Only God’s Image Gives us Measure & Meaning
Nearly every religion has some sort of creation account. But only in the Bible do we find a God who makes it all (1) by himself, (2) on purpose, and (3) out of nothing. Not only that, but Genesis 1 tells us that God made humans to look like him—what Scripture calls the “image of God.”
If all things come from God, and he made us in his image, that means there are two things we’ll only ever be able to find in him:
1. Being Made in God’s Image Gives Us The MEASURE of Our Life
By “measure,” I mean things like good and bad, true and false, beautiful and ugly. Without God, it’s impossible to posit any sort of ultimate measure and purpose to our lives at all. “Good” and “true” and “beautiful” become empty terms.
Atheists, you see, have a problem. And many of them know it, because the best of them (Nietzsche and Sarte and others) repeatedly point it out. It starts, as Sartre put it, with good news: once you dispense with God, you can do whatever you want, guilt-free. If you get away with it on earth, you get away with it forever. But there’s also, Sartre concluded, bad news: without God, there is no longer an intellectual basis for declaring anything right or wrong.
In a universe of randomly colliding materials, there can’t be design or purpose. And without purpose, there can’t be right or wrong–only strong and weak. “Right” and “wrong” require an external standard. And when that standard goes, the foundation for any ethical declaration disappears.
That doesn’t stop us, of course, from declaring right and wrong. But without God, those statements suddenly turn into “value judgments” based on usefulness. Sure, you might feel that genocide is wrong. But why? If it could be proven that eliminating certain members of the human race was more efficient for the rest of us, how would you object?
Many atheist ethicists try to recover a ground for right and wrong in the will of the majority. Stephen Colbert made fun of this with the term “wiktiality” – the idea that if most people think it, it must be right. But that obviously doesn’t do much for the Jew living in 1930s Europe, or the African American living in the 1840s South. We, as human beings, are far too prone to form consensus around heinous ideas. Wiktiality isn’t truth.
Atheism also creates a problem for the idea of beauty. As Richard Dawkins says,
“When you look at certain scenery, you think it is so beautiful because your ancestors believed that there was food out there, and that particular neurological feature that helped them survive has now come down to you; and that’s the reason you see it as ‘beautiful.’”
I’m not sure if Richard Dawkins believes what he’s saying. I know for certain that most people don’t. They might nod their heads with him about neurology, but in their actual lives, they don’t live like chemistry drives everything. They look at sunsets or a starry night and respond with awe. They feel love for their spouses and children, and don’t chalk it up to synapses. Sure, our bodies and our affections are tied up together. But the atheistic evolutionary explanation for life doesn’t make any sense because no one actually lives like that. Beauty and goodness are real things, and we all inherently know it.
2. Being Made in God’s Image Gives Us The MEANING of our life.
The human heart is designed so that it only works when God is at the center. The writer of Ecclesiastes calls it “eternity in our hearts.” Blaise Pascal called it a “God-shaped hole.” Every one of us feels that void, whether we acknowledge God or not. And if God isn’t in the right place, we stuff all sorts of other things into the void to give our lives meaning. Maybe the love of my parents will satisfy it; maybe the praise of others; maybe success, or money, or family, or drugs, or…
But nothing fits. It never could. We might as well be pouring sand into our gas tank and wondering why the car won’t start.
C.S. Lewis pointed out that our yearnings—these endless desires—are actually powerful arguments for the existence of God:
“A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, … earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”
Another theologian put it like this: “Because man is so made that only God can satisfy him, his desires are unlimited. When he tries to satisfy unlimited desires by means of natural goods, he ruins himself.” We will never find our place in life until we have found our place in God.
For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.