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Pastor's Corner

November 2018

The Good Guys Always Win (In the End)

What makes a good story? The answer is simple: you need a conflict between good and evil, in which the good guys win, at least in the end. This understanding of what makes a good story seems innate in us. We naturally find such stories satisfying, and we try to interpret real life in terms of such a storytelling pattern.

This hints at something that is common to us all, Christian and non-Christian, believer and unbeliever alike. We all have a moral compass, a conscience, a sense of good and evil. And we all know innately that good needs to win out in the end. We are frustrated and dissatisfied by injustice. We often have difficultly telling just what the good side is, but we virtually always want the good side to come out on top, and if we’re knowingly working on the side of evil, we tend to be ashamed and miserable, even if outwardly we gloat. The human race knows by nature the difference between good and evil, and the need for good to triumph.

And actually, this is one of the most effective arguments for the existence of God. We have heard in past months about the cosmological (why is there something rather than nothing?) and teleological (why does that something allow for our existence?) arguments, which appeal strongly to the intellect. The moral argument appeals strongly both to the intellect and to the heart. It runs something like this: atheism predicts a world in which there is neither good nor evil, but only matter and energy meaninglessly interacting. Theism, including Christianity, predicts a world in which the goodness of God lends a certain goodness to the world He has made, and in which evil will be overcome. We all know by experience that we live in the latter world, and not the former.

 

What about the fact that we often see evil triumph, at least in the short term? What is critical to the moral argument for the existence of God is not whether good wins every time, but the fact that we want good to win every time. We recognize that there is such a thing as good and such a thing as evil, which cannot be explained simply in terms of physics and biochemistry. Physics and biochemistry provide the sphere of activity within which the drama of the conflict between good and evil is played out. Good and evil transcend mere physical reality.

Critical to note is what happens when the transcendent basis of morality is denied, and that denial carried to its logical conclusion. Ethicists who ground morality in evolutionary biology alone, with no transcendent basis, are not shy about arguing for euthanasia and infanticide. The denial of transcendent morality leads to the denial of our very humanity, and most atheists find such a position abhorrent. But those same moral atheists struggle to find an alternative basis for their morality. They are pretty much forced to take morality for granted, with no mechanism for explaining it.

It is also important to note what the moral argument is not. It is not the claim that in order to be moral one must believe in God. There are many moral atheists, and there are many immoral theists. The moral argument is an argument not for morality, but from morality. We can and must take basic human morality for granted. It is this very morality innate in most atheists that proves that there is a transcendent basis for their morality. In other words, the morality of most atheists proves that they were created by a moral God in His moral image. Despite their sinful human nature, they are, in a fundamental sense, still good, the fallen pinnacle of God’s good creation. To use the language of St. Paul, “they show that the work of the Law written on their hearts” (Romans 2:15).

We all know that good and evil exist, and we all want good to win. But “No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19). Fortunately, we know that our good God will win in the end!

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*Actually, atheism predicts no world at all, but we’ll grant them the existence of the world this time!

God's Blessings!

Pastor Neuehdorf

 

 

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