As we continue to celebrate a Christmas through Epiphany, Jan. 6, and the baby born in Bethlehem who grew to become to world’s most famous person and founder of the largest religion on the planet, with more than 2 billion followers, it is a great time to remember the values that Jesus brought into Western culture.
Among these spectacular Christian values that have characterized our culture historically is the belief that the each individual human life has value. The emphasis on rationality and reason also stems from Christian doctrines.
Further, the concept of equality regardless of race, creed, status or gender has been a central ideal that is dramatically different from today’s left-wing radical ideal of skin color defining a person. As the young are now taught to hate one another based on skin color, Christian values speak of the very opposite: the focus on “loving one another” regardless of color. Naturally, the Christian preacher and martyr Dr. Martin Luther King is among those who are not so popular anymore.
As we watch countries such as the United States forsake its Christian values and embark on the path to atheist socialism, it is even more vital to remember what the Judeo-Christian heritage is all about.
Many take for granted that historic Western ideals were of secular origin. This is a highly flawed assumption.
Most of the intellectuals in the 1600s “Age of Enlightenment” were devout Christians. They scientifically examined the great works of God in nature.
Middle East expert and author Raymond Ibrahim points out that tolerance, human rights, a desire for peace and being “kind to everyone” did not develop in a civilizational vacuum, but rather from the singular teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
Over the course of some 2,000 years, these have had a profound influence on Western epistemology and culture. Jesus, who was Jewish, continued much of the same teaching that is found in Judaism, its Ten Commandments, the Torah and other important writings that have ended up greatly shaping Western civilization.
Early Christian philosophers such as St. Justin, who lived in the first century A.D., strongly emphasized the rationality of creation, its reasonability, arguing that every human is a rational being and that God himself works through rationality.
Each man carries within him a “seed” of the eternal, through which he may see parts of the eternal truths. This is why a Christian should be open to rational argument, regardless of the speaker’s creed or race. Man is to be humble enough to perceive the light of God wherever it shows itself, as the rational choice in the search for truth and the best possible life.
St. Augustine, who lived in the fourth century A.D., states in “Contra Academicos” that reason is a founding principle within the Christian faith, as faith and reason should not be separated or placed in opposition.
Clement of Alexandria, from the third century A.D., pointed out that to gain knowledge from contemporary worldviews, such as the Greeks, was an important dialogue to have in order to attain higher knowledge.
Life is a journey through which we are to attain wisdom and a deep understanding of the world in which we live so that we end up bettering it.
Melanie Phillips points in “The World Turned Upside Down” to early Christian thinkers such as Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas, who believed that since God created the world and gave man a rational mind, the universe itself must be supremely rational.
It is one of the founding principles of Christianity that rationality and its philosophy should be at the forefront defending the faith.
God has provided us with two books, the book of Nature and the Bible, and to be truly educated, one needs to study both, as argued by the English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon.
Descartes searched for natural laws and felt that they had to exist because God is perfect. German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler was convinced that the goal of science itself was to discover the rational order God had imposed on it. Galileo Galilei stated that the laws of nature are written in the hand of God but in the language of mathematics.
It was religion, not secular thought, that pushed for the view that nature is founded on a deep rationality that connects all the elements together and allows us to study these. Therefore, states Phillips, it is atheism that is innately hostile to reason.
So, Merry Christmas in remembrance of the groundbreaking values of Jesus, the son of Mary!
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