#1. God – Our appreciation of God like our notion of morality, a sound family, and natural law and natural rights is defined mainly from our Judeo-Christian roots; even our affinity for individualism owes much to these roots. Accordingly, there is nothing or no one higher in value or more worthy of our regard than God. This veneration of God is contrary to the primary focus of many others religions and ideologies like Atheism, Anarchism, Marxism, Socialism, Fascism, or Modern Psychology in which either the ‘self’ or the collective (faction, state, planet, etc.) is venerated, and self-gratification (actualization) or the collective good is the chief priority.
When it comes to our relationship with God, Judaism and Christianity elevates each human being beneath God and above all other beings or things in the world/universe and endows each of us with (natural rights) freedom and independence. Each individual person is unique and precious to God. Unlike the rest of creation, we are created in His image. That He see each of us as worthy, demands that we treat each other with dignity and worth, and demands that we look out for even the least among us, but with the foreknowledge that this can be a slippery slope of temptation at the bottom of which is dependence, subjugation, and the squandering and usurpation of our God-given individual freedom and independence (human agency). With these blessings, we now have the burdens of life on earth, which means that no matter the circumstances, each individual is ultimately responsible for his or her own earthly welfare, choices, and spiritual salvation. So accordingly, each person is free to pursue Heaven or Hell, he or she is the captain of their own ship so to speak, the determiner of their own dreams, and the author of their own destiny. That Americans appreciate this trade off – that with great individual freedom comes great individual responsibility – is partly why we generally value individualism over collectivism. Note, collectivism is not the same as collective action, individualism does not exclude collective action, in fact the individualism that arises from Judeo-Christian tradition generally promotes self-sacrifice and compassion for others.
Through Judaism and Christianity also comes the knowledge that God is, was and forever will be logic and truth, He is the highest power, the most valuable, and the standard of what is good and holy by which we all will be individually (rather than corporately/collectively) judged. So, Jews and Christians around the world see that it’s in their own individual interest to strive to behave in accordance to God’s will, which commissions each to put God first above all else, that each obeys God’s moral law, honors their parents, raises their children well, spreads God’s word, respects, helps and forgives others, works hard, lives modestly, is a good steward of God’s resources and obeys their governing civil authority so long as it does not jeopardize or impede their personal (not collective) commission and relationship with God. That we generally don’t is further proof of our need for a savior. However, the fruits of our devotion and faith that are not freely given but that are compelled by others or by the government count for nothing. (In the end, the flesh counts for nothing). What matters is what the individual freely believes (the spirit) and subsequently does.
God is not only a powerful motivator, He is also the great equalizer of individuals because while He is infinite, every single one of us is finite. We the people are equal in the since that we all are created in His image, but that we are all less than God, and thus all imperfect and all fallible in our own unique way. None of us is God. We all fall short of measuring up. Unfortunately, in the presence of the most holy God, the fallen, broken, and unredeemed cannot survive for long, and earthly separation gives us but a moment longer in the span of eternity. However, we are not created to fail but to learn and spiritually grow (mature). Our lives are about enduring the consequences of our nature and circumstances, both good and bad, so that we might persevere and develop character, see the error of our way, learn the wisdom of humbly deferring to God, and come to know Him better and lead others to Him as well. Christians in particular believe that God gives us this reprieve from eternal separation and death because we are all loved and sought by Him. It’s our pride and opposition to God that keeps us apart from Him, but He desires reconciliation. That’s why He sent is son, His incarnate Self, Jesus Christ, so that we might individually come to repent and to accept Him as our Lord and Savior, and so that rather than eternal death apart from God we would have eternal life with Him. But His nature is such, that no amount of Perfect (cleansing) blood can save (wash) a heart not freely open to Him. Here again individualism, and in particular an individual’s free will and love, is central to the kind of personal relationship God seeks with each one of us. What others who share class, race or other identity with us collectively do or have done has no bearing on any one’s spiritual salvation and relationship with God, instead it’s what we as individuals think, believe, and thus do that does.
For those who know Him, God, like the existence of love, logic, intelligence, curiosity, imagination, dark matter, gravity, etc. is seen and experienced most clearly through His effects, and He is a force that cannot be rationally denied. This was reflected in our Founding Fathers’ declaration: “We hold that these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights…” However, a person need not be a Jew or a Christian or even a scientist or mathematician to know that it is incredibly improbable that the intricate information contained within DNA necessary for the simplest of life to function developed naturally and by chance. We have never observed anything close to such development in nature, nor have we been able to replicate it in a lab. And, the odds are just as astronomically against the fine tuning of the physical universe necessary for it to develop as it did and to function as it does occurring by chance. Nothing we have learned throughout human history has noticeably improved these odds, and the improbability of all other explanations (beyond a creator) has only become starker the more we learn about the complexity of our universe. The universe required a lattice, a very particular and deliberate one. The evidence of design is self-evident and suggests a designer, a creator; God. The lattice is the hand and mind of God. Sometimes the best answer is the simplest. “God created the heavens and the earth.” Given the evidence, there is no more reasonable or less unreasonable explanation. The idea that this first and greatest miracle did not happen, is in fact the more outlandish and ridiculous proposition. Over two hundred years ago our Founding Fathers understood this, not because they were ignorant but on the contrary because they were wise and humble enough to not let pride, arrogance, and selfishness blind them to this common sense.
Is it any surprise then that those who selfishly obsess about unfettered carnal gratification and who embrace the proven false savior of collectivism, almost all either seek to recast God, creating a god in their own image to affirm the unbridling of our lowest common desires and impulses, or they latch onto some naturalistic alternative to God that is no less fantastical? All they really have is conjecture and faith, yet ironically, it’s they who often arrogantly mock the believers in God as believers in fairytales and it’s they who frequently complain that life is absurd.