At the Root of Evil
Turtle-necked professors and self-important secular elitists stand in front of their mirrors to practice condescending chuckles for those who believe in a supernatural dimension to reality. This crewneck commoner doesn’t loose much sleep over their disapproving scorn. And neither should you.
One really need not be a wild-eyed, Haitian Voodoo priest to dispute that the physical is the sine qua non of reality. One need not be a snake-handling bumpkin to believe that science has limits. For the record, practically to a man, conservatives appreciate and respect science. But we do not believe science can study, much less explain, every phenomenon.
Take the source of evil, for example. I’ll admit I haven’t been paying much attention to the social darwinists lately. But I have been watching the news.
Friday marked the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. On April 24, 1915, Muslim Turks began a systematic genocide against their Christian neighbors. As many as 1.5 million Armenians and up to a million Greek and Assyrian Christians were slaughtered. Their homes were raided. Their women and daughters were raped and sold into sex slavery. Their children were put on boats, taken out to the Black Sea and dumped overboard. It was reported that so many Christians were drowned in the Euphrates River that the corpses altered its flow.
They were injected with poisons. They were shoved off cliffs. They were marched into the desert where they starved and died of thirst. The cruelty of the Turks knew no limits. Even their German allies in WWI were aghast at the brutality of the Ottoman Turks, though their own countrymen would repeat it a generation later in the Nazi Holocaust.
Today, Boko Haram is burning Christians alive in Nigeria, just as the Turks burned Christians in eastern Turkey by the tens of thousands. Last week, Muslims from North Africa dumped Christians overboard to drown in the Mediterranean Sea. Not too far from where the Turks drove the Armenians into the desert to die of starvation, ISIS drove the Kurds into the wilderness to suffer the same fate. ISIS is doing their part to reproduce the horror of the Armenian Genocide near the very same region the Ottoman Turks built two dozen concentration camps that would feed mass graves with mountains of emaciated bodies.
What has changed? Surprisingly little. Yet, not one of the Young Turks who participated in the Armenian Genocide is alive today. What, then, explains this reenactment? It is not the physical body but an immaterial spirit that lives on to re-inspire the cycle of torture, rape, and murder. ISIS warriors aren’t fine students of history; they are orc-like pawns of evil forces in the spiritual realm.
We are used to theists arguing for the existence of God based on ubiquitous insuppressible moral instincts, as C. S. Lewis did masterfully in “Mere Christianity.” But the existence of objective moral evil–as opposed to agreed categories of right and wrong–argues no less powerfully for a moral being who is the personification of evil and the source of what our souls abhor.
Scientism cannot reckon with moral evil. Physicalism lacks explanatory power when we witness the tragic repetition of genocide. The only plausible explanation for the cycle of evil is a supernatural personality for whom 100 years is just a brief interval and whose methods are predictably familiar.
If ignorance were the source of the problem and education the solution, could we not have expected a smidgen of improvement in our moral conditions? If a lousy economy and a lack of jobs lay at the root, wouldn’t the degree of appalling evil fluctuate with employment figures? Science is out of its league. Call in the theologians. Unless and until we reckon both with the reality of objective moral evil and the personality behind it, we are powerless to restrain it.
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