Catholic/Christian Conundrums #1 – The Christian Response To COVID-19

Introduction:

Before we begin this piece, I’d like to provide you all with an introduction to what it is. This piece is the first in a series that will be published on a monthly basis. This is a collaborative series, that is, a series containing written parts from more than one author. It is the first collaboration you will see on this platform (hopefully the first of many). Your writers for this series are myself and Dia Beltran, whose show I have been a guest on. In this series, entitled Catholic/Christian Conundrums, we will take a look at some of the issues we face in the world as people of faith, from two perspectives. For the purpose of context, I am a Christian of the Catholic tradition, and Dia is a Christian of the Protestant tradition. We both share very similar values, although we may disagree in some areas of the faith. So throughout this series, we may at times agree on the issue at hand, or we may indeed find ourselves disagreeing, both of which are healthy and productive in this space. This first piece covers how Catholics/Christians can respond to COVID-19, particularly as the restrictions become more arbitrary and seek to further segregate society. As a means of distinguishing who is saying what, we have both written a half of the piece, our names above our contributions.

We hope you find this series informative, educational, interesting, and intriguing.

Joel:

There is no easy way of saying it – humanity has devolved. It is difficult to determine whether this has occurred through any fault of our own. It is more complex than it first appears. I do not think this is simply the fault of the general individual. It seems to be more attributable to a collective evil which has spread like a toxin throughout society, corrupting all it touches; in this case the minds of the general population. And it has left many of us weak and vulnerable, allowing ourselves to be preyed upon.

It began in the most morally compromised – politicians and bureaucrats. Some of the most easily corruptible human beings, they gave in to a greed for money and power, more so the latter, and, as a byproduct, control. All three of these have provided them with a means of twisted delight. They have not suffered like the general public have; they have not lost income, livelihoods, businesses. In fact, they have gained income, they have profited off the losses of wider society. And they show no sign of stopping.

In stoking fear, the media have aided them in their quest for domination over the people of their nations. Their gain? Views, clicks, blind trust. The disease then spread to others in the general population who put blind faith in government and media. This includes people from all walks of life, and all manner of political ideologies, theological beliefs, and general values. No one is immune, unless they are truly able to think critically for themselves.

So now, in a world that seems lost, overrun by power-tripping politicians, bureaucrats, media, and the sheep that follow them all, how can we as Christians restore order and freedom? How can we deal with people who have become hostile to anyone who does not follow the unlawful restrictions set down by those in power, who dob in their neighbours, friends, family, or whoever else just to get a high, or indeed because they have become spiteful, allowing the good in their hearts to become consumed by the darkness, by the evil that lurks within?

Dia will take you through a slightly more detailed history of Christianity’s battle against oppressive forces and how Christians should deal with the issues arising from COVID-19 in the latter half of this piece, with Biblical references to demonstrate. But, while I will discuss the Catholic response, I also want to focus on the faith as a whole during this time.

Catholics will no doubt know that we should obey the laws of Earth, but we should do so while also obeying the laws of God. We should strive to abide by the Ten Commandments set forth in Exodus. One of those Commandments is “You shall not give false witness against your neighbour” (Exodus 20:16), which means we should not lie. As Catholics, we are obligated to tell the truth, to abide by God, the author of all truth.

So begs the question in the current times, and likely in the times to come: what should we do in dire circumstances? Considering in the time of COVID-19 we are subject to arbitrary measures which limit our worship, our faith, and confine us in many ways, how can we navigate this while staying true to the Commandments? For example, what do we do if vaccine passports become a reality (which is beginning to appear more likely), and we who are rightly skeptical of the largely experimental substance and decide not to take it are subject to targeted restrictions? Is it ok to mislead someone on our vaccination status then?

It is an intriguing question. In the interests of defending our faith, or being able to worship, we should. I think God would understand us doing this in order to maintain our ability to go to church, to worship and connect with Him in His Holy House.

Additionally, Catholics should resist compliance with unlawful directions. In the undertaking of His ministry on this Earth, Jesus Christ often said and did things that were considered unlawful by the religious authorities of the time, the Pharisees. He healed a man on the Sabbath (in Mark 3:1-6). He performed many miracles which they attempted to deem the work of evil spirits. So we should take after our great Saviour and Redeemer and do the same. We should refuse to comply with the unlawful arbitrary restrictions set down by our leaders who would rather we worship them than worship God. And we should take heed of the warnings Jesus gave us of bad shepherds, those who lead us astray, those who we could easily follow off a cliff.

Finally I will say this: Church leaders need to stand against the COVID tyranny we now face. Do not allow the Government to take the place of God. Do not allow Christian persecution to occur unchecked in what is supposed to be a free and democratic society. Worship is essential. Our spiritual and mental health is just as important as our physical health. We should do all we can to protect the faith, to stand by it, and to stay true to it, even in the most trying of times.

Dia:

There was a time when a certain group of people had to hide their faith; it was not permitted to pray to the one true God (the God of the Bible). This occurred in the story of Daniel in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament in the Gospel of John under a Judaic governance.

Sadly, this is a pattern that is repeated time and time again throughout history which leads to the understanding that as Christians we will suffer, and we will be persecuted.

Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh are the perfect examples of real Christian persecution. In the months of 2009 & 2010 they were imprisoned for 8 months for a thought crime. What was their thought crime? Faith in Jesus Christ.

In Iran, they often give long sentences to Christians for their faith. Evin Prison is renowned for this. However, this type of persecution is not exclusive to Iran; persecution of Christians occurs in North Korea, China, Pakistan and most of the Middle East. What makes this particular age unique is the fact that one would not expect these things to occur in the western world, yet that is exactly where we have arrived.

I am not suggesting that our suffering matches those in Iran, however, with the introduction we have had to persecution in Australia, Canada and the United States among others.

I have no doubt that we have embarked on the slippery slope of Christianity being crucified in the western world. Jon MacArthur, Pastor Henry Hildebrandt, Pastor Tim Stephens and Paul Furlong; do you know these names? If not, you should look them up as they are the modern faces of western Christian persecution.

What are we to do in these ever-changing times? Do we obey that of our leaders in government, as well as those in our churches who comply by wearing a mask, doing a check in and temperature check outside the doors of worship, or do we take a stand against those in governance for the sake of being able to still attend church and fellowship with other like-minded adherents?

And he said unto them, render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s. Luke 20:25

This Bible verse gives a very clear explanation as to what is expected of us if we claim to be Christian and the laws of man become too convoluted – the only alternative is to follow the laws of God. What if one of God’s commandments came into full opposition with another; for example ‘honor thy mother and thy father’.

Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Exodus 20:12

What if the child obeying his parents was the child of Satanists? Well, it stands to reason that the law of God takes precedence over the parents in this scenario. As with this hypothetical, we are the children in this example and the government does not serve our best interests, and as such the law of God is the only law we bow to. No amount of Christian persecution will distract me from my mission which is a Christ centric one.

What is my overall message? It is pretty simple: Do Not Comply. Christians these days are letting us down all the time; we have no real genuine role models of Christian or Catholic leaders. It seems they are too obedient to the government’s directives and rather than take a stand for the Lord, they are going about it from a perspective that is understandable but foolishly misguided.

Christians of today desire to practice their faith. This is done by abiding by the rule of the land, which, whilst well-intentioned, is actually a foolish endeavour as it directly opposes God’s law, and so Christians who partake in this obedience blaspheme unknowingly to God’s direct order.

Now the learned Christian will quote Romans 13: 1-3

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

Weighing this up with other examples in scripture is crucial. Do the laws of the land today correlate at all with God’s laws? Here is where we require an example of the apostles in the book of Acts; they set out to obey only the law of God, and the men in power were seeking a way to punish Peter and John for the path they took.

19 But Peter and John replied, “Whether it is right before God to obeyyou rather than God, you decide, for it is impossiblefor us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them further, they released them, for they could not find how to punish them on account of the people, because they were all praising. God for what had happened. Act 4:19-21

Above, both Peter and John are in a situation where the authorities want them killed but it does not take place. Today, we are in similar parallels. The examples of anti-government behavior exceed just this one story. Earlier in this piece I mentioned Daniel and the lions, but I can also add the midwives in Exodus who would not partake in infanticide.

What we are in need of now is more of this opposition. Tragically, it seems too few people are willing to make this stand.

Do not comply. Listen only to the law of God and maybe we can manage to fight back for our freedoms.

Spirit & Truth #2 – Redemption

As human beings, we all fall sometimes. I think in some sense we are all destined to at some point in our lives. If we do not, we cannot truly learn how to be better people. It is in the mistakes we make that we learn valuable lessons. We begin to recognize right from wrong, we get a better sense of the people we choose to surround ourselves with, we understand how we can live a good and godly life.

Throughout our lives, we will inevitably find ourselves in circumstances where we have taken a wrong step on our path, or strayed down the wrong one. We might do or say something that we deeply regret. We might make a choice that does more harm than good. In fact, the harm it does may not even be to others, but to ourselves. It may affect the way others see us, and that can in turn be detrimental to our own sense of happiness, our mental health.

As a Christian, I believe everyone has a shot at redemption. Everyone is able to be redeemed. Through Christ, redemption is possible for each and every one of us. That is the beauty of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us all when He gave His own life for our own, when He willingly went to His death upon the Cross. In Christ’s case, He had done no wrong. He was not deserving of the condemnation He received. We are truly not worthy of all that He has done for us. Yet we all get that chance. Redemption is available for all of us, no matter how we have fallen, no matter what has caused us to fall.

God rights our wrongs. He has done this since the beginning. The first time humanity fell was in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, fell to temptation, and consumed the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is why we are all inherently susceptible to wrongdoing, to corruption. It goes back to our very first ancestors. We could have all been doomed to die without any hope of salvation, any hope of redemption. But God loves us so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice to save us so that we may live in eternal paradise with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. John 3:16 encapsulates this great sacrifice, indeed the entire Gospel, best:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There is so much power in that sacrifice. There is so much love. Each and every one of us is loved by God. We are each carefully created in His own image. We are not perfect, but we are still loved by Him. And although we stumble, although we fall, we are still given the chance to be redeemed through His Son, Jesus Christ. Although we struggle, although we fail to live as God would want us to, we are granted redemption through the sacrifice He made for us. This is further reiterated in Romans:

God puts us right through our faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe. For there is no distinction of persons, because all have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of God; and all are put right with God freely by His grace through the redemption effected in Jesus Christ. – Romans 3:22-24

No one should be denied a shot at redemption. No one should be so harshly judged by their peers on Earth that they are deemed incapable of change if they have merely made a mistake, if they have naively made the wrong choices. We all have pasts, we all probably live with some regret, some more than others. But no one should be cast out and thrown aside because of that.

I believe that we should not judge others because of their past mistakes. Yes, they made errors. Yes, they made the wrong decisions. But that should not dictate their entire life henceforth. They should be given a chance at redemption. They may have come a long way since then, no doubt battling inner demons like regret. They do not, however, deserve to be an outcast. No one is incapable of redemption. They deserve, at the very least, to be given the opportunity to explain their errors of judgement, to clear the air. Because it is highly likely that they have learnt a valuable lesson, and it would be beneficial for society to hear what the individual has grasped.

I think, particularly in modern society, human beings can be truly petty. They can hold something against someone and use it as an excuse to alienate them for the foreseeable future. In a world where we are quick to judge people on the errors and regrets of their past, we have somehow managed to keep stooping to new lows. Certain groups of people target individuals and attempt to “cancel” them based on a tweet from ten years ago. They refuse to let people work with them, maybe even refusing them a voice on their platform, because of mistakes they made years ago. Some might even demonize or warn others off of a person because of this. If we as human beings keep acting in such ways, we are only going to hurt others, and likely alienate ourselves from them in the process.

For Christians especially, we cannot claim to be truly Christian when we do such things as those mentioned above. We should act in good faith and allow others the opportunity to show us that they have redeemed themselves. We must act like Jesus did when He lived among us on this very Earth. We must act like God our Creator did when He made the ultimate sacrifice in giving His Only Son so that we could merely have the chance to be redeemed. God never had to do that for us. Yet He did. And that in itself should be a thought that lingers on each of our minds, especially when we consider someone who has taken a misstep or been led astray but has learnt from that and found a way back through the redemption that God our Father offers to each one of us.

There is a famous statue that sits atop the Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, the capital city of Brazil. It is the heart of the nation. Each year, it is visited by around two million people. It is a symbol of Christianity across the globe, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But I think it gains that title from far more than just being a mere symbol of the Christian faith. It is representative of our redemption, of how humanity, despite our inherent failings, is and can continue to be redeemed through the selfless actions of God our Father, and Christ our Redeemer.

Spirit & Truth is a series focusing on our humanity and our connection with God. Each edition will draw into focus one aspect of human life and explore it in some depth. Spirit and truth are the keys to living a good and godly life.

God is spirit and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:24

Spirit & Truth #1 – Praise

Some of the most difficult times in life arise from the unknown. I think, as human beings, we can be so consumed by what is not known to us, what is known only to God. It drives us to a point of fear, of impatience and of sorrow. We struggle to contend with the seemingly infinite number of possibilities that swarm our minds. We worry about certain possibilities becoming our reality. It is this uncertainty and the fear it creates that can begin to inhibit our ability to function to the best of our ability and put us in a position where we begin to question our faith, and question God.

There have been times, particularly over the last few years, where I have been faced with unknowns that have spurned worry and doubt in my mind. Even over the last few months there have been things that have not gone the way I expected, the way I hoped they would. It brings you to a point where you question what God is doing, why things are happening the way they are.

I have talked before about God’s timing, about how His timing is perfect, even when it may not align with our own. Sometimes I think we can become impatient with Him. We struggle to understand why something that we have prayed for repeatedly for weeks or even months or years has still not come to fruition. It may be that God has what we are hoping for in store for us, but it is just not the right time by His plans yet. He may be telling us “not yet”, to wait, to be patient. He will manifest what we are hoping for, or some version of it, in due course, but it will be on His time, not on ours.

I think we can sometimes fall into the abyss of despair as hope slowly slips from our grip. We struggle to hold onto it when things are not going our way, when the unknown becomes all too consuming. And that realm of the unknown can be scary, it can be foreboding. It is not easy to contend with something that is only known truly to someone else, and to God. We may have concerns about an aspect of our life that is not in our control yet is of great importance to us. I know that I have struggled with this kind of thing personally, I have found myself getting anxious about what is not known to me, of what is hidden from my mind. It is as if a storm cloud is hanging over your head and your heart. It creates a shadow of darkness that is difficult escape. You cannot really do anything about it. All you can do is hope, pray, and give it to God.

I was discussing this topic with a friend recently. We were both experiencing this kind of despair at different unknowns in our lives. Our situations were different, but the line of thinking was similar. One thing we discussed was how, despite our wishes for God to intervene, to help us out, He seemed to be taking too long. We both took some comfort in prayer, although it can be challenging to rely solely upon faith. But sometimes faith is all we have, and it does provide us with a sense of hope, no matter how miniscule that hope may be.

Upon further discussion, another way of praying was brought to my attention: Praise. Even though I had just been teaching my Scripture class about prayers of Praise, I never really considered using such prayer in the face of challenging situations. Praise would usually be associated with connotations of happiness, of joy. One would not usually consider the negative or difficult aspects of their life when saying a prayer of Praise to God. But it is something that we can do, and in fact should do more.

When we are facing uncertainties, when we are facing unknowns, when we are staring down hardships and challenges, even when we have just had a bad day, we should turn to God and Praise Him for it. You might wonder why. Why should we praise God for the negative things in our lives, for the things that cause us to become anxious, to despair? It is a fair question. The answer is this: Because God teaches us the most valuable lessons through these times of fear, sorrow, and despair. He uses these times to highlight the good in our lives, the important parts of life that we should value the most. And often He uses these times to bring us closer to Him.

Sometimes when we are struggling with something, we can find it difficult to rely upon faith alone. We can find it difficult to trust in God. It is when we are traversing these times that we should praise God. Take the example of a bad day. Even on our worst days we have the opportunity to learn things. It may not be easy to think about the good that has come out of the bad, but it is likely there somewhere and it is up to us to find it, to focus on it, to thank God for it. It may take some time and patience to do this, but even then we are truly learning something; We are learning patience. And again, we can praise God for teaching us this incredibly valuable skill. He may help us to learn how to let go, and we can praise Him for it.

There are times when we will get frustrated at ourselves, when we will struggle to let things go, when we will find it hard to step away from things that are holding our hearts and minds hostage. In order to find some peace, we need to take some time to check ourselves, to get back to what matters, and to bring it back to God. Because God is good, and we should praise Him for all He does for us.

Spirit & Truth is a series focusing on our humanity and our connection with God. Each edition will draw into focus one aspect of human life and explore it in some depth. Spirit and truth are the keys to living a good and godly life.

God is spirit and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:24

Uncovering Christianity: Exploring The Roots Of The West #10 – Creation

Thus far in this series, we have explored many of the intrinsic parts of humanity, many things that make up the strong foundation upon which Western Civilization lies. We have pulled the curtains back on Christianity, taking an in-depth look at the values and ways of living well that it teaches us. And while we have yet many more aspects to discuss, it is at this point that we should take a deeper look into how everything around us, including our own selves, came into being.

There are generally two schools of thought on the way in which both we and all that we see around us were created: Creation and Evolution. The theory of evolution is one you might be familiar with because it was taught to you at school. High-school science classes typically teach evolution theory as the explanation for how human beings came to be, in addition to other parts of nature, particularly the wildlife present in the modern world. If you were like me, you would have likely been taught about Charles Darwin and his work, including the theory of natural selection, whereby only animals that can adapt to their environment and any changes that occur within it will survive, the others left in the past. While there is likely some merit to this theory, it is generally common sense.

But the notion of human beings evolving from monkeys or apes or what have you is a completely different kettle of fish. It is difficult to see how the complex beings that we are could have come into being as a derivation of primates. The complexities of the human brain, the human body, particularly the heart and mind, are just too great to have suddenly formed as the next level up from an ape. The only reasonable explanation for them, and indeed for all the complexities of the world around us, is some kind of intelligent design. And for that to be the case, there would have to be some kind of intelligent designer, some sort of creator.

That is where Creation comes in. Creationists believe that the Earth was created by God, completed over a period of six days with the seventh being set aside as a day of rest. Creationists believe that the sun, moon, stars, animals (be they on land, in the air, or in the sea), plants, and human life itself, was all created by one Divine Being.

When it comes to humanity itself, the first human being created was Man, called Adam. From Adam, God took a rib and used it to fashion Woman, called Eve:

So Adam gave names to all the cattle, the birds of the air and to every beast of the field. But, he did not find among them a companion suitable for himself. Then the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over Adam and he fell asleep. Then He took one of his ribs and filled its place with flesh. The rib which the Lord God had taken from Adam he formed into a woman and brough her to the man. Adam then said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman because she was taken from Man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:20-24)

The creation of man and woman is of particular interest, as it brings us back to the subject of marriage and family. When God created Woman, He did so by taking part of the Man He had already created. So when a man and woman come together in marriage, this could be seen as a rejoining of the two parts of one body. It is an intriguing idea, one that I personally cannot take credit for thinking of, given it did not even occur to me until I recently read it in Jordan Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life. He writes of how when the rib was taken from Adam and formed by God, the Divine Creator, into Eve, the two sexes were separated, which “implies not only the partition of a divinely produced unity, but the incompleteness of man and woman until each is brought together with the other.” He notes this in his remarks about a wedding he attended for his Christian friends, who, when exchanging their vows, held a lit candle between them. Peterson writes of the candle, “The fact that the candle is held jointly indicates the binding of the two celebrants. The fact that the candle is held aloft, lit, implies that something higher – something superordinate – is representing or performing the union.” It could therefore be assumed, at least by this ritual, that man and woman are once again being joined together by a Divine Being, by God. Upon reading and realizing this, even I was in awe. It should go without saying, Christians are always learning as well. We are by no means perfect, and we do not necessarily fully understand the Word of God, that which is written in the Bible. There is a lot to consider, which makes a moment of understanding an incredible one.

But back to Creationism. For this world to have come into being, able to be inhabited by humans and animals alike, and everything within it to work as they do, it has to have done so through some form of intelligent design. It is difficult to see how any of this could have occurred as it did without such. There is, of course, the concept of the big bang, and while this is scientifically accepted, it is hard to fathom how the world that came into being could have done so spontaneously, everything just falling perfectly into place by chance. Everything had to have been fine tuned to the nth degree to bring such a complex creation as the Earth and Universe itself to life.

To explore this further, let us take a look at some of the specifics in terms of the mechanics of the Earth and the Universe. There are a few factors, fine-tuned in nature, that, without, the existence of our universe would not be possible. (The following scientific examples are taken from discovery.org.) For example, if the strong nuclear force of the universe was even slightly more powerful than it is, hydrogen, an element essential to life itself, would not be present, meaning most of what we see around us, even our own selves, would likely not exist. On the opposite, if it was slightly weaker, hydrogen would be the sole element to exist. When we consider the weak nuclear force: if this were slightly different, heavy elements would not exist, given there would either be too low a level of helium to produce them in the stars, or the stars would rapidly burn out so that supernova explosions would not be able to scatter these elements across the universe. To the electromagnetic force of the universe: if this were just slightly stronger or weaker, atomic bonds would not be able to form, thus complex molecules would also be unable to form, and much of what we see around us would not exist. The gravitational constant must also be finely tuned to prevent the stars from either burning out too rapidly or not burning at all.

Each of these things are finely tuned to such a degree of complexity that they match the specified requirements necessary for life to exist. Just to give you an idea of how great the degree of fine-tuning is with regard to these values for the purpose of a universe compatible with life to exist, here are the exact specifications that must be met, and respectively are (Again, taken from discovery.org):

  • The gravitational constant must be 1 part in 10˄34
  • The electromagnetic force versus the force of gravity must be 1 part in 10˄37
  • The cosmological constant must be 1 part in 10˄120
  • The mass density of the universe must be 1 part in 10˄59
  • The expansion rate of the universe must be 1 part in 10˄55
  • The initial entropy (measure of the amount of energy unavailable to do work or the number of possible arrangements the atoms in a system can have) must be 1 part in 10˄(10˄123)

That final one in particular demonstrates an incredible degree of fine-tuning. While it may be difficult to understand these parts of the makeup of the universe, we are still able to appreciate that there was an astronomically precise level of purposeful design and planning that went into creating the universe, its laws and constants, all that is needed to create and maintain a place that is completely compatible with life. If you are still not convinced, take it from Charles Townes, a Nobel laureate in the field of physics:

“Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: It’s remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren’t just the way they are, we couldn’t be here at all. The sun couldn’t be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.”

Townes is spot on in his assessment. This universe somehow managed to come out just right, and for that to happen is quite incredulous. The only explanation for this is intelligent design. Although some scientists respond to this notion with the idea that there are a large number of universes, each one being slightly different to all the others. Their logic is that, of all the universes, this one by chance turned out just right. But that argument would postulate that there are a truly great number of universes, all with laws that differ to a degree. For that to be true, there would likely have to be some machine that could generate universes, or some kind of multiverse alike to those that appear in comic book universes (eg. the Marvel and DC universes). This is highly unlikely, and so we must turn to the other distinct possibility that the universe we inhabit was planned; that this is the reason it has come to be the way it is: unique, special, and compatible with life.

The other point that must be discussed on the matter of Creation and intelligent design is humanity itself, moreover Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). DNA is one of the most complex information systems in existence. It incorporates two features that bring forward the argument of intelligent design: its complexity and its functional specificity. We could compare it to a computer code, which has much the same features. Both code to produce certain forms of matter, or in the case of computers sequences of symbols (be they letters, numbers or the like). These forms and sequences are complex in nature, however are functionally specific; They each work to carry out some particular function. Now, other theories for how this could be have, as Stephen Meyer writes in his text Signature in the Cell, “proven universally inadequate for explaining the origin of such information”. Seeing as agents of intelligent design are capable of producing forms and sequences that are of great complexity yet maintain functional specificity, it stands to reason that intelligent design is the greatest explanation for these systems occurring within the world. Indeed, Meyer goes on to explain “intelligent design now stands as the only entity with the casual power known to produce this feature of living systems.” Humanity itself could only have come about at the hands of some intelligent designer, again pointing toward a Divine Creator, God, and Creationism as being the true explanation for how the universe and all that lies within it came into being.

Now as I said before, natural selection likely plays a part in the world, just not in the way that Darwinism argues. Of course there will be change over time; that is true for most things. And there could of course be a common ancestry between certain creatures that inhabit the Earth. But Darwin’s theory that biological changes occur blindly, without some sort of direction from an intelligence of some kind, is questionable, if not unlikely. In another of his papers, Stephen Meyer writes of how scientists have discovered nanotechnology within living cells, each one containing little circuits and machines that work together to read, copy, and edit information that they receive, depending on the “coordinated function of many separate parts”. He cites bacterial cells as an example of this, stating that they are “propelled by miniature rotary engines called flagellar motors that rotate at speeds up to 100,000 rpm. These engines look as if they were designed by the Mazda corporation, with many distinct mechanical parts made of proteins”. Again, there is no other reasonable explanation for this apart from the possibility of intelligent design.

Here are some examples of how some certain cells work. Cells such as virus cells, upon entering the body, find a host cell (one already in the body) and take control of it, hijacking it by means of using the machines, proteins and building blocks found in a normal, healthy cell’s nucleus to copy its own genetic material. If it is unable to gain entry to the nucleus, the virus cell can still replicate its genetic material by using a ribonucleic acid (RNA) polymerase (like a copier for cells), which takes the genetic information from the genome of a virus cell, reads it, and translates it into what is known as messenger RNA (known in short as mRNA, which is currently being used to create vaccines). This mRNA is the blueprint for the proteins that are encoded within a cell’s genome. Once the virus has completed one of the above processes, it then uses this now corrupted cell as a factory, replicating itself so that it can infect the body. Once this has occurred, the being with the virus in their body will become unwell. Bacterial cells are different in that they do not need a host cell to replicate. Once a bacterial cell enters the body, it replicates by means of a process called “binary fission”, where the DNA of the bacterium divides into two, the cell then elongating and splitting into two new cells, what are known as “daughter cells” (given they have just come into being thanks to the “parent cell”, the original bacterial cell that entered the body”), each with identical DNA to the parent cell from which they derived.

Both examples above demonstrate a certain complexity in their systems of operation and, by extension, infection. Genetic material is obviously something that is complex in nature and has come about by no mean feat. It is highly likely, almost a certainty, that intelligent design was involved in its creation. When scientists start playing around with genetic material, be it DNA, RNA, mRNA or whatever else, you will hear people say that they are playing God. This is, in essence, true. The complexities of genetic material are not something to be taken lightly; they are not a scientific plaything. It is understandable that scientists wish to look deeper into these parts of life, to discover more about them, and that is perfectly fine. But when scientists start modifying genetic material for some other purpose, it can be incredibly dangerous. Although in some cases it may be cause for a medical miracle, there are many instances in which it can go horribly wrong, and if one were to weaponize it, it has the potential to wreak a destruction unlike any other.

Intelligent design is the most reasonable and logical explanation for the existence of this universe, of this Earth. It stands to reason that behind the mysteries of this world lies a greater presence, an intelligent designer, a Divine Creator. When God created all that He did in the universe, He saw that it was good. In fact, each day of the Creation story written in the Bible contains the phrase God saw that it was good. And on the sixth day, the final day of Creation before the day of rest (the seventh day), God saw all that he had made, and indeed it was very good. (Genesis 1:31). What God created was indeed very good. The incredible complexities that occur in nature, and in our very own being, is something that could not have possibly occurred just by chance. Remember, we were all created in God’s own image:

So God created man in his image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

We are all created equally by God. We are all the inheritors of God’s marvellous Creation. What exists could not do so without His design, without His planning, without His fine-tuning. He created Day and Night, Sky, Earth and Sea, vegetation, light and dark, sun and moon and stars, the creatures of the sea and birds of the sky, cattle and every different kind of living creature that creeps along the ground, and man and woman. He brought this world, this universe, into existence. Even scientific exploration supports Creationism.

We are truly lucky and incredibly blessed to be alive and have all we have around us.

This is the Tenth Edition of a Series entitled Uncovering Christianity: Exploring the Roots of the West. This series explores the values and ideas originating from Christianity, looking back at Biblical times, and relating them to the modern world. There are central themes to each piece in this series, with key messages throughout to guide you in your own life. The series also looks at some of the threats to the roots of Western Civilization and discusses what can be done to placate them and protect the foundation of society. Keep an eye out for new series pieces each week.

Uncovering Christianity: Exploring The Roots Of The West #9 – Kindness and Charity, Freely Given

One of the great notions of Western Civilization and Christianity is our penchant for kindness and charity. Often, we give up our own time, of our own accord, to help others in whatever way we can. It might be cooking a meal for a friend or family member who is going through a tough time, helping the elderly with regular tasks, volunteering to help those less fortunate than us, or spending time with someone who is struggling. (sometimes just having a listening ear can be all one needs to decompress, to get their thoughts and feelings out into the open, process them, understand them, and then move forward without that baggage weighing them down, demotivating them, and preventing them from doing things they want to do and living their lives the best they can). When we show kindness and charity towards others, it is important that we are doing so out of the goodness of our own hearts, not merely for the sake of doing so or because we are being forced to. That is how resentment is bred.

A key message given by Jesus Christ is written in John’s Gospel, where Jesus said to His disciples:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Jesus demonstrates throughout his Earthly life his love not only for His disciples, but for everyone else as well. He heals people without a second thought; He listens to those who are struggling in their lives; He forgives those who others may deem unworthy of forgiveness; He helps those who have been cast out of society, deemed beyond assistance. It is, however, important to note that Jesus does this not because He is being forced to, but out of his own goodwill.

There is a common misconception in Western society that Jesus Christ was a socialist. Now I want to be clear, I do not intend for Uncovering Christianity to become overly political, but this is a point that must be addressed once and for all. Jesus was not a socialist. How do we know this? Because what He did, and how he told people to go about living, was not forced. It was completely voluntary. The distinguishing feature of socialism is force. If something is voluntary, it is not reminiscent of socialism.

In the New Testament, the place in the Bible where the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) reside, those four Books of the Bible that detail the life, death, resurrection and Ascension of Christ, there is not a word spoken by Jesus to call for the empowerment of politicians and bureaucrats to control every aspect of society. Jesus did not say that these people of power, a power He reminds them was given to them by God, should allocate resources, impose minimum wages, tell people how to run their own businesses, compel workers to join a union, or even raise taxes. In fact, when the Pharisees (the Jewish sect in power at the time of Jesus’ Earthly life, who we have discussed in more detail in previous editions of Uncovering Christianity), attempted to trick Jesus into the endorsement of tax evasion, He cleverly said the following:

“Then, give to Caesar that what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21)

Immediately after this, those sent by the Pharisees to entrap Jesus leave Him, astonished at His response to their baited question. Christ’s response demonstrates His quick ability to bestow wisdom upon those who He meets, and those who attempt to test Him. In saying what He does in the above verse, He allows others to decide what property truly belongs to the State, the rest belonging to God Himself.

There are two particular moments in Christ’s ministry often cited by those who claim Jesus was a socialist, Communist, Marxist, or whatever other absurdity they wish to lay claim to. They see these moments as times when Jesus rebuked the rich. These are clearly misinterpreted, which is unsurprising given the Bible is likely one of the most greatly misinterpreted books in existence. The first of these is the time when Jesus drove the money changers from the temple. This had absolutely nothing to do with money. Jesus was angry at these individuals because they were misusing God’s house, the temple. It also serves as a foreshadowing of the destruction of the temple, which Christ Himself would be destroyed and raised back up in three days (this was in reference not only to the physical temple, but His own Body, the temple of the Holy Spirit). The second is more commonly cited amongst those who are of certain political persuasions but appear to have little to no knowledge of the Biblical text other than verses they have cherry-picked and twisted to suit their own agendas. The verse in question reads as follows:

“Yes, believe me: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:24)

Most who take this out of context do so as a means of attacking the wealthy, of rebuking capitalism or the free market. Again, this has nothing to do with political ideology, nor is it an example of Christ supporting socialism. What Jesus meant when He said this was that it is difficult for those who are wealthy to resist temptation and therefore it is increasingly difficult for them to attain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. Being rich may have its perks, but one must ensure they are responsible with such wealth. It is far easier to give into temptations, to become a slave to temptation itself. Jesus is thereby merely warning those who have such riches to tread carefully, to watch out for temptation when it rears its ugly head, and to be prepared, to have enough restraint, to shoot them down when they do, keeping in mind that this earthly life is only temporary, that how we spend our eternal life is of great importance.

To go further on this point, we may look to another story from Jesus’ time living amongst us on Earth:

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the property left by our father.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed me as your judge or arbiter?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for the quality of your life does not depend on the possessions you have, however great they may be.” (Luke 12:13-15)

Again, Christ tells us that our Earthly possessions are not what enrich our lives. They are not what make us who we are, they do not make our lives more valuable than others’. We must be self-aware and ensure we do not become enslaved by greed. What enriches our lives are not tangible assets, but the very parts of our lives that we cannot put a price on. These are the very entities that are core to our being. They are the intangible parts of life, including those such as love, happiness, spirituality, grace, kindness, courage, all the pieces that make up the complex puzzles that are our personalities, that are our intrinsic natures. To that we may add friendships, invaluable special connections and relationships. And, of course, our relationship with God. With these, we are able to live a more fulfilling life.

When we think about helping others, our minds typically go straight to the poor and the needy. People who attack Christianity like to use these people to make a point. They like to say that Christians should support socialism because it would mean the poor and the needy would be less poor and less needy and in a much better position in society. They say Jesus was a socialist because He helped the poor and the needy. Once again, they are twisting the Biblical text to suit their own agenda.

Yes, Jesus Christ did help the poor and the needy. He healed the sick. He encouraged charity, Christian charity. But it is again important to understand that Christian charity is voluntary, that it is heartfelt. It does not come out of a place of obligation, of impersonal compulsion, but of a love of neighbour and of the goodness of one’s own heart. When Jesus spoke of the poor, He did not say “We’re going to make you help whether you like it or not.” He said,

“At any time you can help the poor, for you always have them with you, but you will not have me forever.” (Mark 14:7)

And this message of helping the poor out of personal choice, out of Christian charity, is reinforced in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, where he wrote:

Let each one give what he has decided upon personally, and not reluctantly as if compelled, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

These two verses reinforce the nature of Christian charity. The first goes to how we always have the opportunity to help the poor, but it is up to us to do so because we want to. This links to the second in that God wants us to give of our own free will, of our own volition, of our own charitable thought. It is all well and good to give out of compulsion but doing so generally creates an air of resentment around carrying out an act of charity, or an act of kindness. This means your charity or kindness is not well-intentioned, it is not enshrined in goodwill. Ultimately, for an act of charity or kindness to be true to its intrinsic nature, it must be given freely, voluntarily, and wholeheartedly. For as Paul writes, God loves a cheerful giver.

One of the greatest examples of true charity is the Good Samaritan. In His teachings, Jesus spoke in parables to help the people understand the messages He was trying to get across to them. The parable of the Good Samaritan, taken from Luke’s Gospel, is a truly memorable story with a key message of kindness, charity, and love of neighbour that we can all live by. Particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the Biblical text and have the urge to learn more, here is the parable in full:

Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off leaving him half dead. It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, too, was going along that road, and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him and treated his wounds with oil and wine and wrapped them with bandages. Then he put him on his own animal and brought him to an inn where he took care of him.

The next day he had to set off, but he gave two denarii to the innkeeper and told him: “Take care of him and if you spend more, I will repay when I come back.”

Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Go then and do the same.” (Luke 10:30-37)

In telling this parable, Jesus is highlighting the importance of having mercy on others and showing them charity, showing them kindness, out of the goodness of our own hearts. Although there were two men, the priest and the Levite, who saw the wounded man in a terrible state on the side of the road, they did not go up to him and spend time helping him, tending to his wounds, and assisting him in getting to safety. The Samaritan, however, put a hold on his journey to wherever he was travelling, went to the man, used his own time and resources to treat him and took him to safety. He went out of his way to do all this, even going so far as to pay for the man’s expenses at the inn, and did so purely out of compassion, out of true charity, out of the goodness of his own heart, out of love of one’s neighbour. Jesus Christ told this parable to teach us how to live well. We must follow in the stead of the Good Samaritan, treating others with mercy, with kindness, just as God does for us. The Good Samaritan did not just tell the man to wait for help from the government, or from somebody else. If he did, we may know him not as the “Good” Samaritan, but as the “Good-For-Nothing” Samaritan. Like him, we too should endeavour to help others in a compassionate and heartfelt manner.

The way we act towards others is not only an important part of the way we live, but also of our personalities and the very core of our being. If we force kindness, if we force charity towards others, we will only breed resentment, and that does not work in our favour. It creates a loathsome mentality, one of bitterness, hatred, contempt, all those tendrils of darkness that work to blacken our hearts and our souls. Similar occurrences come into being when we undertake these actions as a means of elevating ourselves to some higher status, or merely for the purpose of boasting about it. But if we act kindly and charitably of our own free will, of our own volition, with goodwill, drawing from the goodness of our own hearts, this will allow light to shine through, creating joy, hope, love and peace in our hearts and souls.

So, if you are looking for a way to brighten someone else’s life, as well as your own, do a random act of kindness. It can truly change a life, or even several. Kindness and charity emanate throughout society. It just takes one good-natured person to start a ripple.

This is the Ninth Edition of a Series entitled Uncovering Christianity: Exploring the Roots of the West. This series explores the values and ideas originating from Christianity, looking back at Biblical times, and relating them to the modern world. There are central themes to each piece in this series, with key messages throughout to guide you in your own life. The series also looks at some of the threats to the roots of Western Civilization and discusses what can be done to placate them and protect the foundation of society. Keep an eye out for new series pieces each week.