Dust in the wind/All we are is dust in the wind. —Kansas (1977)
When Life is God
For Eastern pantheism, all is One. All life is shared life. All apparent diversity is the manifestation of an underlying cosmic unity. Because all things arise out of that unity, all things are equally significant. Nothing is or can be more important than anything else. A rock, a virus, a giraffe, a human baby—all are expressions of the One. Hegel’s evolving “absolute”, the doctrine of emergent evolution, and the Gaia hypothesis are Western variations on the same theme. Life is inherent in nature, maybe even in matter itself. All things are alive so all things have equal value. Everything’s special. Or is it?
Because When Everything’s Special…
The word “pantheism” is deceptive. The Greek root, theos suggests some sort of transcendent but personal deity. But the connection is difficult. At the end of the day, pantheism in all its flavors, the self-sufficient cosmos in its essential unity, is all there is. No part or particular manifestation of that unity has any significance or meaning beyond its inclusion in the One. Nothing can have more meaning than anything else. Man is nothing special, either as a species or as an individual. In the name of a living universe, pantheism wipes out the life as we know and value it.
The Fury of the Green Dragon
There was a time when love of life and nature at least meant kindness toward animals. Not so today. Today the greatest killers of cats and dogs are those agencies that claim to be dedicated to their preservation: the Humane Society, the ASPCA, and PETA, for example. The reasons aren’t found in under-funding or lack of space, but in the cold indifference of the shelter operators to the lives of domestic animals. This shouldn’t surprise us: “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10). But this is the tiniest tip of the iceberg.
A growing number within the environmental movement have developed a cold hatred of human life. Humanism is passé it seems. Biocentrists and Deep Ecologists now denounce people as the cancer that is destroying the eco-system that is Earth. Not this person or these people. Simply… people. “Man is the most dangerous, destructive, selfish, and unethical animal on earth” (Fox, Returning to Eden, 1980). And the human family needs serious pruning according to these folks. “The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease” (Devall and Sessions, Deep Ecology, 1985). Nature must have it’s inevitable dominion over people. Writing for the Los Angles Times, reviewer David Graber says:
Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line—at about a billion years ago, maybe half that—we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.
While some Deep Ecologists are content to use peaceful means to press their anti-human agenda, some prefer…
“…direct action” against corporate and governmental targets, ranging from theatrical civil disobedience to outright terror, sabotage, and violence. They man groups like Greenpeace, Earth First!, Sea Shepherds, Rainforest Action Network, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Animal Liberation Front (Bidinotto).
Earth First! “specializes in sabotaging bulldozers, tearing down billboards and power lines, putting nails on roads to stop logging trucks, and pounding spikes into trees to destroy saw blades” (Bidinotto). These people welcome famine and plague (AIDS), even another Ice Age, as agents of global cleansing. Earth First! leader David Foreman says, “It may well take our extinction to set things straight.”
The Culture of Death
The depopulation of the planet is a common theme in today’s culture of death. Planned Parenthood is another of its advocates. It is also the world’s chief provider of abortions. Through propaganda, lobbying, litigation, and state-funded abortions, Planned Parenthood works vigorously to scale back the population of our planet and weed out the genetically inferior along the way. “…Planned Parenthood has always targeted minorities, the unwanted, and the disadvantaged for family limitation, contraception, abortion, and sterilization” (Grant, 27). Its goal from the beginning has been a eugenic culling of humanity, genocide on a planetary scale. The sadistic irony here is that it does this under the mask of mercy and compassion for the poor.
Meanwhile, abortion continues to kill 1.2 million children a year in the United States alone. That’s 100, 000 children a month. Ninety-three percent of these abortions are performed for non-medical reasons. Pro-life arguments for the humanity of the fetus are falling on increasingly hardened hearts. In America’s culture of death, “human” is no longer a biological description, but a sociological one. A baby is only “human” or a “person” when it’s convenient for society to accept the child as such.
The same may soon be true of the aged, the disabled, and the terminally ill. In the name of mercy, euthanasia promises to become the next sociological tool for creating a happy world. The healthy will mercifully eliminate the less-than-healthy. The process will be cheap, quick, and guilt-free. Doctors, who once swore to “do no harm,” will cut off humanity’s dead weight in the name of compassion.
In the name of hope and change.
We live in an increasingly hateful and violent age. We haven’t even touched on terrorism, jihad, human trafficking, the drug trade, and the revival of pagan barbarism. The 20th century was arguable the bloodiest in history since the Flood, with death tolls reaching more than 110 million. (See Gil Elliot’s Twentieth Century Book of the Dead [Scribner’s, 1972]). My guess it that the 21st will be worse. In the name of life, modern man has a deep and lasting love affair with death.
The Cult of the Dead and the Gospel of Life
When the children of Israel abandoned Egypt, they left behind a culture obsessed with death and dying. Think of the pyramids and the funerary magic. Even the Egyptian doctrine of resurrection was a capitulation to the inevitable victory of death. The afterlife swallowed all… even the gods.
Israel, on the other hand, worshipped the living God. He revealed Himself as Yahweh—“I Am.” His relationship with Israel was rooted in His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That covenant was a bond of life, so sure that, according to Jesus, it demanded the future resurrection of the patriarchs, “for He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: since all live to Him” (Luke 20:38).
Israel’s worship also promised resurrection. The whole point of blood sacrifice was the offer of life through the death of a blameless Substitute. The ritual cleansings from leprosy and contact with dead bodies promised an outpouring of the Spirit that would wash away death itself. The festivals of Pentecost (Firstfruits) and Tabernacles (Ingathering) used dead grain ripening to life as a picture of revival and final resurrection. And Rosh Hashanah (Trumpets) spoke of a new creation unto eternal life. All of these things and more bore witness to a gospel of resurrection life through the coming Messiah. The divine Messiah would overcome death as the Son of the living God.
The Living, Tri-Personal God
The living God of Scripture is eternal, self-sufficient and raw abundant life. True, he has life in Himself, and that life is the archetype and reference point for all created life. But God’s life is His own. He does not share it with His creation. There is no continuity between the uncreated Being of God and the created being of the universe or that of man.
And as Christians we know that the life of God is Triune. From eternity, the Father has begotten the Son, and the Father and Son have breathed forth the living and life-giving Spirit. The “living Father,” who has “life in Himself,” has “given to the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26; 6:57), so that Jesus can say without qualification or metaphor, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” 11:25). All created life finds its source, coherence, and meaning in Him. Human life in its fullness is the knowledge of God in and through Jesus Christ (John 17:3).
Created Life on Three Levels
But let’s make a few distinctions. Not all life is alike. Genesis 1 uses the word “create” (bara) three times. The first is in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Botanical life falls within the scope of that original creative act. Botanical life is the high point of the material creation, of that which is merely electrochemical. In other words, plants are sophisticated chemical systems. They don’t have souls; they aren’t sentient. Scripture never speaks of plants as “living” or “alive.” Only metaphorically does a seed “die” so that it can bring forth fruit (John 12:24). In a deathless world, men and animals still ate fruit and herbs.
Genesis 1:21 says that God created the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air. God describes these creatures (and by extension, all the other animals), as nephesh, “living souls,” creatures that possess the breath of life. Throughout Genesis, “every living creature” means those that have breath and blood (Gen. 2:19: 9:10).
Man is a living creature in this sense, but he is much more. Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in His own image. Man is not one organism among many or even one animal among many. Man is the image of God. That is, man is a living reflection and analogue of His Maker. God speaks and makes and judges; He communicates and even has a communion of sorts through words. He (or She) is Artist and Artisan, Poet and Historian. Man is many things. And of all earth’s creatures, only man is packaged that way. Only man was made for eternal fellowship with God. Interesting, mankind gets legal protection that other life form don’t. Strong language from Mt. Sinai, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13). Jesus rendered it, “Thou shalt do no murder” (Matt. 19:18).
Pro-Life or Pro-Scripture?
In Completely Pro-Life (1987), Ron Sider wrote, “To be completely pro-life means to defend human life wherever it is threatened.” Perhaps Ron said more than he meant. Like all things, life belongs to God, and its use is circumscribed by His law. We may only use living things as God’s law permits. We may only take life as His law permits. In this sense, life is sacred. That is, it is protected by God’s holy commandments. But life itself is not divine. To treat it as such is idolatry. Scripture, after all, gives man permission to harvest and eat plants (Gen. 1:29). It allows man to kill animals for food and clothing and for his own protection (Gen. 3:21; 9:3; Ex. 21:28, 36). And though we are to “do no murder,” Scripture authorizes the civil magistrate to wield the sword (Rom. 13:1-5); that is, the State has the duty to execute those guilty of capital crimes and to use deadly force to defend its people against foreign aggressors. None of this does away with God’s demand for mercy or our obligation to love and take care of His creation until Jesus comes (Gen. 1:28). A righteous man regards the life of his beast; a righteous man loves his neighbor. Good stuff.
As humans and Christians, we are required to value life because our Creator does, because our Creator tells us to, because one day we will answer to Him on this very matter. “Thou shalt do no murder” is not a suggestion or a hopeful sentiment. It is a divine law that God Himself will enforce in history and at the end of history. Scripture gives us powerful and transcendent reference points. Without these ultimate reference points, modern man will never learn to love a cat, a baby, his neighbor, or the planet. And most importantly, without Christ, modern man will never accept this reference points.
“All they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36).
For Further Reading:
Francis Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1970).
Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1979).
Ben Bolch and Harold Lyons, Apocalypse Not: Science, Economics, and Environmentalism (Washington, DC: The Cato Institute, 1993).
Interesting how you point out the hypocrisy of organizations like the Humane Society, ASPCA, PETA, Planned Parent Hood, etc. What about the religious hypocrisy?
“However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.” (Leviticus 25:44-46)
“When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.” (Exodus 21:20-21)
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5)
“The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it.” (Luke 12:47-48)
What, you don’t have a slave? You think having and beating a slave is immoral and wrong? God was wrong? God did not mean it when he said it? Doesn’t the bible also say:
“Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” (Peter 20-21)
“It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17)
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (Timothy 3:16)
“…the scripture cannot be broken.” (Jesus Christ– John 10:35)
I have no respect for holier than thou types. When you stop being a hypocrite and practice what you preach, maybe your words will matter. Christians manipulate the scriptures so that they can assign a kinder nature to their God. Your God, your Christ, your hypocrisy:
-Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children according to Old Testament law. Mark.7:9-13 “Whoever curses father or mother shall die” (Mark 7:10 NAB)
-Leviticus 27:28-29 God ordered and allowed human sacrifices.
-Leviticus 27:28-29, the Lord allows for no redemptions. “Note also that any one of his possessions which a man vows as doomed to the Lord, whether it is a human being or an animal, or a hereditary field, shall be neither sold nor ransomed; everything that is thus doomed becomes most sacred to the Lord. All human beings that are doomed lose the right to be redeemed; they must be put to death.”
-If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)
-The LORD is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and wrath. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and furiously destroys his enemies! The LORD is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. (Nahum 1:2-8 NLT)
-Genesis 38:10 God murders Onan for refusing to commit incest with his sister in law.
-Handicapped people must not approach the altar. Leviticus 21:16-23
You who are accusing the God of Moses of hypocrisy, why are you judging things that are higher than you little mind can understand. Your arrogance can only hinder and harm yourself, but God will not be moved. Buying servants in those days to help you in your shores, was a common practice and most people in those times had the fear and love of God in them in Israel, so they would treat their servants very good. You have corrupted and changed these Scriptures and put your own interpretation on them in view to condemn your Creator (He has marked your hypocrisy and rebellion). Most of the slaves at that time were unfortunate but once they were in the care of their masters, their lives will become more livable and easier (most of them were treated like sons and daughters by their masters and mistress). In no way, can you justly compare what the Lord is speaking about in these passages with the form of slavery that was inflicted on blacks by the whites (this was evil and cruel and selfish beyond belief). The above article is well-written and tells the truth the way it is. Stop your unbelief and surrender your corrupt will to God that He may heal your mind and heart. Are you a new age element? I just want to know. God help you.
Did you copy and paste from the atheist message board or something? You’re not interested in discussion, you just want to fling mud. You come here and overwhelm the comment section with selective verses that need the whole context of surrounding scripture and oral tradition to be understood and then think yourself victorious when it’s impossible to give a reasoned response on such a limited medium. Okay fine, you’ve shown us your mental acuity and your obvious superiority. Thank you.
Romans 1:22: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”
Whoever posted those long and confusing comments need to have their brain freed from confusion. They have no idea what they are talking about. There is no God but the God of the Holy Bible and this truth is absolute. No compromise. All the other gods are impostors, usurpers and pretenders, and some of them are sinful human beings and inanimate objects or even beasts of the fields. They are at loss in their sorry search for an alternative to the true God. As for secular scientists who deny the truths of the Holy Book, they are the most confused and victims of their own skepticism. It is irrational to think that the world created itself and has an age range in the billions. God does not estimate, He knows all things perfectly. But what secular scientists do is estimate that this is this and that is that (they are riding on the Devil’s back and he’s laughing at their stupidity.
Nunya said ” This is your God”. Just a little FYI. As you so rightly commented. This is MY God. Don’t pretend that you have any understanding of MY God.
Abortion will destroy America..not only is it an abomination to Almighty God…but is is reducing the population…I read about people complaining that the muslims are breeding themselves into control of Europe…well, no kidding…the evil fools among us bought the B.S. about abortion, which is merely the sinful” cake and eat it too” syndrome…..in other words sin and bury the consequences…to the tune of over 50 million babies butchered…in the meantime the muslimes are punching out kids at 3/4, 6 at a whack! You think this is not part of the conspiracy? Think again…if you bought into the abortion lie…you are a gullible fool… and will answer to God on Judgment day…..period!
Came across this while reading today “Man’s problem with God is not intellectual nor metaphysical but moral. He is a sinner whose sin leads him to blind himself willfully against God’s truth…..The essence of the objector’s position is to find loopholes in God’s logic and to use God’s promises against God. Paul see this for what it is, blasphemy….The effort to use God’s covenant word to undermine God is a remarkable perversity; the attempt is made to use God’s own words to render Him and His judgments null and void. We can say, however, if there is no God, there is no man. ALL CREATION RESTS ON THE ABSOLUTENESS OF HIS GOVERNMENT, JUSTICE AND LAW-WORD. HE IS THE FOUNDATION WHICH CANNOT BE DESTROYED OR SHAKEN.” Rushdoony (commentary on Romans and Galatians)
You seem to assume that the Bible was written by God, it was not. The Bible was written by men, in an attempt to reveal their understanding of God. That there have been Laws for the establishment of order of human societies and that those laws have been enforced by violence is a fact present in every society. So what. The real question that has not been asked here is “Is there a Purpose to our existence, or is our existence merely an Accident (Evolution)?”
If our existence, and for that matter the existence of everything an Accident without purpose then Life itself is worthless, nothing matters, there are no reasons beyond the fear of reprisal by the victims of our acts for any restraint whatsoever from any form of murder, theft, or destruction. This then means that all laws are functionally invalid, and totally useless. If we are all accidents of the cosmos, then all of our opinions are also meaningless, and that includes any condemnations of any gods.
If, on the other hand, we have a purpose to our existence then that requires that everything in the cosmos was created by the design of an intelligence which it would behoove us to try to understand.
Which kind of existence do you choose?
Obviously the authors of the Bible chose to try to understand the Creator. As this is a very difficult proposition I do not find it difficult to understand that many ideas have come and gone throughout the thousands of years spent in the effort. Nevertheless the effort is still worth the work. As has been found in all human intellectual efforts answers are hard to come by, and many wrong answers are accepted prior to the truth being found. While there are no easy answers, the truth is out there – I hope you will look for it. Use your heart, a mans head is so easily confused.