“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:14)
If the Bible and Christians contend that Jesus Christ is the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins, that He was perfect and without sin during His life and ministry on earth, by what or by whose standard do we judge the existence of this alleged perfect moral character in any person?
How would we determine that the life of Jesus was at the outer edge of moral perfection, at the peak and the pinnacle of absolute goodness and virtue?
How would we know that no additional room or space remained at the highest top-most point of the vertical, graduated spectrum-line of virtue and morality for further improvement?
What would explain the existence of the diverse categories of moral criteria defining virtue, of the numerous moral concepts broken down into individual words as abstract thoughts accessible to human contemplation, that would enable and support a valid determination of the moral credentials of Jesus Christ?
And finally, where would our highly-advanced capacity to comprehend, to divide, separate-out, and parse these varied conceptual virtues and vices, consisting of finely differentiated realities that are true-to-life, come from?
Where would this uniquely human capacity originate from, seeing that it does not exist anywhere else in the animal world and therefore cannot plausibly be attributed to the common descent, materialistic explanation for its origin extending seamlessly from animal instinct to human intellect?
In short, this current planet earth is the perfect environment to conduct individual research explorations into the knowledge of good and evil, using the lens of a fallen moral nature that is redeemed by Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.
The broad array of moral concepts functionally operative within human relationships is the intellectually thought-filled human counterpart to the biodiversity and ecological balance we find in the natural world that enables animal instinct to operate.
The brilliant invention of redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ is the means by which believers can with impunity and without risk to our eternal salvation, enter into journeys of faith by picking-up our own cross to follow Jesus Christ into adventures of challenge beyond our imagination…designed to illuminate the subtleties of the knowledge of good and evil for our eternal benefit.
The entirely counterintuitive insight coming from modern science that adds a new and unexpected understanding of the biblical interpretation of salvation by grace through faith in Christ, is that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was not just a way to provide forgiveness for sin and to restore our relationship with God, but also to open-up a living way into exploring the knowledge of good and evil through the research vehicle of an imperfect yet redeemed, fallen moral nature (Rom. 7:15-8:4; 2 Cor. 4:7).
If we look at the detailed, biblical narrative stories of faith from Abraham through Paul, we see not only personal relationships created between people and God, and mission-plans often having enormous benefits to other people, but we also see life-scripts that are research programs into the knowledge of good and evil that are purpose-filled at the pinnacle of rational thought and reasoning.
There is infinitely more to God’s plan of salvation than just reconciliation and addressing the guilt of our mistakes, as important as that is.
Redemptive salvation by grace through faith points directly to Genesis 3:4-5.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
This is a classic example of a half-truth.
What fell apart in the Garden of Eden was not an honestly contested dispute over a set of facts about what beneficial outcomes eating a particular fruit would produce.
This dispute was about the element of trust within a personal relationship.
It is like a parent telling their young child to look both ways before crossing the street, without explaining in details the pros and cons.
Personal relationships between people and God are why the life-stories in the Bible are based upon faith, worked-out through experiential lessons-learned.
The temptation in the Garden of Eden contained nothing in dispute over empirical, fact-based evidence.
Nothing was presented in the form of evidence to back up the assertion to reject God’s word in terms of truth or authority.
Faith and trust are central to biblical Judaism and Christianity because the fundamental issue was based upon a personal relationship and not a question of empirical facts in dispute.
A personal relationship between people and the living God is a theme that runs throughout the Bible, that is missing in all other religions and worldviews.
The optimum way that I can acquire a genuine knowledge of good and evil, is through a guided research program while inhabiting the four-wheel-drive vehicle of my fallen yet redeemed earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:7), my imperfect moral nature being the perfect lens through which to understand the subtleties of the broad array of moral concepts.
It took a perfect person Jesus Christ to take my deserved place on the cross to satisfy perfect justice, yet one profound outcome of this event provided divine impunity for me to enter into a research program into the knowledge of good and evil in which it is a certainty that I will make mistakes that become lessons-learned rather than condemning sins (Mt. 5:6).
This is one reason why God did not show-up in the Garden of Eden to dispute the character assassination put forward by the spiritual apparition of Satan in the holographic form of a beautiful talking serpent, because it is difficult to debate issues this deeply profound with a liar.
The galactic irony here is that it is modern science that illuminates this component of a research program into the knowledge of good and evil contained within redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ.
Another profound take-away here is that science will disappear as we now know it, the universe being temporal (Mk. 13:31; 2 Pet. 3:10).
But a genuine knowledge of good and evil acquired through the first-hand experience of living within a God-composed journey of faith life-script lasts an eternity.
This establishes an eternal priority ranking upon what is important in life.
I think it takes a grasp of what is involved in a modern science research program to see the comparative quality of God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts in which God displaces our ways and thoughts with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9), like a PhD professor guiding a graduate student through their thesis research program (Jn. 16:13).
The God of the Bible is writing research programs and offering research grants in the form of redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ, so that believers can obtain a genuine knowledge of good and evil through the first-hand field research of personal experience, our mistakes and shortcomings factored-in as part of the lessons-learned protocol.
The brilliance of this is that it partly validates from an unexpected direction the claim by Jesus that He is the way, the truth, and the life to the exclusion of all other gods, religions, and philosophies.
Jesus said “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Jn. 14:6).
Only one God can be God.
Only our Creator God can compose journeys of faith that match our unique talents and abilities, replacing our ways with His higher ways, to craft all-wheel-drive research vehicles having the lens of a fallen yet redeemed moral character through which to comprehend the subtle nuances of the knowledge of good and evil.
Only the one real God is capable of crafting a program that identifies one of the fundamental purposes underlying the creation of the universe, inventing the concept of redemptive salvation by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which allows me to venture-out into a risk-filled journey of faith, with the real-world and rational understanding that I am certain to make many honest and unintentional mistakes (Mt.5:6).
This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.