The logical implication of a “godless” world is the loss of absolute truth.
For most of Western history, God was the moral compass by which to navigate human opinion. Without Him, we have no choice but to reduce ethics to a social construct or mere preference.
It seems that modern secularists have embraced this reality with fervor. They will proudly declare, “There is NO right and NO wrong,” seemingly unaware that this statement is not only superficial but self-refuting. After all, you cannot declare that absolutes absolutely do not exist - this is logically incoherent.
Moreover, no one lives as if this is actually true. It’s impossible to function as a moral relativist. Everyone has a proverbial “line in the sand” which, if crossed, produces an emphatic response of, “That is WRONG!”
No reasonable person refutes the evil of racism, sex slavery, or genocide. We put people who commit acts like these in prison. (Incidentally, should prisons exist in a society committed to moral relativism?)
Some things are RIGHT, and some are WRONG - to deny this is to reject reality. And yet ask those on the streets, in schools, and in the workplace who defines morality, and relativism is what you will hear over and over again.
How should a follower of Jesus respond?
I have found that a typical reaction among Christians is to mock those who think this way. We are baffled that people can have such juvenile perspectives.
This has often been my reaction, and I have needed to repent.
When Jesus looked out at the crowds, He had great compassion. He saw that they were lost and deceived, and His heart broke for them. I’d imagine Jesus never thought, “How could they be so stupid to believe that good works can save them.” Jesus loved people, and in His mercy, He reasoned with them, lovingly pointing them to Himself.
We need to take Jesus’ lead and do the same.
For many secular people, buried beneath the incoherence of moral relativism is a nobler goal. I believe that what most people mean when they say morals are relative is “all people should be accepted regardless of what they believe.”
The modern notion of tolerance is built on the idea that a person’s value and what they believe are linked. Therefore, to call into a question a person’s actions or attitudes is tantamount to attacking their value and worth - and this is off limits.
Tragically, too many people have seen religion used as a weapon to oppress and marginalize. They have wrongly concluded that the way forward is in eroding the concept of absolute truth altogether.
Admittedly, there is an element of rebellion and a glorification of personal autonomy embedded in the desire to emancipate oneself from the traditional institutions of moral authority. But I do think there is also a genuine desire to be loved, and this drives some of the superficial thinking in modern culture.
As Christ-followers, we need to show mercy and patience with secular thinking, and strive to find common ground. The good news is that in Jesus, we have the answer to the most significant human felt need - to be loved and valued.
We know, as Christians, that we aren’t accidents or highly evolved animals, but the sons and daughters of the Creator of the Universe. We are endowed with inalienable value and worth, and fiercely loved by the One who made us.
This is what secular people need to hear from us. Followers of Jesus need to demonstrate with both words and actions the deep value that Jesus gives every person.
Perhaps then these people will abandon the shallowness of secular philosophy for the deep waters of God’s love.