Purpose and Destiny on the Battle Lines
(from The Diary of a Foot Soldier)
By Robert R. Edwards, B.A., B.S., J.D.
Archie Bunker once said that “Faith is believing in something nobody in his right mind would believe in.” I am afraid too many Christians (and their skeptics) feel that way about Christianity today. Far from shying away from the debate over the relationship of truth to faith, I’ve always worn my apologetics on my sleeve, but not always in my heart. I’ve expressed it on the outside, sometimes even in articulate fashion, but I haven’t always or consistently embraced it on the inside, where my apologetic should form. I see no objective incongruity between truth and faith. To the contrary, I set out to make Truth my god, and found it in the God of the Judeo-Christian faith. For me, the incongruity was never between truth and faith, but between heart and mind—that 18 inch span across which I’d managed to ferret out but a faint line, and that only spider-web thin. Tip-toeing across it I look brave from afar, but timid up close to those few close up enough to see me afraid, afraid of plunging into the chasm below, Jonathon Edwards’ proverbial sinner in the hands of an angry God.
But pound for pound, a spider’s web is stronger than steel, my bridge more sturdy than it seems, widening and thickening its girders and its beams as I learn ever so more that it is this cross between my heart and my mind on which Christ died that I might walk into that dark with a lamp unto my feet and on a bridge carved out of stone. My demons and detractors urge me to look behind as I traverse this course, to become so mired in the mud of my past that I dare not take another step forward for fear of dragging my mud and muddy footsteps behind. To draw from John Mark Reynolds, this is one way the bigots and tyrants try to rob me of my future by accentuating the thefts of my past. My true heritage, however, is not in the Inquisition, but in the acquisition of the way, the truth and the life manifest in the person of one called “Jesus,” who, in this day and age, makes me less of a “Christian” and more a follower of Christ. With my eyes affixed upon Him, He leads me back and forth ‘cross that bridge to and fro so that the heart and mind become, if not one, inseparable in word and in deed. To answer Yeats, yes, we can separate the dancer from the dance, but not while she’s dancing.
The fundamental issue of our time is whether we will wither in these, the end of days, or rise to the ways of those gone before us and died. The time is nigh, the battle lines drawn and advancing on all sides, tooth and claw exposed as harbingers of woes to come. And come they will. And come they have. They are very real, and not imaginary. There is a little girl in that house whose daddy says, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”1 The measure of his lot exceeds the metes and bounds of that which he would pledge, but pledge her he must; for though Man need not be forced to be free, this man must rise fearless and unencumbered to unloose himself and his offspring from the clutches of apathy that would otherwise leave her an offering on the altar of the enemy. She must see it too and with her own eyes, eyes wide open to sickle and to scythe, and through them her childhood must die so that the child might live. In these the latter days, the slow and gradual shedding of our childhood must and will give way to a hasty and premature shredding of our childhood, lest we be slain in our sleep and with it our witness to the One who can claim victory over that which would presume to prevail. It is only by offering her up can the daddy lift the daughter above the fray and into the arms of the One who would say “into my kingdom you must come like a little child.”2
Her flesh will be severed from her Spirit in the process, be it sooner or later, be it by the anesthetic hand of a loving, gentle God or by the unfettered fangs of evil, ungentle men. But die she must, for she is human, and die she will. Heaven and earth will break to birth her entrance into the kingdom where all of her fears will have been washed away in the blood already bled, all her tears wiped away by a burial shroud already shed. There in the kingdom she’ll find that her childhood awaits, unblemished and blushing, giggling at gates that open wide doors to palaces, playgrounds and plates. Plates made for feasting where once there was fasting; playgrounds that will grow with her, everlasting; palaces to house the princess her daddy had always known, but that only her Father in Heaven could enthrone. It is there where she’ll enjoy for the first time an adulthood informed by the wonders of the child she never got to be. There for the first time where she might evolve in a sense that we can all indulge. There, that she’ll reunite with the daddy she once knew, after both have been and forever lifted up and rescued, rescued from the cries and the throes, from the lies and the woes, of this lifetime indeterminate between poetry and prose. Until then, daddy and daughter will struggle with the rest of mankind to survive in a battle, not of evolution, but of dēvolution, a process become philosophy that excludes any basis for meaningful morality.
It is the wicked irony of our time that Man boasts of descending from the apes (or that apes and Man descended from a common source), then seizes upon that descent to warrant his ascent to the level of God and beyond. To “descend” is to go down, not rise up. Dēvolution anticipates and precipitates descent, a downward spiral unto death and the undoing. Evolution implies ascent, but is merely the happy mask of monstrous dēvolution in disguise. If Man descended from the apes or some primordial slime then he is less than the apes and less than the slime, necessarily so and by definition. Sinister, the monster behind the mask spells a death knell for any morality that is meaningful. Yet meaningful morality is all that keeps humanity from eating its young, its young from devouring their old. Behind the face of evolution, into the fact of dēvolution, there is no place for meaningful morality, or restraint. It is there that the evolutionist finds himself, in the muck and quandary of arguing ascension by descension, while everything in the universe undermines the concept of ascent by descent, of evolution from slime to monkey and from monkey to Man. The second law of thermodynamics posits the evident that chaos follows order, not order, chaos—absent, that is, a guiding mind, an intelligent design, and with it the inevitability of a Designer behind.3 Granted, this leaves us light years away from the God of the Christian faith, let alone the deity of Jesus, but it’s a step in that direction, towards what C.S. Lewis described as “that which nothing can get behind.” But the evolutionist eschews anything that nothing can get behind, for this leads us beyond the question of origin and into the realm of morality, and morality eviscerates any and all assent to Evolution.
If, as the greater weight of the evidence suggests, there is a Designer behind,4 then we are among the designed; if a Creator, then we are its creatures. Absent this postulate (that there is a Designer) and this deduction (that we are among the designed), there can be no morality without a qualifying adjective such as secular morality, or pragmatic morality. However, all qualified morality is relative, per se, and a morality that is relative is no morality at all, at least not in any meaningful sense. It’s a marionette with its strings attached to nothing. Meaningful Morality must come with strings attached. It must be tied to something. More than that, it must be tied to something immutable. In his defiance of dependence, Man loathes few things more than that which comes with strings attached, even when it comes as a gift. Man will go so far in his defiance of dependence as to exclude from the very definition of “gift” anything that comes with so much as a single string attached. There is a difference, however, between a string and a lifeline. That string for me was the spider’s web grown into the bridge I spoke of in the Introduction. Call it restraint if you will, but it suspended and suspends me above hot molten yellow lights flashing hotter when I was too young in the faith to know, or even now at times when I’ve lapsed and forgotten, that all that flickers is not gold. Notably, this string of which I speak runs horizontally beneath my feet, not vertically like a noose around my neck or even attached to my arms and legs as if I were some sort of marionette. In fact, this string is not attached to me at all. It is a lifeline on which I was given to stand free of strings, bridging the gap that I might cross over from Purpose into Destiny. We will return to this lifeline in time.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
If there were something “behind” our Designer, some Thing that designed the Designer, then I would simply and readily cast aside the latter in favor of the former, and I would continue to do so until I reached that Thing which nothing could get behind. This reminds me of the story about Henry James, who is reported once to have lectured on how the earth revolved around the sun, only to be approached after the lecture by a determined elderly woman who insisted, as “everybody knew,” that the earth rested on the back of a turtle. When pressed about on what it was that the turtle rested, she replied, “on another turtle, of course.” James persisted until finally the elderly woman threw her hands up in the air and exclaimed, “Why Mr. James, everybody knows that it’s turtles all the way down!” The import of the story, of course, is that at some point there has to be something at the bottom of things that rests upon nothing but itself; something that is and always has been, eternal and not temporal;5 something that nothing, not even time, can get behind. In other words, there has to be an ultimate Designer. (I use the upper case “D” in “Designer” to underscore the noun in its supremacy. There can be a designer, and there can be a designer’s designer, and even the designer of a designer’s designer, and so on. But eventually we have to get to the “designer of all designers,” which is what I’m referring to when I use the word “Designer” with an uppercase “D”. I do the same thing with Truth, with Morality, with Rule and with the Absolute, capitalizing the first letter of each word when I want to invoke the noun in its supremacy to distinguish it from what would otherwise be a relative denotation. This is nothing unique. We do the same thing when we write of “God” instead of “god”).
As a kid, my parents were always wanting to “get to the bottom” of things. Often that meant that I was in trouble because, at the bottom of things, there was often a variance between what I was supposed to do but did not, between what I wasn’t supposed to do but did. That created discord or dissonance where there should have been harmony, a cacophony arising from the clash of my acts against a universal, governing Rule from which emanated a series of lesser but consistent and coherent rules with which we were all more or less familiar.6 Variance from the Rule is immorality, by definition; conformity with the Rule is what I mean by morality. Now, imagine if you will a mishmash of “little” rules, none of them governing, none universal, not even consistent among themselves let alone in accord with the Rule because, in the mishmash of little rules, there is no such thing as a universal, governing Rule by which to organize and orchestrate all the little ones. I dare not call them even a “series” of rules because “series” implies order and rank and a common or universal standard against which to rank order. So I call them “little” rules instead, rules emanating from whims, wafting and wandering in and out of our lives like flying carpets flapping through turbulent skies.
These are no rules at all, but bloody emotion. By them we could never get to the “bottom” of anything because there would always be a flirtatious interplay between this jumble of little rules, none of which could trump the other in every circumstance and situation, none of which could lay claim to universality in even any circumstance or situation. In other words, it would be turtles all the way down. Only if there is something at the bottom, something eternal that rests and always has rested upon nothing but itself, can there be a morality that is unqualified and therefore meaningful and not relative. Moreover, if there is a morality that is meaningful and not relative, there must necessarily be something at the bottom that rests upon nothing but itself.7 For morality begs a foundation; and an ultimate foundation begets Morality.
At this point I should make two observations. First, this “thing” at the bottom is what I’m referring to when I speak of the “Absolute.” Second, “Morality” is not merely an offshoot of the Absolute, like a branch or command, but something that permeates and pervades the Absolute so as to render the two inseparable. I will try to clarify what I mean, first by way of explanation, and then by way of example. By explanation, it is true that morality (lower case “m”) emanates from one or more absolutes (lower case “a”), but it is not true that Morality emanates from the Absolute. For one to “emanate” from the other, one would have to pre-exist the other. This works when we are speaking of deductions, of lesser rules emanating from greater rules; such as, for example, when Descartes postulated “I think, therefore I am.” But it does not work when we are speaking of equations, of equals; such as, for example, when the God of the Old Testament told Moses, “I am who I am.”8 Descartes’ assertion (“I think”) is “greater” than its conclusion (“I am”) for three reasons: first, because the assertion precedes its conclusion; second, because the conclusion necessitates or is wholly dependent upon the assertion; and third, because the assertion carries with it, or presupposes, more than its conclusion. The assertion (“I think”) carries with it both thought and existence, while the conclusion carries with it only existence (“I am”).9 It might better have been expressed “I think (therefore I am).” Conversely, God’s assertion, “I am who I am,” has no precedent and antecedent, no premise and no conclusion. It is an equation, not a deduction. It cannot be better expressed. It could only be amplified, as it later was in the revelation of all that which was contained or included within “the great I AM.”
So it is with Morality and the Absolute. One does not precede the other, nor does the other proceed from the one. They are one in the same, yet together they contain more than the sum of their parts. Instead of feeding off each other, they feed into each other in a sort of symbiotic symphony. Morality gives the Absolute a way to express itself, while the Absolute gives Morality a foundation for expression. It is by way of Morality in the form of morality that the Absolute extends its branches and commands into all of creation. We can think of these extensions as dictates or rules, rules such as two and two is always four, for example, and that rape is always wrong. These are absolutes, but not the Absolute. They are laws, but not the Lawgiver. Ultimately, the Absolute is the Lawgiver, and a Lawgiver we must have for Morality to exist. This is true even for those who would deny the existence of any absolutes because the absence of all absolutes would itself be Absolute. Lawless though it would be, a Lawgiver it would remain, for from it would emanate its own set of dictates or rules and, with them, its own form of morality—a “morality” that defies reference and referents.
Its rules would not apply everywhere to everyone equally and at all times. They would apply only to instances where one found them useful to a temporal end, only to dissipate when they’d served their immediate purpose. Far from applying equally to all persons at all times, they would not necessarily apply even to the same person more than once. Being different for every man, and free to change in every situation, they would forever be dividing us and not uniting us in this our struggle to survive, reducing each man to the basest of his own instincts and society to its lowest common denominator. This is the lowest morality of all. Worse yet, it is no morality at all because to deem something the “lowest” we must have something else against which to compare it. If there is nothing against which to compare it, nothing ultimate but the absence of all absolutes, then there is no source of reference, and thereby no way to rank “low,” “lower” and “lowest.” Now, think what this means for purpose and destiny. Purpose implies a beginning; destiny an end. “Beginning” and “end” are perhaps the quintessential reference points. Since the absence of absolutes does away with all reference points, there can be no purpose or destiny in the absence of absolutes.10 Put another way, there must be absolutes for purpose and destiny to exist and, as we have seen, from absolutes morality necessarily emanates. Therefore, if morality exists, so do purpose and destiny; and if purpose and destiny, then so too absolutes and morality.
But “whose morality?” The question often shoots back as if fired from the very heels of the conclusion itself, aimed to stump the speaker on the spot and stop his train of thought in its tracks. I’ve tried to preempt the interjection. The problem with the question is that its referent is almost always one human being or another. In other words, the question, “whose morality?” is usually followed implicitly or explicitly by a series of options that limit the answer, options like, “My morality or yours? Yours or his? His or hers?” If we are talking about eternal Purpose and Destiny, however, the answer is “none of the above” because meaningful Morality can be defined only by reference to an Absolute source whose dictates apply to us all and equally so. In that case there is no “my morality” and “your morality,” no “his morality” or “her morality,” there is just Morality. Absent the philosophy of Evolution, none of us is the Absolute, the absolute be all and end all to all things. Rest as we might on our bottoms, none of us is that thing at the bottom which rests upon nothing but itself, and upon which everything else rests. The question “whose morality?” hits its mark only if (1) there is no absolute Morality, but only relative “moralities” emanating from the mishmash of the little rules; (2) we are talking about only temporal purposes and temporal destinies; and (3), even then, only if there is no correspondence between temporal purposes and destinies and eternal Purpose and Destiny. The man who makes his own personal morality the standard against which all things are measured has made himself out to be God or, at least, the Absolute, all things being relative unto his self. Meaningful Morality, however, (that is, morality that is not relative to anything short of the Absolute), can neither be contrived in a vacuum nor confined to an individual. It must exist independent of Man and his constructs.
That said, I must concede that we cannot with any great confidence induce, or “reason our way up to,” the moral attributes of the Absolute merely from what we feel or intuit to be moral. We often disagree about what we feel to be moral and, therefore, even logical induction from what we feel would lead us to “different Absolutes,” which is a contradiction. There can be different “absolutes” (two and two is always four, for example, and rape is always wrong), but there cannot be more than one Absolute. As the western philosophers will tell us, “A” cannot be both “A” and “non-A” at the same time and in the same way. Nor do I think that we can with perfect confidence deduce Morality from what we think about the Absolute, at least not with intellects and intuitions unaided and unguided by something outside of themselves. Our intellects have fallen along with our intuitions. We are, as I have suggested, struggling to survive in a process of dēvolution, not evolution. The copy suffers from the defects of its original, and a copy of the copy suffers from the defective remnants of both. This continues for so long as we continue to make copies from copies; for as long as we continue our descent from the original. You don’t have to accept my suggestion to agree with my conclusion that our intellects and intuitions are not perfect, our deductions and inductions not free from human error.
However, before dismissing our powers of thought and reason as ties too tenuous on which to base any useful conclusions about Morality and the Absolute, or even to narrow down the options, we should note that being fallen or imperfect is not the same thing as being useless. To the contrary, induction and deduction, intuition and intellect, prove quite useful at the temporal level all the time (as with math, medicine, literature and biology, for example) and, I submit, can lend themselves useful to an inquiry into Morality and the Absolute as well. In every serious man there is a desire to know the truth, a thirst and a longing for Truth. I can conceive of no reason why the Designer would put in us this thirst and then leave us without any means by which to quench it if even to a limited extent and only for a limited period of time. Conversely, I can understand why the Designer would put in us a thirst that, while not quenchable now, can be quelled for a time just sufficient to keep us coming back for more. Every good entertainer leaves his audience wanting more. It seems more reasonable to me than not that the Designer would provide us with some such means by which to quell this thirst, even if only to compel our continued pursuit of its quenching. At least we might as well assume so because, or so it would appear, intuition and intellect, induction and deduction, are all that we have to offer an inquiry into the Absolute. If we lack the means to make any progress by their deployment, we lose nothing by the effort to deploy and employ them, for all that we do is in vain. If, on the other hand, we have such means, then we stand to lose everything if we do nothing to use them.
Moreover, it would be unduly presumptuous to conclude that our Designer left us merely to our own means and devices, to the mere intellect and intuition given or left us at our disposal. We were not left blind on a rock we could not feel atop an ocean we could not fathom. In addition to providing us with some measure or means by which to “look up” and inquire into the Absolute, I submit that the Designer also “looked down,” extending unto us “eyes,” a view into the Heavens and Hells about which we would inquire. The Designer does so by way of what are commonly referred to as “general revelation” and “special revelation.” Special revelation is the stuff that Bibles and Korans and I Chings are made of, but special revelation might also include things the Designer engraved in each of our hearts and minds that inform our intuition and therefore aid in our powers of induction. (“The requirements of the law are written on our hearts…”).11 General revelation refers to the material universe itself and all it contains. This is one reason why the study of origins and organisms is so important. We can induce some things about the Designer by what we can deduce from its designs (i.e., the universe and everything in it); and, it would seem, we can deduce certain things about the designed from what we can induce about their Designer. Our powers of induction and deduction combined, of intuition and intellect refined, must be of at least some use, particularly if they are aided somewhere along the line by general and special revelation from the very Designer who gave us induction, deduction, intuition and intellect in the first place.
With these things in mind, let’s consider five things we might reasonably infer from an inquiry into the Absolute.
The first inference we can draw, the first deduction we can make, is that this eternal Absolute and this ultimate Designer are one in the same. If it were not so, the Absolute might “get behind” the Designer, or the Designer “behind” the Absolute. Because both the Designer and the Absolute must each be a thing which nothing can get behind, however, the two must necessarily be one in the same, and with them Morality, inextricably intertwined outside the matrix of time, perfectly and completely suffused within each other yet sufficiently separate that we can talk about them individually. They comprise a “trinity,” if you will, a singular, unified triumvirate which nothing can get behind. Relational trinities like this are not uncommon. We encounter and incorporate them into our lives every day: height, depth and breadth, for example, when we speak of space; past, present and future, when we speak of time; harmony, melody and rhythm, when speak of music. Consequently, from this point forward, whenever I speak of the “Designer,” or of the “Absolute,” or of “Morality,” I mean for each to encompass the other two as well unless otherwise indicated in the text or by context. What we are dealing with here is an Absolute Moral Designer (“AMD”) that is equal in all three parts, but unified in one Supreme Being, as I think we can show.
The second inference we can draw, and this by induction, is that this AMD is a personal being; that is, it has a personality and therefore a personhood. This is necessarily so because we are personal beings with personalities and personhood, and one cannot create in something else an attribute that one does not possess within himself. It is important to draw a distinction here between making something and creating something. I make things all the time, take dinner for example. I made dinner last night. But I did not “create” the dinner in the true sense of the word even if I thought up the recipe myself and had grown the vegetables in my own garden. I simply rearranged some parts, using the tools, like seeds, for example, available to me at my disposal. To create something, on the other hand, means to bring about from nothing the existence of something that did not previously exist and, again, one cannot create in something else some attribute or thing one does not possess within himself. Just as you cannot get blood from a turnip, you cannot get personality from a rock no matter how long the rock has existed. Personality has to come from some Thing, from some Creator, that is personal and has personality in and of itself. Therefore, because we are personal beings, because we have personality, we can infer by induction that this AMD is a personal being who has personality too. In fact, being the AMD, it is not only a being, not only a personal being, itmust be the personal Being, the “Supreme Being,” one might say. Because this Supreme Being is in fact personal, we should give it a name. Not coincidentally, I’m going to call it “God.” But I’m not going to call it God just because I am a Christian and this is how Christians refer to the Supreme Being, the AMD. I’m going to call it “God” because, as we have described this Supreme Being, it is an indivisible trinity of inseparable parts—one Absolute, one Morality, one Designer—that just happens to be coherent with the uniquely Christian concept of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is also because “God” is the term most often used in western culture to identify ultimate Deity.
The third inference we can draw about God, (which is also an inference by induction), is that He has purpose, and we can draw this inference because we have purpose. Throughout history, no one has successfully denied that he’s had purpose at least at some point in his life. Don’t mistake what I’m saying. I am not saying that there aren’t people who deny the existence of purpose. I am saying that to deny purpose is to affirm at least one purpose, that being to disabuse one’s self or others of the notion that purpose exists. The affirmation that there is no purpose to anything does nothing but undermine its own predicate. It would be like Descartes reasoning, “I think, therefore I’m not.” If there are those who cogently and successfully deny purpose, who live as if purpose does not exist, you’ve never heard of them because they would, by necessity, keep and have kept their mouths shut and their minds closed from the cradle to the grave. These extreme hermitical hypotheticals aside, it is safe to assume that at least some people believe they have or have had purpose at least at some point in their lives. Therefore, God must have purpose too because, and I’ll say it one more time, one cannot create in something else—even if in just one man—something that one does not possess within himself. So, all men being created, if even one man has purpose, God must have purpose too, with a caveat.
The caveat is that there is a difference between having purpose and merely thinking that one has purpose; and it could be that Man, or some men (and women) have no purpose but merely think that they do. This may be true of God as well. It is conceivable that God thinks He has purpose but does not, and it is only this false sense of purpose that He has reproduced or created in Man. I do not believe this to be the more rational conclusion but, having acknowledged the possibility, I have to concede that there is an element of faith in the conclusion. In fact, there is an element of faith in almost everything I conclude. I don’t shy away from it. I embrace it, so long as it is coherent with what I understand of Reality, so long as it is consistent with what I think to be Truth. Change my view of Reality or Truth and you will change my faith. My point is simply that mine is not a faith in the dark, not a faith without reason, not something in which no man in his right mind would believe, and not something that is not open to change. Whether we invoke Occam’s razor12 or Pascal’s wager,13 there is reason to conclude that we have purpose and not just that we think that we do. You must agree with me too because if you didn’t believe in purpose you wouldn’t have read me this far. You must have had some purpose in doing so. Second, more than a sense of temporal purpose (e.g., I am going to the ice cream store to get an ice cream), we have a longing for real and eternal purpose, for a destiny even. It is logical to indulge this longing for purpose because, as we have seen, there is eternal purpose even in denying purpose—that being to disabuse one’s self or others of the existence of purpose. The pursuit of purpose may even prove purposeful in itself, in more ways than one, and eternally so.
(“…Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you”).14
Thirdly, we see purpose in order, in the arrangement of things, from the way the stars revolve in the universe to the way the snowflakes fall to the earth, all in a splendorous, harmonic, and symphonic symmetry. Order is purpose, purpose order. The profundity of this order is magnified when we examine a star through a telescope or a snowflake under a microscope and see that each is uniquely individual when viewed telescopically or microscopically, yet perfectly positioned in its place among the other stars and snowflakes macrocosmically.15 In “Science Finds God,” Newsweek, July 20, 1998, Cambridge University physicist John Polkinghorne wrote, “When you realize that the laws of nature must be incredibly finely tuned to produce the universe we see, that conspires to plant the idea that the universe did not just happen, but that there must be a purpose behind it." I could go on, but my point is simply this: there is at least a potential for purpose in the indulgence and pursuit of purpose, but there is no purpose whatsoever in its denial beyond that which is self-contradicting. To draw from Pascal, if we’re mistaken in our belief that we have purpose, then we’ve lost nothing by its pursuit; if we’re mistaken in our belief that we lack purpose, however, we’ve lost everything by not pursuing it. Therefore, when faced with one or the other of these two options, the more rational (not to mention pragmatic) conclusion is that we have purpose, and therefore that God has purpose too.
The fourth inference we can draw about God (and the second, by deduction) is that, while it may not always appear that way, God does not work at cross-purposes against Himself. That would be like removing your own parachute from its backpack as a way of playing a twisted practical joke on yourself. That said, I know that seemingly bad things happen to seemingly good people all the time. There is much to say on that subject, and I have much to say. But for now, bear with me dear reader, bear with me, because my point is not now to reconcile bad things to good people, but to point out that God has an ultimate purpose, some revealed, some concealed, but an ultimate purpose for your life and mine. For now, let’s look to Einstein who said that God does not roll dice. I don’t think God plays roulette either but, if He did, He wouldn’t wager half of all He had on red and the other half on black, particularly with the croupier’s green pockets in play. He must have a plan. Being the Absolute Moral Designer that He is, God would not suffer fools lightly16 and neither would He make of Himself a fool. What God does, He does on purpose, with purpose, and for a purpose. God is in fact so consistent in His purposing and so revelatory in what he purposes that the resolution of disagreements about God and his dictates lie at the core of every moral dispute in the world, and this is easy to show.
More than defining for us who is friend and who is foe, truths about God dictate for us who should be friend and who should be foe. After all, two people can be each other’s enemy. Thus each is an enemy unto the other, but that does not make them moral equals, at least not in a world where there is a God as we have defined Him. The “enemy,” the true Enemy, is the opponent of the Good, the Good being defined as that which is consonant with God; evil being that which is in discord with and deviates from God and his dictates. Goodness resides in him who has drawn right conclusions about God and his dictates, but only to the extent he patterns and lives his life accordingly. Otherwise, as the late William F. Buckley, Jr. put it, the man who pushes an old woman into oncoming traffic and the man who pushes an old woman out of the way of oncoming traffic can both rightly be referred to as “men who push around old women” without doing a moral injustice to one man or the other. It is only after we’ve arrived at a meaningful Morality that we can begin to plunge the surface of Purpose and delve into the depths of Destiny. The right answers to questions about God will have a profound impact on our conclusions about the destiny of Man and therefore his purpose.
This leads us to the fifth and final inference I want to draw about God at this time.17 If God has purpose and does not do things randomly or foolishly, then we are right to deduce that He had some purpose in mind in our creation. “Purpose,” however, is a tricky English word to deal with. “Purpose” can be either a noun or a verb: “My purpose (noun) is to be a sports writer;” or, “I purpose (verb) to be a sports writer.” For our purposes, no pun intended, it is better to use the word “intent.” “Intent” can be a noun, but it cannot be a verb. The verb would be “intend,” as in, “My intent, or intention, (noun) is to be a sports writer,” and “I “intend” (verb) to write about sports.” So as not to confuse the nouns with the verbs, I will use the words “intent” and “intend” instead of the word “purpose.” Intent can be either temporal (“I intend to eat an ice cream”) or eternal (I intend to live forever). Leaving aside for the moment the fact that many of us would like to eat ice cream forever, even that which is merely temporal can have both temporal and permanent intentions (i.e. purposes), but it cannot have both temporal and permanent ends (i.e., destinies). The temporal man will die no matter how much he wants to live forever. Only that which is eternal can have both temporal and permanent ends, or “purposes.” The question arises, then, why would that which is eternal ever seek out or set about to do the temporal? My answer, I guess, is that the eternal would seek out or set about to do the temporal only if the temporal resulted in something permanent, or consequential, for the eternal. In other words, only if there was some coalescence and correlation between a temporal act and an eternal consequence.
I spent a while hypothesizing about why an eternal God, the AMD, might not do something temporal if only to prolong the inevitable. Why not plug a hole in your tire, for example, if it will prolong the life of the tire? The answer always came back to the same bottom line: eventually the tire will “die” too, and even a new tire has its (temporal) lifespan. The same might be said of its car. The same might be said of the car’s driver. But the same cannot be said of the car driver’s Maker, the Designer. He is eternal, and I cannot fathom a situation in which the eternal would do something temporal (without eternal consequence) unless it is only to get rid of the temporal and he lacks the power to do so permanently. An eternal person, for example, might scratch a temporal itch, but he would do so only to get rid of the itch, not to keep it around. Even then, he would do so and continue to do so only if there was no permanent way to make rid of the itch. God, in His omnipotence, could condemn the world anytime but, I submit, He’s held off from doing so to date out of mercy for those yet to come to the faith. In other words, there is an eternal purpose in His temporal reticence. What all of this boils down to, from Purpose to mosquitoes, is what I think should be the obvious: because God is eternal, then so too must His purposes be eternal as well. At the very least, the possibility is real, and I think the probability is much more than likely, as close as we can come to a philosophical certainty. This is profoundly significant because it means that God purposed that we exist. Because God purposed that we exist, we can conclude that at least part of our purpose (and, I submit, all of our purpose) is to fulfill that which God had in mind for Himself and His Purpose when He created us. God, as we have inferred, would not create something so fleeting and trivial that it would have no eternal meaning for His Purpose, even if only to serve as a memory in His mind long after we have faded away into (forgive me, Nietzsche) non-being and nothingness. To the contrary, our temporal purpose has and must have an eternal Purpose, at least in the mind of God. Our temporal purpose(s) can coalesce or correlate at some point with His eternal Purpose, and it is only by that coalescence and correlation that we can and do attain at least some measure of eternal intention and consequence, of Purpose and Destiny. Because the eternal is infinitely greater than the temporal, and because all of what seems to us temporal can have ultimate consequence only in the eternal, we should strive in all of our (temporal) endeavors to be a part of God’s (eternal) Purpose. We should view everything that we say and do from the perspective of what it means for His ultimate Purpose. Thereby, we can rightly view our purpose(s) as having or serving Purpose. Even this temporal world would be a better place if we all did so and lived our lives accordingly. Surely that would be a Purpose unto itself. As Voltaire said, so often taken out of context today, “[i]f God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.”18 Before concluding what that Purpose is, however, we need to consider destiny, because Purpose and Destiny can be understood only in the context of each other, and Destiny is simpler.
Our Destiny is to fulfill God’s Purpose to the full extent for which we were created. Significantly, however the bipolar concepts of purpose and destiny imply a continuity between the two, a connection and a connector that ties beginning to end, the Alpha to the Omega. It is here that we return to that horizontal string beneath my feet, that lifeline laid down that I might cross on this this earth from (immutable) Purpose into (immutable) Destiny, and by which I can trace back in my mind from Destiny to Purpose. It is good for me to do so, to traverse back and forth from Destiny to Purpose and from Purpose to Destiny, because it is from the perch of Purpose that I gain perspective of Destiny; from the perch of Destiny that I gain perspective of Purpose. That which enables me to do both, that which connects one to the other, is morality, and for morality to connect Purpose (with an upper case “P”) with Destiny (with an upper case “D”), morality must be Morality (with an upper case “M”). That is, to connect Purpose with Destiny, Morality must be perfect and unbroken, (“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect”),19 for a broken string leads nowhere but down, regardless of how long it is, how thick it is, or to what it is connected on one end. And therein lies the rub: none of us has been perfectly moral regardless of how each of us defines even his own personal morality, let alone how we have defined Morality as it takes its place in the trinity of the Godhead. (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”).20
Because each of us has fallen short and is broken, this string cannot come from ourselves, from any of us; instead, it must come by way of proxy. Because it must come by a proxy anchored unbroken and into the immutable at both ends, it can come only from God as we have defined Him and it can be only of God who, by our definition, is that which is immutable on all fronts and at every end. Only one person in all of history claimed to be that string, that lifeline, that bridge. It was the one who lived the perfect moral life, even Christ the Son who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”21 He who says otherwise, he who thinks he can earn his way to Heaven (to the Father) by his works and, specifically, by the extent to which his “good” works outweigh his “bad” or fare relatively well when compared to the evils of another, is like one who thinks he can cross an ocean on a broken string tied to only one continent. No matter how long and thick the string, he cannot. His “bridge” is not even a bridge but, at best, a pier, and one broken and crumbling at that. No matter how close his pier comes to the other side, it stops short; and there is no bragging in drowning in a deeper end of the ocean. God the Father, so the Scriptures tell us, is perfect; the Holy Spirit, inerrant. The former cannot countenance the imperfect, the latter cannot be misguided in His guidance of us to the perfect, yet unto God the Father Himself. Because our Destiny rests in God the Father (the Absolute, to whom, according to Jesus, we would and were to come), and because our Purpose rests in God the Holy Spirit (the Designer who, according to Jesus, was left to guide our coming), our means of getting there must rest on the back of God the Son (Jesus himself, the Morality that serves proxy to our immorality), who himself came riding unto his death on the back of an ass.22
It should be no wonder then that Man in his fallen state sees and has made himself equal to God, even greater than God. This is not a new development in evolution, but an old one in dēvolution. Adam and Eve made themselves equal to God, in a sense. By eating of the forbidden fruit, they, like God, came to know the meaning of Sin. Even more so, having sinned, they felt the conviction of Sin, thereby going beyond God to a place that God had never been, at least not as of then. God was not convicted of Sin until He hung on that cross in their stead. Only by God’s going there could He rescue them; only by going there could He rescue us. He had to meet them where they were, to stoop close enough to their level to extend the hand Michelango depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. For Him to lay Himself down on that cross so that He might become a path for what would otherwise have been our trespass from Purpose into Destiny, God the Son had to descend from His Heavens and stretch Himself horizontal beneath our feet. It is by this descension of God to Man that Man deludes himself into thinking he has somehow ascended up to the level of God and beyond.
Fallen Man feels equal in some respects to those with whom He stands side by side. He feels even greater in those same respects than those whom Man deems beneath him, those over whom Man is willing and able to trample in his struggle for so-called “survival of the fittest.” The problem or, at least one problem, is that Man is struggling to survive in a race that leads nowhere but down to its lowest common denominator, then disappears into the abyss which, by many indications, is a place of eternal fire and damnation.23 This is not ascension, but descension. It is only on the back of God in the form of Jesus Christ that Man can hope to ascend beyond the sin of this world and its consequences. Yet, for the most part, Man met God’s descension with condescension and with derision, thereby compounding Man’s problem by obscuring his vision. Evolution is an escape hatch false, or at least faulty, on two fronts. First, it leads nowhere because it teaches that this life is all there is or ever will be, at least so far as we are concerned; and second, because its “facts” are so frail they often don’t permit of the hatch being opened.24 There is scant “evidence” for evolution, let alone proof of it. See endnotes 4, 32, 40 and 42, for example, or “Google” the phrase “modern evolutionary theory.” Modern evolutionary theory is much more an old philosophy than a new science, having its origin in a “synthesis” developed between 1936 and 1947, not coincidentally the temporal bookends between the rise and fall of Adolph Hitler, who dedicated his book, Mein Kampf, to none other than Charles Darwin. (After Hitler, Darwin’s theory didn’t sit so well with much of the world anymore and so a new theory, or “synthesis,” was needed).
Hitler’s thought of ascension from within (from within ourselves, our breeding, and our universe) absent Christ’s descension from without (from outside of ourselves and our universe) is contrary to everything we see and know of our universe. This includes the unlikely fairytale that, by his descension from the apes, Man somehow ascended and/or is in the process of ascending beyond anything else, let alone beyond everything else. No, ascension by descension is not something that could come from within ourselves or from inside of our universe. It could come about only by something that invades or invaded our universe from the outside.25 Something that invades our universe from the outside is commonly referred to as a “miracle.” While we can learn about it, it cannot be entirely understood by reference to the laws of science as we yet know them. That being the case, a miracle is not something to be wasted. It is something to which much attention should be given; it should be the object of awe and the subject of study. It is only when we study the life of Jesus, of God the Son, that we see and can comprehend ascension by descension, the idea that the way to obtain the most is to make of one’s self the least: “Suffer [the] little children to come unto me…for of such is the kingdom of heaven;”26 “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me;”27 “…Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he;”28 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”29 It is the humble that He crowns with salvation,30 not the haughty and self-exalted. What else should we expect from a God who would descend to become a Rabbi, and even then only to wash his disciples’ feet?31
To know such an eternal Being, to know that which is personal and yet which nothing can get behind, that which rests upon nothing and yet descended to that which had nothing on which to rest, is to love Him. For how could we not love Him who would do for us what God has done for us; Him who would give us hope of eternal Purpose and Destiny and the Means to attain both ends?32 Moreover, because there is love in us, there must necessarily be love in Him too. (Remember, one cannot create in someone else some thing, i.e., love, that one does not first possess within himself). God is infinitely and eternally greater than us, and so therefore too must be His capacity for Love. The Scriptures in fact tell us that “God is Love.”33 Accordingly, it is not our love for Him that God reciprocates; He loved us first and it is we who reciprocate. (“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”).34 Moreover, it is not His desire that we merely reciprocate love backwards towards Him, but that we project love forwards towards others, towards our fellow man, yeah, even unto our enemies. The Scriptures say, “…love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you”.35
This is possible because love is more than a feeling or emotion. Like C.S. Lewis, I don’t believe God looks down from His Heavens upon us only and always to get all gushy on His insides about us. Love is a commitment. Being eternal and the Author of our existence, God knew from the beginning that in order to accomplish His ends in us, in order for us to have Purpose and attain Destiny, He would have to descend unto and “beneath” us, to allow the created, for a time, to trample the Creator. He committed to do so in advance. That is Love. (“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”).36 This is not to say that love carries with it no feeling of emotion or joy. To the contrary, the Scriptures tell us that God delights in His people.37 So too, likewise and always we were and are we to delight in Him. Our purpose is, was and always has been to do so, but somewhere along the line we fell short. “Short of what?” is the question. The answer conceals our Purpose and seals up our Destiny. But God answered the question for us directly. It is His glory—we fell short of His “glory.” We fell short of His glory. For all have sinned and fall[en] short of the glory of God.38
Our Purpose and our Destiny are so wrapped up in each other as to be one in the same: to glorify Him and to do so forever,39 enjoying Him inseparable in a dance that never ends. More than a destiny, we have Destiny. More than a purpose, we have Purpose. More than that, we have Morality imputed to us freely in the person of Jesus Christ by whom our Purpose and Destiny were not just made achievable but achieved. We were not stolen from the Evil One subject to being stolen back; we were purchased. He can neither steal nor buy us back because he lacks the capital nailed to the cross. Christ paid for us what we could not pay for ourselves, the incomparable price. He accomplished for us and in us what we could not accomplish for or in ourselves, and He offers it to us as a free gift, the free gift of eternal life through His life, His death, His resurrection, His morality, and the forgiveness of our sins. Only a fool would mistake this lifeline for a noose and reject this free gift on the grounds that it comes with a string attached. There are no strings attached, at least none attached to us. We are free to jump if we wish. Jesus is the string—for me now a bridge—and He attached Himself from the Holy Spirit on one end to the Father on the other, so that we might travel freely to and fro, commingling and communing with each other, with and among the triune persons of the Godhead, forever.
The hypothesis or philosophy of evolution undermines all of the above.40 This is why the evolution-creation debate is so fundamental. The very idea of a mind, a design, and an intelligent “Designer behind,” is anathema to Evolution and all of its adherents, at least to all those who credit evolution back to origin. The rest just start in the middle of a story of which they do not know the beginning and cannot finish. Knowing neither the beginning nor the end, they lack Purpose and Destiny and any concept of either. Moreover, their adherence to the “theory of evolution,” be it all the way back to origins or starting and finishing somewhere between the beginning and the end, precludes both Purpose and Destiny without which there is neither a base nor a place for Morality. The evolutionist, the consistent evolutionist, repudiates any need for Christ microcosmically, like the string grown into a bridge between my heart and mind, and macrocosmically like the Connector between Purpose and Destiny. This is critical because evolution is as much a religion41 as Christianity, even more so to the extent that it requires more faith.42 Like all religions, evolution projects its own morality or dictates. Whereas the primary dictates of Christianity are to render glory unto God and service unto Man, the primary dictates of evolution are to ascend beyond God by trampling over men. Ascend from whence and to where the evolutionists cannot say, but they know that which they wish to avoid: Morality. Their view was perhaps put best and most forthrightly by Sir Julian Huxley, the elder brother of Aldous Huxley and a descendent of Thomas H. Huxley, a man so mired in the muck of evolution that he proudly referred to himself as “Darwin’s bulldog.” Sir Julian Huxley said, “[I suppose the reason] that we leapt at the Origin [of Species] is that the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.”43 Perhaps no more astonishing a confession has ever been made. Evolution within the confines of our universe is nothing but a myth by which to escape morality and therefore responsibility. It is only by virtue of something outside of and beyond our universe that we might truly evolve, like the princess in the palace above.
For those who would disagree with me I will readily concede that one can be wrong in his conclusions about ultimate Truth; but one cannot be morally wrong in his effort to discern it. I will continue in mine, and pray that you continue in yours. When we disagree, let us do so in love, remembering that no one is always right and, while we can both be wrong in our disagreement, we cannot both be right in our disagreement. It is because we cannot both be right that there necessarily exists Right and Wrong; and the existence of Right and Wrong necessitates an absolute standard by which all things can be measured. We should be able to agree on at least that, and it is on that common ground that we can begin to build a common structure and journey together in our search for “God” beyond the extent to which I’ve tried to do so here. Without it, without that common ground of Absolute Right and Absolute Wrong, Hitler and Gandhi and Nietzsche all hang from the same string, so to speak. It is not that one man doesn’t dangle closer to the ground than another, closer to the “bottom of all things” than the others, but that they all dangle. Each man hangs equally dead, regardless of how far his pier.
All men die at least once. Jesus said that to come to the Father, to Heaven, we must be born again.44 As the late Dr. D. James Kennedy put it, “Born once die twice, born twice, die once.” Would that we would stand up before we die that first death so that we would rise up thereafter instead of continuing in our descent only to die that second, more pernicious, death. Would that we would reach that place where dēvolution (on earth) gives way to evolution (in Heaven), the only place any evolution could truly take place and where we can leave the “devilution” of this world behind. Would that we would make this our daily devotion, particularly since we have reason to believe that there is an eternality to our purpose on the one end and our destiny on the other, a continuity from beginning to end that extends beyond even the reach of time and in both directions and that makes purposeful even the seemingly mundane things we do each day. More than that, would that there would be a place of perfect peace where neither Sin nor its consequences prevail, where my once muddy footprints won’t trail; a place where the daddy and the daughter can finally and forever rest blessed in the arms of loving Father who purposed to send His Son to die for them this second death that they might never have to face or taste it. Would that God would bless you that way too, always and in all ways, that one day we might ascend the very footsteps of Heaven together, and together slip hallowed into its hallways.