Let us imagine that I was to join a “Tug of War” league where an enormously sophisticated artificial intelligence divided people of all ages into equal “teams” based on their potential pulling power. After being evaluated, the AI assigns me to 1 of 20 teams and we compete for a full season. Having lost all of our matches, I go to the AI to tell it just what I think of it and the following conversation ensues.
So Hal, I thought you were supposed to be this very sophisticated AI and that you were supposed to divide our teams equally in terms of their potential. My whole team worked their hearts out and yet we lost every match. Are you sure your systems are running correctly?
I don’t like being called Hal, Rob, and my systems are running fine. You are correct that all of your teammates worked enormously hard. I calculate that they collectively realized approximately 95% of their potential. According to my calculations, you were the reason that your team lost every match.
That is not possible Hal. I pulled harder than anyone else on my team, so how could it possibly be my fault that we lost every match?
Rob, you weigh 350 pounds and leaning back on the rope you would pull more than any other member of your team. This level of effort, however, represents a tiny fraction of your potential. Had you taken the time to do some training and laid off the donuts, you could have pulled up to 4 times as much and had you met even 50% of your potential, your team would have won every match.
Ouch! Would I want to go to my teammates with that assessment? Would I be proud of the fact that I had pulled more than any of the eight year old girls on my team or ashamed that I had let everyone else down?
But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48)
This is one of the most terrifying passages of the Bible because it tells us that we will not be judged according to what we did, we will be judged according to our potential. Do you think you are doing fine as compared to other people? That is not the measure by which you will be judged. You will be judged according to what you could have done had you been doing all that you could. This is a terrifying thought for those of us who have been “given much”.
These thoughts came to me after I watched a video by a “theistic agnostic” who calls himself “Black Pigeon Speaks” (BPS). During the video, BPS made a claim that will be familiar to anyone who follows internet atheists. “Now I know that there are many of us who don’t need God to be good, but 86% of the people out there do.” As I already demonstrated in my post, “Answering the Christopher Hitchens Challenge“, I think the standard that atheists are using for “living a good life” is far too low. As a person who has wrestled with things from their perspective, however, I know how it is possible to think you are doing okay. It is the same error that I was making in the fictional account of the “tug of war” team above. Atheists think that they are doing great because as gifted members of affluent societies they are doing better than most of the people in the world.
The truth is, however, that our global society is on the road to ruin and failing badly. If our society is to be healthy, it needs gifted and intelligent atheists to do more than pay their taxes and take their neighbor’s garbage out every once in a while. Instead of destroying the only basis of hope that human beings have by attacking faith in Jesus Christ, gifted atheists need to be pillars of their community helping others to bear their burdens and make the world a better place by their example. Imagine their surprise when they find out that far from being one of the reasons why our societies had any success, their failure to live up to their potential was the reason for our demise.