Writings on Christianity

Andrew Klavan’s “The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ”

Andrew Klavan’s “The Great Good Thing”

I recently finished Andrew Klavan’s “The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.” This was EXTREMELY well written and thoroughly enjoyable to read!

In his journey to faith, Klavan spent some time as atheist. Yet what shook him out of his atheism was the realization that morality must have some kind of truth in reality, rather than merely preference of the individual or society.

Here’s an excerpt worth noting:

“Then, in my atheist reading, I came upon the writings of the Marquis de Sade. It marked a watershed in my thing. Nowadays, “the divine Marquis” is sometimes depicted as a naughty rogue who enjoyed what the British call “a bit of the slap and tickle,” a libertine who brought a needed dose of sexual freedom into a pinched an hypocritical era. That’s not how I saw him at all. Sade–from whom we get the word sadism–was a violent psychopath who brutally tortured servants and prostitutes for his own pleasure. (When even the French imprison you for your sexual practices, you know you’ve crossed the line!) He was also a philosopher of genius.

Sade understood that if there is no God, there can be no ultimate morality.There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. unlike Freud and other atheists, though, Sade followed mad Hamlet’s logic with unswerving honesty. Without morality, he said, we are only responsible to our natures, and nature demands only that we pleasure ourselves in any way we like, the strong at the expense of the weak. “Nature, mother to us all, never speaks to us save of ourselves… prefer thyself, love thyself, no matter at whose expense,” he declared. And then, with wonderful wit, he added: “Nature has endowed each of us with a capacity for kindly feelings: let us not squander them on others.” All of this, he illustrated with graphic passages of pornography depicting tortures, rapes, and murders in a way intended to sexually arousing. And his work is arousing. It’s also repulsive. And to my eyes, it’s evil.

Here, at least, however, was an atheist who outlook made complete logical sense to me from beginning to end. If there is no God, there is no morality. If there is no morality, the search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain are all in all and we should pillage, rape, and murder as we please. None of this pale, milquetoast atheism that says “Let’s all do what’s good for society.” Why should I do what’s good for society? What is society to me? None of this elaborate game-theory nonsense where we all benefit by mutual sacrifice and restraint. That only works until no one’s looking; then I’ll get away with what I can. If there is no God, there is no good, and sadistic pornography is scripture.

But the opposite is also true. That is, if we concede that one thing is morally better than another, it can only be because it is closer to an Ultimate Moral Good, the standard by which it’s measured. An Ultimate Moral Good cannot just be an idea. It must be, in effect, a personality with consciousness and free will. The rain isn’t morally good even though it makes the crops grow; a tornado that kills isn’t morally evil–though it may be an evil for hose in its way. Happy and sad events, from birth to death, just happen, and we ascribe moral qualities to them as they suit us or don’t. But true, objective good and evil, in order to be good and evil, have to be aware and intentional. So an Ultimate Moral Good must be conscious and free; it must be God.

So we have to choose, Either is no God and no morality whatsoever, or there is morality and God real.

Either way makes sense, if you’re speaking strictly about logic. I didn’t reject Sade’s outlook on logical grounds. I rejected it because I found ti repulsive and I knew it wasn’t true just as I know that one plus tow always equals two plus one, though neither I nor anyone else can prove it. So, too, I know that a Nazi who tortures a child to death is less moral than a priest who gives a beggar bread–and that this is so even in a world that is all Nazis everywhere. In the chain of reasoning that took me finally to Christ, accepting this one axiom–that some actions are morally better than others–is the only truly non logical leap of faith I ever made. Hardly a leap really. Barely even a step. I know it’s so. And those who declare they do not are, like Hamlet, only pretending.

After reading Sade, I abandoned atheism and returned to agnosticism.”

(“The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ” pages 202-204)

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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