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Daniel At The University (a Guest-post by David Gooding)

“Daniel didn’t object to the opportunity to be educated; he gladly accepted the courses they offered him in the university. Moreover, when they changed his name and the names of his colleagues (names that incorporated the name of God) and gave them names that incorporated the names of their idols, Daniel didn’t object (1:7). You can’t stop people calling you what they will, can you? But when he was supposed to eat the king’s meat in the university dining room, which would have been offered to the gods according to the ceremonies of the time, then he and his colleagues downright refused. They had heard about idolatry from Jeremiah and Isaiah and had seen signs of it amongst the apostates in Israel. But to see idolatry in the university in Babylon, ‘No!’ said Daniel, ‘I will not submit to it.’ Why not? Because an idolatrous interpretation of the universe is a false interpretation. It is not true!
What was the idolatrous interpretation of the universe? To put it as briefly as I can, according to the New Testament the ancient nations knew the true God, but ‘did not see fit to acknowledge God’ (Rom 1:28). When they ceased believing in the true God they didn’t start believing in nothing, they had to make gods of their own. Their gods were, on the one part, the deification of the forces of Nature: the storm, the moon, the sun, the great powers of chaos, and so forth. They also made gods out of the physiological processes of the human body. They worshipped the goddess of love. And when they felt aggressive urges they said a god had got a hold of them, so they worshipped the god of war. When men lose faith in the true God that is what they do.
If ever there was an age in modern times that worshipped the goddess of love (Aphrodite), it is our modern world. Ask this bright young woman who has just murdered her lover’s wife and she will say, ‘It was love that made me do it.’ That’s supposed to be enough excuse? And then the jury lets them off, saying that it was love made them do it. It’s just like the ancients; they would have said, ‘The goddess Aphrodite got hold of me.’ You can’t resist a goddess and if it is love that moves you to murder your lover’s wife you must not call that murder. You will say, ‘I was blinded by love.’
Our modern world may not worship idols made of stone and wood any more. But if you ask our modern atheists and humanists what they regard as the ultimate powers that brought in and will yet destroy our universe, they will answer in their scientific jargon exactly as the old idolaters of the ancient world, ‘There is no God!’
What brought our universe and me into being?
‘Basic energy; the strong atomic power and the weak atomic power, electromagnetism and gravity, a bit of physiology, chemistry and biology put in!’
And the interesting thing about that is, all these powers and processes are utterly mindless. They don’t know what they do, and when they have done it they don’t know they have done it. They have no purpose, they are utterly blind. They have made us without intending to and one day they will destroy us. And when they have destroyed us and our planet they won’t know they have done it. That’s idolatry of the highest order, and it is taught in many of our schools from the infants upwards—atheistic, humanistic evolution.
P 18 Daniel wouldn’t have it. Even if it cost him his university career, he wouldn’t have it. He wouldn’t compromise his faith, so he refused to eat the food that had been offered to idols. Why? Because the idolatrous interpretation of the universe isn’t true. And universities are places where we are supposed to examine the truth. It not only demeans God; it demeans mankind too. What is the value of a human being? Why shouldn’t you kill anyone? If one of these days you had a mind to, and you saw a sophisticated computer coming towards you, you might be tempted to kick it in the ‘ribs’ and destroy the thing. Nobody would charge you with murder. What’s the difference between destroying a sophisticated computer and destroying a human being? Well, if there is no God, there is very little difference; both are the end products of blind evolution.
But if there is a God, there is a difference. Man, says the Bible, is made in the image of God (Gen 1:26–27). Human beings are more important than the whole universe put together. You wouldn’t think of worshipping the sun up in the sky. My poor little brain is but the size of a grapefruit and the sun is millions and millions of miles across, but a human brain is more significant than the sun. I know the sun is there; the sun doesn’t know I am here. I know how the sun works, thanks to the scientists; the sun doesn’t know how I work. It is just so much gas and a few atoms running around—a big atomic furnace, so some scientists say. A human brain is infinitely more significant. And would you hold a view that says that one day the sun in its mindlessness will explode and the earth will evaporate, and that will be the end of the human race? If that is true, then we are not what we thought we were. We are merely the end products of mindless, irrational, purposeless forces with no future ahead of us but ultimate extinction, not only for us as individuals but for the whole human race.
Daniel wouldn’t believe it. He believed there is a God and that man is made in the image of God. It is there that our values are based. Some of us tell the Russians (with as much sympathy as we can), ‘If in years past you had believed that man was made in the image of God, Stalin wouldn’t have eliminated sixty million.’
Daniel stood uncompromisingly for the God of the Old Testament, the unique Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, and mankind made in his image. This is the truth about man.
We should try to understand what the scientists say, both the believing scientists and the unbelieving; and the technologists, believing and unbelieving. We are not to be ignoramuses! Like Daniel, we shall welcome every bit of education; but we shall need to stand within the world of education for the truth about God and the truth about man.”
David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 17-18. For more click here.