Friday, January 28, 2005

Compassion through the anti-Christian looking glass

This week, two unimaginable events of human suffering are being addressed. Yet Christianity Today reports the strangest set of priorities in the minds of some people.

Predictably, the UN is using the aftermath of the tsunami to advance its own influence and importance. Oxfam is arguing that the UN ought to be given the authority to accredit those relief agencies who are helping the people of Southeat Asia. Put together with complaints of some that some Christian aid agencies are "proselytizing" and the anti-Christian sentiment of the UN, it is not a stretch to imagine Christians being barred from relief efforts if this were accomplished. (More from the always funny ScrappleFace.) The net effect would be that relief efforts would be barred from many who lack selfish motivations and the pool of reliev workers would be more dominated by those who expected pay and/or power for their efforts: global relief would be merely the globalization of your local welfare office, where welfare dollars trickle down through layers of bureaucracy to recipients, and those in need are not so much human beings made in the image of God as job security. (This is not to impugn the motives of everyone in welfare or social service work! I would submit though, that for someone with an essentially humanistic worldview to engage in altruism there needs to be a irrational "leap of faith", because naturalistic Darwinism does not logically lead to altruism; they are in fact opposites. Social Darwinism is commonly rejected now, not because it doesn't follow from philosophical naturalism but because most people rightly find it abhorrent, even if they lack sufficient epistemic basis to reject it.)

The second case of perverting a tragedy for extreme ideological ends reported by CT involves the claims by a couple of Jews --you can find extremists in any group-- that Christian evangelism or the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools is tantamount to the Holocaust. On ID, Gerald Plessner claims,

""our histories are filled with the oppression, torture, and death that religious zealotry brought upon our ancestors, both ancient and modern. … It is time for all of us to understand that every individual in America has a right to be free of offense or assault by someone else's religious expressions or convictions. That is why it is wrong to teach the Adam and Eve story or Intelligent Design in public schools."

Got that? Freedom means that anyone who offends me must be silenced. Unless they are teaching philosophical naturalism in schools as the only permissible view, which in Plessner's estimation is the opposite of "zealotry". We are definitely through the looking glass at this point.

On the equally silly equating of evangelism with the Holocaust, I couldn't put it better than CT:

"Such articles are a farce, a kind of moral equivalence that is itself a kind of holocaust denial."