Saturday, February 20, 2016

People Are Not Objects to be Used

People should be viewed as ends in themselves, not merely means to ends. If they are viewed as means to ends, this is another way of stating that they are viewed as objects. When we view other people as objects, instead of viewing them as people made in the image of God, we not only de-value them, but further the delusion that we are really the only people who matter—and that other people are valued instrumentally only insofar as they serve our purposes. This, in turn, gives us a warped view of God, where he only values us instrumentally.

Here is a concrete way that can work out: Men often view women as sexual objects, there to serve them and bring them pleasure. Often, people in society work to overcome the misogynistic behavior associated with this. Christians, specifically, seek to commit to one woman, in marriage before God, for as long as they are alive together. The issue is that, too often, it is only the behavior that is modified. Often, unexamined assumptions are left unchecked, and the prevailing attitude is barely affected, if at all. Thus, for the Christian man, women are still objects to be used—but I only am allowed to use one, namely, my wife.

This is not viewing people as made in the image of God. Instead, we should strive every day to view not only women, but all people in the image of God, and recognize they are not objects to be used. The same thing can happen with women to men (in terms of love, stability, relationship status, money), with co-workers, and so on. So long as you view people implicitly as furtherances to your pleasure, you have failed. It’s why people treat each other so badly on the internet—it’s easier to objectify them when you can’t see them. Let’s try seeing people as God does: as ends in themselves, people made in the image of God, for whom Christ died.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

New Book on Molinism!

I've recently turned my thesis into a short book, now available on Amazon as a paperback and a kindle edition! Just thought I would let everyone know...

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Reductionist Worldview

Our culture is often a reductionistic one. That is, our culture is what I like to call a “nothing-but” culture. Marriage is nothing-but a legal contract; gender is nothing-but a social construct; sexual behavior is nothing-but legal constraints and social taboos; beauty is nothing-but superficiality; life is nothing-but aimless wandering and contrived purpose, and on and on it goes ad nauseam.

What has been the result of this purpose? The principle that has taken over is that life is for whatever brings the most pleasure to us. For some, this means a fully hedonistic lifestyle. For others, this means attempting philanthropy to feel better. For others still, this involves paralysis and despair (e.g., the existentialists). Finally, for some, this means bringing much pain and suffering to others.

In all cases, the principle behind it is the same: life is purposeless, senseless, meaningless, vacuous, valueless, hopeless, and cold. Make of it what you can. My duty today is not to tell you that such a principle always works itself out pragmatically in the way of Hitler. In fact, I’ve taken pains above to show even some ways where the behavior at least seems to be quite positive.

My main point is two-fold: first, such selfish or hateful actions are allowed by such a principled worldview. Second, it is desirable that such a worldview be false. A worldview answers at least four major kinds of questions:

1.     Metaphysics—What kinds of things exist?
2.     Epistemology—What can we know?
3.     Axiology/Aesthetics—What is the good, and the beautiful?
4.     Teleology—What is the purpose or meaning of life?

The nothing-but worldview that allows for suffering and despair as completely normal very nearly strikes most of us as absurd. We instinctively recognize that such despair and dysfunction ought not to be. But if it ought not to be, then the nothing-but worldview is false. Perhaps we cannot show it is false (we certainly have not shown it, as of yet); but at the very least, we have suggested it is desirable that it is. And that, my friends, should make you pause.