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Regis Nicoll Christian Blog and Commentary

Regis Nicoll

Freelance Writer, Speaker, Worldview Teacher, Men's Ministry Leader

Their moony embrace of multiculturalism has rendered modern liberals unable to connect the dots between beliefs and consequences. Rooted in moral relativism, multiculturalism is the notion that all moral codes are valid within their respective cultures, with no people group privileged to make moral judgments of others.

The person boorish enough to criticize the mores of another culture will quickly find himself banished from polite company for being racist, bigoted, intolerant, or (fill in the blank)-phobic. Just ask Sam Harris and Bill Maher, both establishment liberals, who were excoriated by Ben Affleck on an HBO panel discussion for their illiberalism. Their offense: calling Islam dangerous for the atrocities committed by Islamists.

To remain a member of the left in “good standing,” one can never, but never, attribute evil to the belief system that spawned it, even when the perpetrators themselves do so. One must stick to the liberal script, characterizing the actors as fringe, radical, extremist, misguided, and not representative of the true beliefs of their culture—except, that is, when those actors are Christian.

Double standards

Had the target of Harris’s and Maher’s criticism been Christianity, I doubt it would have elicited so much as a raised eyebrow from Affleck. Indeed, it has become standard practice in liberal circles to blame Christianity for hate crimes against gays and abortion clinic bombings, among other things.

But when the crime in question is a suicide bombing by ISIS, Al Qaeda, or other Islamist group, the well-bred liberal will respond, first, with appropriate outrage, then, with an ever-so-reassuring explanation that such is not the action of Muslims, but of religious fanatics; because Islam, “true” Islam, is a religion of peace and Muslims are a tolerant people.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who sided with Affleck on the HBO panel, commented that ISIS militants who cite Islamic teaching to justify their barbarism “give all Islam a bad name.” Former Muslim Ibn Warraq knows better...Continue reading here.

Charles Spurgeon once said, "Truth is like a lion. Who ever heard of defending a lion? Just turn it loose and it will defend itself." A few years back, I learned just how right the 19th-century preacher was. It happened during in an online discussion I had with “Nigel” (not his real name).

Nigel is a self-described atheist and rising star in theBrights movement—a community of philosophical naturalists aimed at “illuminating and elevating the naturalistic worldview,” as their slogan proudly states. Some of its more prominent luminaries include Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, and Daniel Dennett.

After coming across a piece I had written critical of naturalism, Nigel invited me to have a dialogue with him on his open blog. I agreed and was quickly drawn into a protracted discussion.

Over a period of several weeks, we covered topics ranging from the origin of the universe and the nature of matter to the origin of morality and the nature of God. Nigel’s central argument rested on the explanatory power of naturalism over theism, with particular emphasis on Darwinian evolution. As he explained in one characteristic statement,

“Natural selection is so parsimonious and so powerful, it answers so many questions and solves so many intellectual problems in biology, archaeology, paleontology and anthropology, that it is rightly held aloft as one of the pinnacles of human thought.”  My response went something like this

Before I die

“Before I die I want to ______.”

How would you fill in the blank?

It’s a haunting question, one that challenges everyone who passes by one of the hundreds of walls from Beijing to Brooklyn emblazoned with that hanging statement.

Artist Candy Chang created the first wall in 2011 after the loss of a loved one. Following an extended period of grief, Chang stenciled a grid with the words “Before I die I want to ____” on the side of an abandoned building (with the owner’s permission) in her neighborhood. Her hope was that the wall would help her to reflect on what is important and cause others to pause and share what matters most to them.

And share they have.

The walls

In four years, thousands of people have jotted their “bucket list” items on over 500 walls in 30 languages and 70 countries. Photos of the walls are posted on Chang’s website, where many of the entries can be read.

As one might expect, the want-tos range from the frivolous (“get a tattoo”) to the fanciful (“end poverty”); from the prankish (“punch a clown”) to the profound (“invent something”); from the horrific (“witness a murder”) to the heartrending (“forget what it feels like to take a life”); and from the puerile (“not be a virgin”) to the poignant (“reconnect with my dad”).

Most express a desire for experiences and accomplishments, like “meet Justin Bieber,” “go to Fiji,” “learn French,” or “skydive” (numerous entries). Others, many others, express the longing to be happy or find love or to become a star, millionaire, or professional athlete. On a wall at a church in my hometown, entries include “buy a boat,” “marry my partner,” and “be cured” (of?).

Few betray the desire for a change in behavior or character, as does this refreshing example: “love and serve my wife unconditionally.”

A curious visitor

That said, there is nothing wrong with most of these things. Many are decent and well-intentioned, some admirable and praiseworthy, and most, I suspect—even the “buy a boat” variety—reflect a deep existential yearning.

Yet an extraterrestrial happening upon these walls might easily conclude that earthlings have no higher aspirations than to accumulate stuff, have experiences, and achieve emotional satisfaction during their fourscore existence.

If our E.T. were prompted to observe how we actually live, I fear his impression would be largely unaffected. And if he were further prompted to delve into our past, he would learn how little we’ve changed over the course of history. He might even come across the autobiography of a king whose catalog of achievements exceeded the ambitions of all but the most outlandish bucket lists scrawled on those 500-plus walls. Continue reading here.