All of us who are people of faith have times of testing, do we not? It’s for such times that we need a spiritual “defense strategy” ready. Also we’re called upon to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Faith does not and should not have to be without reason, as some people believe.
(Nils Frahm, “Ode”)
For me there are three initial steps in a good defense strategy: step one is prayer, and step two is Scripture-by that I mean the Bible.
This post outlines my personal “step 3”. Step 3 involves mental and spiritual reference to the reasons I had for my faith in the first place, compiled and memorized while the going is good. I’ve fallen back on step three several times already in my life, and found it to be a valuable tool. However, please see my disclaimer at the end of the post *
Step 3 is a collection of acronyms, (or they may be “initialisms”, depending on your point of view), the letters each representing a key word which prompts me to recall a “reason” for the hope that is in me. The acronyms are pretty meaningless on their own, but they serve a purpose. They’re evolving perpetually. To date I have four:
1: DIO APO HAELJASE-E
2: MASHT PROCH
3: JELL MUSH
Is that perfectly clear? Good, now I’ll give you a summary-a first layer of explanation -for each one.
DIO APO HAELJASE-E
The first acronym supports my belief in the existence of a creator, or if you like, intelligent design. It also indirectly supports my faith in the God of the Bible, since it reflects the nature and character of that God.
D is for DESIGN. I see incredible design in all of nature. Out of the thousands of examples which could be given, one of my favorites is of a moth I saw late one night near where I live (not the one in the picture). On the ground with its wings spread out in bright light it had a five-inch wingspan (12.5 cm), and on the back of each wing, no doubt to warn predators, it had a large eye-like pattern, so that you seem to be looking at a formidable, intimidating five-inch wide face. How would the moth “evolve” itself those “eyes”, and why would it, if it could survive long enough (millions of years) while it was evolving them?
I is for INFORMATION. A strand of DNA, contained in each of the trillions of cells in our body, is packed with more information than a library. Information has never been observed to come from chaos. Researchers scan the skies for a radio signal which would confirm intelligent life in outer space, yet ignore the incredible message in plain view within life on earth;
O is for ORDER. The universe operates in a very orderly, lawful way, as does our own solar system and our own planet. The laws of nature hold all things together and allow us to exist and function.
A-P is for the “ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE”, dismissed as mere coincidence by the evolutionist. Earth is uniquely placed and equipped for life in our galaxy and in our solar system, and benefits from many hundreds of extremely fortuitous conditions. As an example, if earth were tilted any more or less in relation to the sun, its temperature ranges would be too extreme to support life. If we didn’t have the moon at just the right distance from us and at just the right relative size with just the right orbital pattern, we would have no tides to keep the oceans alive and fresh, and there would be no life on earth. Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the harmful power of the sun’s radiation.
O is for ORIGINS. Even famous evolutionists admit that they don’t know for sure how life evolved from non-life, and they’ve never seen it happen. When the first living cell miraculously produced itself, who did it mate with and what did it eat? I can much more easily believe in an intelligent creator than in a rock producing all the complexity we see.
H is for man’s HUNGER for God. Man has an inbuilt hunger for the spiritual (Pascal’s “God-shaped vacuum”) which explains the existence of many religions throughout history and in every culture. Religion is not always a product of superstition: perhaps superstition is born of a longing for God, and the realization that there is something much greater than us.
A is for ATHEISM. The condition of atheistic cultures to date has not been impressive or endearing. Atheistic philosophy has been the cause of far more evil in our world than any religion has (refer to the regimes of such men as Stalin and Pol Pot). This is not to say that every atheist is a “bad” person: they are not. Instead it demonstrates that being God-less is not the answer to our problems.
Also consider the implications of atheistic philosophy. If there is no God or creator who sets the rules and standards, neither is there any fixed universal, objective standard of right or wrong. Hitler, then, was no more “wrong” than the West was-we just happened to disagree with him. What one person or culture decides is good another may decide is evil, and who has the right to deem it otherwise?
Since life, according to evolution, evolves by means of mutation and natural selection-the survival of the fittest-death, war, murder and the consumption of our competitors cannot be “wrong”. Our governments are oppressing us by deciding everything for us and by locking us into their system of thought, laws and regulations, and so government and the opinion of men has become our Master. Who’s satisfied with the results of that?
In God’s economy, each human life has great value. In the strictest and most logical view of the evolutionary worldview, I have no more value than a worm.
E is for EMOTION. Most of our emotions are superfluous and even detrimental to us if we are only here to contend with other life forms and emerge the winner (as we have). The God of the Bible made us in his image, and is himself a feeling, emotional being.
L is for LOVE. Real love produces commitment, caring, empathy, loyalty, faithfulness and truthfulness. Where does love come from if not from a loving, faithful designer? How could chemical reaction and interaction alone-born of rock-produce love? When your significant other asks if you love her or him, do you reply that yes, you are currently experiencing some chemical and hormonal interactions, and as long as they occur you will stick around and refrain from killing and eating him or her? Love in the popular definition of today is a reductionist ploy with the aim of reducing our relationships to one of temporary mutual use while the going is good. Godly love is that which produces stable relationships, homes and societies.
J is for JUSTICE. Our sense of justice is evidence that we were made by a just, moral God. If we have ‘evolved’ a sense of justice, why do we still have crime, war and murder, at every level of every society? And why would or should we care anyway?
Again, if we evolved there is no such thing as absolute right or wrong, but only what we decide is right or wrong. It means that we cannot claim to have had the moral high ground over Hitler- we just managed to bully him and impose our view of right and wrong over his: it was a battle only for the ‘survival of the fittest’. This means that if a tyrant comes along in the future who defeats the forces of what we call “freedom”, he has every right to wipe us out and to rule over us. However, we recognize naturally in our hearts that there is such a thing as evil at large in our world, and that it needs to be checked. This recognition was given to us by a God of justice.
A is for “AESTHETIC SENSE”. We have an inbuilt appreciation for beauty of many kinds, and for all of creation, and not merely for our mate when we are busy reproducing, or for the food on our plate. We desire to be creative, to entertain, and to express ourselves, and we appreciate those who do so skillfully. We create and imagine often without any practical reason. We philosophize and think very deeply (well some of us do anyway).
S and E are for SIN and EVIL. The Bible is right about human nature- just look around. Those who claim that people only abuse each other when they are impoverished are often the same people who berate the ultra-rich for abusing the rest of us. And if we evolved, why shouldn’t they, since life is all about “survival of the fittest”? Those who claim that religion causes all unrest and abuse forget all about Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Dung, and other avowed atheists who murdered millions of their own people less than a century ago essentially for the crime of being the surviving “fittest”.
E is for EXPERIENCE. In the years I’ve been a Christian I’ve experienced God in many ways. This includes an acute awareness of His presence, and a feeling of indescribable completeness, inner peace and joy. It’s important for me to remember those experiences and continuous states of mind, and not to let them be dismissed as mere superstition, hormonal balance or positive thinking. I’ve experienced answered prayers, and I’ve seen the difference made by the Spirit of God in someone’s life, in a home, and in a society which has now turned its back on God to its own harm.
My disclaimer is the acknowledgement that in those awful situations some people face-perhaps all of us at some time in our lives- reason and information are inadequate or even counter-productive. Sometimes all we can tolerate is some loving, prayerful company, and our own personal brokenness. Many times our brokenness is what our God is looking for.
The rest of my defense strategy part three will follow soon. Thanks for reading, and God bless you with truth and a sound mind.