Day 16: An explanation that makes sense – Part 6a

Can the human race fix its own problems?

Bible References (NIV)

Devotional

Have you ever incorrectly diagnosed a problem, resulting in a solution that made things worse? Correctly diagnosing a problem is essential to fixing it! What then is the problem on planet Earth?

The Christian view is that the core problem on planet Earth is in our human nature. We have been corrupted by sin! In practice, this belief leads to an admission of our sin, a taking of personal responsibility for moral improvement and a seeking of God’s help in this. Like a hand that fits a glove, the best of outcomes in history have followed this simple view of life.

The contrasting view is that — if there is no God, the key problem on Earth is in the institutions and systems we’ve created which shape people’s thinking. This is to say, humans are like animals who can be trained, and the real problem is therefore outside of us, not inside us. The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a pioneer in this ‘modern’ way of thinking. He suggested human nature was essentially good rather than bad, and that it was the thinking imparted through our educational institutions and religions that corrupted people. However, when later applied this belief led to devastation and death, as today’s video clip will show. Why?

What if good outcomes are the result of true things? What if this is the case because there is a moral and psychological design to life — as should be expected if there is a God?

Imagine a sports car built for a flat sealed race track that is then placed on an off-road track made of mud and sand. The car might not even be able to move! In the same way, if there is a God and we reject the values that he created us to live by, we should expect things will fall apart. So, what does history say?

Today you read from the book of Proverbs. The writer describes his observation of those who deny God. They mocked the idea of sin. He explains how the thinking and behaviour that followed led to their destruction. (It didn’t make their lives better.)

You also just read from the book of Romans. Paul describes the natural pride within us that drives us to want to live without God. He then explains the troubles that he observed to come from this. He first explains the moral breakdown – affecting relationships and family. From this comes a wider breakdown in society including “human wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.” I suggest what Paul says next is simply a list of behaviours observed in their Greco-Roman leaders whose behaviour caused immense suffering. To quote, “They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice… …they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy…” I suggest Paul is describing the societal breakdown that a rejection of the idea of God naturally leads to.

It is maybe as Lord Acton (and Spiderman) put it; ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ The problem on our planet isn’t in our institutions — it’s in our hearts. History says a lot in support of this view. The explanation of life given in the Bible both makes sense and works in practice — and it’s another reason Christians believe Christianity to be true.

Video clip: An explanation that makes sense – Part 6a — 8mins

Reflection questions

  • Where did the idea that humans are naturally good come from in ‘recent’ history (the past couple of hundred years)?
  • What has the idea that humans are good and can fix their problems without God led to in history? Why?
  • Based on what you know of history, would it be logical to assume that we really can save ourselves and our planet from evil and pain without regard for God? Why / why not?

For prayer

“Lord Jesus, we apologise for the way we have made a mess of this planet. We apologise for the times we have rejected even the very idea of your existence, seeking to rule the world by our own might. We have created misery beyond measure. Thank you that you still look upon us with grace, willing to forgive and also to help.”

related topics

coming up in our next devotion

Day 17: An explanation that makes sense – Part 6b

This is the idea that there is a God. If so, a fixed moral law therefore exists, because there is a moral law giver (God). He created this good law for our good, with a full view of all of our history before him. His laws are not random. There is therefore a basis for defining good — and also a basis for valuing all human life.

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