The Beginning of Wisdom
There’s a scene in one of the Star Trek movies where Spock says something like, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom.” (I don’t remember him saying in the movie that last phrase, BTW). A different way of saying that is kind of a joke: Logic is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in your fruit salad.
Merriam Webster’s definition of fruit is a product of plant growth. A vegetable is a plant grown for an edible part. In short, they seem to be interchangeable terms. But that’s really beside the point.
There are so many ways logic can be used. Depending on what you use as a premise, you can use logic to defend any position. For instance, “You can’t prove God exists, so you can’t make moral statements based on God.” To which I say, “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist, so atheism is based on faith.” And if that’s the case, removing God from government is an imposition of a state religion.
Taking that a step further, there’s another truism: “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.” Uhura said that one, though she wasn’t the first. But what it means is that if you insist on the right to put up religious monuments in government parks, what would you think of a Satanist claiming equal protection under the law and insisting on a statue of the devil in that same park?
But that’s kind of a sidebar, too.
Logically, if there is a being who created the entire universe from nothing, doesn’t that Being warrant every bit of devotion we can muster? The fact that most in the first generation of disciples died rather than deny Jesus demands the situation be investigated. To dismiss it diminishes the import of God and is akin to thumbing your nose at Him.
“But Mark, how is Christianity any different from any other religion in the world? Isn’t it the same as all the others?” To be honest, on the surface, many of the teachings are pretty similar. Don’t kill, don’t lie, don’t steal. The major difference, though, is the motivation behind those commands. Namely, who is responsible for reaching out.
Of the major religions (and I use that term loosely) only Christianity teaches that God saves us - we cannot save ourselves. Every other teaching tells us we have to do certain things to appease a god that’s angry enough to send us to damnation if we don’t comply. Christ teaches that we, by ourselves, are unable to satisfy God’s commandments and deserve damnation. Then comes the “but.”
God so loved the world that He sent His Son to save us - not to condemn us. All the other gods are ticked off enough at people that we must do “certain things” to earn our right to be in paradise. Those that don’t do “certain things” then deserve to be punished while we who DID do “certain things” are superior to those who didn’t.
The Gospel message is totally different once one looks beneath the surface of “don’t kill.” Simply not killing isn’t enough. Not stealing, not coveting, not telling lies, honoring our parents, it’s all insufficient to save us. The Pharisees in the bible were masters at following the letter of the Mosaic Law and looked down on those who couldn’t. They were the business owners who’d never work on the Sabbath, but demanded their employees work seven days every week. Then they’d deride them for working on the Sabbath and call them sinners.
God sent His Son because we, as imperfect beings, cannot satisfy the perfect demands of God. He needed to reach out to us because we couldn’t reach Him.
Then there’s another level of this. Perfection demands perfect justice. We all want a killer or rapist to be held accountable for their actions. Did you ever notice, though, the demand for justice is always for the other guy? Do we demand justice for what we’ve done wrong? Keep in mind we’re not perfect. God, who is perfect, can see all those things we’ve done wrong.
Ever take a pen or paper clip home from work, either by accident or on purpose? That’s theft. Ever flip through the channels and come across someone and think, “Wow, they’re hot!” That’s adultery. Do you demand justice for those cases? God is perfect, and He DOES demand justice.
A lot of the old testament is setting up the situation where that perfect justice can be meted out. Back in Genesis, the first sacrifice was giving Adam and Eve an animal skin to cover their nakedness. Blood from the animal was spilled to atone for the sin of eating the Forbidden Fruit. A few chapters later we have Abram slaughtering a ram instead of his son. (Keep in mind a lot of world religions in that time believed in the sacrifice of a first-born son for their gods).
Brick by brick the foundations were set down. By the time the Roman Empire came along, sacrificing animals to redeem (buy back) the penalty of sin was firmly set.
Then Jesus willingly gave Himself to redeem us.
Frequently the new testament tells us we were bought with a price. We are not our own. We belong to God. He made us. Not just the flesh and blood, but the very fundamental forces that make electrons and quarks and everything possible. We belong to Him even more than the homemade pizza you might occasionally bake. Even if you order out and have it delivered, we belong to Him more surely than you own that pizza (or General Tso’s Chicken).
We deserve perfect judgement. Jesus paid what we deserve, so we could have what He deserved. But there’s an even deeper level.
Nobody wants eternal punishment. Ask anyone if they’d like to live forever in eternal torment and they’ll tell you they don’t. But simply wanting Heaven isn’t enough to save you. Treating God as a vending machine is simply offensive. “I don’t want Hell, so I guess I’ll suck up to God so I can get to Heaven.” That thought pattern is putting God in the same position of all the other gods of this world.
We are to love God. Period. We can’t help but mess up. But we need to be sorry of our mistakes, own up to them, and give God the glory He deserves for reaching out from Heaven to save us. He created everything! If that doesn’t deserve awe and admiration in us we’re not thinking straight.
So logically speaking, why don’t people worship Him? Speaking from experience, it’s because they don’t want to give up their own wants. God’s telling them how to live, and they think they’re qualified to run their own lives.
There’s another saying in Proverbs that’s very similar to what Spock said: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Keep in mind that word translated as “fear” is more akin to reverential awe than terror.
When balancing a few decades against eternity, logic dictates we investigate.
Have you investigated?