By Alice Barakagwira
Back in Fall 2014, in the Introduction to Human Services course, we were having
a conversation about whether there are links between one’s belief in God, or a lack of
belief in God, and one’s health. This conversation was originated from the conception of
mental health in my culture. Back home in Burundi, it’s very rare to see an individual
who seeks help from medical providers for mental health. Mental health is believed to
be a spiritual issue. For this reason, mental health problems are treated within religious
settings. And I have witnessed people being healed because of their faith.
One of my classmates asked where she would have gone for help since she
doesn’t believe in God. Just out of curiosity, I asked her why she doesn’t believe in God,
and the response was that God doesn’t exist. According to her, God doesn’t exist
because she never saw God. The conversation went on and I asked her how, if God is
in Burundi, and because she has never been in Burundi, wouldn’t it be possible for her
to meet God? And by the fact that she hasn’t been in Burundi doesn’t deny the
existence of God. This conversation that I had with my classmate shows me how much
we count on science, or maybe on our own ignorance.
Because of the advancement and success of science, there is often a tendency
to think that science can explain everything. I agree that science has contributed
countless benefits to human life on planet Earth. I am grateful for the work of scientists
who devoted their lives to the study of this discipline and all the advantages scientific
advances give us. However, I do believe that there is such a thing as transcendent
morality, something that rises above the natural world, or something that transcends the
One of the key moral principles that I can think of is “Moral Truth.” By definition a
statement is true when it corresponds with reality. In other words, a statement is true
when it matches up with the way the world really is. It looks like when we come to moral
truth, we do change the definition of what moral truth is. Here, everyone tends to have
his/her own truth. What is your favorite food? The response here is subjective. I may
favor seafood and you don’t. But if, for example, two people have different opinions
about the morality of an action, both cannot be right, and there is only one right answer.
Similarly, if two cultures have different standards for morality, both cannot be correct. In
fact, maybe both are incorrect.
I believe truth never changes. Truth is truth whether you stand for it or not. In
other words, truth is God because he never changes. Truth is what comes from Him.
Man has discovered scientifically observable, testable explanations for many physical
phenomena. Science is not the only way of knowing and understanding. But science is
a way of knowing that differs from other ways. Moral laws cannot be tested in this
sense; moral laws result from the belief in God and in God’s word.
To conclude, one cannot have moral laws in place without a moral law giver.
Morality comes from God. He is the author and creator of everything good and true. But
with free will, it is up to us to want to listen, or not through the Holy Spirit. People who
choose not to listen to Him try to make up their own morality, contrary to the word of
God, but it is actually false. There is only one lawgiver, that’s God. His word and his
laws are truths. True morality cannot come from anyone or anything else.