The Goodness Of Man And Animals

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an animal referred to as evil. Sure, there have been rogue animals that break from normal behavior for one reason or another. They may act in unpredictable ways, but no one ascribes evil motives to them. They are being nothing more than what their environment and their DNA made them to be.

Of course many in our culture want to believe the same about Man. Except there’s this odd, inexplicable problem: Mankind believes in evil.

Not within animals, mind you. No matter how many gazelle a lion slaughters, no one calls him a murderer. No one is out trying to convince the cat family to become vegetarians — not even those which we’ve domesticated and which live under our care. We understand they are carnivorous, we accept that as fact, and we don’t try to train the “evil” out of them. We don’t believe it is evil for them to eat meat.

In contrast, Man believes Man to be evil. Even those who think Man is good. Generally “society” is blamed for causing good Man to swing to the dark side. It’s those churches, one side says. If it weren’t for religion, we wouldn’t have had all the wars we’ve enduring for centuries.

It’s demon drink, the other side says, or bad government or political corruption or Big Business or drugs.

Whichever way you look at it, the answer is, Man causes the problems because “society” is nothing more than Man acting in a group.

And yet, our culture increasingly says openly, Man is good. Hence, we should simply give in to our instincts — as long as we do no harm to others.

How interesting that the animals have no such exception clause. They can do harm to others with impunity. No one calls the bull elephant who chases off the young males threatening his leadership in the herd, a bully. No one wants to hold him accountable or tell him he needs to make room for others to express their individuality. Or that, in fact, the female elephants should have equal authority, and if they want to take charge of the herd, then the males should be only too happy to care for the pint-sized elephants for a while.

There is no equity in the animal kingdom, no sense of fair play, of justice. Alligators aren’t held accountable for the baby wildebeest they devour. Cheetah aren’t considered immoral because they attack the weak or the young instead of taking on the most fit zebra in the herd.

Animals act as animals will. And Man?

We’re such a mixed bag. We volunteer hours on end to search for a missing child, we collect money and clothes to give to victims of natural disasters, we risk our lives to pull others out of burning buildings or sinking ships.

But we also cheat on our income tax and lie to our husbands or wives. We hold grudges and argue and complain and push to get our own way. What a selfish, proud, unkind, discontented lot we are.

From what I can discern, only Christianity explains the existence of evil. If life is, as many apart form Christianity believe, nothing more than matter plus time plus chance, then where did intolerance come from? Where did hatred come from?

Christianity understands the uniqueness of Man, both of his created and his fallen states, explaining the mixed bag completely. What other worldview can make such clear sense of the things we see in this world?

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Published in: on March 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm  Comments (8)  
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8 Comments

  1. I heard an interview with David Attenborough where he said that his study of nature had made it impossible for him to believe in God. He gave as an example a small worm in Africa which burrows into people and lives in their eyes, sending them blind. He didn’t seem to consider the point that the worm does not intend harm. It struck me at the time that this is where you end up if you believe that people are just animals. I’ve known scientists who turned themselves inside out trying to understand what makes humans different to the rest of the animals (or sometimes not different).

    Genesis suggests that humans have eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You can only intend evil if you understand what it is.

  2. Mm hmm. Good post.

  3. Ken, thanks for that illustration. Great conclusion, too — you can only intend evil if you understand it.

    It amazes me how far our culture has come along the road to reducing Man to the status of animal. But there’s that glitch in the process — those who so advocate find those of us who disagree, reprehensible. We are, to them, evil. So even in denying God, they still affirm the truth that we are moral beings with a sense of right and wrong. Though we don’t agree on much of what is right or what is wrong, we are still clearly different from the animals.

    Sally, I appreciate you stopping by. :-D

    Becky

  4. Today’s headline: They’re close to finding the ‘God particle’. That’ll explain everything!

  5. “…Man is good. Hence, we should simply give in to our instincts — as long as we do no harm to others.

    How interesting that the animals … can do harm to others with impunity.”

    I have never considered that before. What a great point! The “one” thing people tend to agree is moral is the “cause no harm to others” clause. That’s a fantastic observation that we hold no such thoughts for animals. Brilliant insight [smile]!

    ~Luke

  6. Thanks, Bob. I always wonder how “they” know they’re close to something they haven’t found! I also wonder what they think the God particle is. This bears some research, I think. Part of me is amused to think that anyone could think God can be reduced to a particle, and part of me is incredibly sad to think how far we have fallen.

    I was contemplating just this morning how cultures throughout time have believed in God — many a false version of the One True God, to be sure, but still there was an awareness of the supernatural. Today the going idea is that those people believed out of their ignorance, but the truth is, the closer to an event, the greater the accuracy in reporting it. That’s why researchers always go to primary sources when those are available.

    Hence, those closest to creation believed it. They knew Adam, perhaps, or one of his children. They heard about him waking up to see Eve for the first time, and what it was like to walk with God in the cool of the garden. How many stories there must have been. But time and sin and eventually the flood washed away the memory of all but the revealed truth and echoes in mythology.

    Today we are as far from the truth as civilization has ever been — in time and fact. But instead of searching out the only authoritative account now available — the primary source, in all its meanings — so many shun it and decide they can figure out the origin of the universe on their own. It’s quite an arrogant position.

    Becky

  7. Thanks, Luke. I’ve learned a lot from Ravi Zacharias, a wonderful apologist. You may have heard him on the radio or read some of his books. His newest is Why Jesus? I can hardly wait to get my hands on it.

    Becky

  8. [...] The Goodness Of Man And Animals from A Christian Worldview of Fiction by Rebecca LuElla Miller. A comparison of Mankind with animals at the level of morality undermines common beliefs about who Mankind is. Excerpt: Our culture increasingly says openly, Man is good. Hence, we should simply give in to our instincts — as long as we do no harm to others. How interesting that the animals have no such exception clause. They can do harm to others with impunity. [...]


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