Cosmological View of the Failing West Pt. 2
The second part of Christian cosmology involves the interaction between God and people. I might not have previously stressed that God is a personal living being – as opposed to an impersonal “force” or even some anthropomorphised “Nature”. Although this is amply evidenced by the Son becoming incarnate as a real born-of-a-woman human being. Also the relationships between God and humans is a major theme throughout the entire Bible, and important to our discussion on the fate of the West.
The “problem” of pain in the world (Nature red in tooth and claw) and of human evil deeds is often thrown up as a naive argument against the existence of God. Surprisingly, professed Christians are often similarly naive and do not seem to recognise how simply it is answered from basic Christian cosmology!
First the “red in tooth and claw”. If you accept, as I do, that science explores the question “how” and religious faith the question “why”, then these are like lines on non intersecting planes: you can accept or reject the prevailing scientific model without gain or loss to your faith.
So I can happily go along with the current theory of evolution (and drop it when a better one emerges). In this case the theory is that the current natural order has evolved by survival of the fittest, or to put it bluntly because the whole system works. Yes there is a food chain, bigger animals eat littler ones. Each species up the food chain breeds up to the point of starvation which confines fluctuations in numbers up and down the food chain (and to plants as well) thus maintaining a rough balance. Atheists readily accept this as a necessary mechanism for evolution but baulk at God using it. Why? Why cannot God be pragmatic and use the only system short of “hands-on control” that would result in the world as we see it?
The second is human evil. Once again the “problem” disappears in a real Biblical cosmology. As I pointed out earlier, God is entirely good. There also exists a rebel spiritual being and its cohorts that are evil. But God is infinitely more powerful than the evil spirit “Satan”. Human beings chose to allow themselves to be beguiled by the devil into disobedience to God.
Again the “problem” only arises in humans who think they can second guess God – a rather arrogant attitude! God's solution to the fact of human disobedience and His desire to save as many humans as possible was this: Namely to by-and-large let history run its course, but at a specific time in history for the Son to enter the world as a divine-yet-human being, suffer, die, and rise from the dead and at a future point in history known only to Him to end this world order and take those who have turned back to him into a new and perfect creation.
While this world lasts, humans have the opportunity to chose obedience to God. They also have the “freedom” to chose evil. Thus there is evil in the world by human choice and by the permissive will of God in order to save all those who use this opportunity to choose obedience to Him.
Christian cosmology here absolutely trumps any atheist one in explaining evil.
Now as anyone who has travelled any distance on the Christian pilgrimage knows, even those who have chosen God have to continuously chose to obey God rather than the promptings of our animal nature and the whisperings of the devil. Even we easily lapse into being participants in the devil's plans for destroying humanity. So we mean no disrespect when we say that for the rest, even their best intentions serve the devil's purposes.
Another dimension altogether is prayer. In Christian (not folk religion's!) cosmology, there is a relationship between God and believer that can be likened to that of perfect parent to children. So prayer is an important part of this relationship as speech is in parent-to-child. One aspect of this is appeal for help or provision. Believers appeal to God as to a perfectly loving Father. There are things God will do in response to such appeal. Similarly there are things God will never do regardless of the fervency of such appeals! Importantly for the West, a decline in Christian believers has the consequence that less protection and good things are being wrought by God in response to prayer.
A final dimension is the actions of good people in response to God's call. It is quirky but true that God does not confine Himself to working through people who believe in Him to achieve Hid purposes. Nevertheless Believers are granted their part in participating with God in working for the good of the world. Just as children often get to “help” mum and dad in doing things.
Thus the reduced numbers of Christians, and even among churchgoers the reduced knowledge of God and reduced participation in His works means God is less active in protecting what is good and fighting the ingress of evil that previously.
This explains the vicious cycle of rising secularism and failing or secularised Christianity.