Lesson 41- Objective vs Subjective
Well, I hope that I didnt bore you with the letter that I wrote to David Boldt, the editor for the Inquirer, who accused the Catholic Church of being un-American because it wasnt democratic. Now I didnt mean to demonize Mr. Boldt by quoting this letter because there are many editorials that he wrote with which I agree. In fact, later on, he wrote another editorial that was pro-life in tone and I would like to believe that my letter had something to do with it.
My basic point was that it was human rights, not democracy that was the foundation upon which this country rested. In fact, anyone who knows the history of this country knows that the Founding Fathers didnt create a democracy, which is a form of government in which the people make, judge, and enforce the laws. Rather, they created a republic in which certain people were chosen to represent the people and they made, judged, and enforced the laws. And, in the beginning these representatives were not chosen by the people but rather were appointed by selected groups of men who held prominent positions in the original thirteen colonies. For example, the president was suppose to be elected by the Electoral College, which like the College of Cardinals, was suppose to be a group of the most intelligent and influential men. It wasnt until later that we evolved into a democratic republic in which the people-at-large were given the opportunity to elect those who would represent them.
In some future program, I will discuss the foundation for our republican form of government but for now it is sufficient to point out that we were not intended to have a democratic form of government. However, we were intended to be a just society in which certain God-given rights, such as Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, were suppose to be protected by whatever kind of government we created.
Thus justice, which is the proper goal or end of all governments, not democracy, which is just one of the many forms of government which are means to that end, is always the issue when judging a government. An unjust democracy is just as bad as an unjust dictatorship. And since justice always involved the balancing of contending right and evidence, the Church was saying to its members that abortion represented an injustice to the defenseless children who were being killed, and, as Christians, we were morally obligated to oppose it.
Mr. Boldt is probably a very good man who is a product of his times. As a teacher, I know what some of the educational themes and trends are in our high schools, colleges, and universities and anyone who has gone through our educational system has to be affected to some degree by their exposure to these influences. And, since many, if not most, of those involved in the media have gone to college, they often reflect the liberal views of their teachers. None of us, including myself, are the totally independent thinkers that we would like to think we are. We have all been influenced, for better or worse, by those who had access to our educational development.
Professor Robert Heilbroner in his book The Worldly Philosophers observed that most peoples lives are influenced by philosophies of which they never heard or have any understanding. Yet the premises upon which they based their lives and behavior come from these philosophies which have become ingrained in the culture where their views are accepted as axiomatic or self evident. In fact, most of them exist on the subconscious level where they are rarely, if ever, reflected upon by our rational mind.
Thus, I would like to discuss a major shift in Western philosophy that, as we shall see, is related to the different personalities in the left and right lobes of our brain.
First, let me point out that the left and right lobes of the brain seem to correspond to what we call objective and subjective. Things that are objective are external and are based on facts. Thus, science, which is related to the left lobe, studies the objective world to discover and categorize the factual basis for reality. In other words, the scientific left lobe is concerned with Objective Truth. On the other hand, the right lobe, which is related to Art, is subjective. Things that are subjective are internal and based on feelings. Thus, Art, which is intuitive, is an expression of how we feel about reality and it may, or may not, correspond to Objective Truth.
Because Art is able to manipulate reality to reflect its feelings, it is an unreliable source for truth. Thus, the painter, the playwright, the sculpture, the musician and all other artists are able to create idealized forms where everything fits together to accurately portray their vision of reality, by including or excluding those things that support what the artist feels. For example, in a play, the other person always says and does what is needed to advance the theme of the play. In reality, it doesnt always happen that way. Once we understand this, then we can give Art its proper due without becoming totally convinced of its accuracy in describing reality.
Sometimes, in order to remind myself of the power of Art to enlist my emotions through its use of negative and positive images, I play a little mental game with myself. For example, one of my wifes favorite movies is An Affair to Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, two very appealing people. It is a touching love story of lost and found love which ends with a tender scene in which Cary Grant discovers that his lost love, Deborah Kerr, has been avoiding him because she didnt want to burden his life with the fact that she had become paralyzed since their last meeting. Its a real tear-jerker and your emotions are totally supportive of their reunion. In my game, I substitute Edith and Archie Bunker or some other less appealing couple for Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr to see what the impact is upon my emotions. Try it and see what your reaction is. As for me, I always find that the emotional impact of the story takes a complete reversal when the images used in the story become less visually appealing.
You can try the same experiment with negative images by taking a villainous person who is ugly and disgusting, as villains are suppose to be, and replace it with an appealing image of a handsome, wholesome person. In fact, some murder mysteries purposely reverse the images in order to mislead and shock us. As a kid, I remember seeing a movie involving a psychopathic killer who was intent on killing a list of people against whom he held a grudge. All throughout the movies the audience is led to believe that the killer is a very unappealing character and the heroine, who is on the list of those to be killed, is being helped and protected by a very handsome and appealing man. The climax of the movie occurs when she and the hero have tracked the killer to a deserted house. They hear a noise upstairs and, concluding it is the killer, the hero draws a gun and begins to lead the heroine up the stairs. Half way up, he mentions something that only the killer could know and it suddenly dawns on the heroine that her hero is really the killer. Then, reversal of reversal, the man that everyone suspected of being the killer turns out to be the hero that saves the heroine from her phony protector.
What this demonstrates is the artistic right lobes inclination to create images, stereotypes, and caricatures to represent idealized qualities about persons and things. To its way of thinking things that are good, ought to look good and things that are bad, ought to look bad. Thus, it instinctively accepts that which is appealing and rejects that which is non-appealing and it has great difficulty when good and bad appear in opposite forms. The right lobe also influences language in the same way. Thus, for things that it rejects is creates negative, vulgar, and demeaning words like fag or queer to support its negative feelings and other words like gay to support its positive feelings. This is because, the right lobe, like the animal nature to which it is related, is ruled by feelings and passions and thus it has to generate images or words that help to arouse its feelings. The left lobe, on the other hand, uses objective, factual words like homosexual, which simply means sex between members of the same sex and it evaluates according to logic rather than feelings.
Since the word sin means to miss the target, it is related to objective purpose and not to personal feelings. Thus, a problem arises when our feelings come into conflict with the facts and we begin to make moral decisions based on our subjective feelings rather than our objective knowledge and that is exactly the problem that is facing us today. We do not know what to do with sin when it is connected to someone that we know personally or when it comes wrapped in an appealing package. Let me give you a few examples.
I have already mention how one elementary school teacher brought two handsome and appealing young gay men into her classroom and had them inform the students that the loved each other. The young students, who operate mainly from their right lobes, drew the obvious intended conclusion. They looked good, they acted good, and everybody knows that love is good, so they and everything they do must be good. Therefore, for the children there must be nothing wrong with homosexuality, whatever that means. But it isnt only children that are influenced by appearances.
A number of years ago, a woman writer for the Inquirer wrote of how she was shocked when her college age daughter informed her that she was renting an apartment with another girl with whom she was forming a lesbian relationship. Having been raised with traditional values, the woman informed her daughter that she would not condone the relationship by visiting them. Finally, her mothers heart couldnt stand it any more and she went to the apartment. She knocked on the door and a very pretty, petite, feminine girl answered. She was caught totally off-guard because in her mind she had pictured her daughters lover as a masculine, rough, butch-like person. Instead she found her to be a warm, charming, and appealing person. As a result, she concluded her article by saying that she now no longer thought that there was anything wrong with homo-
sexuality because how could she oppose something that involved her daughter, whom she loved, and this sweet, appealing, young lady whom she liked. Of course, the opposite side of this coin is that if the other girl had been the masculine, rough, butch-type, which she expected, her feelings would have remained the same. So from the very beginning, her opposition to homosexuality was based on feelings not principles and when her feelings changed so did her opinion. It is because of this problem of remaining objective whenever our feelings are involved that we exclude judges and jurors who personally know anyone involved in the case.
Now let me test you by giving you a real life example that will challenge your ability to evaluate objectively rather than with your feelings.
I once knew a wonderful teacher who had moved to Philadelphia from another section of the country and was employed to teach at an elementary school located near a high-rise project in the inner city. When he learned that he was assigned to the fifth grade, the old timers informed him that he had Yolanda and that she was going to make his life miserable. Her reputation was that of a kid totally out of control.
Well, Yolanda lived up to her reputation. She wouldnt stay in her seat; she constantly disrupted the class and used vulgar language and she tried to intimidate him and the other students. Nothing that he said or did seemed to reach Yolanda. Then, one day, while working in his room after school, he noticed that someone had left a copybook on a desk in the center row. He picked it up and tried to locate a name. As he thumbed through the pages, he came to one on which was written, Today is my birthday and nobody knows it but me. Yolanda.
The teacher, touched with compassion, went home and bought a bottle of perfume and a birthday card and, the next day, placed them on the desk along with the copybook.. From that day on, Yolanda belonged to him. She was totally transformed. She now became the class disciplinarian who chided the other students when they werent paying attention.
The teacher became curious about her and began to do a little research on her background. He discovered that Yolanda lived in the projects and that her own mother prostituted her to grown men. Obviously, Yolanda had never met anyone before this teacher who didnt want to use or exploit her and it was his loving act that transformed her. What a teacher! What a human being! And he was gay. So what do you think? Is he a sinner or not?
First of all, that question is too broad because it is asking you to make a total evaluation of a complex human being which is something that the holistic right lobe is inclined to do. It has trouble breaking a complex being or question into its parts and thus it tends to generalize. Thus it says, Hes a liar instead of He is a person who has just lied. or If it looks good, it is good. Instead of What you just did looked good Because the right lobe has trouble focusing on specifics, it is inclined to make general or holistic statements.
The left lobe, on the other hand, because of its ability to focus on specifics uses analysis to break a complex whole into its parts. This permits it to test each part individually from the whole thereby separating those parts that are functional and good from those parts that are not.
For example, married couples who go to a counselor often arrive saying things like I cant stand him or her which if it is literally true means that the only solution to their problem is for the other person to completely disappear. The job of the counselor is to help them to analyze the problem by breaking it down into its parts by asking specific questions. For example, Do you hate the fact that he doesnt work or provide for the family?.Oh no! Hes a good worker and provider!. Well, is it the fact that hes not a good father to the children?. No! Hes great with the children and they love him. . Well, is it because hes unfaithful to you? No, hes very faithful and loyal. Then, if he does all of these things well, what is the problem? Its his hygiene. He hardly ever bathes, and I am embarrassed to be near him Thus, through the left lobes power of analysis, the counselor has reduced the problem from I cant stand himto I cant stand that fact that he doesnt bathe. The first statement implied the rejection of the total person and left him with no other alternative but to disappear. The second statement narrowed it down to a specific problem which the other person could address by saying, Well, if taking a bath will save our marriage, then Ill begin to take more frequent baths.
So to the question involving the teacher in my example Is he a sinner? the answer is No, hes a human being who is sinning. Will he go to hell? Thats not our decision. We do not have enough knowledge to judge any human being. But we do have enough knowledge to judge whether certain types of behavior are sinful because they miss the rational target for which they were created. And, if hell is the place that results from the consequences of failing to follow Gods Wisdom or Logos, then he, like the rest of us, will reap what he sows. Thus, for example, on the natural level, he, by replacing reproductive sex with recreational sex, has chosen a lifestyle which will expose him to hepatitis, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. Also, there are scientists who say that underlying the actions of all living things is a fierce competition for genetic survival and he has chosen to become a genetic dead-end which has written itself out of the Book of Life. And, if his lifestyle ever became a norm, within any group, it would threaten or diminish their future survival.
There is a significant difference between personal sin and group sin. Personal sin affects only the person involved and we might say that it is between him and God. However, when personal sin starts to affect the group either by harming members within it or by seeking to become an accepted standard for behavior within the group, then its consequences threaten the group and become a matter for social concern.
In fact, this is exactly what is happening in the Western world as its contraceptive mentality, which has replaced reproductive sex with recreational sex, has reduced its population to the point that it is committing genetic suicide. The fact that my gay teacher friend has written himself out of the genetic Book of Life affects only him. However, when a large part of society starts to replace reproductive sex for recreational sex, then it becomes a matter for social concern.
The Muslims have said that they will ultimately defeat the Christian West in the long term simply by the fact that they are becoming more numerous while we become less numerous and logic says that they are right. Government demographers have already warned us that the major problem in the Western world is depopulation and there are areas of Europe in which the native population is slowly being replaced by immigrants from other nations.
As we prevent or kill life on one end and work feverishly to extend it on the other end, its just a matter of time before we become a nation top heavy with feeble, dependent senior citizens sitting on top of a smaller, over-burdened younger generation. Eventually, we will have to import more and more younger people from the more populous areas of the world to handle the work that must be done and, as they grow more numerous, their cultural values and beliefs will replace ours. In the end, the future belongs to those who reproduce and those who dont understand this will write themselves out of the Book of Life. Population growth, like everything else, is a matter of balance. But let me return to my major point.
Our right lobe has trouble separating the sin from the sinner and thus it either rejects the total person because of the sin or accepts the sin because of it acceptance of the person. This, as I have said, is because we have not learned to use our left lobes ability to analyze.
For example, once I was talking with an ex-Catholic lesbian outside of an abortion clinic who had rejected the Church because of its position on homosexuality. She said that she loved her partner and, since God is Love, what could be wrong with their relationship. To answer her, I began to break her relationship down into its parts. I said that there was nothing wrong or sinful about the fact that they loved each other. Nor was there any sin because they shared the same house. Nor was there any sin in that they slept in the same bed. All of these parts of their relationship were totally acceptable. It wasnt until their relationship became sexual that they sinned by missing the rational purpose of sex. In addition, sex and love were not the same thing. Sex can either contain or not contain love and love, itself, is not necessarily sexual. In fact most forms of love dont involve sex. The Church was not opposed to their love but it was opposed to their misuse of sex.
So what is the Churchs position on sex? Is it strictly clinical and functional or are we allowed to satisfy our sexual fantasies and passions. As always, you will find its position to be the midpoint between two extremes. For example, there have been some groups like the Shakers who, believing sex to be degrading and disgusting, abolished it completely. On the other hand, you have had other people, like the pagan people of the past, who have taken the position of whatever turns you on! The Churchs position is that God created our sexual passions as an inducement for us to reproduce the species. Thus, the pleasure in sex is a secondary purpose which is suppose to lead us to the primary purpose. But it doesnt end there because once the child is reproduced it will need many years of care before it is capable of becoming an independent human being,. Therefore, sex also serves a secondary purpose of bonding the parents. Thus, the Church says that each of them have a duty and responsibility to alleviate the sexual drive in each other so that they are not tempted to go elsewhere.
What type of sexual activity is permitted by the Church? Without getting specific, the Churchs position is that any type of stimulatory activity that precedes sexual intercourse that does not force, degrade or harm the other person is permitted so long as the sexual act always ends in intercourse. This is based on the rational principle that secondary purposes are alright so long as they either help or, at least, do not interfere with the primary purpose.
What my lesbian friend didnt understand is that the Churchs opposition to her homosexuality is based on a rational principle and not on feelings and it has a responsibility to defend those principles because of its commitment to the premise that a Rational God made a rational universe based on rational principles and purposes and that when we missed the target by substituting our secondary purposes for His primary purpose, we are violating His Will. And, since sin by definition is an offense against the Will of God, the Church has no other choice but to call homosexual sex a sin.
Its not personal; its logical. Its not subjective and based on feelings; its objective and based on facts. However, being logical, the Church is able to separate the sin from the sinner by opposing the sin and loving the sinner. It can not, in good conscience, allow personal inclination to become the norm for sex when revelation, logic, and the Natural Law, which is a reflection of Gods Will, say that sex is a reproductive mechanism for the procreation of the species. Its about life, not pleasure or personal satisfaction.
What she also did not understand is that this issue involves much more than her sexual preferences and personal happiness. This whole issue is but a small part of an even greater issue and, the small gain that she would make on personal level would in no way compensate for what she would lose on the social level. What she is really asking the Church to do is to lay down new premises for making moral decisions and she has not fully reflected upon the consequences that will flow from these new premises. And, by the time that she begins to see where these new premises lead, it may be too late to turn back. Let me explain.
The Church knows that it is involved in a philosophical battle that, if it loses, will open up a Pandoras Box that will undermine the very basis of Western morality by replacing objective morality with subjective feelings. And now I would like to explore with you the philosophical issues of which most people are unaware.
When I was attending college, the dominant philosophy in both religious and secular college was Natural Law which was based on the assumption that a Super Rational Mind, called God, had created the universe and, since His Wisdom had to be greater than any of His creatures, His laws took precedence over any laws created by us. Throughout human history there were philosophers in China, Japan, India, the center East and Europe who adopted this view and they agreed that the purpose of the human mind was to study these laws and to adapt human life as close as possible to them. Thus, the Church, which taught that Gods Will could be known through faith and reason, became a major supporter of the philosophy of Natural Law. This, of course, is also the philosophy that Eusebius attributed to the early Hebrew who he said saw God as the rational mind behind the universe and that knowing Him and his laws was the one and only purpose for human life. Also, this philosophy is the official philosophy of the United States because our own Declaration of Independence makes a direct reference to it. However, in recent time, Natural Law has lost ground to two other philosophies in our high schools, colleges, and universities that are based on entirely different premises.
The first one is the Nihilism of Fredrick Nietzsche who famous statement is God is dead! by which he implied that God, like the Easter Bunny, was necessary when we were young and immature but now that we are grown, we no longer need him. Thus, the Humanist Manifesto, which is the official philosophical statement of the Secular Humanist says, There is no god to save Mankind; Mankind must save itself.
The second is Existentialism, a philosophy identified with Jean Paul Sartre. and others. Both of these philosophies operate on the premise that if there is no God or, if He is dead, then all things are possible because without any God there are no objective rules for right and wrong. Therefore we would be totally free to make up our own rules.
This represents a major philosophical shift in Western society of which most people are unaware. And, thus, even Christians repeat their premises and slogans without ever understanding their philosophical roots and the implications that they have had on both our private behavior and public policies.
In my next program, I will explore with you the roots of Existentialism and show how it has affected our minds, our words, and our behavior. As you will see that even though you many have never studied this philosophy, you and those around you repeats its premises all the time and never even reflect on the conclusions associated with them.
Well, I see that my time is up. Heres Dom!