The left often accuses the social and political right – and particularly evangelical Christians – of being hateful and intolerant. As a conservative blogger, believe me, I can give examples!
I’m often left astonished by such visceral anger. If I were leaving a comment on Osama bin Laden’s blog, I doubt that I could muster up more hostility than I have often received from secular humanist/atheist liberals (and for what it’s worth, while I do a variety of reading in pursuit of supporting articles and illustrations, as a general rule I only leave comments on articles that I find well written and insightful).
I want to get at something that has occurred to me.
When I as a typical conservative and evangelical Christian meet a secular humanist, atheist homosexual (as a particularly extreme example), do I think he’s wrong? Of course I think he’s wrong. Do I think he’s evil? You’re darned right I do (although I do make a distinction, for instance, between homosexuals who feel trapped by an addictive behavior they can’t control and don’t want and militant homosexual activists who are determined to advance their agenda on society). And, of course, as I point out in my first paragraph, such a militant leftist most definitely thinks I’M wrong and I’M evil.
Are we at an impasse then, where we both think the other evil?
No. We do not. Let me explain briefly why the left’s hatred rises to an entirely different level, and has nothing to restrain or mitigate it.
As a Christian, I believe in the doctrine of original sin. I believe that humans have a sin nature, that there’s something that has been corrupted in our souls since the Fall. But the liberals with whom I am most at war do not believe any such thing.
Leftists – who reject the Bible – continue to believe in the Classical view that evil is a problem of lack of knowledge, rather than a moral problem of the will.
St. Paul wrote in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
Dinesh D’Souza, in his magnificent book, What’s So Great About Christianity, says:
Here Paul in a single phrase repudiates an entire tradition of classical philosophy founded in Plato. For Plato, the problem of evil is a problem of knowledge. People do wrong because they do not know what is right. If they knew what was right, obviously they would do it. But Paul denies that this is so. His claim is that even though he knows something is wrong, he still does it. Why? Because the human will is corrupt. The problem of evil is not a problem of knowledge but a problem of will (page 55-56).
Here’s the point: I believe that the leftist secular humanist who directly opposes the Judeo-Christian worldview is evil. But I also believe that there is evil in me, too. In fact, it’s BECAUSE of that evil that is in me that I need a Savior in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
And I look at even the most bitter, hateful, downright mean secular humanist and can therefore say as a result of my worldview, “There but for the grace of God go I.” I know that even though I have a new spiritual nature imbued by the Holy Spirit, I still have to continue to deal with my fallen will while I inhabit this earth. And because of that, I can take pity on those who are themselves under the sway of evil.
But the leftist does not have that font to draw from. Moreover, the very fact that I believe it further qualifies me as “evil” in their eyes. They deny the depravity of the human will as an objective reality, and argue that the very thing that gives me the basis for my compassion is an evil thing. They are only too willing to point out the evil that is in me, but they cannot or will not see the evil in themselves.
The thesis that evil is a problem of lack of knowledge held by many leftists also doesn’t hold up. Take me as an example: I went to public school, and I have a university degree from a secular university. I learned the same things they learned, and yet I think very differently than they. On a grander scale, take Nazi Germany: Germany was the most educated and intellectual society on the face of the earth. It was also the most scientifically advanced. And yet they reduced themselves to the worst barbarism in human history, a barbarism armed with modern technology and intellectual sophistication.
I would argue that the leftist doesn’t really have ANY intellectual or moral tradition to draw from. What is their “Bible”? From which specific source do they draw upon for their worldview? Based on what do that say, “This thing is right, and that thing wrong?”
To illustrate, let me quote Gleason Archer, from page 55-56 of his Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties:
But it should be pointed out that consistent atheism, which represents itself to be the most rational and logical of all approaches to reality, is in actuality completely self defeating and incapable of logical defense. That is to say, if indeed all matter has combined by mere chance, unguided by any Higher Power of Transcendental Intelligence, then it necessarily follows that the molecules of the human brain are also the product of mere chance. In other words, we think the way we do simply because the atoms and molecules of our brain tissue happen to have combined in the way they have, totally without transcendental guidance or control. So then even the philosophies of men, their system of logic and all their approaches to reality are the result of mere fortuity. There is no absolute validity to any argument advanced by the atheist against the position of theism.
On the basis of his won presuppositions, the atheist completely cancels himself out, for on his own premises his arguments are without any absolute validity. By his own confession he thinks the way he does simply because the atoms in his brain happen to combine the way they do. If this is so, he cannot honestly say that his view is any more valid than the contrary view of his opponent. His basic postulates are self contradictory and self defeating; for when he asserts that there are no absolutes, he thereby is asserting a very dogmatic absolute. Nor can he logically disprove the existence of God without resorting to a logic that depends on the existence of God for its validity. Apart from such a transcendent guarantor of the validity of logic, any attempts at logic or argumentation are simply manifestations of the behavior of the collocation of molecules that make up the thinker’s brain.
The point is that leftists – having no profound tradition to draw upon – are left to judge those with whom they disagree based far more on emotion than upon some foundation. Evolution certainly doesn’t provide them with any legitimate foundation, for it disqualifies itself; our minds are just collections of random molecular interaction, and we think however we do purely because our brains happen to evolve as they have. Therefore, my “Bible-based morality” is no less “valid” than theirs, based on their own view. And they hate me only because they don’t happen to like what I say.
Let me say more about what I mean by arguing that leftists are “left to judge those with whom they disagree based far more on emotion than upon some foundation.” The result is the tendency to think as follows:
“I am a good person. Ergo sum what I think about moral and political issues is good.”
It’s not based on adhering to any moral foundation, but rather in adhering to their own notion of personal “goodness.” I can’t be wrong about my moral intuition because I’m “good.” Do you see what I mean?
Of course, on the Christian view, wrong and wrong again. First of all, they AREN’T “good.” Only God is truly good. And only our Creator alone can ultimately understand what is good and what is evil. We are all of us sinners with perverted wills and our moral intuitions are therefore fallible. And second, GOD alone as revealed in His Scriptures is the source of legitimate moral foundations. So it’s not about how “good” I am, but rather about how good GOD is. Our moral foundation is therefore not based in our subjective preferences and desires, but rather on the objective goodness of our Creator God.
Since I recognize that God is the source of moral foundations, I don’t take it so “personally” to have those foundations questioned. But for the liberal, it is ALL ABOUT their own “goodness” and “morality” when their moral or political views are being questioned. Given that you as a liberal believe that gay marriage is “good” based on YOUR personal subjective intuitions, for example, for me to say that gay marriage is evil amounts to my saying that YOU are evil. So you get angry and defensive and nasty. Whereas for me, it comes down to my believing that God created the universe this way. It’s not about “me” or “my goodness.” So I DON’T get as angry. I can remain more objective.
Having said that, there are most certainly Republicans, conservatives, and even Christians who either don’t rely on the Bible as their moral foundation (because either they reject the Bible or never get around to reading and understanding it). So their moral views are ALSO the result of how they “feel” versus a legitimate foundation. And thus there ARE people on “the right” who fall prey to the same anger I’m describing. But, since conservatives are significantly more religious than liberals, it is far more a tendency of the left.
Leftists characterize evangelical Christians and conservatives as “intolerant” because we disagree with other points-of-view. But they immediately invalidate their own position by being intolerant of the evangelical Christian/conservative point-of-view. I remember having a discussion with a liberal who had said I was intolerant. I asked, “Why do you say I’m intolerant?” And he replied, “Because you think I’m wrong.” When I responded, “But don’t you think I’m wrong, too?” I could literally see the gears in his head working to continue to rationalize his view.
Anyway, the next time someone from the left astonishes you with a sheer, visceral hostility that you can’t even begin to understand, recognize that it is literally all they have. And try to show pity on them.