Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Does "God" Have Any Place Within The Cultural Debate Today?
The post election debates along with the constant gun fire that has taken place in the context of the great cultural battle that we as Americans are fighting have brought forth some critical observations and questions to my mind.
I recently purchased and listened to the audio book by Rabbi Daniel Lapin entitled "American's Real War". In this author's opinion the real war is over the prevailing culture in America. The battle appears to be between the Secularists and those who wish to hold fast to the Judeo-Christian values which predominate this country and have "brought us to the dance".
One key point that I found true from this book is Rabbi Lapin's assertion that a person who believes that the human form was ultimately created by a series of "accidents" in nature, otherwise known as "Evolution" is not inclined to accept the notion of some absolute truths and "right or wrong" in this world. In his view of culture - everything is negotiable per the will of man.
On the other side of the equation - there is the person who hides behind religion to cover for his inability to justify and articulate certain positions that he holds. Believe me - though I consider myself a Christian I also make note of people who use the "Because Jesus told me so" as their primary line of reasoning. They prove to be no more convincing or acceptable as the killer who makes use of the same line.
As we clash as a civilization around some crucial issues which can't reside in the same space at the same time what other than a shooting war or attrition can we use to settle certain issues that don't seem resolvable because of significant entrenchment on both sides?
From my perspective TRADITION proves to be a convincing foundation upon which to base prevailing thought of the day. If this is good enough for the legal system surely it can work in this area. I am of the view that while indeed the technology that allows the human to have more material advantage now than ever before might change - the basic rules for interaction between men do not change throughout the ages. In fact - absent any particular rules through the ages man will think himself as intelligent enough to have solved many of the challenges that had dogged his ancestors. I am not sure about you but the claim during the Internet boom that "the business cycle had been solved by 'just in time' supply chain" proved to be a damned lie, used by certain individuals who were well positioned to profit from this claim. I am loathed to place my full confidence in certain schemes ever again. It proves too costly.
I am empathetic with some of the people who make the case that today's religions which are popularly followed and fully believed by the masses are no different than yesterday's "Zeus" or "Hercules". As we look back upon those cultures their idol worship seems quite foolish and slavish. I am a Christian not only because of my belief in salvation through Jesus Christ as our savior - I am also one because I see the great value in perpetuating the system of religious faith and order which allows us to settle upon certain important cultural challenges that man, when left up to his own devices is incapable of settling. Man will always seek personal advantage in his decisions rather than yielding to the will of a higher authority.
For some people the concept of the yield to a higher authority proves that this person is mentally weak. I say just the opposite though. A person that has the mental fortitude to direct his individual lusts, gratification and actions toward a certain directed outcome when there are other options before him has shown a greater mental power than one who as "made up all of the rules" along the way, insuring that he will always be RIGHT.
I have to admit - most of my debates are with those who consider themselves "Intellectuals" and better persons than me for they have never denied any man their free will. This also includes those who I disagree with ideologically as well. Not that I think that any of them are God-less but I do believe that many of their beliefs are more secularly inclined and or they take upon a scope of Christianity that leaves an awful lot of key points about the reality of man left hanging. For example the often hear claim of "treat your brother as you want to be treated" extends to the notions of charity. A Christian is said to be willing to give of what he has without judgment until his brother is made whole - just as he is. All of this sounds good but at times it perverts the very notion of God's will if not checked by some other counter-veiling facts about man. A person who is so inclined to provide charity to an otherwise healthy man yet never asks of this same man is in violation of God's will that this man, who was created in the image of God, might one day be healed because his charitable provider had the audacity to make note of that which he is afflicted with and provide some measure of "tough love" so that he might actually be a participant in his own salvation. To fail to implement this as a fundamental element of the charitable engagement is to assume the inferiority of the recipient. Sadly there are plenty of Christians that go to "God", patting themselves on the backs as to how many people they had in their soup line that day, never once doing anything to insure that they are pared from the line because of any enhanced capabilities that this person had assisted in building up in preparation of such separation.
As we proceed to debate many of the issues of the day some people would prefer to have a discussion based purely on science and or popular will. I notice that they say "science", unlike religion is based on provable fact and "popular vote" or democracy is a just means of arriving at a conclusion. As we debate key issues, however, it becomes clear that with some people their science in fact does not follow scientific discipline and their reliance on the popular will too often depends upon the IGNORANT MASSES who don't focus upon SCIENCE but upon the opinions crafted by MARKETING. Thus we have a double fraud at play.
A few weeks ago I watched a mocumentary by Ben Stein titled "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" in which he entered into the academy to challenge them on their views on evolution and their disregard for "Intelligent Design". Stein made the distinction between "Creationism" which is Christian and religious in nature and "Intelligent Design" which simply states that the world as we know it became ordered as such by some force that did so with respect to a distinct end in mind rather than random chance happenings as the evolutionists would make the case for. The key moment in the film came when Stein debated the author of a book which tore apart Intelligent Design and which advocated Evolution as the only scientifically viable body of reasonings that anyone calling himself a scientist could cling to.
The final blow in the debate was landed by Stein when he asked the author to detail for him WHERE the first instance of life on Earth came from before the "Big Bang". The author's response..........that life in some form came to Earth on a celestial body and from this all of the present life was evolved. This was a jaw dropping moment for all of the viewers to partake of. You see - if science is to discount religious notions of creationism and its cousin "Intelligent Design" because they lack SCIENTIFICALLY PROVABLE claims.........then this man's theories of the origins of life are no different from the "magic" that is present in these non-scientific alternatives. In effect they all make use of the "magic" of sight unseen when you go back far enough. Since science is required to have a higher level of certainty for it to be considered "scientifically reproducible" then this man's entire theory must come crashing down as a result.
My main criticism of Intellectuals is that despite sounding so good in the articulation of their theories they actual have a horrible track record in having us mere mortals to actually follow through with their brilliant ideas and thus avoid a greater FUBAR than when the masses were weak-minded and dependent on a God that was unseen and the figment of our imagination. Their God of man made logic and reasoning so frequently proves to be ill-equipped to address the aggregation of thousands and thousands of fully actualized human beings all living in a society.
I have no problem outsourcing some of my deepest unsolvable thoughts to "God". It seems plausible to me that some things are beyond the understanding of man and thus man is made to understand his own limits and thus yielding to a higher power.
As a culture the more we step away from some common respect for a higher authority the more we are going to be faced with major fractures among our people that might shift from spirited debates to a shooting war as it is proven that one way to win over your adversary is to permanently silence him by killing him. Dear God perish the thought!