I caught an old episode of “Star Trek: The Next generation” a couple of nights ago (All Good Things… Season 7). Boy, were their writers and producers card carrying members of atheistic evolution. In the story, a superhuman figure named Q, brings Captain Picard back to that point in time when life on earth began. We are shown primordial goo. We are told that it was in that goo that amino acids first combined to form the first complex proteins, the first step in the evolutionary process.

Atheistic evolution is not a new challenge for Christians. It was just interesting to encounter it again in one of my favourite TV series.

I am no Ravi Zacharias, but my response to atheistic evolutionary theory has always been this: if life as we know it is not the creation of a personal and holy God, we would have no real basis for meaning or values.

If humankind came into being because of a cosmic accident, “lightning happening to strike some primordial goo giving the simple proteins there sufficient energy to become complex proteins”, then there really is no overarching purpose for human life.

If there is no personal God whose very nature becomes the basis for human morality then there really is no absolute basis for ethics either. If there is no holy God who demands holy behaviour from humankind, then whether we love our children or whether we abuse them really makes no difference in the end.

At best we function on the basis of expediency and pragmatism. If I enjoy and can afford to take care of sick, aging parents, then I will take care of them. If it is no longer fun and/or I don’t want to expend resources on them, I will encourage then to do the right thing and walk into the blizzard and die. Of course if there is no absolute basis for ethics, aging parents may choose to fight back and kill their children when their lives are threatened. Who is to say that that is wrong? Exactly.

Atheistic evolution may be a cool ideology. But nobody lives like that. We all live as though lives have meaning. We fight and die for causes that we believe to be right and true. Palestinians and Jews may frame justice differently. But they all believe that there is such a thing as justice. As do we all.

If we were just accidental molecules, there really is no justice. Or love. Or meaning. If we were merely accidental molecules, our lives would have no real purpose. But none of us live like that.

Instead we give 11 Oscars to Peter Jackson’s “The Return Of The King.” I thought 11 were a bit of overkill. I suspect the Academy was acknowledging Jackson’s chutzpah for attempting a project of such a magnitude and pulling it off. The trilogy was magnificent.

But just stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What is the primary message of the trilogy?” It is this:

“Life is tough but it has meaning. It all becomes clear at the end. Indeed the good guys win in the end.”

Even if we didn’t have Tolkien’s stories, we would probably have to invent a similar myth to get up in the morning. Because life is tough. For ourselves. For many.

But we can take a lot if we know that our pain has meaning, that we suffer for a purpose. Humankind is capable of incredible deeds against the odds if we know that everything turns out ok in the end.

I believe it is this desperate hunger for meaning that has made Tolkien’s trilogy so popular. Apart from Jackson’s triumph at the Emmys, “The Lord of the Rings” was also voted the greatest book of the 20th century in a readers’s poll conducted by Britain’s Channel 4 and the Waterstone’s bookstore chain.

Life has meaning. It must have. And it does.

Thank God we don’t have to depend on Tolkien’s stories alone for hope. As we enter into Lent, we remember that God has already shown His hand in history.

Life has meaning. The good guys do win in the end.

Even Captain Picard knew that as he sped away at warp speed after solving another intergalactic problem at the end of every episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. He sure didn’t act like a descendent of primordial goo.

Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan