Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask (With Answers) (chap. 1) by Mark Mittelberg (Tyndale House, 2010).
As an avid news watcher I often get depressed about the bad things that are happening in the world (and in my own city!). In Question 5, we'll address the problem of evil, focusing on how a good and loving God could allow pain and suffering to exist in the world. But what the news reports all too often overlook are the really good things that are happening in our midst.
Here are some examples of goodness I've come across recently:
A celebrity telethon (Hope For Haiti Now) raised $57 million in donations for the Haiti earthquake disaster.
Parents in Iowa adopted six young special-needs kids now that their biological children are nearly grown.
A Chicago man donated his kidney to save a local grocery store cashier whom he hardly knew.
A church in Indiana paid for a poor student's first year of tuition at a private college.
A group of California students devoted countless hours of work to help displaced children in Uganda.
The list could go on and on. There are countless examples of goodness and virtue in our world. But a question arises: On what basis is something considered good or evil, right or wrong? And where did this basis come from? Did it start with the Big Bang? I can just imagine it: billions of years ago . . . massive explosion . . . galaxies emerging from the fiery blast. And then, out of the gaseous flames, "Thou shalt act altruistically; thou shalt be kind to the underprivileged; thou shalt love thine enemies; thou shalt not steal; and—oh yes—thou shalt maintain a moderately small carbon footprint" (all in perfect King James English, of course).
No one really believes that moral values emerge out of physical explosions. So where did they come from? Atheists are hard pressed to provide an answer for the existence of objective moral values. Look at what one atheist wrote in a recent article entitled, "Secularism's Ongoing Debt to Christianity":
Although I am a secularist (atheist, if you will), I accept that the great majority of people would be morally and spiritually lost without religion. Can anyone seriously argue that crime and debauchery are not held in check by religion? Is it not comforting to live in a community where the rule of law and fairness are respected? Would such be likely if Christianity were not there to provide a moral compass to the great majority? Do we secularists not benefit out of all proportion from a morally responsible society?
An orderly society is dependent on a generally accepted morality. There can be no such morality without religion. Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?
Those who doubt the effect of religion on morality should seriously ask the question: just what are the immutable moral laws of secularism? Be prepared to answer, if you are honest, that such laws simply do not exist! The best answer we can ever hear from secularists to this question is a hodgepodge of strained relativist talk of situational ethics. They can cite no overriding authority other than that of fashion. For the great majority in the West, it is the Judeo-Christian tradition which offers a template.