By David Hegg
I have always been very intrigued by politics, and especially the discourse between opposing parties. Argument — done well — is both fun and intriguing to me as both sides try first to prove the truth, and then persuade others to agree. To prove and persuade, that is the essence of profitable political discourse, and the first must take priority over the second.
To prove a point usually demands the piling up of evidence to the place where dissenting views are proven unacceptable, or less so. But more important than the amount of evidence is its validity. You can have a truckload of evidentiary arguments but if none of them is valid, you really have an empty truck. So, when you boil it all down, in every argument, or discussion, or search for truth, there must ultimately be some foundation of authority that is taken to be rock-solid and true. The same can be said for all of life.
We all choose a worldview even if we don’t know it. We choose a way of life, including some very specific ethical standards, even if we can’t readily describe them. Our actions fill in the gaps in our words. We choose how we are going to act and even if we don’t identify it as such, our actions and the motivations behind them form our ethic. The problem is that, unless our ethic is somehow based on a true foundation rather than wishful thinking, it won’t support us when the pull of adverse and threatening circumstances surrounds us.
In determining just who we will be there are some essential questions. The first one is an essential two-parter: Who am I and why am I here? Back in the ’70s I often heard from my friends that they were “trying to find themselves.” Ultimately, everyone is on this same journey. We’re trying to make sense of our existence. Of course, the answer to this question will make you face one of two options: 1) Am I here by chance? or 2) Am I here by design? The first will take you down the road of humanism, while the second routes you down the path of theism. If you decide you are here as the result of some random set of occurrences, and that your personhood really has no greater meaning in the cosmos than that of a tree or whale, then you’ve got some work to do because the foundation of your ethic will be the uncertain, ever-shifting conclusions of evolutionary science that ultimately asserts that human life has no meaning in the end.
But if you tackle the idea of theism, you can find in the God of the Bible a foundation you can trust. As Augustine put it, “He has made us for Himself, and we are restless until we find our rest in Him.” If the answer to the first question is that God has created us specially, then the answer to the second part is that we will find our greatest satisfaction in achieving the purposes for which He brought us into this life.
Whatever choice you make, be sure the foundation you build your worldview on can hold the weight of this world, with its suffering, and beauty. The virtues you hold fast, which will determine your ethic and frame your character, are those that flow from whatever answer you give to this important question. And as Pascal, the great French mathematician, inventor, and Christ-follower put it, “If I am wrong, and the atheist is right, in the end I’ve lost nothing. But if the atheist is wrong and I am right, then in the end he has lost everything.”
Finding yourself and your purpose in life is the greatest task you’ll ever undertake. Take it seriously. Your life depends on it.
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident.“Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.