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Monday, February 15, 2010
I got a good friend, who is a great person. We differ in our views of life and humanity. And out of love, this person attempts to lead me to a straight path of so-called "truth" which I really call the desire for certitude and not truth. And through attempting this enterprise, my friend forwards sermons from the favorite list preachers. For the most part, I don't really care for it. Yes, some of them are quite humorous. But most of them has this us against them as if there is a conspiracy to destroy all of the so-called Christian. Okay, there are Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins in this world, but for the most part no one really care, as long as they are not blowing up others in the name of some blood seeking God. That must really bother them particularly because such us-against-them Christianity must have enemies, which is quite hard in a country where no one can be “legally” put to death for one's religious beliefs. So, the so-called Christian-right “makes up” cultural war against indecency, vulgarity, and simply what they see as the depraved-culture of our world. And yes, they are enough depravity in this world to warrant such militaristic view of them against us or us against them, which ever side you happen to fall into.
However, to simply divide the world in two worlds are both simplistic and facile. Particularly, by saying that Christianity has a very “high” view of humanity and that the “secular” world has a very “low” view of humanity. Such facile classification is childish and not to mention quite a below the belt punch. Okay, there are enough out there that have a very self-serving and selfish view of humanity so they live for their own self-gratification – and perhaps, you could classified them as someone with a low view of humanity. And that could explain Carl Sagan's low view of humanity. This is exactly what Sagan said:
"Those worlds in space are as countless as all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the Earth. Each of those worlds is as real as ours. In every one of them, there's a succession of incidence, events, occurrences which influence its future. Countless worlds, numberless moments, an immensity of space and time. And our small planet, at this moment, here we face a critical branch-point in the history. What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants. It is well within our power to destroy our civilization, and perhaps our species as well. If we capitulate to superstition, or greed, or stupidity we can plunge our world into a darkness deeper than time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance. But, we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth, to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet. To enhance enormously our understanding of the Universe, and to carry us to the stars."
What is the point of saving humanity when at its root humanity is simply a self-seeking pleasure machine with no purpose but to serve the selfish need of fulling the gluttony pleasure in themselves? If humanity is so destructive then Carl Sagan must be crazy to think that there is an inner capacity in ourselves to transform our world for the better. Carl Sagan, an atheist, sees something amazingly beautiful in humanity that is capable of using compassion and intelligence so as to enhance and make life more abundant and meaningful for all humanity. That is truly a low view of humanity, don't you think?
It is easy to make such simplistic classification and to group all the non-Christians as having a low view of humanity. And perhaps, one could have interpreted from reading Freud, Camus, Russell, Gould and many other great mind that they have a low sense of humanity. However, that would be farthest from the truth particularly if we are to see their human epic story in their grand scheme of the universe. Yes, at such light humanity is tiny and quite insignificant. But that is the same way if we are to see humanity in the scheme of God's creation. In the vastness of the universe, in this powerful natural force of earth, in all that resides human beings, a frail but resilient speck of life – i.e., humanity in the grand scheme of all that there is in this universe is just a speck of life. Is it any wonder that even the psalmist said:
"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained;
What is man that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)
That isn't a low view of humanity but merely a real assertion of what it means to be human in the vastness of the universe. To say that that is a low view of humanity is to not understand and read properly those who are merely appropriating humanity in the greater context of the universe. Furthermore, if we are to further read their text, we discover they have quite a high view, perhaps even higher than most Christians, of humanity. It could argue that they have too high of a view of humanity. Thus, to argue that the “secular” world has a low view of humanity is almost to argue that Christians have a low view of humanity. It is so low that humanity is absolutely and completely depraved since the fall (cf. St. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and others). It is so depraved and faulty that one wonder if there is anything left of “imago Dei” in humanity.
True, it could be argued that those who Christians classified as having a “low anthropology” are not Christians. That is, they don't particularly care for any all powerful, all knowing, all present deity. This stance against such deity isn't because they lavish in their certitude that such God does not exist. To be fair a good number are agnostic and not a militaristic-atheist. So, the so-called "low-humanity" viewers aren't low-viewers of humanity but they are low viewers of an all powerful, all knowing, and all present deity. This low view could be an outcome of God's silence in our midst. In his book, "The Disappearance of God" by Richard E. Friedman, you follow Friedman progression of God publicly talking to God's people to God speaking in the mind or heart of an individual and to an eventual silence. God is no longer a public speaker. Yes, we still have a few claiming to speak on behalf of God and maybe they are but for the most part we simply dismiss them. Thus, it seems, the issue isn't low humanity or high humanity, but low or no God with high or semi God. Yes, one could argue that God is speaking all the time but it is merely us that refuse to listen to God's call to return to God's way. And that could be true, but if God so very much loves us to give ancient civilizations God's direct voice of inspiration to inspire the "Holy" "B"ook, then why stop now particularly in our greatest moment of chaos and need of a deity who leads us to salvation. If you don't believe that humanity is in despair need of a savior, then you must be living in some cave oblivious of all that is going on in our planet. The situation is getting to be alarming that humanity is arriving to a point that it is eating itself to extinction. The world is going at mock and God is whispering to our hearts. Well, if humanity is so very sinful and so very deaf, blind, and hardened-heart, then one cannot but wonder: how is humanity ever to hear God if God is only whispering?
O my soul, hear that whispers of wind.
That is God whispering.
Can your deaf ear hear?
Thus, it isn't really about us against them or them against us, but merely that the world has taken Christianity-of-the-right to task. So in the end, the so-called “low-viewers” of humanity don't have a low view of humanity but a low view of God because the “Christian-right” God “gives man permission to function irrationally, to accept something above and outside the power of their reason and superior to reason.” But why should someone with a low view of humanity care? As Ayn Rand said:
“Because this life is wonderful. Because if you look at the universe, it's wonderful and you have to use your life to the best of your understanding.”
Are these words of someone who has a low view of humanity? Quite the contrary, the view is so high that in the end reason can do no wrong. And we are well aware that reason has made its impact on humanity. Yes, the proponents of reason can make all type of excuses which in the end they sound just like those Christian-right talking about God's will in midst of evil. In the end, reason can't save us any more than faith can't because humanity isn't one or the other but a hypostatic union of two natures: faith and reason in humanity.
In the end, the issue that I have with both Christian in either right, middle, or left, is that all side has buy into our “scientific” classification. We no longer look an work of art in its whole but we break it down to its most pure chemical elements. Yes, that is important since through it we can understand the mechanics of life. But mechanics can't give significance because mechanics can only shed light on the way it operates and that can provide important tools to help in our self-discover but it isn't the final and only picture of what life is in this vast universe.