Words from a Father

Husband of One, Father of Four

Tag: human

512. Human Interest Story

There’s a difference between a human interest story and a human vanity story. We have not enough of the former, but an overload of the latter.

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420. Essay: The Paradox of Patience: Virtue or Figment

If an anti-theist tells you patience is a virtue, ask, “Why is patience virtuous? Humans are selfish by nature, so why is it a good thing to squelch one of the primary things that makes us human?”

Is it so we’re nicer to each other? No. At most, patience may only affect how quickly we start yelling at the moron who won’t drive when the light turns green. Patience barely registers as nice. We still yell.

Does exhibiting patience show that a person is internally good? No. Niceness is utterly distinct from goodness. Niceness is external; it’s about interacting with others. Goodness is about the essence of a thing; it is internal. Niceness will be exuded from the good, but goodness is not a byproduct of platitudes.

Is patience about acting in a more socially acceptable manner?

People tell others to be patient because selfishness is one of the brute facts of being human — evidenced by the sheer quantity of its existence. They are calling them to something higher, something above ourselves, something unattainable within the basic frame of being human. Patience is a charge: a delicate mixing of command and invitation, an entrustment of responsibility. But that is not all. The charge to be patient is the charge to look at true goodness and become like it so that you may practice the qualities of the good, of which patience is one. “Be patient,” is meaningless without an example of perfection because it is then only utilitarian. And if it is utilitarian it will be only a matter of time until patience is no longer useful; then it will not even be utilitarian, but begin to stumble under the terms that other undesirable qualities receive: antiquated, puritanical, old hat, not helpful in my situation, doesn’t apply to this circumstance.

You see, virtue is a religious term stemming from the understanding of the moral perfection of mankind. Anti-theism is not the least bit concerned with religion (obviously) or virtuousness. Virtue can only exist if there is a perfect standard, but perfection is not scientific, not evolutionary, not materialistic. Good and bad, right and wrong, ought and ought not are outside of the domain of science, evolution, and materialism. These things only exist where moral law is necessary and religion (the canonization of moral law aligned with the character of God) flourishes — in other words, virtues only exist where divinity exists.

My conclusion, then, is that patience may only be charged if virtues are necessary. Virtues are necessary if goodness exists. Goodness exists if a perfect standard exists. And a perfect standard exists only if God — perfect goodness in Himself — exists. However, if God does not exist, neither does a perfect standard. If there is no perfect standard, then goodness does not exist. If not goodness, then not virtues, of which patience is one — and it is not a human virtue, but one issuing from the essence of God and imparted within the requesting human.

If these are so, then patience may be considered a virtue; not because any society says so, but because God is patient in His essence. And if patience is a virtue, we can rightfully ask and expect ourselves and others to look to God’s example of patience in Jesus Christ. If none of these things are true, then requiring patience of yourself or others is worthless because patience flies in the face of everything human, but is sourced in the nature of God.

Patience is either virtue vérité or futile figment.

374. Quotes: Your Dad on Liberation

“Virtues liberate us to be fully human, to live enthralled in every moment, to be boldly alive.”

—Your Dad

353. Essay: Technology’s Gray Area

It used to be that someone was either dead or alive, no middle ground. Think of ethical problems encountered in the medical field. You’ll quickly notice positive and negative sides to the dilemmas. More importantly you’ll notice that these dilemmas came not from assuming that the natural progression of life and death has its place, but from how technology has created these gray areas in the first place. In its altruistic quest to help, technology has stepped in to bring back from the brink those who have a chance of survival. It has also created entire categories of significant ethical problems.

Neither the benefits nor the dilemmas would exist without technological intervention, but one of my true concerns is that for all the progress made, we are becoming less human.

Short-term Intervention or Long-term Lifestyle?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a great thing. It is a short-term intervention that gives the injured a fighting chance. Surgeries also are short-term interventions aimed at getting the person back to working order. But what about the body that isn’t fighting, that must stay on a machine that breathes for them?

I have seen a machine that lays down layered cells like bricks to build a 3-D organ, such as a heart. And then the heart contracts, functioning all on its own as it should, so it seems sensible to think we can keep a physical body functioning long after the person is already gone. And this is where most of the ethical issues are encountered. Now that we’ve placed the body on a machine that perpetuates its normal functions, is it right or wrong to take that away? The materialist, meaning the one who does not believe there is a spiritual or metaphysical realm, hangs all hope on sustaining the body. If they are right and there is nothing more than what we see around us, there is no other logical choice but to sacralize the physical universe.

The problem is, there’s only one way to find out whether or not the person is already gone. And it’s irreversible.

Function Versus Life

To me, the presence of the spirit within the person determines whether they are still alive or not; the spirit is the essence of a person. If the spirit is gone, the body still can carry on its functions, but function is not an indicator of life. Function only indicates that the physical body has the ability to continue carrying out the processes it is suited for and has been doing all along. Of course the answer is, “Yes, the body can function as it has been,” because that is precisely the intransitive definition of function: To work or operate in a particular way.

A computer functions, but does not have life. A storm functions, but does not have life. A bypass machine functions, but does not have life. A liver is an organ with a function, but it does not have life. Transplanting an organ does not transplant life; it only grants function to another who is already living. If being alive is not solely due to an organ, it must be due to something else or to several other things. Life is obviously connected to the material world without being inherently bound by function. It seems this distinction between function and life opens the door to deeper questions of the metaphysical.

Material Versus Spiritual

For the materialist, the body becomes sacred because it is all we have. But if the body is incapacitated, what good is it to perpetuate its functions? Like one dealing with numbers rather than human lives, the materialist is left to draw precise lines delineating value from worthlessness in the body’s varying states of function. Historically, governments have stepped in with responses aimed at appeasing the two demi-gods of religious inscrutability and science’s claims, only to produce more ethical dilemmas. Materialism gives no clear answer to what makes us human and what makes us alive.

My Current Thoughts

This is where I presently stand on this issue. The natural progression is from life to death. There may be several short-term interventions — which include surgeries — to give a person a second chance without increasing ethical dilemmas. However, long-term interventions almost always step into the gray. All life is precious, sacred, and valuable. But, believing that there is a spiritual realm as I do, I do not think that this life is all there is or that the body is all we have.

For those believing in a spirit realm, the spiritual life given by God makes the body sacred; all things flow from the primacy of the spirit, which is where the idea of human dignity comes from. Spirit and body together is what makes an individual that person rather than another person, and the presence of a person’s spirit is what I believe makes them alive. It doesn’t make ethical decisions any easier, but you may gain a sense of clarity if they are made with this in mind.

55. Reductivism

Science is ultimately reductivist. It oversimplifies complex things and ignores their subtleties or important details.

Reductivism cannot shed light on what makes us human.

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