The European Union (EU) is seen by many as one of humanity's greatest achievements and one of the best hopes for achieving peace and prosperity. Preserving peace between the major powers in Europe is unquestionably important, given Europe's bloody history.
In our troubled world, international institutions such as the EU and UN seem to be humanity's best hope—apart from God. And currently the EU is quite apart from God. Its driving philosophy is secular and humanistic.
The committee that drafted the proposed constitution for the EU was challenged about the lack of reference to God in its documents. A French member of the committee explained, "We don't like God" (quoted by Jeremy Rifkin, The European Dream, 2004, p. 211).
Another member of the drafting convention argued, "The only banner that we have is secularism" (ibid.). As more nations seek to join today's secular and prosperous EU, modernists feel that God is a quaint concept of the past. Beyond the EU, this wave of humanistic thinking seems to be sweeping the Western world.
Humanism basically says that man can discover on his own the truth he needs to survive and prosper.
Can a humanist make it rain?
But is it really possible for nations to continue to flourish without God's help? Mortal man must be sustained by the fruit of the land and, regardless of one's politics, without food man won't be around to argue for very long. Can man bring the rains so necessary for our crops?
The Bible tells us the true source of rain and the food we depend on: "Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O LORD our God? Therefore we will wait for You, since You have made all these" (Jeremiah 14:22).
The Bible makes many claims that more and more people discount or even ridicule. Is there any evidence to suggest that there is a great plan being worked out here on earth? Yes, there is clear evidence, as we show in each issue of this magazine. Still, one of the greatest challenges for young people today is to think vertically—that is, to think in terms of what God reveals about man and his future.
The alternative is to think horizontally, butting heads with just about anybody who disagrees with your ideas. Sadly, this is the way many people operate. It has been said that if you get five modern scholars together, you will get six opinions on just about everything.
In the book of Isaiah, God challenges mankind by stating, "I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me" (Isaiah 45:5). The passage continues, "For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: 'I am the LORD, and there is no other'" (verse 18).
Humanism: It's not working and never has
If the new age of postmodern humanism is the wave of the future, what are the fruits of this direction? When you watch the nightly news, do you really see a world that lives in peace, where cooperation and respect is growing among nations and races? Is the United Nations, the European Union, the United States or any other nation or group of nations really discovering the way of peace?
Jim Nelson Black's book When Nations Die: America on the Brink: Ten Warning Signs of a Culture in Crisis (1994) lists areas that historically have led nations to diminish.
These include the crisis of lawlessness, the loss of economic discipline, the rise of bureaucracy, the decline in education, the weakening of cultural foundations, the loss of respect for tradition, the increase in materialism, the rise of immorality, the decay of religious belief and the devaluing of human life.
If you analyze these major areas, you will realize that mankind now and in the past has never known the way to peace. "The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way [the way apart from God's truth] shall not know peace" (Isaiah 59:8).
Is the Bible true?
Those who argue that God is dead and that man is more than able to take care of himself will challenge your beliefs that there is a God. What will your counterarguments be?
In a recent baptismal counseling I asked several young people if they had ever proved that God exists. We read in the Scriptures, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
My challenge to these young people was to write a paper demonstrating, at least to themselves, that God exists! For many new Christians, this is something that is often taken for granted. Yet God is eager for you to know for certain that He is there as part of your building a genuine relationship with Him.
The joke is told of a professor who once challenged his students in class about the existence of God. He taunted them: "Have any of you ever seen God? Have any of you ever touched, tasted or heard God directly? If you answer 'no,' then you must agree that God doesn't exist."
One of the students stood up and quickly asked, "Professor, since I haven't seen, touched or tasted your brain, does that mean it doesn't exist?"
Humanism vs. revelation
The arguments will no doubt rage on until mortal man reaches the end of his short tenure on earth. The Bible describes the major obstacle all mankind faces:
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).
The solution is revelation from an eternal, creating God who inhabits eternity. "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except [by] the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except [by] the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9-11).
How do you plan to spend your life? Will you, like an increasing number of moderns, live according to your own thinking? Or will you subscribe to the revelations of the all-wise Eternal God who made all things?
You could be stubborn and hold your breath to demonstrate your independence. Or if you already know that doesn't work, you might enjoy reading, "Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it" (Isaiah 42:5).
So take a deep breath and thank God for it. And, for some vertical thoughts on these subjects, download or request our well-researched, full-color, free booklets Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist?, Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? and Is the Bible True?
May God grant you the vision and desire to think vertically. VT