Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Einstein had strong moral views but had rejected a God upon which to base them. Nevertheless, he claimed that others “should” be “ethical.”

·       A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. ("Religion and Science", New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930)

Why “should” we be ethical? If morality is not grounded in a loving, omniscient, and immutable God, it lacks any objective basis. Should we, instead, follow our passions? Some of them are highly immoral.

Instead, following our moral instincts can only be justified by its benefits. However, many find greater benefits in satisfying their immediate desires. Besides, should life be primarily a matter of benefits? If life is a matter of benefits, it is no longer a matter of virtue and the “should” that Einstein would have us adopt.

Einstein adds, “Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” If this is so, perhaps we should rid society and child-rearing of all their positive and negative reinforcements.

Besides, what is the problem if God uses a system of rewards and punishments? Perhaps we need them for now. However, gratitude begins to replace these inducements as we continue to learn about the love and mercy of our God.

However, Einstein was unwilling to consider such a God:

·       I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. (The World as I See It)

In contrast, I am glad that God does reward and punish. This means that I am free to leave these concerns to Him and to apply myself to what He has called me to do – to love and to not revenge.

Why would Einstein regard those who believe in an afterlife as “feeble souls?” From where does this disdain come? Why would he not regard the weighty and extensive evidence for extra-material life – for the spiritual realm and life-after-death experiences? Instead, he claims that he is “satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life.”

However, there is no question that demands an answer more than this question. The answer defines all other questions – the meaning of life, morality, hope, and “Who are we and what are we doing here?” Einstein had responsibly applied himself to a variety of subsidiary questions. Why does he dismiss this question as a “mystery?” Perhaps this question might yield an answer we cannot live with.

Einstein even refers to the “Reason that manifests itself in nature.” However, to whom does such Reason belong? It seems that he preferred to also leave this question to the realm of “mystery.” The answer could be life-changing.


The feelings of awe should salt to our daily lives, as they had for Albert Einstein:

·       The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness. (The Merging of Spirit and Science)

Beauty should provoke wonder and meditation. For Einstein, the creation did just that. However, Einstein was like a child who received a precious gift and threw away the attached card, indicating the identity of the Sender. Einstein realized that the creation represented “the highest wisdom.” However, he seems to have stopped short of probing the question of “Whose wisdom?” Instead, he wrote:

·       I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (1954)

·       I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.

A personal God is one of consciousness, intelligence, will, emotion, and moral concern – not a mere energy force like gravity. While gravity is also awesome, gravity is very limited in what it can do. It can’t write a poem, cook an omelet, create an atom or even an electron, answer my questions, or even be conscious of me, let alone my prayers and tears.

An impersonal god is less than we are. It cannot hear, see, think, care about anyone, let alone create this awesome universe. How then could Einstein credit to a mindless force the origin and sustenance of this glorious universe?

In the Apostle Paul’s disputation with the Athenian philosophers, he had reasoned about the insufficiency of their gods, however many they might have had:

·       The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,  for “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.” Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. (Acts 17:24-29)

Whomever God is, He must be able to account for all that had sent Einstein into his raptures. Foolishly, the Greek philosopher had ascribed these things to their statues. Spinoza’s god was not created by human hands, but it is equally insufficient to account for what had filled Einstein with awe.

Einstein had received a precious gift, but this brilliant mind credited a mindless and uncaring force like gravity. Why? Einstein didn’t like the idea of a personal God, “a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.” Why not? If we are concerned about love, justice, and eliminating rape and genocide, wouldn’t it be more satisfying and harmonious to think that our Creator is also concerned about these things? Not if it means that He might judge and condemn us!

Did Einstein partake of these fears? The Bible claims that we are all wired with them:

·       Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)

The fact that we know these truths is manifestly obvious. Whenever we have done something wrong, we try to justify ourselves. This reflects the fact that we are aware of these imprinted moral laws and respond profoundly to them.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of humankind believes is some form of god. However, this god is increasingly regarded as amoral. It is interesting that as society becomes more permissive, so too must our gods adjust to our changing lifestyles.

Monday, May 14, 2018


Spiritual deception is the most lethal because it attacks what is most valuable. It is also the most deceptive. It clothes itself in sacred robes and parades as piety, even deceiving the deceivers.

How does this happen? Christians are vulnerable to the same temptations as others. We want to be loved, respected, admired, and appreciated. Success is the means to obtain these things, and pastors are particularly vulnerable. If they fail to show the signs of success, they also fail to obtain these valuable commodities. However, success in building one’s church, as measured by numbers (people, baptisms, offerings, broadcasts), serve as “proof” of God’s endorsement and approval of our ministries, that He is blessing us.

However, these indications might not reflect God’s approval. The false prophets and pastors also were able to show these signs of “success.” Meanwhile, the faithful have often shown none of these signs:

·       Others [the saints] suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:36-38 ESV)

Understandably, pastors flock to church-growth seminars hosted by “successful” pastors and consume church-growth books. I am not claiming that there is nothing useful to be gained from these seminars. However, I fear that these “insights” come at great cost – our preoccupation with the Word of God, His Gospel.

Paul had warned about getting entangled with secondary concerns:

·       You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:1-5)

Our first concern has to be about pleasing our Master. He has to be our first priority:

·       “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

He becomes our first priority as we make His Words our marching-orders above all other concerns (John 14:15, 21-24; 15:7-14). This means that everything that we learn at a church-growth seminar has to be made subject to the approval of the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Paul then claimed that an athlete must complete “according to the rules,” in our case, God’s rules – His Word. There is no reason why God’s Word shouldn’t occupy the preeminent position. Rather than church-growth seminars it must be the power of God:

·       For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

When we allow any other claims to predominate over the Word of the Gospel, we fail to acknowledge that it alone is the “power of God for salvation”:

·       For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18)

When we allow the principles of church-growth to predominate, the cross is emptied of its power.” We do this in many ways. I too am guilty. My love of debate sometimes can side-track me. Perhaps wrongly, I don’t want the Gospel to seem foolish but want to provide supportive rational underpinnings. Not that debate is wrong, but faithfulness should lead me back to the centrality of the Gospel message, and this message is validated by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:2-5).

Admittedly, the Word of God can be mis-used when we get side-tracked into “endless genealogies” (1 Timothy 1:4-5), “vain discussions” (1 Timothy 1:6-7), and “irreverent babble” (2 timothy 2:15-16). However, when properly used, it should produce “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (Timothy 1:5).

Spiritual deception is both powerful and destructive. It seeks to supplant the counsel of the Word of God. How do we guard against it? By crying out for God’s help, as David did:

·       Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

The good news is that God is faithful to reveal our unfaithfulness to us:

·       Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:15)


Albert Einstein seems to have held conflicting ideas about God. He maintained that God is a superior intelligence, but also, that He is not concerned about morality:

·       I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God. (Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffman)

Why would Einstein believe that God is an “infinitely superior spirit” but lack a moral character? To be intelligent but not also to be moral and concerned about the welfare of humanity would make God into something that is little more than a highly sophisticated computer.

The cause(s) is always greater than its effect. A non-moral god would be less than the maximally glorious God who has instilled us with a moral, just, and compassionate nature. Consequently, such a God would be less than the creatures He had created.

Why would Einstein deny that God has a moral nature? I cannot answer this question definitively. However, many atheists have. They admit that they do not like the idea of a God sitting in judgment over them, and, therefore, resist believing in His existence. Nevertheless, Einstein did mention that he could not “conceive of a personal God who would…directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation.” Why not? Perhaps such a conception was repugnant to him.

In contrast, I am grateful that God will bring justice. It is one less thing that I will have to do. Meanwhile, I can concern myself with His mandate to love.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


The late Philip Rieff had argued that Western Civilization’s unprecedented attempt to remove God from the culture has been deeply detrimental, even if the tsunami has yet to fully reach our shores:

·       “Culture and sacred order are inseparable…. No culture has ever preserved itself where there is not a registration of sacred order.” http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/a-theological-sickness-unto-death-philip-rieff-prophetic-analysis?platform=hootsuite

Why should this be? Because all of our laws, social norms, shared concepts, and institutions rest on a foundation of the spiritual – our morals and values – and these rest upon our beliefs about God, who has endowed us with our unalienable human rights and human equality.

“Well, can’t I believe in human equality without a belief in God?” You can, but your belief is without an adequate foundation. It rests on pragmatic (cost/benefit) considerations alone.

Without the concept that we are equal before God, because we are created in His likeness, human equality can only be maintained by the expected benefits that this belief might impart. Why? There is no basis in the material world for equality. Some people are strong, others weak; some are smart and educated; others are not. Some are male, others female; some contribute to society, while others detract. Some are loved and some are hated. Inevitably, it will be argued that it is more pragmatic to extend more rights and respect to the productive and to treat the unproductive and un-liked with contempt. Then it will be argued that it is more pragmatic to treat the rich and powerful with greater respect and honor. Consequently, human equality, which we have taken for granted, will die when its expected benefits are not experienced. Instead, we will find more benefits by favoring the rich and the powerful.

There is also a deeper problem. The secularist cannot do make-believe human equality for long. Perhaps the example of “unconditional positive regard” (UPR) best illustrates the problem. UPR provides benefits within a therapeutic relationship. Little improvement will be noted within this secular relationship if the therapist does not show UPR for her client. However, to act out UPR when the therapist doesn’t genuinely regard the client with UPR is both manipulative and disingenuous. In effect, the therapist will be living a dissonant double life, conveying UPR even when she doesn’t regard her client in this manner.

This same tension exists for the secularist who adopts human equality simply because it works, but doesn’t really believe that we all bear the likeness of God, the basis of our essential equality. This is a tension that demands resolution.

This reasoning will sound strange to many. We have grown accustomed to hearing that human equality and human rights are secular (non-religious) values. However, it is impossible to derive the concept of human rights from nature or from science. Without invoking God, it is even impossible to reasonably argue that we deserve or are entitled to more rights than a cow or even a mosquito. After all, there must be a Higher Power that objectively confers rights and values upon us.

Yes, we can arbitrarily confer upon ourselves our rights, but based on what? Any standard we might invoke will ultimately work against us. Some invoke the fact that we are more intelligent than cows. However, if we make intelligence the basis for our value, then this standard should also apply among humans. Consequently, some people should be assigned more value and respect because of their greater intelligence. Such thinking will undermine the entire concept of human rights. Besides, if our rights depend upon what society grants, then society can just as easily revoke them. However, if our rights and intrinsic value are derived from God, then they are unalienable and no monarch legitimately can take them away.

Interestingly, we are already observing the deterioration of human rights. If we do not hold the right political views, we are being denied, employment, tenure, and even our businesses are in jeopardy. Human rights and equality before the law are no longer finding adequate support. Politics is trumping principle, and this unfortunate development will continue as long as pragmatism reigns. Why? Because each sees their pragmatic interests promoted by tearing down the other party, even if this violates the truth and our common welfare!

Truth and justice lay bleeding at the onslaught of pragmatic “benefits.” Even now, many believe that justice is also just a matter of what judgments will impart the maximum “benefit” to the maximum number of people. However, this is not a principle that will win trust – a necessary ingredient for a democratic society. Instead, we need to know that if we are innocent, we will be acquitted and the guilty punished, even when such a judgment cannot be construed to benefit the majority.

The concept of justice rests squarely upon the notion of human equality, if we are not really equal, why should we enjoy equal protection before the law?

“Well, I think that secularism can preserve justice based on purely pragmatic considerations. Simply put, equal justice works!” It does work, but I don’t think that it will work for long without its spiritual underpinning. If there is no true human equality, there can be no truly equal justice. Even now, justice no longer pertains to those whose lives are societally deemed to lack value. Consequently, justice no longer pertains equally to the pre-born, the elderly, or even to the “deplorables,” those deemed to have less value than the rest of us. In effect, we are devolving into the survival-of-the-fittest, in these cases, those who have achieved social approval.

When God is removed from consideration, the vacuum will be filled by society. If we are no longer defined by God’s estimation of us, we will be defined by our neighbors and our cultural elites. They will determine our relative value. So better conform!

Besides, without God, there is no objective basis for moral law, including justice. These then have succumbed to pragmatic thinking. Consequently, justice has no independent existence. It is not a God given truth to which we must conform but a useful and pragmatic man-made concept, as long as it provides its promised benefits. If pragmatism lies at its core, it is inevitable that pragmatism will occasionally argue against what justice demands. Why?  Because pragmatism might find that injustice offers the superior benefits.

This is pragmatism, and it has always reigned. Whether the cost/benefit analysis is applied to me, my family, or my kind of people, it has consistently yielded injustice and even oppression when unhinged from the Transcendent.

Why be surprised when pragmatism will sometimes rule in favor of injustice? If the expected benefits are at the core of pragmatism, this pursuit of the benefits cannot be expected to always yield what is right. Instead, it is often at odds with what is right.

One last consideration – Pragmatism is touted as a value-free approach of weighing costs and benefits, around which we can all comfortably gather. However, this is a fiction. Any pragmatic assessment of costs and benefits depends upon the values we assign to these possible benefits. While we all might seek the benefit of our community, we will have different ideas of what truly benefits our community. Some claim that real benefit is about guaranteeing that everyone has what they need to live comfortably. Others argue that this doesn’t represent benefit but enforced dependency, disempowerment, and the destruction of the family. In light of this, it should be clear that the ultimate decision-making criterion is not the science lab or the university, but our spiritually derived values.

Consequently, as Rieff had argued, we cannot separate spirituality from the material world without great cost. Besides, we all draw from this spiritual well, whether we are conscious of this fact or not. The Apostle Paul had reasoned in Athens that we are more than the materials that comprise us:

·       And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.” Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. (Acts 17:26-29 ESV)