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  • Archive for June, 2008

    Rational Evil V

    Friday, June 27th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

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    This week I conclude my discussion of the development of secular thought following the holocaust by looking at one final disturbing trend.  So far I have looked at how in the attempt to maintain a belief in Human Rights apart from a belief in God, equal in the eyes of God became merely equal; where the differences among people were equated or just ignored.  

    But Human rights was founded on another concept in addition to the belief that we are all equal in the eyes of God.  It was also based on the belief that we are special creations of God, created in his image. To remove God from the definition of Human rights mean also tossing out the idea that people are special creations of God. 

    This was the most dangerous development for as we saw, the competing view is that rather than special creations of God, we are just animals that happen to have resulted from the undirected process of evolution.  But if this is the case, why should humans have any rights at all?

    This of course would bring us right back to the thinking of Social Darwinism and Eugenics, the very thinking that led to the holocaust in the first place. No, a concept of Rights had to be maintained. But if we are nothing more than animals that resulted from the process of evolution, how could a concept of rights be restricted just to us? Wouldn’t other animals have rights as well? 

    Thus was born the belief in animal rights.  While most people are still shocked by PETA’s campaign likening eating meat to a “holocaust on your plate” it is merely the logical outgrowth of the attempt to maintain a concept of rights apart from God.

    While, extending the concept of rights to animals may be a logical step, it does not really solve the problem, but rather creates many more. If animals do have rights, how do these rights come into play when the lion kills a gazelle?  The normal answer is that the lion does not know any better, we do. But this has the effect of putting us below the animals, not equal to them.  Animals are free to do whatever they do, but our actions must be constrained by a notion of rights. 

    In short animals and in a more general sense nature, over time came to be more valued than people. Worst still, since virtually anything we do has some effect we become a problem. In its most extreme form people rather than being a part of the environment came to be seen as a disease that must be controlled, or in some cases removed, as in the case of the Texas scientist who calls for the creation of a genetically engineered version of the ebola virus, that would kill 90% of the people on the earth, so as to lessen our damaging effect.

    But these threats are not just theoretical.  One of the key aspects of the Judeo-Christian worldview is that people, as special creations of God, are more valuable than animals.  But in the new secular view people are less valuable, and for some even a problem. While rarely directly stated, it nevertheless works itself out in a myriad of ways.

    For example, the major reason energy prices such as the cost of gas, heating oil, and electricity, are so high is because concerns for the environment restrict our ability develop energy. Most of these environment concerns make no sense apart from an absolutist view that people represent a danger to the planet and that anything we do would damage to environment, often despite clear evidence to the contrary.

    Most of the real damage of this inversion of rights, are indirect and often do not appear until years later. Thus the limitation on oil drilling for the last several decades is only now beginning to have a real effect on the price of gas as the excess capacity that had existed in the system is now gone, and demand is beginning to exceed supply.

    One of the clearest examples of the valuation of nature over people is also one of the earliest; the concern over insecticide DDT during the 1960s.  During the 1960s it was alleged that DDT caused the shells of some birds to weaken making it difficult for them to reproduce.  In order to protect these birds, DDT was ban. At the time of the ban it was pointed out that DDT was very important to controlling the spread of mosquitoes, which spread deadly diseases such as malaria. But these arguments had little effect; the birds were more important than the people, and had to be protected.  After all, at the same time over population was also seen as a major problem.

    It is now known that DDT was not the cause of the problems with birds, and in fact is really very safe. The effects of the ban are also clear.  Diseases that had been virtually eliminated in places have now returned.  Malaria alone kills between one and two million people a year. Yet despite the evidence to the contrary, for many a theoretical threat to the environment, is more important that the actual deaths of tens of millions and the ban remains in effect.

    The first attempt to reconstruct society based on science rather than God, ended in the holocaust.  The subsequent attempt of reconstruct a concept of rights apart from God has resulted in not only more pain and suffering, but millions of deaths. Just perhaps the real problem is the attempt to remove God.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    Rational Evil IV

    Friday, June 20th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

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     Over the last several weeks I have been looking at the development of secular thought following the holocaust, and how the attempt maintain human right apart from God has resulted in a number of competing and conflicting strategies.

    These strategies produced a number of absurdities that if given any serious thought would quickly undermined the entire system and many did think seriously about this, and worse they pointed out these problems. These critics needed to be addressed.

     

    The problem was that they could not be answered in the normal way. How can one rationally defend the belief that men and women are the same when they are so clearly different. How can one morally defend the belief that we really should not condemn the honor killing, i.e. the murder by her relatives of a woman because she was the victim of rape.

     

    The simple answer is that you can’t. So rather than answer the arguments, those making them needed to be silenced. Anyone questioning the belief that men and women are different were called sexists. Anyone pointing out a negative aspect of other cultures were called bigoted.

     

    While freedom of speech is still proclaimed a basic human right, and even defended in areas of vulgarity and sexuality, restrictions on speech have greatly increased in other areas. At first, labels such as sexist, racist, bigot, homophobe, etc, were enough to silence, or at least discredit those pointing out the problems with the new secular reasoning. But over time, the power of rational argument began to push past this first line of defense.

     

    Simple labeling was not enough and stronger deterrents were needed. Starting with universities, supposedly bastions of free speech and intellectual inquiry, more formal limitations started appearing on what could be said and what could be researched.

     

    These speech codes were challenged in the courts and many were struck down. But the need that spawned them remained, and so despite rulings such as Dambrot v. Central Michigan University and Corry v. Stanford speech codes did not go away, they were simply repackaged as anti-harassment policies.

     

    In fact, according to Jon Gould, a law professor at George Mason University, “hate speech policies not only persist, but they have actually increased in number following a series of court decisions that ostensibly found many to be unconstitutional.”

     

    Political Correctness was thus born in a series of formal and informal speech codes and training classes on anti-harassment and diversity; not only in specific classes but it also incorporated throughout the curriculum.

     

    But such indoctrination in school from Kindergarten through College was still not enough. So the training was expanded into the business world. For example, in 2004 California passed a law that required employers to provide mandatory sexual harassment training. And of course to transgress these policies in the work place threatens one’s job and thus their livelihood.

     

    By labeling these policies anti-harassment and diversity automatically gives them an air of respectability and masked the more questionable aspects. After all who supports harassment and who doesn’t support diversity? But the real question is what constitutes harassment and what is diversity? Everyone would agree that a boss demanding sex from an employee in order to keep their job is morally reprehensible and should be illegal. But what about acknowledging that men and women are different?

     

    In a well publicized example in 2005 Larry Summers the president of Harvard University was addressing the question as to why more men seem to go into science and math than women. He suggested that one possible line of research could look at possible differences between men and women.

     

    A fire storm of criticism erupted at this mere suggestion that men and women might be different, and this eventually led him to issue an apology. Even so, the faculty of arts and sciences issue a vote no-confidence, and his suggestion was a factor in his resignation the following year.

     

    But even sanctions that can could threaten one’s job have not been enough to silence the rational arguments, so not too surprisingly the sanctions are being stepped up and the arguments them are being criminalized, as the Brigitte Bardot recent discovered when she was fined €15,000 by a French court because her comments on the ritual slaughter of animals in Islamic culture, “constituted a legal offense.

     

    In 2006 Mark Steyn published the bestselling book, America Alone in which he argues that in the cultural conflict between Western and Islamic civilization that Western Civilization is losing. When Steyn’s book was excerpted in MacLean’s Magazine the Canadian Islamic Congress claimed that article “subjected Canadian Muslims to hated and contempt” and as a result as I write this Steyn is awaiting a decision from the Vancouver Human Right Council. This is just one of many examples of such attempts to silence those who differ with the current views of diversity.

    Thus, in the effort to preserve a view of Human Rights apart from God, the traditional view of Human Right has been turned on its head. Speech is suppressed. Freedom of Religion has been turn into separation of Church and State and the suppression of religion. Intellectual freedom has been restricted to lines of inquiry that are consider acceptable, and exclude things like Intelligent Design. Those who do not fall into line are not only shunned, but can lose their jobs, livelihoods, or be convicted and fined by the government. All in the name of Human Rights.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    Rational Evil III

    Friday, June 13th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

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    This week I continue my discussion of the development of secular thought following the holocaust. Last week I looked at how the foundation for Human Rights went from equal in the eyes of God to equal without any real definition as to how we are equal; and how for some equal then became the same, where any difference was to be denied; the example being the belief that men and women are the same. But there was a different and somewhat conflicting approach taken simultaneously: rather than deny any differences, differences were to be celebrated.

    At first celebrating diversity might seem to be a somewhat problematic answer to the question of how we are equal.  But at the core of the celebration of differences is the ideal that differences do not really matter, for all differences are fundamentally the same.

    This idea of diversity has been so ingrained, that many might even be wondering how I could see this as a problem. The reasons are twofold.  First, the idea that all differences are fundamentally equal is as untrue as the idea that differences do not exist, and both have led to a great deal of suffering and harm. Despite what the supporters of diversity preach, not all differences are equal. While some differences are irrelevant, many differences are significant.

    When it comes to food, I think the celebration of differences is a good thing, though even here there would be some significant differences in food, at least in regards to health. But some difference, be they individual or cultural are not only significant, but some are clearly better than others, particularly when it comes to differences that touch on morality. While this may be heresy to those who support diversity, it remains nevertheless true and it is under the guise of cultural diversity that a lot of suffering and injustice is allowed continue.

    For example, as I discussed last week, the belief that men and women are equal in the eyes of God is a Biblical truth taught in both the Old and New Testaments. As a result, I believe that cultures that follow this truth are better, at least in regards to their treatment of women, than societies that do not.

    While this may seem a straight forward conclusion, for many strongly influenced by modern secular thought, it is one they find difficult to make. In order to maintain the notion of equality among differences, no judgment about those differences can be permitted. They may fight strongly for equality in their own country, but things that would otherwise be condemn such as the subjugation of women, dictatorship, and other forms of oppression in other countries often get little more that a response of “who are we to judge?”

    Things that cannot be accepted, even under the guise of respecting cultural diversity, are frequently just ignored. Yet as cultures intermix, this becomes increasingly difficult. Honor killing is the ability or even duty of a father or brother to kill a woman who is believed to have brought dishonor to the family.  The dishonor, need not even be through some act committed directly by the woman, as victims of rape are seen has have brought dishonor upon the family.

    While common in ancient cultures, honor killings were forbidden by the Old Testament in the Laws given by Moses. As Judeo-Christian values came to dominate, honor killings disappeared from Western Civilization. Yet they remain a part Arab culture even today.

    While largely ignored when it occurred elsewhere, with immigration, it is now becoming a growing problem in the Western Cultures such as the United States, Canada, and Europe, though here there is an attempt to downplay these honor killings as merely “domestic violence” lest it appear that Western Civilization is somehow better.

    This attitude of ‘who are we to judge’ has been taught to our children, and unfortunately, it is a lesson that some have learned far too well. For example, in late 2007 when a teenager learned that his friend had just murdered several people at a mall in Omaha, he had no judgment about the lives taken. No judgment about the family and friends whose lives would never be the same because of the loss of a loved one. No judgment about the wounded or their pain and suffering.  Instead he said, “I don’t think anything less of him… he wanted to go out in style.”

    So in order to maintain equality among differences, one approach has been to celebrate differences without any judgment about them, which is fine when dealing with non-moral choices such as food. But when dealing with differences that have a moral component, it inevitable means ignoring pain and suffering, and in some cases even evil.

    As Western Civilization has been casting off it Judeo-Christian roots, it would seem that it has also cast off the Bibles injunction; “Do not stand by while your brother’s blood is shed” (Leviticus 19:6), for we do now stand by, often in the name of cultural diversity.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    Rational Evil II

    Friday, June 6th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Listen to the MP3 

     

    This week I continue my discussion of the development of secular thought following the holocaust. To briefly summarize, the Holocaust had its roots in the attempt to apply the principles of evolution to society, from which the sciences of Social Darwinism and Eugenics flowed.  These new sciences were rightly rejected following the holocaust because the results they produced conflicted with Human Rights, a concept grounded in the belief that we were created by God and are equal in his eyes.

     

    As society became more secular the religious foundations of Human rights was abandoned and equal in God’s eyes became merely equal; but such an undefined equality is threatened by our clear individuality, which is defined by our differences. This attempt to maintain Human Rights in a secular worldview defined by evolution has resulted in a number of competing, and at times contradictory, lines of thought.

     

    The first has been that since differences pose such a danger, their existence is simply denied, or at least relegated to insignificance. In short, despite any differences, we are all really the same, and therefore since we are the same, we are all equal. A whole range of absurdities have flowed from this intellectual strategy, not the least of which is the belief that there is no difference between men and women.

     

    While historically women have not had equal status in virtually any society, that seems to have come from the importance of strength in early cultures and the role it played in survival, and from the fact that in general men are stronger than women.  It did not come from the religious teachings of the Bible, but ran contrary to it. Starting in the first chapter of Genesis, God has made it clear that He views men and women as equal, and both are created in his image.   As Genesis 1:27 says,

    So God created mankind in his own image;

    in his own image God created him;

    male and female he created them.
                                                               (ISV)

    In the New Testament, Paul also makes this explicitly clear. “Because all of you are one in the Messiah Jesus, a person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female.”  (Galatians  3:28 ISV)

     

    Men and women have different strengths and different weakness. They react to things differently, and have different natures. But despite all of our differences, men and women are equal it the place that it matters most, in the eyes of God. Human nature being what it is, this core equality has not, and in some places today is not, always recognized, but where and when it has been, it has not been contrary too, but in line with, Biblical teaching.

     

    But as equal in God’s eyes, became merely equal, this equality was difficult to maintain given all the clear differences. Something had to go, and since equality was needed for human rights, even though the differences are pretty clear to most, not to mention common sense, they were simply denied.

     

    But then common sense was one of the first things that had to be tossed out, if one is going to maintain equality among differences that are clearly not equal. So common sense was rejected as unscientific and untrustworthy. In its place was the study. In fact I have heard more than one college professor say that they won’t believe anything unless there is a study to support it.

     

    Such thinking, (or unthinking as the case may be) has been very convenient for secularist as the results of studies are very strongly influenced by what questions researchers seek answers to.  There are pros and cons to most things. Look for the pros of any given issue and you can probably find supporting evidence.  Look for the cons, and you can find negative evidence.  Thus what “the research” states for any given issue will be strongly influenced by what questions the researchers are asking.

     

    Another factor for men and women being the same was that it was so taken for granted, that it had not really been studied. Thus through a mixture of scientific mumbo-jumbo, and an absence studies showing they were different, men and women were proclaimed to be the same. 

     

    This thinking so strongly influenced people that parents began giving their boys dolls, and their little girls trucks.  Distinctions in clothing began to disappear as did any distinction in roles.  Those who tried to point out differences were shouted down as sexists.

     

    Of course the problem is that men and women are different, not just in their biology, but in their natures.  But the belief that men and women are the same still remain entrenched in many universities and still has a strong influence over social policy, as for example in the same sex marriage debate.

     

    It has been one of the ironies that while we were supposedly throwing off the chains of sexual repression so as to allow boys and girls to be what they wanted to be, society was at the same time very strongly pushing them to be something they were not: the same.  The result has been untold unhappiness and pain.

     

    But this was not the only absurdity to develop out of the post WWII secularist attempt to maintain human rights apart from God. Next week I look at a different approach that has also led not only to absurdity, but also to unhappiness and pain.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.