We live in a secular world. People focus on secular accomplishments, judge value in physical ways, and offer materialistic explanations for their own existence. While the intellectuals of modernity attempt to couch their trust in the world in scientific and philosophical terms, in the end they have simply added technical dressing to a pagan principle. They proclaim the glories of the physical because they deny the spiritual. Secular humanism, the de facto religion of the irreligious, demands a self-saving doctrine built on self-centered trust and self-styled purpose in order to create a self-oriented glory they call self-esteem. How sadly typical that, in order to find value in themselves, they consider it necessary to eliminate God from their thinking. In the process, they limit themselves and their value because they see themselves solely as material beings as well. The LORD offers so much more to His creation than an existence rooted in worldliness. But if we expect others to see this, we must ensure that we fully appreciate it first. In Psalm 115 the psalmist contrasts the worthlessness of paganism with the transcendent nature of the LORD, and this comparison retains similar substance in combatting modern secularism within our own hearts.
Secularism assumes all existence is physical, but the LORD transcends this world (Psa. 115:1-8). Left to his own devices, man strives for personal fulfillment rooted in his own selfish desires, a matter easily justified if man is the measure of all things. But the existence of a Creator demands humility of man and submission to His will, a will that exists apart from this earth, rooted in omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Any attempt to assert some will by appealing to human experience and wisdom pales in comparison—not only in the nature of the claim but also in the actuality of the practice. Like the pagans of old, materialistic practitioners today, trusting in worldly wisdom, end up caught in the trap of their own hypocrisy, constantly adjusting their precepts and advice in a silent acknowledgment of their fallibility and ignorance. Secularism implicitly encourages its adherents to trust their instincts for personal behavior, trust secular “experts” for answers to life’s questions, and trust government programs for life’s problems. The faithful, on the other hand, trust the LORD (Psa. 115:9-11). This does not constitute a blind faith in the immediate dissolution of all problems in life but rather a recognition that following the prescriptions of divine revelation provide far greater help and protection in life than the combined wisdom of thousands. Secularists convince themselves that they alone are responsible for every positive advance of humankind while simultaneously blaming humanity for every perceived calamity in existence. Because they place themselves at the pinnacle of thought, they reject the providence of a Creator who cares for His creation and for those who serve Him in particular (Psa. 115:12-15). They give millions of dollars and years of effort to try to solve problems that do not exist—all because their pride rejects God. And thus they live in fear, lacking the comfort of the simple phrase, “The Lord has been mindful of us.” Most of all, secularism degrades individual purpose and replaces it with personal fulfillment—a natural progression for those who view life without reference to God or eternity (Ecc. 1:2-16)—but the LORD gives purpose to life (Psa. 115:16-l8). We live as caretakers of the earth—not its children. We live treating life as a blessing and an opportunity to serve God—not an existence created by chemistry and defined by biology. We live for God and for eternity in accordance with His character, and that changes life itself.