News and Views

Whence The Evil

The events of the past week have shocked the nation and raised many questions lacking ready answers. However, if we look at the big picture, we should not be surprised. Of course, a mere column cannot fully address even one of the issues involved, but it can provide an outline pointing to several of the factors that combine with devastating results.

There is a lot of truth in time-worn clichés, so let’s start with one: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” What are we giving our young people to stand for? For centuries, our culture and our school systems were based in the Christian faith, in the truth that the one and only good God Almighty, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, created all as a good creation. God made people in His own image, which included free will, and considered all that He had made “very good.” When early people used their free will to disobey and rebel against God, death and evil became part of their lives. God the Son came to live a human life, take upon Himself the consequences of people choosing disobedience and evil, and rising again to prove His deity and His ability to give us new eternal life. Every person may choose to have something to live for, something to stand for, in Christ, and have the help of His indwelling Spirit to make it happen. At the same time, it was considered honourable to stand up for your family, your church, and your country. There was this cluster of things that young people were encouraged to stand for, and this is what the veterans of the two World Wars stood for and fought for.

Early in the last century, the Educational Philosophy of John Dewey had a profound and lasting effect on our educational systems from the top down. By the early 1960s, that effect was bringing us into a post-Christian culture, and in the last decade Dewey’s “religious humanism” has clearly captured the minds and hearts of the majority of our high school graduates. Its basic underlying assumptions, sometimes but not always directly stated, include: “The universe is self-existing and not created.” “Man is a part of nature and has emerged as part of a continuous process.” “The nature of the universe makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values.” “The complete realization of human personality is the end of man’s life and seeks its development and fulfilment in the here and now.” What is there in this that a young person can stand up for?

Albert Einstein, in a debate with one of his professors, developed the argument that evil is the absence of good. The good God created a good universe and is therefore the source of all good. When mankind turned away from God, they turned away from good, which means that they turned toward and developed evil. By and large, our current generations live on a distorted memory of good with no direct contact or acknowledgement of God, the source of all good. A current science philosopher, Thomas Nagel, wrote a book a couple years ago explaining that he has concluded that evolution is an inadequate explanation of reality because probability rules out chance as an explanation for the complexities of biology, and because evolutionary ‘science’ can describe what happens but provides no basis for what should happen, no grounds for moral truth. As a society, as we move further away from God and thus further away from good, we move more and more toward evil, even actively embracing and promoting some forms of evil. In such a moral vacuum, it is not surprising if some young people choose to stand up for evil.

Into this moral mess, we throw the gun issue. With urbanization, we have gotten away from the proper use of firearms, both in method and reason. My father taught me how to handle, shoot and care for a gun, with the first and paramount rule, “Never, ever point a gun, not even a toy gun or a pretend gun, at a human being.” (The one exception—water pistols!) Guns were for hunting, and then and now I love wild meat. Today, children grow up seeing guns being used almost exclusively in human conflict in television and movie crime shows, and laugh if told not to point guns at people. While the schools have eliminated God and good from our intellectual environment, the entertainment media have drawn us into acceptance of many levels of evil.

Another unpredictable element thrown in is the mental health issue. When “human rights” determined that the mentally ill should no longer be housed in institutions, a huge proportion of them were thoughtlessly discarded on the streets. Lost was the recognition that the mentally ill often need to be protected from themselves. The major anti-psychotic drugs have unpleasant side effects, so most patients discover that they feel best during the first week or two after they discontinue their medication, after the side effects are gone and before the illness kicks back in to totally impair their judgement. It is at this point that there are absolutely no adequate provisions to protect them or others from their illness. Add to this the fact that there is no way that psychiatrists or psychologists can accurately predict who will become dangerous.  Much needs to be done to provide balanced care, treatment and freedom for those with unbalanced minds.

In this confused mess that tries to exclude the source of good, it is not surprising that there are young people who, seeking “something to stand for” end up “falling for anything” and act out the results of that fall. Honestly and sincerely accepting Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord can lead to changed lives and make a huge difference, as every genuine Christian and every prison ministry can attest.

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