Sunday, August 7, 2011

Guilt: Another Proof for God

Many atheists have asked me, “What evidence do you have that there is a God?” I respond, “The entire world points to God. All creation bears His imprint, like a Van Gogh painting unmistakably bears the imprint of Van Gogh and no one else!

To demonstrate this point, let me just look at our feelings, one in particular – guilt. Now, let’s ask the question, “Which makes more sense”:

1. Guilt is merely the product of bio-chemistry, the product of evolution. We evolved this feeling to socially connect us, something that would impart a survival edge.

2. While guilt does have a bio-chemical component, it also represents the workmanship of the Creator who, through it, instructs us that His absolute moral truth has been violated.

What then happens when an atheist feels guilty? He can regard this feeling as a useless evolutionary contrivance that has outgrown its usefulness, like the belief in God, and disregard it, even to his own discomfort and detriment. However, there is another choice. He can obey it for pragmatic reasons. He can apologize for his “guilt,” recognizing that this both resolves the uncomfortable guilt feelings and also has a salutary effect upon his relationships.

However, this will cause dissonance. If guilt lacks any objective reality – there is no right-wrong or good-bad, these being no more than social conventions or bio-chemical reactions – for what then need he apologize? Yes, it works, but it only works if both parties maintain the illusion that an objective law has been violated. How will the atheist respond if the wronged party says, “You’re a hypocrite! You are apologizing and you don’t even believe that you’ve done something wrong. You’re merely apologizing to manipulate me!”

The same thing can be said about any altruistic act. The wife can always ask, “Why did you buy me flowers? Is it because it makes you feel good about yourself or do you think that your flowers have purchased a favorable response from me?” If an altruistic act lacks an adequate cognitive foundation, then it cannot be altruistic, but rather self-centered.

When a paradigm leads to inevitably incoherent results, we generally seek a new paradigm, one that will resolve the contradictions. Let me suggest that you try on a new paradigm for size, one that explains the facts.

At this point, you might answer, “Well, I never said that there weren’t problems with living out atheism, but that doesn’t mean that it wrong!” I think that you are overlooking an important issue. If the way you live your life contradicts your stated position, then your life contradicts and invalidates your position. This is especially the case if atheistic morality is based upon what works (pragmatism), and life clearly shows that it doesn’t work.

There is also another perspective to consider. There seems to be such a wonderful correspondence between feeling-action-moral resolution-feeling that bears the imprint of intelligent design. When I feel guilt, it seems to be more than an un-designed chemical reaction. I feel that I’ve committed an objective wrong, and the guilt doesn’t dissipate until I deal with it in a moral way. I’ve got to confess my sins and make restitution for them. Interestingly, if I just apologize to get my wife off my back, it doesn’t work. The entire process has to be bathed in truth and the recognition that a wrong has been done that has to be addressed in a truthful way. Furthermore, it is not enough to buy my wife flowers if I’ve wronged her. I have to humble myself and confess my wrongdoing. It is amazing the restoration that true confession can bring!

The same truths also pertain to my relationship with God. I can say “forgive me” for hours, but I won’t feel any relief until I confess the very thing for which I am guilty. Clearly, confession must be based upon moral truth and not chemistry.

This is a paradigm that not only works for me, but one that also corresponds to reality and provides the ultimate roadmap for restoration.

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