We love our children and want the best for them, the best diet, the best education, the best career. But how should we address the most important question of all: “Is there a God?” What about when they ask “Where did I come from?” and “What happens when I die?” Are you ready to look your child in the eye and say, “Darling, this is all there is; after life, nothing but a dusty grave.”
If we choose the humanist route through life, we are in danger of letting in irrational existential fears which then get passed on down the generations. Believing in nothing beyond the grave is dangerous and ultimately destructive. Without the authority of a loving God ruling over us, authority in society is eroded. Without the moral benchmarks set by the Bible, morality in society becomes confused. And without the prospect of an eternal paradise to look forward to, life becomes nothing but a series of jollies which ultimately fade into meaninglessness.
Some adults might choose atheism for themselves and accept that the end of life is the end of everything, but how does it feel to pass that bleak prospect on to their children? It is a painful and unnerving task to see innocent minds succumbing to that dark nihilism. Far better to send them to Sunday School and teach them that Jesus loves them no matter what and prepare them for the joy of an eternal heaven.
By deliberately loading kids early on with a vision of futility, we place all the pressure on the here and now, and if here and now is all there is, they are encouraged into bad habits. Nihilism leads to over compensating in the present. The temptation to let the physical and the material rule over our lives is no longer resistible, and more than that: the physical and the material must be perfect or life becomes unacceptable.
Vanity, selfishness and the resulting insecurity which these ills bring can quickly take over the minds of vulnerable youngsters and before long the inevitable rot sets in. Sex, drugs and the desire to be noticed and approved of constantly become the natural substitutes for faith. So why are we surprised when our children end up in dangerous situations? They will do anything to relieve the weight of their boring and supposedly futile lives.
The cure is to renew their faith.
In the last three centuries science has by degrees overtaken faith as the bedrock of hope for mankind. The marvellous advances in technology, in fields of medicine, communications, transport and entertainment, while welcome have convinced us that science will one day provide a paradise on earth. But what is the evidence for this? Have wars ended? Is everyone on the planet being fed and properly cared for? Are we living at peace with our environment? Even as we have at our disposal countless devices which purportedly make life easier, we are increasingly conscious of a growing insecurity. As we drive God out of our lives and are compelled to rely entirely on our own efforts to formulate some kind of meaning, we become confused about life’s priorities. Should work come first or family? Should we spend our lives helping others or helping ourselves? Most of us would like to be more altruistic but we can’t find the time or the resources. And when it comes to right and wrong, how many times have you heard: “it doesn’t pay to be nice!” As a result of these confusing signals, we doubt everything and trust in nothing.
A lot of the fault for this warped view of the world is due to falsely elevating science beyond its remit. Science is not equipped to address assumptions about our origins, the inner workings of our minds and the important question of moral purpose. Unsubstantiated science like evolution and big bang belong to the arena of theory; while evolution as a process of adaptation is easy to understand, it has yet failed to produce definitive proof of how new species come into existence. And while the maths behind big bang might be sound, it is not enough to explain what was the driver that sparked big bang in the first place.
Science is not the route to anxiety-free living (as anyone on a bad internet connexion will testify!) but anxiety is actually exacerbated by science!
Are we as adults doing our duty as responsible mentors when we teach our children this bleak philosophy, that they are no more than well-advanced apes created in a freak accident, part of an accidental universe destined only for bleak extinction?
If you believe this is a poor option, be glad there is an alternative.
Philippians 4: v6.7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
By believing in a loving God all the cares of the world and all our anxieties vanish. The earth was created not by random destructive forces (which in itself is a curious contradiction) but by the eternal version of ourselves Who wants the best for us and Who made us out of love, to experience love, to learn how to love better. Faith does not make life perfect. When we read the Bible, we find that none of God’s chosen were perfect nor had perfect lives, but they had a perfect relationship with God which was enough to guide them through the worst atrocities. From Adam to Moses, to David and Solomon, and the prophets who preceded Jesus, we encounter believers who struggle with all the things we struggle with today, yet with divine guidance succeeded. Perfection is not to be found on the surface of things, but in the heart, for there it is that God speaks to us.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Society today is afraid and far from being at peace with itself. We have become fearful of our own capability. Few know the way of peace. There was a time when men were at peace until there was war; now there are fewer wars but nobody knows peace. The root of this disquiet is plain to see. Everyone has their eye on something which does not exist, the comfort of money; that is the true myth. There is no peace in the World and no peace in a burgeoning bank balance, only peace in God.
Cynics might argue that it’s delusional to place our trust in a mythical being, yet there is no greater myth than the myth of the economy. To believe in the power of interest rates and share prices as the route to happiness and mankind’s salvation is the real delusion, for what does big business produce other than a few billionaires at the top and poor employees and an impoverished environment at the bottom? How much better to believe in the power of love. Our children grow up believing that debt is the most natural thing in the world and something worth aiming for, that the only indication of their worth is the figure on their bank statement or their credit score, and that unless they reach the top of their profession, they have failed.
And if they fail, they are unloved.
God would say the opposite, and the opposite provides a far more painless way to live.
So, when you hear those vital questions coming from your children’s lips, tell them this, and you won’t be lying: only 4% of the universe – stars, planets, galaxies and their inhabitants – can be seen and comprehended by scientists. The other 96% is a total mystery. With a little imagination they can fill this vacuum with anything they want; with their dreams or premonitions; with ghosts; with angels and demons, fairies and the Easter Bunny, or any other concoction they can summon from their powerful minds, and nobody can take that away from them because nobody knows any better. Then tell them the story of God who loved us so much He sacrificed his son Jesus for us. In this way we can gradually begin to rescue a confused and anxious generation from the dangers of agnosticism, atheism and dark nihilism, lift them from the grave and fill them once more with God’s love, peace, and the promise of their divine destiny.