Friday, December 5, 2008

Stuff that hacks me off...

I have got to stop reading the newspaper in the morning... there are so many depressing stories about pain and suffering. I have found myself specifically heading to the comics or even those trite announcements about anniversaries, weddings, and engagements. At least pictures appear to show happy people. Granted they not be, but they "look" like it!

Right after the stories today about international bombings, local troops being deployed, and the big 3 automakers getting grilled by Congress, was a story about a 16 or 17 year old boy in California who escaped from his home and with a chain still attached to his leg, and dressed only in boxer shorts, he stumbled into a local gym to seek a place to hide. What was he running from? Well, we don't know the entire story yet, but the details that we seem to know include: (1) being chained to various places in the house; (2) being abused with a wooden baseball bat (hit in the legs and knee caps) and burned with a heated metal bat; and (3) being denied food even while watching other family members eat at a table across the room from him. Those are just a few of the low-lights, I'm sure others will surface. I was compelled to read the entire story, because I just could not imagine doing that to another human being - especially for one of the defendants - to your own son.

Since it is never just a newspaper article, I thought a length at various times today about the nature of evil and how this can happen. What strikes me as odd is that if I were to mention this situation to someone who didn't believe in absolutes, they would probably find it as repugnant as I do but they wouldn't be able to acknowledge that there is a standard by which to judge the event. I ran this by such a friend earlier today and he did indeed respond with disgust and shock at the depravity of the human condition - Ah Ha! If there are no standards with which to judge right and wrong how can you know that you are disgusted. And what depravity? Where did that come from? In one response to me, he said that it was insane. How do we judge something as "insane" if there is not a standard of "sane"? It is the major pitfall of the postmodern condition; namely that we can theorize about standards all day long, but when it is measured against reality... it cannot stand. Treating a kid this way is wrong, plain and simple. We ALL agree and something inside us draws us to that conclusion.

Everyone I talk to about this article responds the same way - they can't believe that someone could be so evil. Yeah, it got me thinking about ideas a bit more deeply, but right now there is a kid who is going to take many years to regain his sanity and normalcy of life. I pray that happens...


Joel Liechty said...

Interesting post. I hope you write more. I will enjoy it. Keep it coming.

I still wonder what the absolute is measured against though. We as Christians say that it is based upon the essence of God (or maybe his characteristics) i.e. his holiness. However, I wonder if this makes complete sense. It seems to me that we all have this innate sense of goodness or sanity. Yet, if for some reason we discovered that God actually did endorse a morality that was different than this innate morality, we wouldn't deny our innate morality but simply dismiss God. Thus, it seems that our morality isn't based off of God but on some innate conception.

The question then becomes where does this innate morality come from and do we all really have the same understanding? Or perhaps I've missed the connection. Just trying to pursue the truth and any insight you could give would be helpful. Thanks for your thoughts

Jocelyn said...

I argue against this "innate morality." As human beings, I dont think we have an innate morality at all. Think about what we are capable of, all of us, in a condition without God. Innately, we are capable of any horrible thing. Its not nice to think of ourselves that way but I do think its important to have a healthy fear of the fallenness in and around us.

I argue that this 'innate morality' is simply a sensativity to human suffering that could easily be calloused away. It is the manifestation of the characteristics of God that keep you permeable to other's unfortunate conditions. Compassion, hope, and love all nuture your moral intution. Take those away and you have cruel, harsh depravity. If you were raised in such an environment of hate and evil, void of the truth and character of God, you may look down and see yourself shrouded in the swastika or find yourself executing orders in the Killing Fields of Cambodia.

This innate morality would never be strong enough to dismiss a god that contradicted it. If humans, in our weakness, met such a god we would simply lust for his power.

My point is this. You are quick to say 'we'. But who do you mean, Americans? Because those raised on the lies of the Hilter Youth or Mao's Revolution would not share this 'moral intution.' This is why it is so important to base our standard on the commands of a God who is holier and wiser and innifinately capable to keep us from falling. It is he who keeps us sensative to the needs of our fellow man and rescues us from our own selfishness and the lies that seek to entangle.

God is absolute and it is only he, unencumbered by our weakness who can set the highest, most noble standard.

Rebecca (Sam's wife) said...

YAY!! Doc has a blog!!!
Rebecca Zellmer now Atcherson

bowlingmonger said...

Being something that can be calloused away doesn't make it something that isn't innate. Needing to hide it, or cover it up is merely evidence that it exists already.

But there's always a way to rationalize. I wouldn't say it's an "innate morality" so much as to say that it's an innate empathy. We know that we don't want to suffer, so we assume that others don't want to suffer either.

Our current culture and society allow us to live in circumstances where pain and torture are avoided and seen as evil. We live in a world where PETA often convinces people to care about the well-being of animals over that of humans. That is an example of our innate empathy overriding what God has intentioned for us.

This is where people start to say, "I can't believe in a God that..." A sentiment that I think validates what Joel is saying. It would be an example of a moral code (innate or not) that a person uses to dismiss God.

So then there are two extremes, one that devoids any kind of morality (or at minimum changes the standard or meaning of morality) and one that pushes it "beyond" what God had intended.

Haven't really thought it completely through yet. Just commenting on what's already here.