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Does Mankind Really Need God?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In studying church history, I’ve  been looking at the period often called the Enlightenment.  During this time, a movement swept through Europe which attempted to throw off the authority of divine revelation and place man on his rightful throne as the center of all knowledge and wisdom.

Historian Clyde Manschreck suggested that:

Man’s rational powers in league with science made dependence on God seemingly unnecessary.  Men were confident that they had the tools with which to unlock the mysteries of the universe.  Former distrust of human reason and culture, as seen in the traditional emphases on depravity, original sin, predestination, and self-denial, gave way to confidence in reason, free will, and the ability of man to build a glorious future.

Enlightenment values have continued to this day.  Many of the skeptics I know have a deep distrust of authority figures and tend to think of their own abilities as more than adequate to get them through life successfully.  One skeptical friend of mine told me that the only person he could count on to solve any of his problems was himself.  If all you need is yourself, then what need have you of God?

The Enlightenment, in some respects, strikes me as a philosophical temper tantrum against the authority and rightful rule of God over man.  Is man truly able to go it alone?  Is the world getting better due to secular human wisdom?  How you answer these questions has a lot to do with whether you believe in or trust God.

If man needs no authority over him, if he can get the job done on his own, than the Enlightenment was correct.  God, as another friend of mine recently told me, is unnecessary.  We can get along just fine without him.

I don’t know about you, but I think that coming out of the 20th century, a century with more killing of human life than all other centuries combined, you have to be nuts to think we can solve our own problems.  But that’s just me… maybe we just hit a little bump in the road.


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  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    “…the only person he could count on to solve any of his problems was himself”

    While I do think there is merit in not looking to others for what you should do yourself, the twist occours when I think I alone am morally/ethically/logically competent, and ther rest of humanity is not. The smart bet would be that, as a human somewhere in the midst of the pack, I am as flawed as all those people whose flaws I see.
    If they can’t be trusted (and they can’t), then neither can I.

  • Bill Rice

    All I know is that I am at my worst when I try and go it alone. It seems this puts me on the road of self, which GOD at times is happy to let me give it a go, instead of in GOD’s will. If we go back to the LORDS prayer, “thy will be done” these are not just words to be mumbled from memory but what I must strive for everyday…..and that is no easy task as it is hard to lose control.

  • Old Bill

    Perhaps the olnly one you can really count on, at all times, is yourself. But God is in each of us, so we really are counting on God as well even if we don’t know it. Also, its pretty nice to be able to count on friends and family – it makes life a lot better, and, God is in them as well. Trying to exclude God from influence on your life is a fool’s errand.

  • Boz

    can we make it without God?

    That depends on what you mean by ‘make it’, or ‘success’, or ‘getting better’. These words are extremely subjective.

    If you want to look at human lives in the 20th century, human life expectancy has roughly doubled inbetween 1900 and 2000. This calculation takes into account all sources of death, including killing/murder/war that you mentioned.

    http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/55/6/1196S.pdf
    http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_dyn_le00_in&tdim=true&dl=en&hl=en&q=world+life+expectancy

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    The Enlightenment, in some respects, strikes me as a philosophical temper tantrum against the authority and rightful rule of God over man.

    The Enlightenment strikes me as a period when traditional religious ways of thinking –not any deity in particular – were firmly cast aside. The tremendous advances in so many areas of knowledge that resulted from the Enlightenment consitute a slam dunk case that those ways of thinking were a hindrance to progress. The vast majority of people believed in a god of some type, but it was simply re-defined.

    The ironic thing is, the Enlightenment brought about the primacy of justifying our beliefs with evidence and reason. Many Christian theologians saw this previously as a threat. For example, Martin Luther once said, “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” How ironic that today’s Christians have come full circle and now strive to promote the idea that their religion is based on solid evidence for the resurrection, and how their faith is grounded in reason (see, e.g., William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith). This is all attributable to the Enlightenment.

    I don’t know about you, but I think that coming out of the 20th century, a century with more killing of human life than all other centuries combined, you have to be nuts to think we can solve our own problems.

    The massive loss of life in the 20th century had many causes (not the least of which was that there were simply many more people to be killed), but the murderous movements that arose during that century were founded on notions that were in direct opposition to Enlightenment ideals, and in fact resembled the notions found in religions. In other words, it was a rejection of the Enlightenment, not a consequence of it.

  • Matt Salmon

    The problem with reasoning is that it’s flawed. If we improve our reasoning skills and increase our knowledge (progress scientifically) the MORE we will know about God. If scientists stick to good science and arguments stay logical without emotional appeals (because of our sin nature) and labeling then the truth will be confirmed. I’d also like to point out Josh McDowell as an author who reconciles faith and reason in The Evidence that Demands a Verdict and it’s sequels.

  • Sarah Donlevy

    Where do Christians get off lecturing the rest of us on morals when the Catholic church has child raping priests. When Christian preachers are regularly shown to be liars and con men that in private go against what they’re preaching to their flock.
    When parents let their children die of preventable ailments because prayer will supposedly cure their kids.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Neumann_case

    The evidence is conclusive. Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make you morally superior.

  • Bill Pratt

    “The evidence is conclusive. Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make you morally superior.”

    I didn’t realize anyone was making that argument, but congratulations for knocking it down anyway. Are there any other straw men you would like to joust?

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