Building on a proper understanding of the genres of fiction, and a thorough appreciation for the whole of stories and there individual scenes, let us look now at the culmination of morality in fictional works to interpret the intent — message/meaning, if you will — of a story.
Morality is one of the stickiest issues for religious people to cypher whether a story is a good one to read or watch. We get lost in the minutiae wondering about the suitable age range for audiences; whether the story is “Christian” enough; whether the villain’s worldview overwhelms that of the hero’s; we total up the number of expletives in the first act; we count the number of square inches on our TVs that are covered in a splash of blood in a bit of violence…. Continue reading
The Harry Potter series of books is completed. When the series was hot discussion in years past, little did people know where the series was headed. I’ve heard very opposite opinions about the stories amongst Christians; whether it be for good or evil for readers. Obviously, a story relating a system of magic is not one to be taken lightly for Believers. Magic in the real world is supernatural. Real world magic is either spiritually good or evil. Real world magic is usually engrossed in some form of religious worship — and not worship to the Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading
You can’t make art up for the sake of being art that doesn’t have a meaning to the art you create. Many intelligent and prolific artisans think you can, but if you examine the examples around you you’ll find man is a lier if he believes he can create anything without a purpose. Whether you are a student of the arts, a hobbyist, or a professional designer of some sort, you make your piece of art for a specific audience with the express purpose of some message — even if the message is as sad and contradictory as “this piece of art has no message.” Even if you don’t take your art seriously, you’re at least creating it to humor one’s self (this is a purpose also). Continue reading
Most of my readers know that I am a Christian, and I like to think about the ramifications of Biblical worldview in the arts. It’s not easy to compete with the various worldviews in art and culture since what’s culturally acceptable is so influential. Popularity usually supersedes morality for patrons of the arts. If the majority of people enjoy something good or bad, the negative peer pressure throughout culture will excuse anyone to enjoy the morally bankrupt movies, books, music . . . and so forth. Continue reading
Most people in western culture, consciously or passively, consider art to fit in one of two categories: secular and/or sacred arts. Few people know how to define these categories. Churches usually don’t educate their flocks on the arts, but along the way—going to church, Sunday school, Bible studies, etc.—members of the flock get an indirect idea of what religious art is, and what it is not. The rest of the culture wants to put sacred art into a box that they can tuck away from their lives. Only on the rare Christmas or Easter church services they attend do they enjoy religious icons, decor, or other religious artistic works. Continue reading
I want to give you with a twist on my last post that will, as best as one can, clinch the debate over whether God is real and whether God is the one described in the Bible. I don’t mean to trivialize or over simply the issue, so with all due seriousness I’ve been studying and thinking long and hard to find the most valid evidence to support the biblical faith.
As I was saying in my last post, “Why is There Evil? What If I Don’t Like the Answer?” you can’t choose the absolutes in your life. The weather is going to bring rain or shine whether you consent or not. People in general have grown accustom to whatever the weather brings, but when you’re present and eternal perceived freedoms are at stake you may argue with a higher power telling you to be consistent with a specific paradigm other than the one that naturally suits you. I know this will test your unbelief if you’re not a Christian, and when it does I ask you to ponder the matter, research it, and come to an educated conclusion of your own. Please don’t react to what I have to say if you haven’t really anything to support a counter-argument.
First, I want you to read for your consideration these words from the arch-atheist Friedrich Nietzsche:
When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God has truth—it stands or falls with faith in God.
Morality is Inescapable
So here is what I want you to consider. You ask Christians “why would a good God let evil happen?” Let me ask you: if there is no God, and if He is not calling all the shots, than how do you know what good and evil are? Think about it. I trust you have some morals you judge the world by—what’s right and what’s wrong (what’s good and what’s bad). If you have a moral compass telling you that stealing is wrong, how do you know stealing is wrong? By what authority do you validate that stealing is wrong?
In law, and with all higher powers, you have to have a basis for facts. A fact may be that the government says stealing is illegal. That’s one reason you know that stealing is wrong. But if the government didn’t regulate theft, would it still be wrong? What if other countries say it is but other countries say it is not? Is the ultimate authority the law of the land you stand on? Does it change depending on the land you stand on? What about land where law has not been defined? What gave man the authority over other men to decide what’s good to do and what’s not good to do?
You say you are grieved that some tragedy has happened to you and/or a close friend and loved one. That loss has made you have doubts. Maybe you’re stubborn on the issue because you just can’t accept the mysteries of a higher power that would allow evil in this world. So, rather than accept a real and powerful God that controls everything, you take God out of the picture. What do you have left? Man is the highest authority? Why does man have any authority over the universe, let alone this planet? If man says something is good for this world, like feeding the hungry or saving wildlife, how can he prove that it is a good thing without religion? Is it written in your biological gene pool? Scientists don’t seem to think so. But if so, why is it written deep within your physical heart in the first place? What decides what’s morally right and wrong apart from Someone more powerful than a man?
If you want to use evolution, you can’t make a case for Christian morality (i.e. we should love our fellow man, give to the poor, care for the young and elderly, etc.). This subject has already been deliberated by many a smart man all the way back to Darwin. In a natural “the-answer-for-everything-is-science” world, where mankind’s purpose is dictated by our genetic code, you have a naturalistic barbarian world. You may think that murder is wrong—got some inherent evil to it that’s a crime or sin against humanity. But that’s not a universal understanding among men. Many people would take advantage of murder if they could get away with it. Many people commit murder anyway because they justify it. These people excuse the murder by committing murder. If there’s supposed to be a universal moral ethical code in the evolution of all living kind, why doesn’t the murderer have the same moral code you have? While we’re at it, what about the animal kingdom? It’s not called a ‘dog-eat-dog-world’ for no reason. Many a Darwinist, evolutionist, atheist will tell you that there’s no place for morality in their worldview, and they would be consistent with their anti-God perspective saying so.
I don’t think morality is avoidable in the real world, and you don’t have morality without God—more specifically, Judeo-Christian ethic—to define it. Every man has a conscience because God put it there (whether the conscience is ignored or obeyed). It’s why we grieve when injustice happens! It’s why we are excited to see good things happen. It is why we value peace and prosperity, and don’t enjoy self-annihilation, war, and destruction (when consistent with the God-given pursuit of good will). You have an appreciation for right and wrong because God gave you spiritual characteristics like His own. Your spirit knows that most every action taken in this world has a moral right or wrong implication.
Faith is Inescapable Too
No matter what you believe about the meaning of life, the creation of the world, the explanation for good and evil, you have faith in what you believe. History has shown that no man from his own human potential has been able to satisfy the skeptic of any worldview. Ultimately, you have to believe in something without 100% undeniable evidence whether you believe in science, Christianity, or another religion. You believe their is oxygen in the room, that your heart doesn’t stop beating till the day you die… that your car works—you’re not sure how, but you believe it does… somehow. You can’t explain it. Faith is believing in the “how” that you cannot explain.
The Bible talks about faith a lot. God says it’s not easy to believe for some, and for others, like children, it comes almost naturally. Faith is one of the greatest commendable qualities a person can have. Faith is like courage; it takes determined spiritual effort to overcome what you don’t know, trust, or have confidence in. Faith goes hand in hand with the qualities of hope, love, wisdom, courage, and joy.
So for all the evidence one can muster, believing in what you will not see till after you die takes guts. That’s something God wants you to demonstrate in life. If your will can muster faith, God will help you with your unbelief. I know because this is the testimony of every Christian. So consider what it is you believe right now, and ask yourself if you think it really makes sense to believe in that over the most profound, logical, noble, consistent, civilized God of known belief.
1. Friedrich Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols,” The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufman (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), 515–6.