Secular Ideology & Christian Ideology
Secular man views society as the common discipline of respect for one another’s existence, and the right to be within the society through the birth of their physical form into the physical world. (If you’re not born you’re not equal.) The foundation of their society is equality; that word that we all believe we have the definition of, at least until matters of well-being and preferences are considered as part of the interactional discourse between humans. Then the term equality becomes that quality of existence that is always just around the corner of any disparity between us. Equality, in truth, is much more abstract than faith; but it appears more real because of its deceptive value. In our attempt to quantify and thus use equality for the well-being of society, we do so through human law, or the reliance upon mankind as the sole judge of the moral nature of himself. Think of it as athletes scoring their own performances in a competition. How well do you think that would work?
Christian man views society as a singular body with a diversity of gifts. Respect for those gifts permits the free exercise or equality of the individual within the society. Faith is the catalyst that leaves all judgment to God and relies upon His love to define their law. Christianity states that evil exists as an entity – Satan – who seduces mankind to oppose God’s will, and manifests that opposition in what the Christian calls sin. But if man could not be deceived by Satan, could Satan be evil? It appears to me that it takes two to tango, does it not.
So, the Christian looks without to find meaning, and the secularist looks within to find meaning.
Man recognizes two forms of evil; natural evil and moral evil; the evil without and the evil within.
Natural evil is that perceived evil that is independent of man’s actions and involves only victims and not transgressors; such as a hurricane or other natural events that cause harm or death to living creatures or the state of an ecological system, like a mature and beautiful forest. When one hears of a forest fire that consumed thousands of acres of beautiful trees and killed hundreds of innocent animals, we cry out on the pathos of an evil we cannot understand or control. Historically, this definition included cancer and birth defects. Evil, defined as such, appears as a word to describe that event that causes harm to the stability and contentment of a creature or thing; the only exception being death, and there are those who want to classify death as evil and conquer it by living forever.
What we see in such a definition is a convenience for human understanding; a behavioral shortcut, a device of natural selection, which permits one to comprehend a threat to their stability without really having to engage it or gather full knowledge of it. It’s a defense mechanism, yet does it actually exist as an objective fact? Under such a definition, evil would have a threshold of existence based upon the individual perceiving the quality of the word or action. If this is true, then evil is more likely to be a subjective concept as it has gained relativity. That means it has a threshold of definition and is relative to the purpose or intent of the word or action being judged. PETA considers man’s use of animals as food, sport, and clothing as barbarous and evil, but PETA does not consider the lion chasing down, killing, and the eating of its dinner as evil. The former is a moral evil in their minds and the latter is a natural law. To the extreme, while one would think that genocide is an absolute and universal evil accepted by all, we have numerous experiences with societies that viewed genocide as a moral good. So clearly we have a confusion between natural law and moral evil.
And what of those conditions that we once thought to be a natural evil that are now considered to be a moral evil? A moral evil is that form that involves a transgressor who causes harm or death to living creatures or the state of an ecological system. A hurricane or a forest fire, in past centuries, would be a natural evil, yet today we know that our influence on the world’s environmental balance contribute to climate conditions that regulate weather patterns. The natural evil is now a moral evil. Yes? Cancer, once thought a natural evil, is now being realized as a preventable disease that man can bring upon himself through his own actions. Perhaps this makes cigarette manufacturers men of moral evil?
Mankind constantly reassesses the threshold and definition of evil to facilitate those societal actions that guides the environment towards what mankind perceives as good. This is an act of revelation and/or relativity. This word or action is good, this one is bad. Rarely is there any fully disclosed fact sheet for the majority of us to comprehend on such assessments as modern man engages evil based upon revelational and relative matters. Due to increasing relativity, our society is in constant flux and evolution of thought. And as relative thought increases there must be a corresponding decline in absolute truth. We are expected to hear the term evil and respond with the proper defensive action; content only in the authority of man to define evil for us. Unfortunately, our increasing sensitivity to our relative emotions is redefining evil faster than our biological clock can keep pace with and so we invariably finds ourselves in compromising or accusatory situations that we could never anticipate.
In addition, as a victim to natural evil, man’s suffering is particularly abstract due to his lack of control of natural events. He frequently cannot blame it on a specific cause that is within his control and thus prevent it from happening in the future. Instead he must endure or disperse; both of which prolong suffering. Suffering causes psychological damage and a withdrawal from the normal exchange of human relations for those affected. This is not only a problem on the physical level, but also on the spiritual level; that withdrawal not only being from other individuals and groups, but also from God. After all, as noted earlier, how can an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God permit such evil to take place? The confusion is natural, and the frequent consequences can be devastating to the unprotected soul. This leads me to our second form of perceived evil.
Moral evil, as I noted prior, is that form that involves a transgressor who causes harm or death to living creatures. Here, the problem of evil becomes ever more focused as we now have a personal point of reference; ourselves. In the case of the train derailment in Santiago, that reference point is the engineer driving the train too fast.
For the secularist, moral evil resides within the words and actions of one who demonstrates disrespect for the right of an individual as equal; that being their access and stability to the cause of happiness. Moral evil is not tied to absolute values, but rather draws it definition from the term “right” and the future resources of relative thought over that of the finite past. All things finite and all things past are subject to the new-found scrutiny of human inward thinking. The secularist sees the society of man as an evolving work whose principles are in the future advancement of his scientific, technological, educational, social, recreational, and pastoral pursuits. He hopes for the coming man, like the father of the prodigal son. The difference is that the secular man will never be able to recognize his son when he arrives because the fluid nature of relative thought on such things as good, evil, ethics and moral value will render but a shadow of the son and not the actual one. We saw this with Christ.
For the Christian, moral evil resides within desire and idolatry. When an object used by man becomes an end in itself, that object is perverted to man’s sole use and not for the singular body of mankind. In such a state, the object, as well as man’s intent and interest, is corrupted and thus defined as an evil to society. Through idolatry of the thing, man’s desires are unrestrained from leading the individual to personal sins or acts of immoral behavior; both unconscious and conscious or venial and mortal. Continued idolatry and indulgences in desire create a mindset that eventually is incapable of seeing the pain one inflicts upon others. It’s the gradual process of redefinition of immoral behavior, or perhaps even the elimination of the reality of immoral behavior. It’s a type of sociopathic behavior I refer to as the “hidden conscience”. We know what we are doing, yet a hidden resource within us resists all attempts to recognize it for what it is. Christianity calls it “fallen”. Modern man has given it many other names.
I would have to agree with the thoughts of M. Scott Peck, psychiatrist and author of the book, The Road Less Traveled. He sees people who consistently engage in moral evils as self-deceiving; unwilling to face the truth of their moral evils and the associative guilt, and intent upon the appearance of respectability and perfection to the point of consistently lying. They require scapegoats for their offences, which leads them to further immoral decisions, and they have little ability to understand the consequences of their actions through the viewpoint of their victims. But few of us are so perverted by idolatry that we fall into such a category of man. Rather, we are simply open to certain seductions that our nature leans to, and we unconsciously set up circumstances that permits us to fulfill our idolatrous desires. Once committed, we repent, but we come back again and again to that idol and that desire.
And we keep it hidden deep; for public shame and guilt is an admission of one’s humanity as subservient to even that of the lowest of form of humanity, which then projects one to accept the truth that God is self-evident. In doing that – the total admission to God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and perfectly good nature – is to force the human psyche to God’ will. The Christian world views evil as those thoughts, words, and deeds that are contrary to the character of God. Our society, in truth, has little patience for saints and less so for those of us in rehab; whether it be for sin or alcohol. I say this for while man does much for the rehabilitation of the addicted, he also places in front of the addicted all forms of barriers that impede their recovery and think little of it.
It is an interesting phenomenon in the study of addiction that the most resilient of cures so frequently take place after the complete collapse of the ego. If death doesn’t consume the body, the mind may find a way out of the addiction, but only after a personal trauma that brings one to the brink of destruction and offers the addicted only one choice; a public life or a personal death. This is the foundational aspect of the rehab clinic; the public recognition of the addiction through the second-person experience. It’s a public conscience that cures.
It is at this pivotal juncture where man would have to face God and account for his actions that I could form my argument for evil as an entity. For Satan to be at all successful in the seduction of man, he must first establish the permanence of man’s belief that he is best served without God’s will and paternity. Man inclines to bastardship over stewardship; preferring to be born of nature, without a father. We see this most evident today in the dismantlement of the family structure. Something or someone has done this quite well, for man sees that place – with God – as something he must resist with all of the force that continued evil can bring.
The train engineer appears to have been caught in such a personal struggle. If the evidence bears truth, his repetitive desire for speed has cost many people their health and many their lives. He is at that juncture, that place where he can find God self-evident, and in so doing find a way for his own repentance, acceptance of judgment by God, and renewal into God’s will and purpose for his life. He can transform, though our secular society has little patience for such matters, preferring punishment to redemption. And why are we oriented so? I can illuminate one, encompassing factor that I find critically significant to this perverted orientation, and I will take on that task in my following posts.
PART 3 – To come.
God Bless and Buen Camino – Reese