Thursday, May 2, 2013
John Brockman Crane
The Atrophy of Conscience (part 2)

 (This commentary is the second of three parts that are part of an unpublished essay I wrote a number of years ago surrounding the Terri Schiavo case. It has been adapted here concerning Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s recent “house of horrors,” as there is considerable cross-application.)

The devaluing of human life in our American culture should come as no surprise. We’re merely witnessing the logical outcome of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” philosophy. Our postmodern culture has embraced the gradual erosion of absolute Truth in favor of absolute tolerance and individual rights, including the right to murder babies under the guise of “choice”.

Tolerance is built on the assumption that everyone should be granted the freedom to exercise their personal choices in whatever manner befits them. Condemnation of immoral behavior suggests that there exists some transcendent standard of right and wrong moral behavior.

What many in our society have failed to realize is that in the absence of moral absolutes, the plumb line for delineating moral and immoral behavior disappears. There is no immovable moral standard by which to judge a person’s actions.

Therein lies the irrationality of embracing this skewed understanding of tolerance. Without God’s standard of moral truth, nothing can be deemed good or bad. In fact, everything we do in life ultimately becomes amoral, possessing no moral value whatsoever. As such, the “worth” of the individual vanishes amid the mirage of the very philosophy striving so zealously to protect it. Pure tolerance then sadly results in all people being ultimately relegated to a vacuum of meaningless existence.

Once we have eliminated the moral standard of right and wrong, we have sown the seeds for our own eventual demise as a culture. The deaths at the hands of Dr. Kermit Gosnell represent just one more step down that slippery slope.

If it's true, as the evolutionary theorists suggest, that we're all merely the result of one big cosmic accident—that there is no transcendent authority to whom we are all held accountable—then why not, “eat, drink, and be merry”? Without accountability to someone higher than ourselves, we each become the center of our personal universe. In this world of self-determination, the sanctity of individual rights becomes paramount.

The implications of this misguided belief have far-reaching consequences on both a personal and cultural level.  For, as the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky reminded us in The Brothers Karamazov, “Without God, everything is permitted.” He captured with this idea the moral dilemma facing our society today.  In essence, our belief or unbelief in absolute Truth will determine how we live our lives.

Given the freedoms and luxuries we enjoy, it is easy to move through life never having to face the deep, penetrating questions that the Gosnell case has forced upon us. Such questions, the kind that reside deep within the recesses of the human mind, rise to the surface as we see our own devolution reflected in the haunting testimony of Gosnell's trial.

All people have been made in the image of God. With that sacred designation there has been accorded to each of us a dignity and immeasurable value inherent to our personhood. And if we don’t speak up for those who can’t speak, who will?

(Stay tuned for part 3 next week…)

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