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A Satire on Natural Theology

By Dr. Robert A. Morey
Last night I had an interesting dream. I have been rereading Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan and wondered how he would have dealt with Natural Theology.

In my dream, Christian had lost his way and was no longer on the Pilgrim pathway. He entered a Valley that was very hot and dusty. It was as dry as a bone. He became thirsty for something to drink. As he walked down the Valley, he saw a sign that told him that he had entered the Valley of Foolosophy. He had not heard of it before.

Another sign indicated that there was a village called Mantown up ahead. Although it was not on the Pilgrim Highway, it did not look too far off from the Path. So, he decided to go there.

When he arrived at the village, a celebration was going on. Banners, flags, games, rides, and food booths were lined up along the main street and Christian stopped to refresh himself. The good citizens of Mantown welcomed him to their annual "Vanity Fair." They told him that there was an old-fashioned Freak Show in the middle of Vanity Fair that seemed to draw quite a crowd.

Christian drifted over to the Freak Show tent. The barker shouted, "Come one, come all. See the amazing time bubble and those trapped inside. Just a nickel a look."

Christian could not resist a good Freak Show and paid his nickel and entered the tent. The Ring Master was dressed in a red suit and had a goatee, hoofs, and a tail. He raised his pitchfork and announced that the time bubble was about to appear.

Out of a side tent rolled a large glass bubble that had a least a dozen men inside. They were all sitting on chairs listening to a speaker. It became clear to Christian that the men in the bubble did not know they were in a time bubble and that they did not know that they were only a freak show to the citizens of Mantown in the Valley of Foolosophy.

He turned to his neighbor on the bench and asked him if he knew anything about this amazing time bubble. His name was "Talkative" and he was happy to instruct Christian on the fine points of time bubbles.

“This bubble was originally constructed over two thousand years ago in a land far away called Greece. The famous men who made it are all long dead. They built the bubble to make sure that they and their ideas would never be forgotten. The bubble was filled with some kind of poisonous gas or vapor and once you entered the bubble, it put you into a trance-like or dream-state in which you imagined that the ideas of the creators of the bubble were still alive. The person you see lecturing is only an illusion. Sometimes he is Socrates, sometimes Plato, but, most of the time, he is Aristotle.

The men who listen to him don't know that the outside world has moved on and even the memory of the creators of the bubble have well nigh vanished. These poor men think that the world is the same today as it was in the days of the creators of the bubble. They write books, give lectures, and stage debates with the assumption that everyone still follows the teachings of the creators of the bubble.”

The bubble was rolled back into the side chamber to make way for the next freak show. But Christian was determined to find out more about this amazing bubble. He excused himself and snuck into the side tent to see the bubble up close. When he got up close, he saw that someone had attached a wire to the bubble with a phone attached so you could hear what they were saying.

The speaker was shouting,

"It is universal, self-evident, and intuitive that
man has a free will. No one dare deny it. It is
so fundamental that all rational thought
would cease if someone were so
foolish as to deny that man is autonomous;
that man can be whatever he wants to be;
know whatever he wants to know; and
do whatever he wants to do.
Not even the gods can interfere with man's
free will. All the creators believed in freewill
and all rational men to this day believe in it too."

The men leapt to their feet and shouted,

"Hip, Hip, Hurray for free will!
Hip, Hip, Hurray for free will!"

They marched around the bubble with flags waving while shouting their support of Free will.
Hearing a noise behind him, Christian turned and saw that Talkative had followed him and had been watching him all this time. Christian asked him,

"What do you think of these men and their amazing time machine?"

Talkative replied,

"No one today believes that anything is universal, self-evident or intuitive. We have moved beyond freedom and dignity to the new humanism. These men are in a time warp and think that Aristotle's humanism is still around. Thus, all their lectures and books are hopelessly out-of-date and irrelevant.

The New Humanism has taken the ‘human' out of humanism. It is now ‘X-ism.' Man does not have any greater right to survive than any other animal. To give man a higher or special place in the world would be racist.

One day man will go the way of the dinosaur and all his fantasies of meaning, morality, and gods will die with him. The New X-ist welcomes Nothingness with open arms. Truth, justice, morals, meaning, and beauty are only sparks firing along the electrical wiring of the brain. They are only chemical secretions in the brain. The idea of ‘god' is only a brain fart - whose day is passed.

The freaks in the bubble still think that we in the Valley of Foolosophy still believe in Aristotle's universal truths. We think it funny when they produce arguments based on ‘design' that are, in turn, based on a defunct worldview that died many centuries ago.

God, free will, and all the other weird ideas from the Greeks, the Geeks, and the Catholics, have all been thrown out. They don't seem to understand that their world is forever gone."

Christian thought, "How sad; to live in the past, out of touch with the present." A tear rolled down his checked as he watched the men in the bubble slapping each other on the back for giving lectures based on the failed views of the creators of the bubble. He was reminded of the words of the immortal Barb:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.

 Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19-28

Christian looked at Talkative and felt sad for him.

"I have some wonderful good news for you. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. You are not junk or a mere hairless ape. You have dignity and worth because God created you to glorify him. You have purpose and meaning. Man fell into sin and guilt at the dawn of time. We rebelled against our Creator. By nature we reject His holy laws and are under the just wrath of almighty God. But God so loved us that He sent His Son to die for our sins to bring us back to the Maker's presence. But you must acknowledge your sin and bow your knee to Jesus Christ as Lord."

Talkative responded,

"Can you prove by reason alone that there is a God or that Jesus loves me?"

Christian looked at him and said...

"If you believed because I gave you some fantastic philosophic argument, you would stop believing as soon as someone smarter than me gives you a better argument. You cannot be argued into salvation. The Gospel is not optional. It is either turn or burn; repent or perish. I exhort you with all divine authority to repent of your sin and turn to your Maker before He casts you into hell forever. The message of the cross is not the product of human reason, experience, feelings or faith. It was revealed by God himself in the pages of the Bible, the Written Word of God. The Greeks wanted philosophical arguments and the Jews demanded miracles. But I will do neither lest your faith be based on philosophy or experience instead of Revelation."

Christian continued,

"Talkative, Foolosophy has finally run its course. The New X-ism is the end result of rejecting the God of the Bible. You can't have truth, morals, meaning, or beauty if you begin with man. You cannot get an “ought” from an “is.” The only choice before you is clear: If you begin with the Revelation of God in the Bible, you have everything. If you begin with man, you have nothing."

Talkative asked,

"But what about the arguments of the bubble men? They claim that man, starting from himself, within himself, apart from any outside source such as this Bible you mentioned, can understand the truth about God, man, the world around us, etc."

Christian chuckled, answering,

"They foolishly try to jump from the finite to the infinite. They start with particulars and try their best to turn them into universals. They might as well as turn lead into gold! They cannot even make an ‘is' into an ‘ought.' Matter cannot be changed into morals by merely wishing it to be so. Natural Law is a bust. They are living in a time warp."

Talkative replied,

"Modern foolosophers live outside of the bubble and have long since moved on. They clearly see that truth or morals are pipe dreams.  All of us who live in the Valley of Foolosophy were much relieved that the search for such things is now over and we can just have a good time. That is why it is so funny to hear the men in the bubble cry out, “Just give us until tomorrow and we will find truth and morals through human reason alone.”  Of course, tomorrow never comes.”

Christian looked at poor talkative and said,

“God has commanded men everywhere to repent and believe in Jesus Christ and His gospel. He does not ask you to repent. He commands you to repent. The Bible says that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised from the dead on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared before his disciples."

Talkative said,

"I don't know why but suddenly my heart is open to what you are saying. I feel guilty for my sins. I do need a savior. Tell more of Jesus and His love for sinners like me."

I awoke from the dream as Christian and Talkative were on their knees together asking God for mercy through the merits of Christ alone. Talkative had listened to the bubble men for years and never accepted the gospel. But confronted with Divine Revelation, he acknowledged his sin and guilt and that Jesus was the only way to heaven. The Holy Spirit opened his heart and mind to the Gospel. After all, no one was ever argued into the kingdom. They are born into it by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.