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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, No. 24. October 1, 1968

two answers

two answers

We have already briefly referred to the possibility of asking the question just why man does have movements of morality, rationality and meaning. Let us consider two alternatives.

(a) The universe had an impersonal beginning (by which we mean that the categories appropriate to its description are not those of purposefulness, love, morality). From this a priori assumption, one struggles in vain to give a rational answer to the validity of the categories which make man what he is. On this basis thev have arisen by chance from a universe which defies description in these terms. Man, as thus conceived, is out of harmony with the universe the way it is, and he must venture forth to create his own truth. To confront the world this way one needs a very peculiar kind of courage, for one must see, that because there is no truth, any ideology, and every form of education, whether it be Marxism. Western Humanism, or Christianity, is but a form of brainwashing, and one wonders just what is in control of things. Man's disagreements on matters of principle would seem intrinsic to a situation in which there is no truth. No-one is right; no-one is wrong. But meanwhile, there is war in Vietnam, the Russians are invading Czechoslovakia, and thousands dies of starvation.

(b) We could consider the alternative of a Personal beginning (i.e. one to which the categories of rationality, purposefulness, morality can be applied). Thus, if we becin in our thinking from the basis of the existence of a Personal-Infinite God (by which we mean that our language of personal categories can be meaningfully thought of in relation to God on the side of His Personality, but must be sharply differentiated on the side of His infinity) and this God creates the universe outside of himself, so that it is not an extension of His essence, but a genuine creation, with man placed within this universe as a creature made in God's image, i.e. rational and moral, with movements after purpose and significance (which are valid on the side of personality if not by the insignificance of his size) then one can validly move out of the dilemma we considered earlier in the article and say that rationality is valid; science is valid; art is valid; morals are valid; but there is a truth to the universe which cannot be seen autonomously, but only properly in relation to the author, who is its architect and interpreter.

However, to answer all the questions, it needs to have an explanation of why man is in his present plight, so that we need not ascribe a schizophrenic character to God. The explanation that man's practical and theoretical dilemmas arise from his choice not to include God in his thinking, but rather to assume the role of autonomy would seem to give the direction of a solution that is worth considering upon this all-important subject, if one wishes to hold to a good and just God.

It is my hone that the above discussion has (i) clarified some of the issues at stake, and (ii) shown that the historic Christian position is at least worth examining before it is glibly passed over as irrelevant, by a generation which has accepted Nietzsche as its prophet.