Friday, October 09, 2009

What David Letterman Can Teach Us About the Gospel

On the David Letterman blackmail/sex scandal, Russell D. Moore writes:
    Letterman said the extortion note was disturbing, first of all, because he feared the mysterious correspondent was watching him. Someone who knew this much about his life, would this figure be tapping him on the shoulder from the shadows? Pulling him into the back of the car?

    Letterman also, though, was upset by the note because it was true. ...

    ... You and I once felt a deeper, more primal blackmail, and it scared us to the core. In fact, we often still do. Now, for most of us, it's not the same kind of transgression or the same type of discovery. But we’re blackmailed just as surely, in fact even more so.

    The Scripture says that Satan's reign over this present order is by holding us captive through the slavery of the "fear of death" (Heb 2:15). And why are all humans afraid of death? Because, like Letterman's letter in the back of the car, our conscience is pointing us to judgment, with a "black box" of evidence of our guilt (Rom 2:15-16).
Read the full article here.


Chris Wilde said...

Are all humans really afraid of death in that way? I don't see any basis, other than just dogmatism, to say that all humans fear death because our conscience points to an intrinsic knowledge that we're going to be judged. We instinctively avoid death. No question about that. But so does a fish.

Lee Shelton said...

Last I checked, fish don't feel guilt. I don't think the conscience can be explained away as instinct.

Chris Wilde said...

That's not my point. I was saying the fear of death is instinct. I'm most certainly not saying conscience is instinct. On the contrary, I think conscience is a result of the *replacement* of instinct in the human brain with intelligence, which led to sentient thought.

Lee Shelton said...

I believe most humans are afraid of death in very much the same way they're afraid of being exposed in life. We know when we have committed a wrong, and we feel guilty. We live in a world of rewards and punishments, and since death is the greatest unknown, it stands to reason we would fear some sort of cosmic judgment.

The replacement of instinct with conscience doesn't make any sense from an evolutionary standpoint. The fact that humans are the only species with sentience is a huge clue as to what (or who) may be responsible.

Chris Wilde said...

I think it makes perfect sense that a more intelligent brain would lead to the substitution of instinct with a greater capacity for the abstract thoughts and feelings that we call conscience. Compared to all the hard things to believe about biological evolution, I find the evolution of a moral conscience to be a comparative cinch to understand. You can see it in microcosm just by raising a child.

Anyway, that's not what I started off talking about. My point was that, since death can be instinctively feared and avoided by creatures with (apparently) no conscience or sense of guilt at all, that the fear of death need have nothing to do with a guilty conscience.

Turning from generalities to something more personal, would it surprise you if I said that I fear death less now than at any point in my life? That includes the span of my life during which I felt completely convinced and fully assured of my Christian salvation (whatever you may think of whether my salvation was actually "real" or not)? In fact, I've found that turning from faith to rationality has dramatically reduced all sorts of non-specific anxiety in my mind. That's just my own personal experience, but it's enough to make me doubt the verity of the Bible's generalizations about the guilt, fear of judgment, and innate sense of God everybody supposedly has.

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