I find it ironic that our emerging state religion, secular humanism, has caused the exact opposite of what it promises.

Secular humanism essentially puts mankind in the place of God.  God is relegated at best to an unknown entity that cannot be known or relied upon in an meaningful way. Humanity steps into the void.  Secular humanism insists that we ourselves will accomplish a return to Eden, or better yet, we will construct a new and better Eden than that mythical fairy-tale place discussed in the Bible.  The benefits of rationalism and modern science are employed towards this end.  We will eliminate those traits in humanity that are self-destructive.  We will do this by legislating our own definitions of morality and eliminating opposition.  We will do this through better health and wellness that gradually eliminate or curtail major illnesses and diseases, and may even dramatically extend our lifespans.  We will do this through eugenics and the elimination of the unwanted children that are naturally the byproduct of unfettered sexual liberty – the poster child for secular humanism.

All of this should give us greater confidence in our selves and our future.  We are moving towards a glorious, brighter future, ever onwards and upwards.  Always improving.  Dealing with temporary setbacks but inevitably marching forward towards our true, self-determined destiny as not only the masters and saviors of this particular planet, but potentially of the entire universe.  We ourselves will provide tangible, rational reasons for hope.

But it seems that the reality is that people have less hope and confidence, rather than more.  In kicking God to the curb, we eliminate the only real source of certainty in a universe filled with unpredictability and uncertainty.  We not only don’t know what we need to know to have hope, we are increasingly less certain that we can even know these things.  And in the face of our biggest uncertainty, our ancient fear – death – secular humanism leaves us patently bereft of any form of hope.  If there is nothing after this life, the assurance that one day we might conquer death leaves absolutely zero hope for those who face it here and now.

I was struck by all of this in reading a news report about Joni Mitchell, the legendary singer-songwriter.  She suffered an aneurysm in March and was not discovered for some time afterwards.  Reports are scarce and apparently conflicting regarding her current condition.  Her representatives and web site insist that she’s conscious and gaining strength daily.  Her friends report that she is not doing nearly so well as might be inferred from such statements, and that she might even be comatose.  These reports have circulated for the last several months despite vigorous, official denials by her representatives.

This article summarizes an interview with David Crosby, a long-time friend of Mitchell’s.  The final statement at the end of the article was chilling to me.  As we face the mortality of our friends and loved ones and even ourselves, what confidence do we have?  None, apparently.  “I think we’re all holding our breath and thinking of goodbye, you know?  And hoping it’s gonna turn out OK.”

What does this mean?  It seems to mean that the hope in this situation is that Mitchell recover.  That she regain her former strength and vigor.  But it was this same strength and vigor that failed her in the first place!  So our best hope is that we get well enough again to be vulnerable to another devastating and likely unexpected health failure?  Gee, that’s so hopeful.  Not.

It’s so easy to think this way, to imagine that what we hope for – or more specifically, what we pray for – is recovery.  But for the Christian this is not our ultimate hope and prayer.  Goodbyes are hard and painful and sometimes they seem so premature and unnecessary.  But, barring our Lord’s return first, we’re all going to die.  The human mortality rate is a perfect 100% with only one exception, the man Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to be the Son of God and claimed the proof of this would be not just his innocent suffering and death, but more importantly his resurrection from the dead.

As such, because of the eye-witness reports of an actual event in human history, followers of Jesus the Christ have hope.  This might sound silly, because it might seem that anybody can and would make up the report of a dead person coming to life and thus give false hope to humanity.  But it turns out that such claims are exceedingly rare, and almost universally discreditable.  Assertions that someone dead not for just a few seconds or even a few minutes has come back to life are strangely rare.  And such assertions that have stood the test of time for 2000 years, that were public and should have been easily exposed as a ruse by those with the resources and vested interest in such exposure, those are non-existent except for Jesus of Nazareth.

We have hope in Christ.  Not hope in medicine or science or technology, though these are all wonderful things that are capable of making our lives much better.  Not in governments or philosophies or ideologies, because these at best can only point us to the sure promises of God, and at worst can actively steer us away from him.  My hope as I face death is not that maybe my kids won’t have to stare into this abyss, but rather that this abyss has been conquered.  There is a path not only into it but through it, as evidenced by the resurrection of the Son of God 2000 years ago.  My hope is not to cheat death or delay it as long as possible, but rather to stand victorious over it, along with those I love who have already died, and, subject to God’s timing, with my children and grand-children and great-great-great-great-grandchildren.

This is my hope and prayer for Mitchell.  For Crosby.  For everyone who when faced with disaster can only muster half-hearted and vague hopes.  My prayer is that they embrace the assurance offered by God in midst of human geography and history.  My prayer is that they find that there is real hope, something really to look forward to even as they enjoy each day of their lives.  Our state religion can’t provide that, only Jesus can.

2 Responses to “Hope”

  1. williamb Says:

    “and the elimination of the unwanted children that are naturally the byproduct of unfettered sexual liberty – the poster child for secular humanism”

    So I keep hearing how people’s genes are what makes them homosexual. They have no decision in the matter they are “born that way”. So couldn’t one make the argument that abortion is homosexual genocide?

    I find it fascinating when atheists say there is no God. Yet at the same time they worship many gods. As evolutionists they worship Father Time, Mother Nature and Lady Luck. They also worship the state as all laws become their commandments. And lastly they worship themselves as the final judge as to what is right and wrong.

    I pray too especially for the atheists/agnostics I know personally that they would find hope in Christ.

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      The argument was made rather vociferously a few years back that sexuality and gender orientations are genetically predetermined. I don’t hear that argument so often any more. Partly, I’m sure, because there is no scientific backing. Science has not discovered a ‘gay gene’, despite a great deal of informal assertions to the contrary.
      The other reason I assume I don’t hear this so often is that there is no need to. There is no need any longer to justify homosexuality as genetically predetermined. It is now counterproductive to limit sexuality and gender orientation to genetic selection.
      The issue is freedom and choice, not genetic predeterminism. Since educational materials and media and all of society must be reconfigured to not merely accommodate same-sex relationships but to actually promote them in order to normalize them, the net effect, whether intended or otherwise, will be to teach children that their sexuality is their choice. There is no right or wrong answer. Sexuality no longer is something that should be saved for marriage, but enjoyed casually like chewing gum or any other casual distraction. Likewise who you choose to be sexually active with is a choice. Experiment! Have fun! After all, as media clearly demonstrates, there are no harmful effects to promiscuity – physically or emotionally! Nothing but fun! Never mind the statistics about STDs. Never mind the trauma that abortion causes (and proponents of sexual liberty will fight to the end against any assertion that what is being killed off is actually a human being). There can be no ill effects in this brave new secular world, because to admit as much would be to admit that there is an order to things, a way that things are supposed to be and we aren’t free to modify that order arbitrarily.
      As for linguistics, I’m sure that many secularists would refer to these things (Father Time, Mother Nature, etc.) as cultural throwbacks, rather than any admission of some larger force at play.
      Yes, this is our posture. We pray. Pray that truth is taught and known and remembered. Pray that hope is found not in self-determinism and the swath of destruction it can lead to, but in the promises of God.

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