Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Looking at the World with Two Lenses


When considering a problem, one needs to look both at the surface causes as well as the root causes. Both are necessary; one without the other becomes necessary but not sufficient, for determining the causes of the problem.

The AAAS Journal Science devoted its May 18, 2012 issue to analyzing the causes of human conflict.  Eleven articles present detailed studies of what causes human conflict, such as fights, wars, terrorism, etc. However, after describing these problems, the authors describe only the surface causes of these problems, because they base the causes of these conflicts in our evolutionary development and history, offering answers based solely on ‘scientific/materialistic’ data. These scientists write from a perspective of ontological naturalism. They believe that the material is all that exists and there is no spiritual aspect to existence. This ‘faith’ limits their analyses to natural causes only, implicit in a person’s physical body and his psyche, and transmitted to the present state from our so-called evolutionary struggles for survival of the human species.

Their ontological materialism prevents these scientists from going deeper into root causes best described by the British philosopher C.E.M Joad, as pathological to the human nature, rooted in his alienation from the Creator. The scientists who authored these articles on violent conflict and terrorism refrain from using the term ‘evil’, afraid to bring in anything that smacks of the spiritual – an area of inquiry that lies beyond the competence of empirical verification.

In his writing, Joad concludes that the Bible has the best insight into human’s pathological tendencies towards evil, by attributing it to a person’s ‘fallen nature.’ Other explanations like Freud’s attribution of ‘evil to the human libido, or Marx’s view of evil as social/economic injustices, Joad finds weak.

The causes of human conflict analyzed in the 11 articles in Science do represent necessary conditions, but fall short of dealing with the sufficient condition that points to a person’s fallen (sinful) nature. Looking at the spiritual/philosophical aspects is an approach which is beyond the purview and competence of the scientific method.

Paul says in Ephesians 4 18 “They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.” (The Message) God has given us two lenses to use when perceiving reality. Let’s use them both, otherwise our conclusions are one-sided and insufficient.

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