Many years ago, I read a book by J.M.T. Miller, called The Big Lie. It’s a fictional story, the details of which I have mostly forgotten. But there was a line in the book that struck me, and it’s stayed with me decades later. The main character, a private investigator, was musing on his current dilemma and comparing it to all the others he’d dealt with throughout his life. I won’t get his quote exactly right, but it’ll be close enough.
All my life, I’d dealt with what I thought were different lies; but in reality, I was always confronting the one big lie that was there festering behind all the other little lies—the same lie that’s been there since the very beginning—you can be like God.
The Big Lie – J.M.T. Miller
Decades later, the truth in that statement has yet to be disproven. The Big Lie slithers through every facet of human society. Its stranglehold can be seen on government, on religion, on academia, on the business world, on our legal system, and on our children’s schools.
The Big Lie seduces us with its hollow promises of divinity and utopia, and we’re so quick to gravitate to it. We think that we can engineer the perfect system which will rid mankind of depravity and tragedy. Cleanse us from original sin. Usher in the millennial reign of the virtuous proletariat.
The bait is so tempting. It’s both pleasing to the eyes and good for food! Surely we’d be fools to turn it down. It’s a hell of a proposition. You want to make the world a better place, don’t you? The catch is that it’s not true. The elusive payoff remains perpetually just out of reach.
“You can be like God.”
Except we can’t. In our attempt to glorify humanity, we become the most savage of beasts. We think we can all become virtuous by defining virtue however we want. But virtue is transcendent; it stands on its own and cannot be conjured from corrupt imaginations. We think we can save the human race; but to do so, we must exterminate the weakest. We’re convinced we can rid humanity of mental health problems, then discover that to do so, we must distort reality to match our delusions. We clamor for inclusion, then place limits on who can be included. We idolize equity, but our attempts to achieve it only result in devastation.
We stumble all over ourselves to proclaim diversity as our highest value; but we only have the capacity to apply it superficially, which gives us cosmetic diversity but leaves us with a fundamentalist, ideological homogeneity. The admonition to have the humility to accept people of all persuasions is offset by the wholehearted embracing of pride. We claim to value reproductive rights, then gloss over the sacrifice of the weakest by endorsing the utter antithesis of reproduction. We are told we must endorse subjective fantasy in the name of love, then end up destroying that which makes the human experience worthwhile.
Paul’s admonition in his letter to the Romans comes to mind:
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator…”(New English Translation)
The late Malcolm Muggeridge put it this way:
Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society
To embrace our hubris we must reject the Creator. We turn our back on divine power to strengthen our own. In our attempt to define our own reality, we reject the Creator’s reality. We turn our backs on heaven and create hell, and we choose to remain in hell because to return to the garden would require that we admit that we are not capable of self-redemption. We attempt to become a god of our own making, only to find that rather than something divine, we’ve become something less than human.
Two fundamental narratives are woven throughout history: The Truth and The Lie. Reality and fantasy. The pursuit of God or the pursuit of humanism. One requires that we sacrifice all to gain the Ultimate. The other requires that we accrue all that we can, but in the end we find that we’ve given away everything that is truly precious.
When I look at all the agendas swirling in the morass of the world’s system, the blatant disregard for truth, the foreign policy failures, the sociological catastrophes, the elitists’ attempts to subjugate those who won’t worship them, I see the Big Lie veiled in false righteousness and pseudo sincerity. It’s all lies, and they flourish because we choose to believe the Big Lie. We usurp the role of God, then look in the mirror only to find that we’re staring into the eyes of the devil. It’s the corrupted image of something that used to be human. Something that has embraced an evil which clutches us with dead fingers and pulls us into a lover’s embrace from which we cannot break free.
The only thing that can free us is the power of the One who defined reality. The One who is the source of truth–the Truth that can break every chain. The Truth that sets us free.