If we spend time in conversation with secularists, we will soon hear the question, "But, how do you know?" If we start to answer that question, we will soon hear its follow-up question, "Who is to say what is right and what is wrong?" The first is a true question of Knowledge, the second is a Knowledge question but centers on the subject of Authority.
We might ask the secularists how it is they can miss the face of God in a world saturated with His image, if they wish to discuss the Knowledge of God. Ours is a God-soaked world. When we least expect it, someone steps completely out of their personal context, away from their own best interests, in spite of scorn, to minister comfort to us. This is the woman who breaks an expensive vial of perfume over the sweaty, bearded head and face of Jesus, unmindful of the earthly cost, in order to prepare Him for His death.
This Maria senses His coming sacrificial death. Usually, bodies are anointed in those days after death, but her love demands she make sacrifice over Him while He yet feels the soothing aloe and senses the sweet smell she lavishes on Him. This is one of the most beautiful, heart-rending scenes in all the Gospel stories, made more poignant by Judas, whose jealousy of Jesus prompts a scathing rebuke from his serpentine heart.
Where does Authority come from if not from Beauty? And can there be Beauty without Sacrifice? Can something good grow if a seed does not fall first into the earth to give up its life?
In the previous post on Authority, we set out this answer to the question "Who is to say what is right and what is wrong?" by listing some instances wherein we could not possibly claim Truth or Beauty or Sacrifice endured. Then, we set forward the notion that ethics will exist in all cultures in some form because in all cultures there will be someone (someones) willing to forego personal luxuries, individual rights, even life itself, for the greater good of the community. This is Altruism. Religious people seem to have it in abundance, so much so that secularists who study the Altruistic Impulse have had to rebrand it as "The Selfishness Gene," lest religion be seen as evolutionarily necessary to our culture.
We might continue our answer to the Authority question to say, "The fellow who gives up the most to offer good to the least or greatest among us is someone who should attract our fealty, or, at the very least, our attention."
Of course, this Altruist cannot be a simpleton who will lead to disaster. He (she?) who would lead must be more than self-sacrificing. A multi-track mind able to process information and assimilate wisdom is the better guide. If we can find One who is authoritative, self-sacrificing and wise, we take another step toward our answer to the Authority Question.
We are, in fact, in search of an Authoritative Altruist. We have looked for Him all our lives, throughout human history and we still want Him today.
He has been here all along.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.