On the Death of the Innocents

Many words have been expended over the last few weeks to try to make some sense out of the senseless killing of innocent children in an Arkansas schoolyard. I have heard some comments which have struck me as being right on target, and I have heard and read some things that seem nonsensical. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’d like to weigh in on the issue with some comments from my perspective.

First, it would seem to me that we ought to reject this notion that “all of us are to blame for what transpired in the Arkansas tragedy.” That is a popular sentiment, but it should be rejected as the silly nonsense that it is. Some would make these statements, it would seem, out of some desire to make themselves feel better about themselves because they are somehow willing to accept some of the blame. A popular country song said, “You can feel bad if it makes you feel better”, and I suppose that if some want to wear the mantle of blame to somehow ease their consciences, they should be allowed to. But when DeWayne Wickham, in a USA Today editorial, writes that every member of society is to blame for this, he should know that there are many of us who simply are not willing to take that guilt trip. Was Shannon Wright, the courageous teacher who died saving the life of a child, somehow guilty? Or did she not make the ultimate sacrifice in order to prevent the carnage? And would not millions of Americans done the same courageous thing had they been in her place? So let’s put to rest the unsupportable notion that we, by virtue of merely living in a society, are responsible for all the atrocities of that society. When all of us are guilty, as some voices suggest, then no one is really guilty.

Second, we clearly do live in a society that has lost its respect for human life. While this is not the ultimate reason for the Arkansas atrocity, it does set the context for this type of thing to happen. We have cheapened the value of human life. But I have heard no one go beyond the obvious in citing examples of this. Of course it should be plainly apparent that the sins of abortion, partial-birth infanticide, and Kevorkianish assisted suicide all cheapen the intrinsic value of life created in the image of God. Certainly our perverted entertainment industry, which glorifies all of the wrong things, aids the further erosion of the respect for human life. When we allow our children the “freedom” to watch MTV and we make the Rambos and the Schwarzeneggers heroes to our children, we should not be surprised that they become desensitized to the sacred nature of human life. But these things ought to be quite obvious, and have been pointed to by many already, most recently James Dobson in his full-page USA Today editorial of April 7. And I should add that, with respect to my first point, those who have been complicit in this devaluing of human life might be said to share some of the blame!

What I have heard no one, including Dobson, say is that a root problem which manifests itself in the above atrocities is the fact that we teach our public school children that they are animals. The fair question to ask is why we are surprised when they act like it! The baseless hypothesis of evolution, propped up on the foundation not of scientific evidence but of rationalistic philosophy, suggests that we are all here by way of a cosmic accident. We are nothing more than moderately-evolved animals, according to this hypothesis. If this is so, then there is no logical basis for morality in human society; the evolutionist strives in vain to even give a convincing reason why Hitler was wrong! Just maybe, then, our children are smarter than we give them credit for; just maybe they see the pointlessness of a human existence which is bounded by no ultimate moral authority and vested with no intrinsic purpose.

The teaching of evolution is central to the worldview of humanistic naturalism, and is the foundation upon which that understanding of life is built. As Christians who believe that God is at the beginning of all life and the author of all truth, we must fight against this groundless pseudo-science and seek to open the closed minds of evolutionary thinkers to the fact that this emperor has no clothes! New scholarly works are pointing out the gaping holes in evolutionary theory and the quantum leaps in logic employed by those who have a stake in maintaining the status quo. For some, it will mean questioning their fundamental assumptions about the appropriateness of enrolling their children in the public school system. For others, it will mean active involvement with their schools and teachers to press for honesty and openness in scientific education. For Christian teachers in public schools, it ought to mean a boldness to help open young minds to think about the merits of the scientific evidence for intelligent design as well as evolutionary theory.

Last, it would seem that the most basic explanation for the Arkansas tragedy is that the Word of God is right about the condition of the human heart. We are all desperately sinful (contrary to the humanistic assumption that all people are basically good) and we all have it in us to commit horrible deeds given the right set of circumstances. These boys are responsible, obviously, to a degree that no one else can be said to be. At least in the case of one of the two boys, apparently, irresponsible parenting played a major factor in the shaping of a young life (will we ever learn the lesson that divorce exacts a terrible price upon young children? Dobson laments that it is easier in our country to obtain a divorce than to get out of an automobile lease agreement. God help us.). The bad news is that we are all fundamentally flawed by our sin, but the incredible news of Easter is that there is a God in heaven Who is bigger than death, and He’s much bigger than all of our hangups combined. While society as a whole can do little, it would seem, to prevent these kinds of tragic events, we each as individuals can play our parts by considering seriously our relationships to God and beginning to live out lives that please Him, one life at a time.

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