Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Why Sandy Hook makes me glad (and more sure) Christianity is true

The unspeakably tragic shooting in Connecticut leaves me praying for the families involved, but also praising God for the truth of the Christian worldview.

Atheists quite often take a happening like this as evidence that God doesn't exist.  It is a leap way too far, in fact, it is a leap in entirely the wrong direction.  As a Christian (and I would say, only as a Christian), I can look at what happened and say some things an atheist has no rational right to say:
  • It was a real tragedy - on the Christian worldview every human being is infinitely valuable because they are the crown of God's creation, made in His image.  This means that human beings are valuable in themselves not for anything that can do - they are ends in themselves, not merely means to an end.  However, on an atheistic view of the world, these people who were killed were complex collections of chemicals, flukes of chemistry, accidents of history, arrangements of worthless matter that are doomed for extinction, with no objective purpose and no objective value (that is, they can invent purposes, and have value to others, but there is no purpose they were made for, and they have no value other than what other humans put on them).
  • It was really evil - on the Christian worldview this man did something bad because he was created by God, is accountable to God, and will stand before God.  That righteous God has placed the demands of His holy law upon our hearts, and this man violated God's law.  However, on the atheist's view of the world what this man did was illegal, but can't be immoral in any real and objective sense, because morality is a human invention, a biological spin off; there is no objective standard; there are no obligatory duties, just the rules we make up. 
    If atheism is true what is evil?  Going against our evolution?  Our evolution that has supposedly got us to where we are by rejecting the weak, killing our enemies and propagating our genes?  Why is it wrong to go against evolution anyway?  Is that rule enshrined somewhere in the universe?  Who gave it?  Why am I obligated to obey?  Also, if evolution is true (in the Darwinian sense) then it has produced lots of capabilities and desires, some pleasant, some harmful, and we can't use evolution to be the umpire between them. 
    Is evil merely going against the standards of society?  Why?  Who says that is evil?  Don't say society, because that's begging the question.  Also, all the moral reformers went against the standards of society - were they evil? 
    Is evil doing that which harms others?  Again, who made that rule?  Why is that binding upon us?  Why did that shooter have to obey that?  Why should we value human life if there is no purpose in our being here or for our being here, and we are doomed to extinction anyway.  Why should we care about this particular mix of molecules?  He wanted to harm others, by what authority does the atheist say that's evil?
    Is evil doing that which doesn't benefit the species?  Is that it - just self-interest?  Can atheism only say that what he did was wrong because if everyone did it we wouldn't advance?  So there's nothing actually wrong with the action, it's just that the consequences aren't beneficial to the human race?  And why should we care about the advancement of the human race?  Again, is that a moral rule that is binding upon humans in the atheistic universe?
    Atheists think Christians are on the ropes when faced with a massacre like this - on the contrary, this is where atheism is exposed as pathetically inadequate.  What happened was really, objectively, absolutely, morally evil.  We all know that, but only the Christian worldview can ground it. 
  • He was really responsible - the Bible teaches we are not robots or puppets, but morally accountable creatures.  Atheism, however, cannot account for free will.  If there is nothing non-physical in the world, then all our actions are just the inevitable, unavoidable result of what is going on inside us reacting with what is going on around us.  It is just like dominoes falling.  That person, according to atheism, did not, indeed, could not, choose to do what he did - that was the determined result of his genetic make-up.
  • There is real justice - according to the Christian Gospel this evil man who took the lives of these people then took his own life hasn't gotten away with it.  He has not escaped justice.  He will stand before God and will be punished for his crimes.  But according to atheism, the murderer and the murdered, the abuser and the abused, the oppressor and the oppressed, all end up exactly the same.  There is no justice because there is no law and there is no judge.  How glad we ought to be that God has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17 v 30-31).  However, that means that all who break God's law will be condemned, which is all of us (Romans 3 v 19).  And that is why all of us need to receive Christ as our Saviour, because He offered the sacrifice to God that is able to cover all our sins.  Without Christ as Saviour and Substitute you will bear the punishment for your own sins. 
  • There is real hope - the Christian message is that there is a world free from sin and all the sorrow that goes with it.  There will be no mass murders, there will be no graves.  You are invited to reserve your place there by putting your trust in Christ for salvation (see here).  This hope is not empty; it's not wishful thinking.  This hope is purchased by the death of Christ and proven by the resurrection of Christ.  In stark and dark contrast to this, atheism has absolutely no message of hope.
  • There is real comfort - Christians have proved in the darkest of times that God is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46 v 1).  Atheists have nothing like that.  Bertrand Russell apparently made the challenge, how can you talk about a loving God at the bedside of a dying child?  The thing is, there's nothing else you can talk about!  What would the atheist say?  Too bad?  I'm sorry?  The Christian can talk about a God who is loving and sovereign, who is too loving to cause needless suffering, and too wise to make a mistake.  He works all things together for good for them that love Him.  His love has been shown in the cross, His power in the resurrection, and He offers a home in glory for all who accept His offer of forgiveness and new life.
The Bible told us these sort of tragedies would occur.  The Christian can look at such things through the lens of his worldview and see that Christianity fits reality, and offers resources to deal with it.  Atheism, on the other hand, is utterly bankrupt.