Friday, September 23, 2005
“What does it mean to have a coherent set of ethics?” Thinking Christian relates he has been “kicking that around in comments” following an earlier post of his. He asked two of his commenters to explain their positions, which led to a very lengthy and at times disturbing debate.
In the course of this conversation, Commenter Paul stated:
"there is no way to prove to Al Qaeda that 9/11 was wrong if Al Qaeda has a different moral system. I can only fight them, not prove them wrong."Thinking Christian responded:
I'm equally as pessimistic as Paul is about proving to al-Qaeda that they are wrong. It's a practical matter of how persuadable people are. That's not what we're chasing down here, though. The question is not whether we can prove al-Qaeda was wrong, but whether we can even say among ourselves that what they did was wrong. What I'm getting here is that we can only say it relatively, and we must always recognize that in their eyes it was right.This was my first reaction to Thinking Christian:
I would suggest that there IS a way to prove to Al Qaeda (or at least, its individual members) that God is not on their side, and that what they do is wrong.After some reflection, I came to the following conclusion. (Lower the weapon. Eject the magazine. Clear the round from the chamber. I wish I could say I was more of a “Thinking Christian,” at times.)
Unfortunately, that proof comes at the point of their death, and they realize that God has not and will nor save them and vanquish their "infidel" enemies.
Which is one fortunate side effect of an administration that sees a high degree of utility of a military response to international Terrorism and terrorist sponsoring states.
For some, eradication is the only method of "reforming" their moral system (or lack thereof).
Radical Islamic Terrorists and their acts are morally evil even within their own moral systems. They rationalize their acts based on factual untruths. As such, they refute whatever moral authority they might otherwise claim (however misguided).
Likewise, Hitler's moral system may very well have condemned his actions. Since he was a totalitarian Dictator, there's no sense of speaking of a moral system, what he says, goes.
To the extent that the National Socialists espoused a moral system, they justified their violence against Jews as self-defense, based on an entire fabric of untruths believed and propagandized by its adherants.
But if the underlying justifications and factual basis of action is demonstrably FALSE -- as in the blood libels of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other blatant hate fantasies, then even under Hitler's own "moral system," his Final Solution was evil, and wrong.
Apply this to much of the evil in the world, and it will still apply. People and the governments they support or run commit acts of evil IN SPITE of the moral systems they hold.
It isn't a reflection of their moral systems, however deficient they may be. It's that they turn away from any morality at all, or use falsehoods or ignorance to manipulate the responses of their followers in hateful ways. Many are quite cognizant of their departure from established moral norms. That's the point of their rebellion.
OTHER CARNIVAL HIGLIGHTS
In his post Separation of Church and State Is Biblical, Terry Pruitt of Pruitt Communications argues that healthy church and state relations results in a creative tension between the two instead of the usual goal of “peace” which allows church and state to be lulled to sleep.
Jeremy Pierce, a.k.a. Parableman examines the theology of Natural Disasters and Divine Judgment, positing that the biblical statements that have a bearing on whether a natural disaster can be a judgment from God are far more complicated than people on both sides of this issue want to acknowledge.
This is an excellent examination of this topic. His conclusive point:
The point is that there's some sense in which bad things that happen can be a judgment, and they should sometimes be a wake-up call. Someone who truly believes that God is sovereign and that God does reward the relatively righteous and punish those who are more wicked in this life should see events like this as a warning sign or a wake-up call. Any devout Christian will have serious complaints about wickedness rife within the United States, and I suspect devout Jews will agree. People have a natural tendency to think first of sins that they didn't commit, but that's their problem. It's not a problem with the general thesis that Christians and Jews have maintained for a long, long time. The reality is that most of us partake in the materialistic worship of the God of wealth, the sensualistic lusts of various aspects of everyday American life, and the selfishness of American individualism. There's much to like about the American dream, but there's much to criticize about how it's appropriated and implemented. Every empire in the history of the world has fallen, and each one had its ways of taking advantage of people and arrogantly seeing itself as the best thing to come around, an attitude that removes God from the throne and places an idol there. The American empire is much less a political entity than an economic and cultural one, and the average American contributes to it far more than in past empires.Lance Salyers of Ragged Edge offers his first a two-part response to a series of questions about his faith posed by an atheist, in My Creed (Part I).
Very thoughtful commentary at the Carnival this week. Take the time to visit, dwell, and be blessed.
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