In the wake of yet another Islamic terrorist attack, social media (including myself in that) is out in full force, and we ought to be. One of the purposes for social outlets is, as a matter of fact, to be social. France was attacked by members of the terrorist group ISIS and people have responded in mostly positive ways through the effort to show solidarity and offer prayer. Many people have their profile pictures draped in the colors of France’s flag, world monuments have been illuminated in the colors, and a very neat moment happened when Army’s football team took the field charging with France’s flag in hand.
These acts may seem insignificant, but they do go a long way. Solidarity is sometimes all the globe can offer, and thus we should offer it. All Christians should be praying for those who have been afflicted by these ruthless, lawless, and wicked acts.
Many people have responded in many ways, from prayer, to gun debates, to debates about Islam, to air strikes. Doug Wilson said here:
“There are certainly practical things to do on a practical level in response to this attack. Some of them would be lawful and some of them not. Some of the responses are obligatory, some prudent, and others just stupid.”
One of the stupid things, just stupid as Wilson said, was that
A German pianist played a piano version of John Lennon’s Imagine outside the theater where much of the chaos ensued.
Coldplay followed suit and performed this song in “honor” of the Paris victims as well. The promotion and performing of this song is quite possibly the most offensive and insane gesture that could be offered in light of what happened.
(Notice the word offensive is not synonymous to the word malicious.)
As the globe attempts to come together and solemnly take their seats at the table of mourning and grief, this song cuts the legs clean off of that table:
Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky. Imagine all the people living for today.
This song is asking us to remove the only foundation possible for grief. How horrible is the thought that above ISIS is only sky? There is nothing above ISIS to which they must give an account. There is no standard above them to condemn them, there’s only sky.
Above Paris, only sky. Beneath Paris, only dirt. That’s horrifying.
Above Auschwitz, only sky.
Above the rubble of the World Trade Centers, only sky.
Not only is it horrifying, but this thought also turns our grief into inconsistency. If there is no heaven, hell, or religion, then there is no God. If there is no God, human beings are a collection of accidental, random atoms, bumping into each other. We are stardust and pond-scum that managed to become and somehow crawl its way out of primordial goo. Where is the foundation to be outraged? Why ought stardust care that it bumps in to other stardust? Atoms collide, that’s simply reality, and the universe doesn’t care when it happens.
Leafs die, flowers wither, trees are uprooted, lions eat zebras, and people kill people. Without heaven, hell, and God, all of life is simply a deterministic collection of meat machines, with no free-moral agency, acting out the chemical firings of their brains with no transcendent value or meaning to say “don’t do that.” All that happened in Paris was one collection of bones and mostly water had brains that forced them to mobilize and shoot other sets of randomly collected atoms. What’s wrong with that according to the worldview we hypothetically found ourselves in? Nothing.
Lennon calls for peace, but the worldview he claims we must adopt to achieve peace doesn’t provide the foundation to consider it a virtue rather than a vice. Why is peace a good thing according to Lennon’s worldview? Terrorists disagree with him, whose randomly evolved brains are right? Who has authority?
Without Heaven, Hell, and the Triune God of Scripture, we have no foundation to cry out and condemn what happened in Paris.
What is the Darwinian perspective of Paris? According to that model, we not only have no foundation to condemn it, but we would actually have a foundation to be completely at ease with it. This was simply an exercise in Survival of the Fittest. In the world Darwin claimed to believe in, the one that looks a lot like Lennon’s Utopia, nature “weeds out the weak.” In other words, the weak die, the strong survive, and that is how evolution guarantees a “stronger” generation each time. Nature kills off that which it can, and in that worldview, we are all nature. The trees, the wind, the waves, the bacteria, the plants, the humans, we are all part of nature. And it is us who carry out the Divine decree of Nature. Thus, when ISIS (nature) kills people in nature, it’s simply nature weeding out the weak. That is much closer to a virtue.
In Lennon’s imagination land, we get to look at Paris and say something closer to “Good riddance” than “this is wrong.”
Richard Dawkins, in A River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, says
“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice.”
That’s all Paris was. People got hurt. There is no comfort to be found without heaven or hell. That’s all Paris gets: injustice. Like the rest of life, crap happens. Do we have a foundation then to condemn those who caused it? Dawkins continues,
“The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
You hear that? Blind physical forces. pitiless indifference. That’s what Lennon is calling us to. That’s what the world is calling us to.
If you looked at what happened in Paris and you weren’t blind to it, if you weren’t indifferent to it, and if you do have pity for those involved, then congratulations, you don’t live as if there is no heaven above you. You don’t consistently live as if Dawkins’ view of the world is true. You don’t get have to sing Lennon’s song.
Because Lennon’s dream turns out to be a nightmare, and because Dawkins and Darwin are and were wrong, we can be saddened and outraged, consistently. Because human beings are created in the image of God, they bear the Imago Dei. Christians have the objective foundation to look at the victims and their families…and care. They bear God’s image. They have innate value and worth and meaning. We care consistently. We grieve consistently.
We can condemn the attackers objectively. They too bear the image of God. In their attempts to hide the image of the true and living God on them, they decided to rebel against that image by killing others who wear it, all for the purpose of rebellion against God’s holy and just law. We have that prescriptive law, a reflection of God’s moral character to hold up as a standard. We can condemn consistently. We have the standard to do these things.
Without heaven, without hell, without God, we have no moral, objective foundation to desire peace, condemn the attacks, offer hope of meaning in them, and believe justice is awaiting them. We have no foundation to condemn the actions of these terrorists as being objectively wrong without an objective standard.
Lennon longed for peace, and peace will one day come. But it won’t come in the form of a secular, Darwinian jungle of lawlessness, chaos, and evolution. It is, as God has revealed, to be realized when Jesus accomplishes His victory over history and completes His work. Peace comes in Jesus; peace comes in the form of a King. The Gospel is our most powerful weapon right now. 1 Corinthians 15: 24-28,
“Then comes the end, when [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”
When Jesus’ work is completed, sin and evil will be dealt with, and peace will be achieved. Revelation 21: 1-8,
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Philippians 2: 9-11,
“Therefore God has highly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Pray for Paris. Pray for the victims. Pray for the attackers.