Sabado, Hunyo 14, 2014
Living In a Personal World
Article # 3
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
According to Gary North, the opening verse of the book of Genesis is the most important sentence in the field of human learning for it starts with the presentation of God as the Creator of all things. This truth is sufficient enough to distinguish between the Creator and the creature and the Creator and the creation. The distinction between the Creator and man as the creature is necessary in terms of being and knowing. Without this distinction, human learning enters the realm of confusion. On the other hand, the distinction between the Creator and the creation shows that it is erroneous to think of God as part of created reality. It further shows that creation does not exist on its own as current humanistic education claims. The ultimate origin of everything that we see including man is God.
The doctrine of creation is connected with the doctrine of providence. God did not abandon his work to move independently from him. Our world is regularly sustained by God. It is proper therefore to speak of this world as “inescapably personal and theocentric”(Job 38-41; Ps.19:1;33:6; Rom 1:20; Col. 1:15-17; Heb.11:3).
If the universe is indeed personal and theocentric, it follows that nothing in this world can be interpreted correctly apart from God. God therefore is an inescapable premise for man to interpret correctly anything in this world. To set aside God in the task of interpretation is to deny the most important part to obtain true interpretation. To do this would result in chaos, confusion, and contradiction.
Biblical Personalism is Contrary to Modern Day Impersonalism
The biblical concept of the personalism and theocentricism of creation is in sharp antithesis against the popular notion in current education, which is “cosmic impersonalism.” This belief “asserts that all of life is the product of impersonal, self-generated, random forces of nature.” It “is the heart and soul of the modern doctrine of evolution.” And the root of the idea of evolution could be traced in ancient paganism with scientific clothing.
The charge of determinism against faith in the personal God and his unified plan for his creation can also be charged against modern science. The question is not between determinism and the absence of determinism but which kind of determinism: biblical determinism or the determinism of humanistic science. Biblical determinism originates in God’s decrees whereas the determinism of science originates in the certainty of the law of randomness.
North mentions two popular biological scientists in the persons of Peter and Jean Medawar, who affirm the validity of randomness in science. In this perspective, “purpose and design” coming from Christian theology are considered “intolerable evils.”
Cosmic impersonalism is man’s way to escape from his accountability to God. By doing this, man is heading towards confusion, meaninglessness of life, and finally, destruction. Bertrand Russell describes accurately the situation of current science as “purposeless” and “void of meaning.” He continues that the laws of science “which produce growth also produce decay.” He states his pessimistic outlook about science by saying that “some day, the sun will grow cold, and the life on the earth will cease….There is no law of cosmic progress, but only an oscillation upward and downward, with a slow trend downward on the balance owing to the diffusion of energy.” He affirms that this is what science believes and “what science regards as most probable, and in our disillusioned generation it is easy to believe.”
Against this cosmic impersonalism, we have the “biblical doctrine of cosmic personalism.” North owes this idea from Cornelius Van Til. The sum of this idea is that nothing in this world can be interpreted correctly apart from God. This is so, in view of the fact that everything derives their existence in God. And God alone possesses complete knowledge of his creation. Man’s task in this connection is not to possess complete knowledge but true knowledge of every fact. This can happen only if man recognizes the relation of every fact to God by way of the Holy Scriptures.
Man’s ambition for complete knowledge is satanic. It is an attempt to exceed his boundary as a creature of God. This is the essence of the serpent’s temptation in the Garden of Eden.
What man needs to safeguard himself from the deception of his heart is the written word of God. Through the written word, man can have a true knowledge of himself and of nature. In the Bible, man is able to know both his potentialities and his limitations. Without this knowledge, man would transgress the boundary of his creatureliness that would result into disillusionment.
“Cosmic impersonalism is a myth.” We cannot avoid cosmic personalism. There is no such thing as a choice between cosmic personalism and cosmic impersonalism. The choice is between two types of cosmic personalism: God’s or man’s, which is satanic. “Cosmic impersonalism is a satanic delusion, a convenient way to mystify men.”
This satanic deception could be illustrated vividly in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. In Chapter 7, we find that Screwtape, an experienced demon gives an advice to a junior demon. Screwtape states: “Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism, and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics. At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalize and mythologize their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under the name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The ‘Life Force,’ the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work – the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls ‘Forces’ while denying the existence of ‘spirit’ – then the end of the war will be in sight.”
The Impersonalism of the Free Market
Nothing in created reality can escape cosmic personalism either in its theocentric form or in its humanistic-demonic form. Howver, among many economists, it is ordinary for them to speak about “the impersonalism of the market process.” What they mean by this is “that the free market processes are virtually independent of the will or plans of any single market participant….The market is understood as an impersonal mechanism in the sense that it is the product of millions of human decisions and actions at any point in time.”
Biblical personalism acknowledges that from the perspective of an individual observer the free market’s processes may appear to be impersonal but not from the perspective of God. In fact, the impersonalism of the market procedures restricts the selfish intention of power grabbers to play God due to the nature of the free market to decentralize economic power. However, this seemingly impersonalism of market procedures does not mean that it operates apart from God. The absence of purpose coming from any dominant economic force does not mean that the market operations have no purpose. North affirms that “the market has a whole series of purposes for man because it is a direct outgrowth of the application of fundamental moral and economic principles that were established by God to meet the needs of responsible human agents. It is a part of God’s comprehensive social law-order.”
The recognition of the distinction between the Creator and his creature is the entry point towards a correct understanding of all fields of human learning including the science of economics. God is the Source and Fountain of all creation. The personalism of God is therefore inescapable even in the seeming impersonal processes of the free market. Even in this, God is still in control.