There are two posts today, so don’t forget to scroll down and read “Rob Bell on Heaven and Hell.” I am reading Sex God, and finding it to be a moving read with much to say about how I live my life. I appreciate Rob’s ability to communicate in ways that move me and make me want to be transformed.
I was reading a blog called the Friendly Atheist speaking about Rob Bell (read it here). I was impressed that Rob can communicate in ways that interest a thoughtful young atheist rather than turning him off. If you read the article, you may agree with me that Rob was too soft and non-committal on a few things. But even if he is making some mistakes, he is representing God well to people who need to know him.
Anyway, the blog article got me thinking about some of Rob’s ideas expressed in Sex God that have bearing on the issue of atheism. I like C.S. Lewis’s point, made famously in Mere Christianity. He said that when we are seeking truth, we may not be able to have certainty about the universe. It is outside of us. But we can look within and feel more certainty that we know ourselves than any certainty that we know the universe. Thus, Lewis goes on to give evidence for God from our own moral urgings.
Rob does something similar. He is not really trying to argue with atheism, but to make a point about a balanced view of sexuality and materialism. Nonetheless, Rob opens a window into the urges inside us, urges that are evidence of God’s reality.
Rob contrasts our inner angel and our inner animal. His first illustration is of a safari when he and his wife witnessed a lion couple mating. Rob noticed the sheer physicality of the encounter, the lack of spirit:
These animals are going to mate because it’s in their DNA, their blood, their environment. They aren’t lying out there in that field thinking, I just really want to know that you love me for more than my body.
A little later, Rob describes the sheer animalism of the spring break party scenes in places like Cancun. For a little while life becomes hedonism. This leads Rob to ask:
Are we just the sum of our urges?
What a question. How can an atheist avoid honestly saying yes, we are just the sum of our urges? How can any thinking, feeling person really feel this is a description of the truth we experience?
Rob goes on to speak about our angel urges. Angels do not need the physical. They do not need food, sex, or physical pleasure. God made us differently. We can’t pretend to be angels. We have physical needs and there are good ways to fulfill them:
When we deny the spiritual dimension to our existence, we end up living like animals. And when we deny the physical, sexual dimension to our existence, we end up living like angels.
And both ways are destructive, because God made us human.
Later he says, God made animals before humans. He also made angels before humans. To go back and try to live either way is to go backwards.
I don’t know if any atheists will read my little blog. But if you do, I hope you ask yourself similar questions. Isn’t there a little bit of angel in you calling out for fulfillment? You may turn Freudian and call it wish-fulfillment, but what if you are wrong? Why not indulge it a little? Try reading Matthew. Try praying to the God of Israel and the God of Jesus. Maybe we are more than the sum of our urges and maybe you will find it too.