Since Monday we’ve seen parent-shaming, the shaming of the parent-shamers, finger pointing, and blame assigning. Then we moved into memes redirecting the focus to abortion, gun-control, animal rights, human rights, and ironically, the idiocy of internet outrage. Next we had the satirical “fake” news articles. (Here was my favorite.) Now we’ve begun seeing the “we’ve had enough” memes.
The six stages of outrage in four days. Not bad.
What I have found interesting is how the shooting of an endangered gorilla to save an endangered human child has highlighted (once again) how the human race is divided.
Because once you get past all the usual stuff, and step back to take in the whole picture, what you see is the wreckage that is left when world views collide.
It seems to me there have been a couple of world views on display, and I don’t think either possesses the language to communicate well with the other.
Consider the images of the two 17 year old male specimens above. How we answer the question can reveal our world view.
One world view would say that the answer to the above question is one of degree.
There are obvious similarities. The two beings in question share a very similar anatomy. Muscles, bones, blood, brain, organs, even DNA are all remarkably similar. From this world view, the reason for the similarities lie in the fact that they have, through random chance and natural selection, evolved from a common ancestor.
The differences are simply differences of degree. Aside from the fact that the one on the left is much cooler than the nerd on the right, the one on the left possesses a much greater mass, strength and agility. The one on the right, on the other hand, makes up for this lack by possessing (arguably) a much higher intelligence.
Because of this view, there is no real difference in terms of value. From this point of view the killing of a gorilla is as much murder as the killing of a human. On the other end of the spectrum, the taking of a human life through abortion or euthanasia is regrettable, sure, but still a matter of choice with no moral consequence. (I recognize that I’m exaggerating and generalizing a bit here, but I believe the line of thinking holds.)
The other world view would say that the answer to the above question is one of category.
There are those among us (of which I am one) who believe what is written in Genesis 1:26-27:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Now, so we don’t get side tracked, the question of how this creator went about the work of creating is another discussion. But if you believe that he did, it changes your world view. From this view, the similarities found in the above pictured creatures are a result of having a common designer and creator.
The chief difference, aside from the obvious “cool’ factor, is not one of degree but of category. In the entire account of creation in Genesis, only one act of creation merits the phrase “in our image, after our likeness.”
There has been a lot written about these words and what, exactly, it means to be created in God’s image. I don’t think it refers to our physical appearance. I’ve come to believe that it has more to do with things like artistic creativity, our sense of eternity, the responsibility to care for the rest of creation, and our sense of morality. One clear ramification, though, is that human life is categorically different than animal life. The differences are not simply more or less strength or intelligence. There is a difference in value. They were both created by God but only one bears the image of God. So, when life is viewed from this perspective, the killing of a gorilla, while regrettable, may be necessary and unavoidable at times. But the taking of a human life, in any way, carries a heavy load of moral consequence.
Have you ever had the experience of trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language? It’s hard. I had the privilege of traveling to India a few years ago. I remember speaking with one of my new Indian friends. There was something specific I wanted to say to him so, to make sure he understood me, I spoke louder. It’s a natural tendency. The words are still gibberish to the other person, but we think because we speak louder it will be more readily understood.
I think that’s what happens when world views collide. We raise our voices, but the only people who understand are the ones who speak our language.
My purpose in writing all this is a little unclear to me, to be honest. I think mainly I would like for us all, believers and unbelievers alike, to take a moment to try to look through the lens of the other world view. I want to understand why you see things the way you do. Certainly, I would love to be able to persuade any of you who don’t see life the way I do to come over and check out the view from here. I think this is the clearer view and makes the most sense of our world.
But the truth is, unless we stop shouting gibberish at each other and learn to communicate with one another, that’s never going to happen.
(and, yes, that’s me on the right)