Bear with me. This is a long argument that I have processed, but I think that this is an important topic to consider and question. So please read and decide for yourself. God has recently put this issue on my heart through some conversations I have had with a friend of mine.
Why do people who don’t believe in God desire to do good for others? And how do they explain creation? Apart from believing that God Himself spoke into being all of creation, my guess is that they would subscribe to the theory of evolution and natural selection. If so, then there are blatant contradictions in answering the two questions I first posed. The likely response to the first question is that helping people is the right thing to do because those who are suffering at the hands of others or worldly circumstances are hurting and they need our help. I would agree with that, but I think our reasoning would differ. My explanation would be that God has a heart of compassion for the people of this world, so much so that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins, and He created each of us in His image with the same heart for people. Therefore, He has placed in all of our hearts the capacity to care for others at whatever level. It just doesn’t mean anything eternally unless it is done for His glory alone. But that doesn’t negate the fact that it is still a glimpse of the image of God which He has placed within us.
However, I think there is a conflict in worldviews for evolutionary theorists with this idea of helping people being the “right” thing to do. And I don’t think you have to get all scientific to debate this either. The evolutionary process poses the theory that what exists today is the result of billions of years of adaptations and variations. What is here now is the most fit and capable of those variations and the weaker and less valuable characteristics or species died off because they could not (and should not) survive.
But as far as I know, the evolutionary process has not simply stopped in the eyes of those who believe in it. So why would you have compassion or care for others? If the natural order of the world that has brought us to where we are today is still thriving, why care about those who are dying of disease? Why worry about people suffering from genocide? If your worldview is one that says you are simply the result of the strongest adaptation of the human race and nothing else, why would your compassionate efforts even matter? You would be opposing the natural order. Moreover, why would compassion be the “right” response? Why wouldn’t it be pleasing to you to see nature running its course by killing off the weaker beings? If it isn’t coming for you, then it must be benefiting you, right?
Let me pose my question as simply as possible: If nature is still killing off the weaker vessels in our existence, wouldn’t it make more sense for you to feel motivated to help finish off your ill neighbor or facilitate the genocides in Africa than to resist the fundamental function of natural selection which is to exterminate the inferior?
Maybe it is because that compassion people tend to have for those who are suffering comes from the God who created them to have compassion for others. Is that so hard to believe? The Gospel tells us that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. In the case of man, He takes great care in setting us apart distinctly from the rest of creation. Genesis 2:7 says:
“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
It says we were created from dust. Not an elongated sequence of adaptations and we were given life by God Himself. Similarly, God created woman from man and placed in both of them the need for one another. Ecclesiastes 3:20 says:
“All are from dust, and to dust all return.”
There is this emphasis throughout Scripture of man being the result of a miraculous and loving act of creation on the part of God. And it is specific about our origins being the dust. Some additional examples of this are: Genesis 3:19; Job 10:9; Job 34:15; Psalm 22:29; Psalm 103:14; Psalm 104:29; Psalm 146:4; Proverbs 8:26; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 40:15; 1 Corinthians 15:47-49.
On top of that, there is an insistence from the beginning of Scripture that we were created with a certain significance and authority over the rest of creation. Genesis 1:26-27 says:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.‘ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
It is important to note that He created us in His image. He did not place into existence a prototype that would eventually work itself out in becoming a replica of His image. Rather, He created us in His image from the beginning.
Here’s the kicker though – for as much as the Bible speaks against these ideas of evolution and natural selection, it also makes promises that there will be people in this world who deny that the world was formed by God’s hands. 2 Peter 3 is an especially stirring passage about this. Peter is referring to “scoffers” and false teachers of the Gospel as being those who do not believe that the world came into being through the Word of God. They argue that nature was simply put into motion and has continued in exactly the same way since the onset of creation. However, this ignores the fact that God Himself alters the routine course of nature on many occasions throughout the Gospel – the most notable account being that of the Flood. John Piper puts it this way:
“The first thing the false teachers ignore is that the world was made by God and that its order hangs on his word. If they were willing to think about this, they would realize that the course of natural events is no more locked into one pattern than God is. If God is free to speak a new word, then nature is free to change. We need to guard ourselves against the pseudo-scientific notion that nature is a law unto itself. It is not. The laws of nature are the tireless whisperings of the Almighty. And if he should choose to raise his voice, the cataclysm will come.”
We miss the point if we take away God’s hand in creation. And honestly, I feel much more comforted by the belief that God created me and everyone else with a distinct purpose in this world instead of believing that I am the result of a long sequence of random variations and chemical reactions that gives no other purpose or meaning to my life than being simply the strongest and most equipped creature of this moment. Not only do you rob God of His creative majesty, but you also miss the purpose He has for you in His Kingdom. So don’t discount your heart of compassion and throw it under such a careless explanation. Consider your worldview. Consider your logic. Because these two views don’t line up with or without the Bible. We are not here by chance. We are distinct beings that God created in His image to bring glory to His name.
Don’t miss out on that.