|Sandusky. Photo Source.|
I believe the sad story of Jerry Sandusky presents a fairly compelling argument for the existence of God. Really.
Now, many people who hear about young boys being raped would have a kneejerk reaction in the opposite direction. After all, many reason, if God exists, how could he let this happen? The fact horrors like this befall children seems to be proof that God does not exist.
There’s a point in the process of dealing with pain, especially early on, when it’s natural to react like this. Because pain hurts! The case that follows is not written for people presently dealing with that kind of pain. Their open wounds need to be tended to and addressed at a deeper emotional level.
A brief recap (there’s a longer one here): Jerry Sandusky was a respected longtime assistant football coach under the legendary Joe Paterno at Penn State. He was a good coach and seemed to be a good guy. He started and ran a charity to help at-risk young people in the community and spent lots of time with these kids.
Last fall it emerged that he was doing more with those young boys. He was abusing, molesting, and raping them. Who knows how many victims there were over the years. The fallout of these allegations was intense.
On Friday night, a Centre County, Pennsylvania jury convicted Jerry Sandusky of 45 counts of various kinds of assault charges. He’ll rot in prison for the rest of his life, likely in solitary confinement (for his own protection).
The outrage is universal and pointed. Don’t believe me? Scroll through Twitter or skim through some of the sports columns out there that have written about Sandusky (like this one). It’s like people are trying to outdo one another in their degree of moral outrage.
Recall how Joe Paterno went from near-saintly status in the world of college athletics to the object of anger and derision because many felt like he was in a position to “out” Sandusky and put a stop to his horrible abuse of young boys.
And you know what? That’s as it should be. Jerry Sandusky was (is) a monster. What he did to young boys is disgusting and it’s wrong. And I’ll bet the house that you agree.
But let’s step back for a moment and ask why. Why are commentators and observers universal in their agreement (with you and I!) that molesting and raping young boys is wrong? Seriously. Why?
Let’s examine this through the lens of two worldviews:
The Naturalistic / Atheistic Worldview. God doesn’t exist and “nature” is all there is. We have evolved over eons from the primordial ooze in the wake of the Big Bang.
One of the real struggles for those who champion this worldview is to identify the source of morality. It must be arbitrary — which is to say it is not really based on any kind of higher or normative standard of right and wrong, because there is nothing higher on which to base something.
That is the root of moral relativism. If you’ve ever heard someone say that a certain belief or moral conviction is “true/right for you but not for me,” then you’ve heard a relativist. Moral relativism is the de facto moral position that is championed in most of Western culture.
It’s fair to say that cultures could, over time, develop their own sense of right and wrong – the old idea of the “social contract.” But, ultimately, these rules remain arbitrary. There’s no ultimate basis for saying that something is really right or wrong. How could there be? So there’s no real basis for someone to judge another culture — whatever a culture says are its rules are fine. This is cultural relativism, which is simply another version of moral relativism.
Would there be any real basis for anyone to judge the choices and behavior of someone else? Is there anything truly and inherently wrong with a man who enjoys molesting and raping boys? Sure it might not be right for you, but who are you to say it’s wrong for someone else?
You may not like Jerry Sandusky’s behavior. But what is your basis for condemning it? If you’re really a Naturalist, you don’t have one beyond your personal preference or your society’s collective preferences. (This is part of the reason that the only consistent Naturalists are the psychotic.)
The Christian Worldview. There is something outside the box that is the universe – a God who exists apart from and rules over the universe that he created. All order in the universe springs from the perfect, orderly mind of God.
Including moral order. The Christian worldview has no problem explaining morality. It springs from the nature of God and from his decrees. Morality is not arbitrary, and human beings are moral creatures who are accountable to him.
Because morality is rooted in something higher than and outside of humanity and human culture, it is universal. The moral order of the universe means that right and wrong are normative across every tribe and culture, and that what’s true for you is true for me too (whether I like it or not).
For example, it is always wrong in every situation and for everybody to molest young children. Rape is always wrong. Why? Not because of anyone’s preferences, but because of the moral law of the God who created the world and all who are in it.
And we all know it.
The Scriptures are clear about this too, telling us the moral law is written in the heart of every person. That’s part of what it means to be made in the image of God. Theologians sometimes refer to this as Natural Law. Within each human being there is something that inherently understands that some things are right and some things are wrong.
Our culture theoretically embraces relativism because that’s usually a pretty comfortable way to live. Nobody likes authority or accountability. But sometimes our culture betrays itself in its response to evil.
When seemingly everybody, regardless of background, creed, or preference, is bothered by what Jerry Sandusky did, it’s because we all know that it really is wrong.
When my laptop is low on batteries, I get a pop-up message telling me I’d better plug in before I lose power and the computer dies. Perhaps this inner sense of morality, this law upon our hearts that we’re describing, is something like a pre-programmed pop-up in our souls, reminding us that there is an external power source we must plug into, whether we realize it or not.
If you choose not to believe in God, you have no inherent right to condemn Jerry Sandusky’s actions. What does it really matter to you? What is the basis of your complaint? His behavioral preferences are different than yours, but by what basis to you claim to be right?
The moral argument for God’s existence is a powerful form of apologetics because it presses in upon us at a more emotional, visceral level. It pushes powerfully upon a pressure point that was built-in by our Creator to remind us that we are not independent arbiters of truth, but rather that we are accountable to Him.
That moral outrage directed at Jerry Sandusky is a little pop-up warning light to us, reminding us that God is there.