by ProfDave, ©2023
(Mar. 8, 2023) — In a nutshell, most – if not all – of our troubles are only the excrescence, the surface expression, of the age-old struggle between good and evil. Not good guys vs bad guys, let alone Democrats vs Republicans, capitalists vs communists, or even Christians vs pagans. That is all window-dressing. Evil is endemic.
It started in The Garden in the primordial temptation: “You will be like God.” Is it all about me? Am I in charge or is there Somebody or something else? Am I existentially responsible? Is there a Law – boundaries – in the cosmos or can I write my own? Is reality real or imaginary – at least partly?
Humanity was gifted with an abundance of creativity and imagination but knew so very little. Then Pandora, or was it Eve, let the cat out of the bag – we do not have to accept things the way they are and ought to be. Ever since we have been stuck with the fatal flaws of selfishness and rebellion. We want to be gods – but we really aren’t.
In a nutshell all of us have an innate tendency to do the wrong thing. If we are scientists, we use our God-given imagination and creativity to set forth hypotheses and theories, but our selfishness and rebellion tempts us to fudge and misinterpret the data, to treat our theories as fact, and to silence rivals. If we are artists, we are tempted to misuse our talents to indulge our vanity rather than express what is true and beautiful. If we have wealth, we are tempted to use it to indulge ourselves and impoverish others. If we have power, we are tempted to advance our own interests, to exploit others and neglect the common good. If we are miserable, we tend to rebel, to blame and envy others, to resort to violence and lawlessness – spreading our misery to others. If we are communicators, we are tempted to embellish the truth, fill in our ignorance, and generally mislead.
In a nutshell, can we trust human beings to rule the universe? That is as fundamental as it gets. How about the USA? In mankind do we trust? That isn’t what we have on our coins, but never mind. How about one man or woman? During Covid-19 we got a taste of the wisdom of a totalitarian state. How did that work for us? We may never know whether Trump or Biden, New York or Florida, Fauci or the WHO did the right thing with the information they had. Most likely, all of them were wrong. “The science” certainly was far from omniscient. By the time politics got done with the little data we had it was unrecognizable.
In a nutshell, we would probably prefer to make our own mistakes in most areas than have someone far away (be it Washington, DC or Silicon Valley) determine our lives for us. Until the omnipotent, omniscient King takes His rightful place over creation we must expect the powerful to be corrupted, to deceive and be deceived, and to pursue their own advantage instead of the common good. Our best chances are checks, balances and stalemates to keep us safe from each other. Deadlock may be the optimal after all.
David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College. He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020). He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.