Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Good and Evil without God

When I was in my twenties, I believed it impossible to prove that God exists. As I approached thirty, I became increasingly aware of the fact that I had no basis for declaring something good or evil beyond my own preferences. Intellectually I was a nihilist clinging to a shred of existential justification for having any sort of morals at all. Emotionally, culturally, I deeply believed that some things were good and others were evil. It was a most unsatisfactory dichotomy.

Now, as a Christian, I seek God when I want to know the difference between good and evil. I find that an increasing number of thinkers, writers, people on the street refer to my faith in certain fundamental truths as "fundamentalism". This is most often meant as a pejorative.

Here is a link to an article which I believe to be one of the more direct and cogent attempts to elucidate the author's conviction that it is imperative that we discard moralism, fundamentalism, and totalitarianism in favor of human science. Is it possible to know what is good and what is evil?

However, consider his closing two sentences:

In other words, to paraphrase Winston Churchill's remark about democracy, the human sciences are the worst (the least cognitively adequate) of all possible forms of practical reason ­ except for all the others (such as moralism, fundamentalism and totalitarianism)! What that implies is that nothing is more important for the continued survival of the human species than a stupendously increased effort to make progress in the further development of the human sciences, so as to increase our understanding of the causes of the whole range of our own behaviors, from life-threatening (violent) to life-enhancing.

The author James Gilligan has been on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School since 1966. He is the author of Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic. What astonishes me about articles like this one is the author's apparent inability to see his own bias that posits the survival of the human species as Good and life threatening behaviors (for the species) as Bad.

Francis Schaeffer put it well when he wrote "Modern man has both feet planted firmly in mid air". From what I have seen of "postmodern" folks, they simply add wildly flapping their arms in hopes of finding some additional support for their convictions.

May God grant us all the wisdom to know what is good and to do what is good. May he deliver us from evil.
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