Embracing a Paradox

“The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God…”  Psalms 14

The greatest tragedy of the fool is not only that he has rejected God as his creator, but that he has also rejected God as his savior.

How can you conduct a worship service if there is no God to worship? How can you perform religious rites, all of which presuppose the existence of a deity, if there is no deity?  To whom do you pray? What hope can you offer regarding the world to come?

How can you help someone connect to the spiritual, unseen, eternal realm? Who, outside of the human race, forgives your sins or empowers you to change? And, if you are convinced that there is no God, doesn’t that mean that you view all religious believers as being in serious error, not to mention deeply deceived?

Such questions came to mind when I saw the headline that Harvard had named Greg Epstein as chief chaplain, believing that he was the perfect candidate to organize the Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Mormons, Sikhs, etc. activities across campus.  Author of “Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe,” Epstein has served as Harvard’s humanist chaplain since 2005.

So much for the original Harvard motto:  ‘truth for Christ and the church’ or Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae, adopted in 1692, which can still be found on many buildings around campus.  Unfortunately over the centuries, with the adoption of liberalism, the motto has been shortened to simply Veritas.

To be a chaplain, by definition, means to be a religious leader, not simply a department head or an administrator or someone who believes in ethical living. Appointing an atheist to be chief university chaplain is like appointing a Christian evangelist to head up the university’s atheist club; or, a devout Muslim to head the university’s Judaism club. It is a total contradiction in both purpose and logic.

As for Epstein being a rabbi, that is just as absurd as being a chaplain, if not more so.  Without God, there is no Judaism.  To have Judaism without God would be similar to having Christianity without Christ. It simply cannot be.

But why let truth and facts and logic get in the way? Let’s just set our own standards and, to cite the title of Epstein’s 2009 book, let’s just be good without God.  In the end, if someone wants to try and be good without God, that is their choice. Just don’t call that person a rabbi or a chaplain. To do so, to say it once more, is a total contradiction in terms.

Harvard of old, in order to graduate with the most basic degree in Arts (not Theology, which  came later), the student had to be able “logically to explain the Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments … and … be blameless in life and character.”

Among the “Rules and Precepts” of Harvard to be observed by the students were these: “Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life.”

And: “Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoretical observations of Language and Logic, and in practical and spiritual truths . . . .”

As for the Harvard of today, in terms of its spiritual condition and worldview, need I say more?

Source: When Harvard Hired an Atheist to Be Chief University Chaplain by Dr. Michael Brown, the Stream; New Harvard Chief Chaplain is an Atheist and Ordained ‘Humanist Rabbi’ by Stephen M. Lepore, the Daily Mail

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