The Fatal Flaw in Many Talk Show Hosts’ Reasoning

Over the years I have listened to talk show hosts like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levine. Lately, however, I’m increasingly less interested in their perspectives on the world. I have noticed a fatal flaw in their reasoning about human beings, which under-girds their thinking on a host of political and moral issues.

While they all speak of it, Glenn Beck is perhaps the most outspoken about the reality of evil in our world. The question is, HOW do they speak of it? How do they view evil, and how does it affect the rest of their worldview?

Speaking of the Western world’s conflict with ISIS, Glenn Beck states, “This is a war against evil.” No doubt.

In his book Deliver Us from Evil, Sean Hannity reacted against the 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center: “Evil exists. It is real, and it means to harm us.” No question.

But how do they understand evil? If people are out to kill us, they are evil. So what should we do about it? Usually, the remedy is to kill the offenders first. But when we kill them we are not evil because we are defending ourselves against evil. In other words, we are the good guys and they are the bad guys.

I also hear these same men claim (fairly often) that they believe “we” are basically good. Really?

There’s a glaring problem in their reasoning, but it’s not easy for us to see. In fact, I’ve heard many church-going folk follow similar lines of logic. How can we be basically good while they are basically evil? How did Western civilization become basically good? How did Islamic nations end up basically evil?

Those who believe they are basically good find it easy to choose a side and then paint all in opposition as the bad guys. The United States has polarized itself using this way of thinking. Democrats think Republicans are basically evil. Republicans think Democrats are basically evil. Libertarians think Dems and Reps are Satan’s spawn. Everyone has decided that his way of thinking is correct and that his heart is good. Those who think differently must be fighting for the other side.

As Christians, we should accept what God tells us about ourselves:

“…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8.21)

 

“God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7.29)

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13.23)

“…there is no one who does not sin…” (1 Kings 8.46)

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23)

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2.1-3)

Let us not draw lines where God hasn’t, and He draws those lines between the saved and unsaved, between believers and unbelievers. Those who commit acts of evil act according to their flesh–and ALL men walk in their flesh unless and until God saves them!

We should not be surprised at the levels of violence, sexual perversion, hate, contempt, in-fighting, power-grabbing, back-stabbing, and abuse in the world. We should be surprised when light shines brightly, when hope is born, when grace is offered–for that is the rarity.

Thank God for His mercy and His Spirit, who enables us to actually commit goodness and kindness. Without God’s grace this world would devolve into cataclysmic chaos, a deluge of darkness.

But with His grace there is hope, not for all men, but for those who submit to His Son and for those whom He changes from the inside out.

As long as we buy the lie that we are basically good they are basically evil, we will continue to walk in our own evil and call it good. We should own our own evil, taking it before God in confession and repentance, and perhaps then we can look at them with more grace and understanding. God’s grace tears down walls because it forces us to identify with other sinners.

So listen closely to your talk show hosts of choice. Listen to your congressmen and women. Listen to your President and Governor. See if they have this fatal misunderstanding of human nature. I hope it provokes you to become more critical in your weighing of their arguments.

Dear Atheist

Dear Atheist,

What are your thoughts are concerning the recent shooting in Texas? I would be grossly unfair to associate you, personally, with the thoughts and actions of that shooter–just as it would be unfair of you to associate the foolish and hateful actions of a self-proclaimed “Christian” with me. But I would love to know if you think the actions of the shooter were wrong. Or right.

And if you believe his actions were wrong, I’d love to know why.

Atheism leaves out any notion of a divine being who created mankind. Most atheists I know believe we exist as a result of billions of years of natural selection. In essence, we came from nothing…and to nothing we will return.

So why exactly would you decry the actions of the atheist shooter? It seems to me he acted consistently with his belief that there is no God. If there is no God, there is no judgment, no moral consequence to his actions. If there is no God, there is no objective standard of right and wrong. Who is to say what he should and shouldn’t do? If he had gotten away with it, would it not be a case of the strong surviving?

In an article on atheism and ethics, a champion of atheism writes,

“The behavior of Atheists is subject to the same rules of sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology that govern the behavior of all members of our species, religionists included.”

No doubt that is true. I’m not arguing that Atheists have no moral code. I’m asking where does your moral code come from? I agree with the writer above that all men possess some moral ethic, some rule inside us which tells us one thing is right while another is wrong. Why is that? Sometimes our internal moral code flies in the face of strict rationality. We see a mother give herself to save her infant child, and we feel deeply the great rightness of that action. On the other hand, we see pictures of partial-birth abortions and strongly react against the wrongness of it.

However, if we were purely rational about these situations (taking the view that there is no God), the woman would have been just as right to have traded her infant’s life for her own. We could shrug our shoulders at the momentary pain and death of the aborted child because the mother was avoiding long-term stress and worry.

A little later in the article, the author writes, “Nature also has provided us with nervous systems which are, to a considerable degree, imprintable.” Nature did that? Apparently nature has missed quite a few individuals.

The writer labels his moral code “enlightened self-interest.” What he means is that nature imprints upon our species the collective wisdom of millions of years of trial and error, and we are able to make choices based upon what will give us the greatest short- and long-term happiness. It’s a purely selfish model. We love others because that love will reflect back to us, making us feel good. We don’t harm others, only because it might come back on us and make us unhappy. We live by a series of consequences and rewards.

Atheists generally insist that the problem of pain and suffering is a huge problem for the Christian. “How can you believe in a God when there is so much evil in the world?” But the Christian understands there is EVIL in the world! It’s not just people choosing poorly and experiencing undesirable consequences; it’s people actively hating one another and exacting vengeance upon each other. The atheist has no argument against the existence of actual evil and good. In his mind, we only label things “good” which we have decided bring us the most happiness in this world. There is no external, objective “good” in this world, so why should we subject anyone to punishments for their actions? After all, are they not just doing what they think is “good” for them?

The atheist believes the real problem in this world is religion. We perpetuate the violence and evil. But what if we claim that Nature has given us this understanding? What if nature itself has taught us, imprinted upon us, a knowledge of a supernatural being? Every man and woman, contemplating the awesome world, feels deep in his or her DNA the rightness of a Master Designer.

Dear Atheist, it seems you can’t really decide what is evil and what is good, because you have no objective standard. You cannot say that religion is wrong, nor can you say it is right. If it gives me the most happiness in this life to believe in a future with a compassionate a loving God, that this life is not the extent of my existence, why would you take that belief from me? You will take my happiness along with it.

Dan Barker, author of Godless who preached for a time in charismatic Christian churches before transitioning to atheism, wrote the following in an article called “Dear Believer“:

If Christianity were simply untrue I would not be too concerned. Santa is untrue, but it is a harmless myth which people outgrow. But Christianity, besides being false, is also abhorrent. It amazes me that you claim to love the god of the bible, a hateful, arrogant, sexist, cruel being who can’t tolerate criticism. I would not want to live in the same neighborhood with such a creature!

I also find Christianity to be morally repugnant. The concepts of original sin, depravity, substitutionary forgiveness, intolerance, eternal punishment, and humble worship are all beneath the dignity of intelligent human beings and conflict with the values of kindness and reason. They are barbaric ideas for primative cultures cowering in fear and ignorance.

Finally, Christianity is harmful. More people have been killed in the name of a god than for any other reason. The Church has a shameful, bloody history of Crusades, Inquisitions, witch-burnings, heresy trials, American colonial intolerance, disrespect of indigenous traditions (such as American Indians), support of slavery, and oppression of women. Modern “fruits” of religion include the Jonestown massacre, the callous fraud of “faith healers,” the sex scandals of televangelists, and fighting in Northern Ireland. Religion also poses a danger to mental health, damaging self-respect, personal responsibility, and clarity of thought.

If Christianity is truly harmful to society, then shouldn’t freethinkers praise what the shooter did last Sunday? Are not his actions justified? After all, he wiped out 26 believers of nonsense who won’t be able to pass that worldview down to the next generation.

So, dear Atheist, where do you stand?