Science says we need to read the Bible. Well, that is if we want to avoid killing each other. The reason for this is that an ethic is required to perceive anything, including reality. Now I am not the one who came up with this idea. The credit goes to Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. There are multiple places where he has discussed these ideas. However, the most concise instance I have come across is found in the form of a podcast released this year titled “You Probably Should Have Read The Bible.” (open.spotify.com)
PERCEPTION, REALITY, AND DR. PETERSON
I would not consider Dr. Peterson to be a theologian. Nor do I suppose he would call himself one. Dr. Peterson is, however, a very gifted psychologist and philosopher. He makes the case that, because we know that there are an infinite number of facts in the universe, it is technically impossible for us to perceive all of them. Because of this, we are not able to perceive every fact about the universe or even an item or person. Rather, we can only perceive some of the facts. In doing this, we are choosing some facts over others. Now, although we are doing this subconsciously, this selection is and must be based upon an ethic. To summarize, the assertion is that it is impossible to perceive anything without doing so through an ethical lens.
Dr. Peterson makes his case much better and in much more detail than I do, and I strongly encourage you to give him a listen and see what you think.
Listen 1 – (open.spotify.com)
Listen 2 – (open.spotify.com)
Listen 3 – (open.spotify.com)
THE STATE OF THE WORLD
Our present world order is strongly based on the traditions of America. America defeated the USSR in the Cold War. Europe has been rebuilt from World war II but still relies on the United States for defense, and currently, China is yet a rising star. Like it or not, American values and traditions strongly define the current order of the world. So, what are American values and traditions? They are Christian values and traditions; they are Biblical values and traditions. It may be true that America was not founded as a Christian nation. In fact, such a nation is impossible, but that is a topic for another day. Rather, America was founded on Christian values and traditions. Even in the Declaration of Independence, we find the words: “We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (archives.gov). These principles are founded in the Bible.
First, you have the assertion that all men are created equal. This stems from the belief that man is created in the image of God, as is described in Genesis. From this inference of Biblical truth, rest the rights that our system of government and culture is based upon. Evidence of Christian values being the foundation of our society can also be found in the words of John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (conservativedailynews.com). One might rightly point out that there is no mention of what morals and religion he was referencing in that quote. In response, I would point you to the Jefferson Bible. The Jefferson Bible was not an attempt to change scripture but rather to condense the morals of Jesus into a smaller work. Jefferson’s motivation for doing this was that he believed the morals of Jesus to be “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man” (thejeffersonbible.com). So yes, the foundational values of America are Christian values. We live under a world order where (for the most part) human life is intrinsically valued, property rights are respected, and war is not desired. All these things are found in the Christian tradition. The Biblical worldview is the foundation that has built the society that we in America, and most other developed countries, currently live in and are dependent on, and it is a very good thing.
THE BIBLE HOLDS US TOGETHER
We often take for granted many of the foundational principles that we consider self-evident. For example, the value of human life. But in his work, Dr. Peterson shows that they are not actually self-evident. Because in order for us to perceive reality, we are reliant on an ethic to interface between us and the infinite number of facts contained in reality. This means that individuals with different ethics will find different things to be self-evident. In short, without a set of ethical values, we can not find anything to be self-evident.
So for us in the current world order, the Bible is the set of values and ethics that are at the core of our collective perception and, as such, defines what we consider self-evident. We must realize that if these morals are abandoned, we must all quickly find a new set of ethics to define what is self-evident, or we will fall apart (1).
THE STATE OF HISTORY
Should we attempt to find another set of values on which to base our perception of reality? Often when people try to make this case, they will point to the flaws in our culture.
They fail to realize that these flaws do not stem from the Bible or Christ but rather from the fallen men who live on this earth. The truth of the matter is that the normative state of this fallen world is much more terrible than we like to admit. War was common. In fact, even the kingdom of Israel had a season for war (2 Samuel 11:1). Human sacrifice was shockingly common, and slavery was normal. When we compare modern society to the norms of history, we should find ourselves very blessed (2).
WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY?
Today in America, we are forsaking our common Biblical ethics and clearly seeing the consequences. America is coming apart. We are seeing almost religious celebrations of abortion (shout your abortion, for example) and talks of infanticide. In critical theory, we are seeing a rejection of the intrinsic worth of each individual human being. Even slavery is making a comeback, although under the name of human trafficking. War is also looking more likely, as talk of World War III and a second American civil war are common in our media. All the while, we do not seem to be able to agree on anything (3).
Some in the Christian community here in America have pointed to these developments and claim that they point to the nearing of the return of Christ. As a Christian, I do believe Christ could return at any time. However, I do not believe that what we are facing is in any way unique in comparison to history. The coming apart of society we are experiencing is merely what happens when people begin to abandon the ethics of the Bible. The abandonment of these ethics results in them literally seeing reality in a completely different way, and surprise, surprise, sin abounds.
To be clear, I am not proposing that there is no objective truth. Rather, that God is truth, and any attempt to reject Him will literally destroy a person’s ability to perceive reality accurately. When this happens to the majority of the population, they simply revert back to what civilization looked like before Christianity revolutionized our morals. The only reason this reversion comes as a shock to us in America is that we are a young country that, until recently, has never existed without the vast majority of our population believing in Christian ethics. I do believe America has been an exceptional country; however that is only because of the Christian ethics at its core. We have yet to see if that ethic and the resulting exceptionalism will endure or if America is to join the long list of fallen powers.
This impending collapse of society is not just a referendum on America. The world order itself hangs in the balance. America is not the only nation facing these issues. The world currently stands at a crossroads. Will we return to Biblical ethics and preserve our modern civilization, or will we reject the Bible and face the war, terror, and destruction that comes with multiple views of reality itself clashing? We will either share a reality or we will not. The problem is that we all share a world, and if we choose to live in different realities while attempting to share a world, we will end up killing each other.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We can pray, and we can go into all the world and make disciples. Yes, we can vote and be involved in our governments, but who is in office will not change the ethics people are using to perceive reality. Only the renewing of the mind by the Holy Spirit can truly do that. So, if you want to avoid war and the destruction of society, pray, read the Bible, believe the Bible, and go spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.