Saturday, July 5, 2014

That's Just Your Opinion

Kendall Jones has made quite a stir over the past few days on news outlets and blogs around the world.  The 19 year old Texas cheerleader hunts big game in Africa much like overly romanticized safaris of years gone by.  Although she speaks of her contribution to conservation by sometimes tranquilizing and taking DNA samples from endangered species, many animal lovers are infuriated by her hunting activities and Ms. Jones has even received death threats.

I'm not going to give a public opinion denouncing or endorsing the young huntress.  I am going to point out a potential inconsistency:  There are those who make a moral judgement about her without a world view that allows for such morality.
Kendall Jones

For example, some have left online comments stating that she should get "hunted down herself" because they consider her actions murder.  Others with a less extreme view still express outrage over her actions, calling them criminal.  But a quick search for profile information about such social media users reveals that some of them do not believe in the concept of God or absolute morality.  This is where the inconsistency lies.

As a Christian, I can discuss with my brothers and sisters the good, the bad, and the ugly about hunting African big game or any other kind.  I can pull biblical passages about God creating these majestic creatures (Genesis 1:24) or how righteousness is demonstrated by caring for ones animals (Proverbs 12:10).  Another Christian could disagree with my use of these verses with both of us still under the assumption of absolute morality.  We could together argue, discuss and discover the moral aspects of hunting for food, for sport etc.

But when someone who doesn't believe in God expresses disgust over any kind of hunting, upon what morality can such an opinion possibly be based?  A primate with a gun killed a large cat without one.  What morality or lack is that?  This battle of mammal against mammal would be nothing more than survival of the fittest.

Some would appeal to morality for the common good.  I think a review of Machiavelli or Sartre would show the naivety of such a view.  There are plenty of people who choose to live life for "yours truly."  I've certainly been guilty of even doing the "right" thing though for wrong and selfish reasons.  Another thought for another discussion is, who gets to decide what is the common good?

A more dangerous argument from the non theist might be what Tim Keller calls morality by consensus.  One example is the fact that Western society came to a consensus that the slave trade was wrong which led to abolition.  The problem is that consensus-morality implies that slavery is only wrong in the geographical or historical places and times in which the majority decide it's wrong.  If someone saw the belief that slavery is wrong starting to disintegrate in their culture, and they continued condemning the slave trade, then they would have to concede that there is a higher reason for their morality besides consensus.

Whether faced with big game hunting, or issues that more of us would agree are wrong such as slavery, genocide or displacement of indigenous peoples, we have to ask ourselves where are we getting our idea that any of it is wrong at all.  If there is no God and therefore no moral absolute then the strong eat the weak and that's just the way it is.  The fittest or smartest survives a little longer in a heartless, soulless world.  And my answer to any objections would be, "That's just your opinion."

The Good News is that God, through Jesus Christ, gives us a morality unlike anything we could have thought up.  If you are a Christian you can rest assured that the New Testament virtues are right, with or without public approval.  More so, you can rest in the power of God's Holy Spirit, to actually live out these virtues.  Where Christianity has grown, universities, hospitals and orphanages have sprung up bringing literacy, healing and charity, even before there was consensus for such morality.

I encourage you to ask yourself not only what you believe, but why you believe it.  Can you say your morality stands firm on a solid foundation of absolute truth?  Or, for all your desire to see cruelty cease and justice triumph, are you forced to say that it's just your opinion?

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