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D.C. Collier: Mankind — The Most Perplexing Mystery of All

Ever since the invention of the telescope, observers of the material universe have been spellbound by its exquisite order, mathematical precision and endless mystery.

But smack dab in the middle of this precise order there is a critical segment of creation that appears to be largely exempt from the governing laws and relative predictability of the rest of the universe.

Although physical laws govern the rest of the cosmos, mankind stands out as “the crazy aunt in the attic,” who seems to defy all laws and logic. Nothing — no animal or plant — compares in complexity, contradiction and propensity for self-destruction, all driven by the apparently ungovernable wilds of our own fatally flawed human nature.

Here is how scripture summarizes the settled state of this enigmatic segment of God’s otherwise orderly universe:

There’s nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They’ve all taken the wrong turn;
they’ve all wandered down blind alleys.
No one’s living right;
I can’t find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves,
their tongues slick as mudslides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don’t know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day.1

This scriptural diatribe includes the religious and the irreligious among us. Evangelist and teacher Oswald Chambers once commented that our fallen human nature is as comfortable performing in settings of “decorous morality” as it is in displays of “indecorous immorality.”

Whether it is wrapped in a slinky costume in a Mardi Gras parade or draped in the ceremonial robes of an official in a towering cathedral, humans are capable of the most egregious offenses without the slightest inkling of what that says about the true condition of their hearts.

Judging by the exquisite order of the universe, it’s hard to imagine that, from the start, its Creator intended that this vital portion of His handiwork should be in such disarray. To explain what went wrong, it would seem, as they say, that there is more to the story.

That Pesky Homing Instinct

Despite modern man’s efforts to eradicate any notion of a superior being, many still harbor a sneaking hunch that those extremely vocal God-deniers are, as Shakespeare would say, “protesting too much.”

Their strident denials betray a tentative note as they explain away their internal sense of the eternal; the substance may be gone, but its haunting echo remains.

Scripture reminds us, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”2

To be sure, that inborn sense that we are made of more than meets the eye may be systematically eroded or even brainwashed into silence, but it is rarely eradicated. This explains why even the most confirmed atheist, when suddenly placed in a life-threatening crisis, can be found crying out to the very God he has denied.

Although perhaps just covering his bases, our atheist is displaying a hard-wired homing instinct that seems to have been placed there by “Someone” on the outside. We know of no such eternal instinct in any members of the animal or plant kingdom.

This homing instinct was observed in the life of one of the world’s most prominent atheists, none other than the late Christopher Hitchens. Reviewing the book, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, for The Wall Street Journal, author Eric Metaxas comments:

“Christian apologist Larry Alex Taunton, tells the story of his remarkable friendship with Hitchens, the writer and ardent atheist who died in 2011. The book focuses on two long road trips during which they actually studied the Gospel of John together ... The idea that Hitchens was curious about faith and engaged with it intellectually apparently would amount to an intolerable betrayal in the minds of some atheists, so they simply pretend that it never happened, despite the clear evidence to the contrary.”​3

In “kicking against the goads,” these atheists and humanists are not above ad hominem attacks, shaming, banishing, outright denial and hysterical rants to silence the opposition.

But most people are suspicious of such vitriolic protests — could there be more to the story? What explains our universal hunger for the transcendent?

Deep down inside, man senses a nagging, haunting metaphysical suspicion that there is more to this material world than meets the eye. He finds himself repulsed by postmodern notions that we’re mere evolutionary accidents, “a mere grab bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance,” coming from nowhere, being swept toward oblivion.

We can’t resist the impulse to connect with our true spiritual home, even though we can only “see it through a glass darkly.”

In the meantime, right under our noses, the most remarkable communication in human history calls out from the realm of the supernatural and beckons us upward into the very mind of God.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. Romans 3:10-18 MSG

2. Ecclesiastes 3:11 New International Version (NIV)

3. http://www.wsj.com/articles/are–atheists–afraid–of–god–1464907324

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