The biggest hurdle I cleared on the way to finding my Christian faith was getting past the intellectual bigotry of the secular humanism I was raised with. Once I discovered that there really must be a Creator, it was only a matter of looking at the most plausible ideas of a creator to discover the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were, miles ahead of all other divine concepts, the truth. This article is about how I cleared the hurdle of my intellectual bigotry, which eventually led to my faith in Jesus Christ.
My father trained my brother, sister and myself in our agnosticism from birth. His training insisted on self-determination, independence and believing that the individual can overcome anything they put their mind to. It’s hard to argue against the individual responsibility that my dad’s training taught. But the stubborn atheism in the agnostic position would just not allow for other foundational ideas, particularly any ideas that smacked of religion. Growing up agnostic, there were certain religious ideas that were just taboo. If a thought contained God as its origin, it was automatically wrong and unworthy of consideration.
Atheism, and to some extent agnosticism, demand a pretext that God is unproven and thus cannot exist. They also demand a pretense that they are open-minded, but then they impose a rigid, man-centered set of rules to prove God on their terms. Atheism and agnosticism purposely shackle their minds to faulty logic, and then impose pretexts and pretenses that disallow and reject any argument that allows growth beyond their constructs. When I was immature and unaware, I had no idea of the hubris and pridefulness that the thought process I was reared in required. I was immersed in the intellectual bigotry of secular humanism.
It was only after God allowed the world to humble and break me down that I could even entertain the idea that my agnosticism might not be fully informed. My own pretexts and pretenses are narrated in another post on my website’s main page, “How an Agnostic Liberal Becomes a Christian”. The first step toward becoming free from the intellectual bigotry of secular humanism was that I had to first have the humility to accept other ideas.
Proverbs 1:7 (NLT) Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
King David’s son Solomon is the author of Proverbs. He would succeed David as the ruler of Israel. Humbly he asked God to give him wisdom to do the job of ruling Israel, and it was only in Solomon’s selflessness and humility that God gave him the wisdom he needed. We can learn much of the foundational process of coming to peace with God’s sovereignty by observing Solomon’s request of God for the wisdom his leadership would require.
1 Kings 3:9-14 (NLT) 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”
These two small passages are packed full of answers for the secular humanist as they approach the idea of making peace with God’s sovereignty. It is valuable to unpack these packages to discover where the King of Israel was, mentally, so we can examine our own minds and discover where we truly stand. We actually have to back up a bit in 1 Kings 3 to inform ourselves where Solomon was in his thinking:
1 Kings 3:3 (NLT) Solomon loved the LORD and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship.
The king of God’s chosen people was worshiping other gods, flouting the one true God. Solomon lived under the pretense that where he was in his man-centered thinking was satisfactory to God. Solomon had acted with a pretext that he was including Yahweh in his home-made theology, so he was blind to God’s actual commands. Recall what God said about other gods:
Exodus 20:3-6 (NLT) “You must not have any other god but me. “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
Solomon teaches me that, even though my thinking of God is flawed, He will still bless me and grow my blessings as I accept Him and grow my faith. Yes, there is a payoff to acknowledging who God is, even if I never have had a right to any payoff – this is the nature of Grace. Just because my thinking was “transactional” doesn’t mean God didn’t love me and want to save me. He is not transactional, and I thank Him for it every day. If I opened my mind to see God as the Creator, He would teach me the wisdom that I lacked as I had used my man-made construct to define and limit God. God would help me tear down the imaginary box that I had tried to put Him in.
As I unpacked the study of God’s sovereignty, I realized that (1) He knew my pridefulness, (2) He loved me despite my pridefulness and acting out against His commands, (3) I could only acquire the answers I sought by acknowledging who He really is; The Creator… the Uncaused Cause. The Hebrew word יִרְאַת (yirat) is what is used for “fear” in Proverbs 1:7, and it means a profound respect of the unimaginable power of God… Fear is not being crushed by God, but rather having an overwhelming respect for the Creator of the universe.
I really had to dig into Intelligent Design (ID) to grasp and develop my understanding of a need for “fear of the LORD”. It isn’t uncommon for secular humanists to defer a pretense of respect for the idea of Deism; the “absentee landlord” god. In looking through a Deist’s eyes, I entertained the idea that the vast unexplained unity, symmetry and harmony of the creation could actually be explained best by a creator of some kind. Denying some kind of intelligent design, in the face of overwhelming evidence of the consistent paring of 23 sets of chromosomes in every normal copy of a human being became absurd. Ignoring the symbiotic miracle of multiple life-cycles interacting in nature really is ridiculous. Intelligent Design really had to be truth.
I also had to examine how to rethink this immense Power, if there was to be an intelligent designer. It’s like negotiating with yourself over buying a new pair of glasses or using the old ones that really don’t work anymore. My eyes have changed. After seeing enough examples of defects in my old lenses, I resigned myself to accept that I needed new glasses. This was how it was with myself and ID, and the Creator of all.
I went about trying to find the flaw my new hypothesis that there is an intelligent designer. What about evil? LPE, the Logical Problem of Evil is traced to the biblical explanation in Genesis 3. If it is true that God gives perfect freedom to the individual to either love Him or not, reject Him or accept Him, then the individual must have the freedom to make the choice. That choice must have negative consequences, or positive consequences, or it is a false choice. If it can only be that all choices produce a positive result, then God hasn’t created people capable of love, but ratherr, He has created automatons. The evidence against creation being robotic is overwhelming. As powerfully as we find the universe diverse we also find amazing symmetry, harmony and overwhelming genius. There were more hurdles that I had to clear as I went through the process of that decision I made. If you read the post I mentioned earlier in this article, you will know that I accepted God after 7 years of searching, and an event that saved my son’s life through a set of impossible coincidences. It was there in our living-room floor, learning that the impossible coincidences that saved my son were the “final straw” that ID was inescapably true. It was then that Jesus made infinitely more sense than all of the many religions I had explored, and that God, Yahweh, and His Word were indeed the Truth. My long examination of ID, and romancing other religions was over, and I had cleared the hurdle of intellectual bigotry that secular humanism had taught me.