Contemporary society tries at all costs to deny that there is such a thing as absolute goodness, absolute justice. Today’s anti-Christian society denies that God exists and that there are absolute values. Mainly through institutions such as schools and universities, our society incessantly sends out the message that all values are relative, that what is right for you may not be for me.
See what Dostoyevsky wrote in an excerpt of his book “The Brothers Karamazov”. One of his characters, Ivan, exposes the idea that in a world that denies God, everything would be permitted; that is, mankind would no longer follow the criteria for morality coming from God to know what is good or evil, what is right and what is wrong.
In such a world, man would take God out of the equation, and would try get rid of the concept of objectivity in morality. But, how can we say there is morality when one and each one would be the standard for his own actions? Could something be just for me but not for you? If there was no God, no one could be wrong in anything he does. Everything would be right in his and her perspective, and no one would have the right to say anything about it. In short, a world without God is a world in which it would be impossible to live, is would be an illogical world.
Just as I did, C. S. Lewis also walked the path that leads from atheism to Christianity. Earlier in his career, he considered the moral issue as the biggest obstacle to his acceptance of Christianity. He thought this world was too unfair to be compatible with the idea of a good God. After some time, Lewis noticed that his argument wasn’t defensible from a logical point of view. He concluded that the sense that the world itself was unfair would only make any logical sense if there was an absolute and external criterion of justice, according to which he would be able to differentiate right from wrong, just from unjust, good from evil. Here’s what he said:
[As an atheist] My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? (CS Lewis in “Mere Christianity”)
He realized that the fact of being able to find this world unfair and unjust was actually a proof for the existence of God and not against it. I have to say that, in addition to the fact that a world without God is an illogical world, it would also be a hopeless one. In a world without God, to say that it is wrong to torture a child for pleasure wouldn’t really be a moral judgment, but a subjective opinion, as, for example, that I prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla.
Nietzsche, in his work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, popularized a concept that was already inserted in one of his earlier works, “Die fröhliche Wissenschaft”. The concept “God is dead” says that, in a society that alienates God, there would be no provision for moral absolutes. Nietzsche goes further and shows that in a society without values, mankind would try to be a superman, would try to be the source of objective moral values.
Dostoyevsky does more or less the same. He identifies that an atheistic society man would take the role of God, becoming a sort of man-god. When it comes to this particular point, I think Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky are right.
When man turns away from God, he seeks to occupy the place of Him, try to be the source of world values. Mankind tries to give the world some kind of logical sense. As taking the place of God is an impossible task, humanity in contemporary society plunges into the anguish of trying to be what ever will.
To redeem mankind, in vain the man tries to be God, tries to be the source from which emanate the moral values; but again, as the task is impossible, the superman that Nietzsche envisioned never take place, because the man can not by itself be more than man; man can not by his own strength be God.
In a situation like this, we have a life without purpose, without objective meaning, with no real values. Few perhaps pay attention to it, but it’s the same idea that is present in Genesis, a book written some impressive thirty-five centuries ago by a prophet named Moses. The book of Genesis, in verses 2:9, 2:16-17; 3:1-24 says that mankind disobedience to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil will lead to death, to the separation from God.
Indeed, getting away from God, man starts to have the knowledge of Good and Evil; man now tries to be himself the source from which objective morality emanates. It was for the redemption of mankind, that someone came to Earth. Jesus came to Earth to be the criteria for morality, and he was successful only because he himself was the source, He was God.
Jesus Christ is the Truth that came to that corrupted world to reconnect us to the source of morality, to get us out of the crisis of values, so that we can achieve the purpose for which we were created. Christ is the only way of recognizing that we, as individuals, do not want to live by our own rule (which is impossible), but by God’s. Only in Christ we can accomplish what otherwise would be impossible: to be more than man because in Christ we’re reconnected with God.