The God factor cannot be measured in elections
By Spencer D Gear PhD
(image courtesy Dreamstime.com)
The headline told it all: ‘Nation’s most influential pollster can’t explain election disaster’ in Australia (Hartcher 2019).
1. Pollsters did not predict result.
David Briggs is the man behind well-knowing polling organisations such as Newspoll, which is published by Rupert Murdoch’s, The Australian, according to Hartcher.
YouGov Galaxy polls were conducted by his organisation as was the exit poll of the election for Channel 9.
On the day of the election, 18 May, ‘the exclusive YouGov Galaxy poll of more than 3300 voters in 33 separate booths showed Labor ahead of the Coalition 52-48 on a two party preferred basis’ (Wright 2019).
The Ipsos poll was in harmony with this result. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on election day:
Labor has gained a crucial lead over the Coalition in key mainland states at the end of the federal election campaign, securing an edge in NSW and Victoria and a swing in its favour in Queensland.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten goes into the final day of campaigning with a boost in the Labor vote in most states compared to the narrow outcome at the last election, with a significant lead of 53 to 47 per cent in Victoria (Crowe 2019).
2. The ‘miracle’ victory for Coalition
(Photo courtesy ABC News: Marco Catalano)
The Guardian Australia had the headline: Scott Morrison credits ‘quiet Australians’ for ‘miracle’ election victory (Murphy & Martin 2019). These are taken from the Prime Minister’s own words when he thanked the voters for this shock election win. Labor, is seems, lost an unlosable election.
“I have always believed in miracles,” the Prime Minister said firmly sometime after midnight on election night, as he claimed victory. “I am standing with the three biggest miracles in my life” he added. “And tonight we have been delivered another one.”
These were the words of our Pentecostal PM who had heard his faith mocked or disparaged during the campaign (Sandeman 2019).
In what sense was it a miracle? Yes it was in this sense: ‘A remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences’ for the Coalition government (Oxford Living Dictionary). However, I don’t see it as ‘an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency’ (OED) like Jesus’ resurrection.
The God factor was included in ScoMo’s blessing on the Shorten couple and exhorting God to bless Australia?
2.1 Why can’t the God factor be measured?
Firstly, he is spirit and not flesh and blood (John 4:24), so
Secondly, how his direct work is conducted is not seen by human beings, satellites or any other devices. We can see the results of his miraculous actions in the world if there are signs and wonders. We know he sustains the world – keeps it going: ‘He [Christ] existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.’ (Col 1:17).
A question was asked on Quora: ‘Why is God invisible?’ Angie Neik’s response was:
God is always present in the spiritual realm, but He is hidden in the physical realm.
If God was visible in the physical realm, people would do what they do with everything they put their hands on:
– measure it
– weigh it
– find the physical specifications
– and chemical properties
– describe it by those terms
– classify it by same terms
– file it away in a compartment
– forget about it
– thinking that they know all there is to know about it
– and move on to the next big thing
– so they can repeat the process
Maybe that is the very reason that so many of those standing by with rulers, scales, notebooks, pencils, calculators, etc. in hand, find it so aggravating that so much of humanity believe in a being that can’t be defined by those limited dimensions we live in.
Thirdly, that means God’s actions in causing an upset in the 2019 Australian federal election win by the Coalition were by the unseen God who acted in answer to prayers of many people across Australia.
And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him (1 John 5:14-15 NET).
3. Public scoffing about prayer and fasting
On the evening of Monday, 27 May 2019, I viewed ABC TV’s premier program, Q&A. This question came from a woman in the audience:
Ruth McKie asked: The Liberal Party just won the unwinnable election that even the secular press was calling a miracle and a miracle it was. Unbeknown to them there was a massive groundswell of united prayer and fasting that went out across our nation, from small groups to the large denominations; the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime. Israel Folau’s sacking may have acted as a catalyst for some. It was over parents’ rights and the loss of religious freedoms. What is the Liberal party going to do to address these issues?
The Age’s response to this question was headlined, Q&A recap: Panel goes to hell and back in religious freedom debate (McMahon 2019).
His beefs with McKie’s questions included:
‘Ruth McKie, who had apparently recovered from weeks of fasting to offer some thoughts on the election result’. This is a pathetic insult to a woman who offered other details that could have contributed to the outcome of the election. McMahon didn’t treat her contribution in an acceptable way. He effectively sneered at what he inferred she had been doing.
‘The “secular press”? Pray tell, what is that?’ McMahon is a journalist and he gave this kind of insulting, ignorant response. Doesn’t he want to own up to the secular nature of his own media organisation? His comment demonstrated how secular it is. Secular means, ‘Not connected with religious or spiritual matters’ (Oxford Living Dictionaries 2019. s.v. secular).
I found that comment to be journalistic one-upmanship and a dumbing down of Christian believers who prayed and fasted for this election.
McMahon’s cynical attack continued against McKie:
Note the sarcastic way McMahon concluded his article,
That’s one truth you missed, Neil McMahon, and so did the pollsters. Based on your antagonism towards Ruth McKie’s questions and her raising the issue of prayer, fasting and the secular press, the importance of these matters zoomed right past you. You didn’t pursue the meaning of the impact of these disciplines on the course of the election and the nation.
You acted like a secular journalist writing for the secular press that is not interested in getting to the heart of what drives the evangelical Christian faith and the Almighty God who is sovereign over the nations, including Australia.
Of course I respond as an evangelical Christian. See ‘Why I am a Christian’.
4. How does a poll measure God’s influence in elections?
One of the activities of God in relation to the universe is His sovereignty.
Sovereignty is God’s control over His creation, dealing with His governance over it. Sovereignty is God’s rule over all reality…. [It is] God’s right to control all, but also as His actual sovereign dominion over all things (Geisler 2003:2.536).
The biblical basis for such conclusions includes:
Dan 4:17: ‘For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones, so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world. He gives them to anyone he chooses—even to the lowliest of people.”
To confirm the specifics of what happens in any nation, including the surprising win for the Coalition on 18 May 2019, the Lord has told us in Christian Scripture why this has happened.
‘Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God’ (Romans 13:1 NIV).
I am not convinced that any pollster could ever measure the God, prayer and fasting factors in the elections of any nation’s political representatives.
ScoMo’s leading the Australian Coalition to victory was described by him as a ‘miracle’, thanks to the ‘quiet Australians’.
In spite of the commentary by some cynical journalists, it was a victory by the Lord God Almighty, King of kings and Lord of Lords. This is what we saw on 18 May 2019:
[God] controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars (Dan 2:21).
I don’t expect any pollster in the world will discover how to measure God’s sovereign activity in a nation. Measuring the immeasurable is like measuring all of the dimensions of the universe.
Mr Briggs, I understand as a businessman you want to offer an excellent product – conducting reliable polls. You got it wrong this time and your clients got it wrong, including the Labor Party. Welcome to the world of imperfect humanity!
The better result, in my view, would be for you to submit to the Lord God Almighty, the King of kings and Lord of lord and seek His salvation.
Accept that it’s not possible to get it right all the time when we know God has ‘the whole world in His hands’ – even the outcome of Australian elections.
6. Works consulted
Crowe, D 2019. Labor gains a crucial lead over the Coalition in key mainland states: Ipsos poll. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 18 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/labor-gains-a-crucial-lead-over-the-coalition-in-key-mainland-states-ipsos-poll-20190517-p51olv.html (Accessed 28 May 2019).
Geisler, N 2003. Systematic theology, vol 2: God, creation. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.
Hartcher, P 2019. Nation’s most influential pollster can’t explain election disaster. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 28 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/nation-s-most-influential-pollster-can-t-explain-election-disaster-20190527-p51rhc.html (Accessed 28 May 2019).
McMahon, N 2019. Q&A recap: Panel goes to hell and back in religious freedom debate, The Canberra Times (originally in The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age), 28 May. Available at: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6185473/qa-recap-panel-goes-to-hell-and-back-in-religious-freedom-debate/ (Accessed 28 May 2019).
Murphy K & Martin S 2019. Scott Morrison credits ‘quiet Australians’ for ‘miracle’ election victory. The Guardian Australia (online), 19 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/19/scott-morrison-credits-the-quiet-australians-for-miracle-election-victory (Accessed 28 May 2019).
Sandeman, J 2019. Yes! I believe in miracles. Eternity (online), 19 May. Available at: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/yes-i-believe-in-miracles/ (Accessed 28 May 2019).
Wright, S 2019. Labor in box seat for victory as Liberal vote falls, exit poll shows. The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/labor-in-box-seat-for-victory-as-liberal-vote-falls-exit-poll-shows-20190518-p51ord.html (Accessed 28 May 2019).
Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 May 2019.