Genesis 2:7 “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
In his 2008 novel ‘Winnie and Wolf’, British writer AN Wilson’s intention was to take his readers through an historical saga of how the Wagner family’s daughter ‘Winnie’, as well as all of Germany, was seduced by the fanatic “Wolf’, Adolf Hitler. But the effect his own writing had on Wilson led him back from nearly 30 years of atheism to publicly proclaiming his recommitment to Jesus Christ.
In his article “Why I Believe Again”, Wilson expounds on the argument for the existence of objective morality, which he was forced to confront while writing that novel, as the one that finally forced him to abandon his unbelief: “I haven’t mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realizing how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer’s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.”
Wilson continues in the article to not only give several reasons why the Christian worldview is superior to the secular, material worldview that dominates England and is steadily growing today in America, but he attacks the academic and media atheists for what he calls their ‘superstitious belief’ in anything Darwinian to help them come to terms with a worldview that must deny the existence of a moral God:
“Watching a whole cluster of friends, and my own mother, die over quite a short space of time convinced me that purely materialist “explanations” for our mysterious human existence simply won’t do – on an intellectual level. The phenomenon of language alone should give us pause. A materialist Darwinian was having dinner with me a few years ago and we laughingly alluded to how, as years go by, one forgets names. Eager, as committed Darwinians often are, to testify on any occasion, my friend asserted: ‘It is because when we were simply anthropoid apes, there was no need to distinguish between one another by giving names.’ This creedal confession struck me as just as superstitious as believing in the historicity of Noah’s Ark. More so, really. Do materialists really think that language just “evolved”, like finches’ beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where’s the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? How could it have come about that groups of anthropoid apes developed the amazing morphological complexity of even a single sentence? No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena – of which love and music are the two strongest – which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat. They convince me that we are spiritual beings, and that the religion of the incarnation, asserting that God made humanity in His image, and continually restores humanity in His image, is simply true. As a working blueprint for life, as a template against which to measure experience, it fits.”
In our verse this week, the Bible gives us the clear, concise answer for the origin of objective moral values. They are given to us from God Himself, who breathes into human beings alone the capacity to distinguish between what is good versus what is evil. In the Christian worldview, objective moral values are grounded in God, who by definition is the greatest conceivable Being and thus the very definition of Goodness.
Wilson sums up his return to Christianity by emphasizing this very point: “My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again. Gilbert Ryle, with donnish absurdity, called God ‘a category mistake’. Yet the real category mistake made by atheists is not about God, but about human beings. Turn to the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge – ‘Read the first chapter of Genesis without prejudice and you will be convinced at once . . . ‘The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life’. And then Coleridge adds: ‘And man became a living soul.’ Materialism will never explain those last words.”
It is the materialists’ rejection of objective morality that prevents coming to grips with Genesis 2:7.