One evidence for the unique spiritual makeup in humans is our ability for creative expression in art and music. Attempts to claim elephant art, gorilla creativity, and chimp creative technique have not given convincing results. We believe that the presence of human expression in music and art, as well as worship, is because we are created in the image of God.
A recent study from the University of California seems to support this. The study involved 144 infants from age two months to 14 months. Researchers fitted babies with heart rate and skin monitors and observed them while they listened to a lullaby. It didn’t matter what language the lullaby was in; the babies responded similarly in all cases. Their heart rate slowed, their pupils became smaller, and their skin electrical activity declined. When the researchers played music that was not a lullaby, there was no response from the infants. Obviously, it was not just the sound that was involved, but the type of sound.
Years ago, there was an interesting story about a famous classical violinist who was playing a song that his wife did not recognize. She asked him what it was, and he couldn’t remember. Later his mother heard the discussion between the violinist and his wife and told them, “I know exactly what that song is. I was composing that song when I was pregnant with you, and I played it over and over as I wrote the song.”
Stories like this suggest that music is a designed part of the human spiritual makeup. It is not just brain activity but the soul that enjoys and creates music. Human expression in music and art touches our soul because we are created in the image of God.
I went with my grandson to a musical instrument mega-store, where he was looking for an amplifier for his bass guitar. In addition to being a guitarist, he is also a drummer. While there, my ears were accosted as he tested a drum set and then tried out several bass guitar amps. The bass was so loud it rattled objects in the vicinity, and I could feel it pounding on my body. The experience reminded me of the connections between humans and music of all kinds.
My grandson purchased nothing because he didn’t find anything he liked in his price range. As we left the store, I was a bit relieved since my ears were still ringing. Stepping out into the parking lot, the sound of heavy traffic on the busy New Jersey street was relatively quiet.
Humans and music have been connected from the beginning. The artifacts left behind by the earliest humans include primitive musical instruments. Music styles change, and tastes in music vary from person to person. Just think of all the different musical genres and styles that people create and enjoy from country to classical, from jazz to gospel.
Music can stir our emotions. It can transport us to new places in our minds or stimulate us to action. Music can soothe our troubled souls, or a sad song can make us cry. The words of Christian songs can inspire us, and music can also tempt us into sin. Music goes beyond our minds and reaches into our emotions. What is it about music that so moves us? Perhaps it’s a desire for heaven.
Read the book of Revelation, and you will get an idea of the role of music in heaven. Music and worship go together, both in this life and in the life ahead. One of the things that distinguishes humans is our ability to create, perform, and appreciate music. Since we are created in the image of God, that must mean that God appreciates music also. Revelation indicates that singing for God before His throne will be a joyful experience. Until then, humans and music will go together as we long for the time when we are at home with God. For now, singing as we worship Him in our assemblies brings us joy as we honor our Creator.
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Sometimes we hear a song, and it seems to keep ringing in our brains for days. It may be a song we love. Sometimes it’s an annoying song that we can’t stand but can’t forget. Advertisers often use jingles in their commercials hoping that their little songs will keep haunting us until we buy their products. Whether good or bad, I can’t get that song out of my head.
I can be thankful that whatever the song is, it will eventually go away–and be replaced by another one. Imagine what it would be like if you had only one song for your whole life. More than that, imagine that your children and future descendants still had that same song. That could be the description of the life of a songbird.
We love to hear songbirds, and with a little effort, we can learn to identify different species of birds by their songs. That’s because, for the most part, each species has its unique song that it passes on from generation to generation.
Songbirds are born with a song stored in their brains. As the birds grow, they learn to match their vocal patterns to the song in their heads. Even if a baby bird never hears its parents sing, and although surrounded by the songs of other species, it will still learn to sing the song that its parents sang. There are a few species of birds that can imitate the songs of other birds, or even human voices and other sounds. Those birds are born with a different program built into their brains that gives evidence of a creative Designer of life.
When I can’t get that song out of my head, I can start singing or listening to a different song. Humans have that ability because the Designer has given us a creative capacity. That’s part of being created in the image of a creative God. But what if all people made their houses precisely the same way? Besides singing the songs of its parents, a bird will build only the same kind of nest its parents made. You would have to say that Someone also stored the nest-building instruction book in the bird’s brain.
Recent studies on the direction and content of America’s music have shown something that is not surprising. Billboard.com showed some data about the content of songs since 1960. While songs mentioning love in the lyrics have remained fairly constant between 1960 and 2015, the number of songs that specifically mention sex has grown from fewer than 100 to over 1000. The percentage of top ten billboard songs that are about sex today is 92%. Of the 174 songs making it to the top ten, 161 contained lyrics about sex.
The lesson of history is that when a culture loses its moral compass, and no fixed standard of moral behavior is accepted by the general population, the society collapses. Authors who have studied the collapse of the Roman Empire have shown the close correlation between morality and survival. Our ministry attempts to get people to look at evidence that there is a God, and not just scientific evidence. There is also evidence that the teachings of Jesus Christ give us a system that works and ensures the best of life for all of its followers. As America has moved from a Christian nation to a nation where Christians are a minority, the chaos and violence have grown.