These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well.
(Check for further conversations like this on Fridays. Whenever I have a CL discussion, I’ll post it on Friday.)
C: The other day we were talking about whether it was right or wrong for a man to break into a home and rape a 4 year old girl. Somehow we transitioned over to abortion, but I want to stay on this topic for a bit.
L: I’ve been thinking about our conversation and you are just bringing up extreme hypotheticals in order to prove your point.
C: I suppose I am, but sometimes men rape young girls and I am trying to figure out if that is wrong just in certain cultures or if it is wrong in all cultures and at all times.
L: It should be wrong in all cultures at all times, but unfortunately some cultures are more backward or less civilized and so they haven’t come to see that such abuse of children is wrong.
C: That’s what I’m trying to think through. So you think that as cultures develop and become more civilized and more sophisticated, they will see that abusing children is wrong? Is it wrong or is it just uncivilized?
L: I’d say it’s wrong. Cultures that allow such things are doomed to self-destruction.
C: So is child abuse wrong because of its impact on society and the culture or because it’s wrong?
L: I’d say both. It’s wrong because it hurts the civilization and culture. Just like murder is wrong for the same reason. You can’t have a successful culture when people go around abusing and killing each other.
C: So what you are saying is that there is nothing actually wrong with murder or abuse in and of itself. It’s wrong because it is detrimental to the culture and civilization. Do I have that right?
L: That’s right.
C: So purposefully inflicting pain on a child is ok as long it helps a civilization thrive. Isn’t that sort of what was going on with the Nazis? The world reacted as though there was something wrong with what they were doing.
L: They were wrong.
C: I’m confused. Let me tell you what I think. I think there is a “list” of things that are wrong. They are sins.
L: I don’t believe in sin.
C: Just a minute, hear me out. I believe this because I believe there is a creator who made everything including us and because he made us, he knows what is best for us. Similar to a car manufacturer who gives you a manual that tells you how often to change the oil and so forth. These things are good for the operation of the car. The creator knows what things are good for the flourishing of human beings and he knows what things are damaging to that flourishing.
C: If there is no creator, then there is no list, no operating manual. And if there is no creator, there is nothing that is right or wrong, just as you have been trying to say. But the problem is, we can’t live that way. We all know down deep that there are some things that are just plain wrong and immoral and unjust. We’re all the time demanding that there be justice for certain people who have been wronged or committed wrong. We think there ought to be justice for those who had been in slavery because we believe that slavery is wrong, not just against our preferences. If there is not creator, these ideas are just preferences.
L: I can understand what you are saying, but I’m not sure I agree.
C: That’s fine. I’m just trying to explain my point of view. If there are truly rights and wrongs, then there is a creator somewhere who has the list and we need to find it because there might be things on that list that aren’t on our list. There maybe things that aren’t as clear to us as child abuse and murder. We need to know what’s on that list!
L: So where do we find the list?