This chapter is, perhaps, the most powerful chapter of the book, IMO. If you stop to be reflective for just a bit, the words written in this section will cause a lot of things to come up. It’s neat that this chapter’s discussion happens to fall 2 days before Christmas, which is always a great time to stop and reflect on this year’s journey and in life overall.
Andy takes on the Atheist slogan, “Religion poisons everything” and points out that, while religion may be a commonality amongst wrongdoers, it may not be the RIGHT thing in common. Some atheists take this claim further by declaring that the world would be better off without any sort of religion. However, taking a quick glance through history we see that this is nonsense; consider the former Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and even today’s North Korea (not mentioned in the book).
He goes on to number off a whole host potential substitutes for the noun in the phrase “____ poisons everything.” To mention a few: politics, science, business, power, sex, money, etc. Each of these things has brought good into the world, but they have also created evil.
What, then, poisons everything? Humans. At least, they have the potential to poison it all just as much as they can bring about great good in the world. He cites the doctrine of Original Sin, and if Christianity is true, it would make sense of much of what we see in this world; however, atheism does not enjoy this same luxury.
The reason I think this is the most powerful chapter in the book is that it deals with us as persons. The Kalam argument is wonderful, the argument from fine-tuning is great, and the argument from the existence of the soul is justifiable, yet each of these arguments makes us, as humans, just a thought experiment. They are valid but impersonal. By contrast, when dealing with morality are forced to look ourselves in the mirror and evaluate our experience daily. We have to ask: What is right? What is wrong? Why is there so much evil in the world? How can we bring goodness to our lives and those around us? Or, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn so beautifully put it, “The line between good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties, either, but right through the middle of every human heart and through all human hearts.” (page 110-111) This is something we have to deal with every day.
Questions for reflection and discussion:
- How can you use the question “What is right and wrong, and why is it important?” in your discussions with non-Christians?
- Stop and think through the condition of your heart. What’s coming up, the good, the bad, and the ugly? (Feel free to not post answers here, but PLEASE stop and reflect and journal your answers somewhere).
- What do you feel like the Holy Spirit is saying to you and through this chapter? If you’re unsure, take a few minutes to be calm and pray, “God, what are you saying and what’s the next step you want me to take?”