I have been reading Timothy Keller’s book, The Reason for God, and chapter 10 is entitled The Problem of Sin. Keller begins the chapter with two quotes from H. G. Wells. In 1937 Wells wrote the book, A Short History of the World. Keller shares this quote from the book:
“Can we doubt that presently our race will more than realize our boldest imaginations, that it will achieve unity and peace, and that our children will live in a world made more splendid and lovely than any palace or garden that we know, going on from strength to strength in an ever-widening circle of achievement? What man has done, the little triumphs of his present state...form but the prelude to things that man has yet to do.”
After World War II (1946) Wells published another book entitled, A Mind at the End of Its Tether. This is the quote Keller took from that book:
“The cold-blooded massacres of the defenseless, the return of the deliberate and organized torture, mental torment, and fear to a world from which such things had seemed well nigh banished—has come near to breaking my spirit altogether…’Homo Sapiens,’ as he has been pleased to call himself, is played out.”
There was such hope for humankind, but the atrocities of war were a vivid reminder how evil people really are. The lack of knowledge and education is not our problem. We are a society that has been schooled and we have more knowledge than people who came before us (that doesn’t mean that we have more wisdom). Yet, we still do incredibly stupid things.
Just this week we have read about a governor who got caught having an affair because of a unannounced trip to South America. When I read that story I thought, “How stupid can you be?” Or we read about celebrities who know the consequences of drug addiction, and yet they are caught in an endless cycle of rehab and abuse. Or there is the couple who is in debt tens of thousands of dollars, and yet they still live a lifestyle way beyond their means by using credit cards. It isn’t a lack of knowledge that causes people to do seemingly stupid things.
I know that my day goes better if I take time to pray in the morning, but I don’t always do it. Why? Because my body tells me that I can take five more minutes to snooze, which turn into 10 minutes, and then 30 minutes, and in then end I am rushing around trying to get to the office on time. It isn’t a lack of knowledge that keeps me from praying in the morning.
The problem is that we are controlled by the flesh, the part of us which puts us as ultimate. That is what sin is. Sin, at its core, is putting things in the place of God, even ourselves. As long as we are controlled by the flesh we are going to experience stupid and evil behavior from ourselves and those around us. The problem with humanity isn’t a lack of education, it is sin.
The presence of sin in the world is one clue that leads me to believe in God.