Lesson 45- Shift in the Normal Curve
In my last program, I attempted to demonstrate why the laws of the universe, which according to the Church and the theory of Natural Law are the laws of God, are not absolute laws. Rather, they are based on statistical probability. I know that this might sound heretical to some of you because it seems to support the position of those who like to say There are no absolutes or its all relative. I know that when I first considered the possibility that Gods laws were based on statistical probability, that these were two of my concerns.
However, our problem is that we dont always think an issue through and thus we often end up supporting positions that are incompatible with our Christian beliefs or opposing those which are more compatible. Thus, as I explained in my last program, Christians in general welcomed Sir Isaac Newtons theory of the universe based on absolute laws because it seemed compatible with our idea of an Absolute God only to discover later that, if this were true, it logically led to the conclusion that if every atom was determined by absolute, unbreakable laws then anything made up of those atoms was also determined by those laws. Then logically, God had to be an absolute dictator and freedom or free will were mere illusions. This position is more compatible with Hinduism, which believes that everything is controlled by Karma, than with Christianity which believes that God is Love and, as Love, He is patient and kind and does not seek His own way.
On the other hand, we were upset and hostile to Heinsenbergs theory which suggested that the laws of the universe were not absolute and unbreakable but rather they were based on statistical probability. In other words, Gods laws did not require absolute compliance in order for the universe to function. So long as the group followed the law, it was possible for some individuals to violate those laws without upsetting the orderly functioning of the universe. In theological terms it meant that God was not an absolute dictator who forced everyone and everything to follow his Will. Rather, He was a respecter of freedom who, although He warned us that His way, which was based on Wisdom, was the only right way, allowed us to freely choose whether we would obey or not. Why would He do this? I think the words from a song written by four priests known as the Dameans says it better than I could. The lyrics say:
Creation tells a story that began so long ago
Of a Love that longed to share its life in hopes that love would grow
The sun repeats each morning the story is retold
And just in Loves retelling new chapters yet unfold
Love that freely given wants to freely be received
All the love you poured on us can hardly be believed
And all that we can offer you is thanks.
All that we can offer you is thanks
These young priest are simply echoing the same sentiments that St. Thomas Aquinas held over 800 years ago when he wrote:
Our knowing and loving, He insists, must be our own: the Truth ours because we have accepted it; the love ours because we have given it. We are made in His image. Our Maker will be the last to smudge that image in the name of security, or by way of easing the hazards (or dangers) of the nobility of Man
Do you get it? Force and love are incompatible. A forced love is an oxymoron because love must be free or it isnt love. You can not make someone love you. Thus, if God, as the Church and the Bible teaches, is Love then His universe must not only contain order, which is necessary for its proper functioning, but also freedom, which is necessary for its proper development. It appears that God is a supporter of that adage which says, If you love something, set it free. If it doesnt return, if never was love and if it does return, then it is truly love.
Therefore, God, the source of Love itself , risked the possibility of sin by placing a spark of freedom in the atomic building blocks of His creation when He created laws based on statistical probability rather than absolute compliance. And it was this possibility that individual atoms could deviate from the group that eventually blossomed into His greatest gift to us: the gift of free will.
Therefore, Heisenbergs theory is a better description of our Gods universe than is Newtons because it says that deviations from the laws or norms of God are possible and permitted and thus sin and free will are part of the natural order created by Him.
But what are we to say when some people, based on this fact, conclude that there are no absolutes or everything is relative? Well, the first statement, there are no absolutes, contradicts itself because it is an absolute statement which allows no exceptions. If it is true, then it is false. Therefore, logically speaking, there must be at least one absolute, which, from a Christian perspective, would be God. To the second statement that everything is relative we should respond by noting that it is an incomplete statement because it doesnt tell you to what they are relative. For example, if I told you that Joe is related, your obvious response would be related to what? In like manner, if I tell you that everything is relative, your obvious response should be relative to what?
To Jean Paul Sartre and the Situational Ethicists, their answer is to your subjective feelings or to whatever you want it to be related to. To Christians the answer is Everything is related or relative to the one Absolute, who as God, is the Ultimate Truth or Reality. Let me give you an example.
Suppose I told you that truth is relative. And you said, Relative to what? And I said, Relative to my big toe because whenever anyone tells a lie in my presence my big toe begins to throb. Therefore, whenever people testify in court you should have them swear on my big toe and I will tell you when they are lying or telling the truth. Ridiculous! you would say. We cant find people innocent or guilty based on the response of your big toe. And I would have to agree. Yet some very intelligent people argue that truth is relative to our feelings and therefore varies from one person to another.
That was the point that the course in Values Clarification was making when the instructor told the children, Well, Johnny, you and Sarah see this situation from different points of view. Can you both accept that you see this from your own value structure and respect the others persons opinion. In other words, you feel one way about it and she feels another way and, since feelings are subjective and vary from person to person, Whos to say that your feelings are any better than my feelings?
So is truth relative? Yes, it is relative. It is relative to objective reality and that is why we demand evidence and proof to determine it in court instead of the response of my big toe. And that is also why scientific truth, which is connected to the left lobe of the brain, is based on testing and observation. And that is also why morality, by which the ancient Greeks meant right use, is relative to the objective primary purposes intended by the creator of an object.
Thus, society is suppose to create cultural norms which, based on statistical probability, are most compatible with the purpose of life in general and human life in particular. Perhaps that is the significance of the fact that the word EVIL is LIVE spelled backwards and when we place a D in front of it, it becomes the devil. What matters in the long run is what happens on the macro level, which is the big picture involving the species or group, not on the micro level, which is the small picture involving the individual.
Thus, cultural norms, like the laws of the universe, should be based on what is good for the group in the long term, and not what benefits a small group of individuals in the short term. Therefore, the Situational Ethicists idea that morality is situational and personal is wrong because it would lead to a world in which each person would be a norm unto himself and this is a contradiction of what norms are suppose to be.
Norms, by their very nature, are designed for groups, not for individuals and their value is tested by how they serve the long term interests of the group and not by any inconvenience they might cause some individuals within the group.
There is no norm or standard that doesnt inconvenience or even harm some individuals because, by their very nature, standards infer that there will be winners and losers. But that it is not the issue. The fact that someone cant reach a norm or standard is no reason for eliminating it. Standards are norms or goals for which we aim and even when we fail, they cause us to reach higher levels than we would have without them.
One of the major causes for the deterioration of our standards today is because some well intended humanist cant stand the fact that, when you have standards or norms, there will be winners and losers. They want everyone to succeed which, in itself, is a noble sentiment. However, in order to get their desired end, they manipulate the results by either changing or eliminating the standards. Thus, in my own school system, they increased the number of children passing by lowering the passing grade from 70 to 65. You can probably guess the results. Now the lazy or disinterested student sets his goal for 65 and struggles to reach it.
An even more outrageous example of the attack on norms or standards occurred a few years back when an operation which would have restored hearing to a deaf child was opposed by a group of deaf activists on the grounds that who were we to say that hearing is better than non-hearing. Thats what happens when people buy into the fallacy that there are no objective standards.
Also they fail to understand the purpose and value of norms and standards. Without them , there would be no group consensus on anything and without group consensus there is no such thing as society.
However, consensus is not enough because although consensus is the glue that holds society together, in the long time, what they agree upon is even more important. The Nazis shared a consensus about the Master Race; Southern plantation owners shared a consensus about slavery. Thus, norms are not only important for holding a society together but, even more important, they should be norms that advance life and the human condition. Whatever they are, they will exert a pressure upon those in society to conform.
As I ended my last program, I was describing how the norm at the center of the Bell Curve performed this function by creating a peer or social pressure which helped and encouraged people to meet the norm. In fact, I even associated it with the behavior of fish in a school who, like us, seem to have an instinct for following the crowd and the larger the crowd, the greater was the pressure to follow. This suggests that we might be dealing with a natural law that expresses itself in many different contexts. For example, the laws of gravity states that the larger the body the greater is its gravitational pull on surrounding bodies and physicists say that there are large supermolecules which, because of their size, have the ability to attract and organize other smaller molecules.
Now let me relate this to the norm concerning sex and marriage that existed when I was young. It was best expressed in a song whose lyrics said, love and marriage love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.
Because marriage was the norm for sexual behavior, it created such a pressure and a pull on us that many of us made it to the norm. My wife and most of her girlfriends were virgins when they married. And, even when some of us deviated from the norm, we did so in the upper range nearer to the norm,- for example, during the formal engagement or just before the wedding. And when people deviated in more extreme ways, they often rectified it by getting married. In 1946, my buddies and I, who were far from being Holy Rollers were shocked when we discovered that the sixteen-years-old sister of one of our friends was pregnant. We couldnt believe it. It just didnt happen, especially to a girl attending a Catholic high school. Within months, she and the father were married and, when I last heard, they had made a success of it.
Whether this was the best answer or not is not my point, because I know that some of these forced marriages ended in disaster. However, what it does show is that even those who violated the norm supported it and were ashamed to publicize or admit their deviation and were quick to normalize it. And that is the way that norms are suppose to work. No norm ever has a one hundred percent compliance. There will always be deviations and, thus, their success is based on statistical probability rather than absolute compliance.
This norm, through the pressure that it exerted, helped to protect most of us from impulsive and unwise involvement. There were young people who thought that they really loved each other who did not go all the way because they feared what their parents and peers would say if they found out. So, even if we sinned or deviated, we always knew and accepted that it was a sin or deviation, and we did not recommend it as a pattern for society in general.
However, things have changed drastically in recent times and that is why I said at the end of my last program that the major difference between my generation and todays generation is that we sinned, and because we knew it, we tried to repent and reform while today our children sin and dont know it. Therefore, they see no reason to repent or reform.
Consequently, todays generation is committing the only unforgivable sin: the Sin Against the Holy Spirit of Truth. Its the only sin that an all-forgiving God cant forgive because, the preconditions for forgiveness are: first, you must admit that something is wrong, then your must repent, and then you must reform. A Sin Against the Holy Spirit sees no reason to repent or reform, because it doesnt see anything wrong because it has accepted the abnormal as normal.
It is a mortal sin because it has invaded the very fabric of our souls and, unlike those sins which we are constantly struggling to resist, we not only see no reason to resist it, we even recommend it to others. And that is what happens when the abnormal becomes normal.
This is what Eric Fromm, a Secular Humanist psychologist, would call a Socially Patterned Defect which is a defective way of behaving which gets built into the cultural norms, and what, on a personal level, other psychologist would call Denial. Nothing can be done to change either until the persons involved see that something is wrong, admit that it is wrong, and then take steps to correct it. But they cant do this so long as they keep thinking that the abnormal is normal. How and when did this shift take place?
During the 1960s, the revolutionaries started to say, Who are you kidding? Everybody plays around sexually. Its just a normal impulse that brings pleasure and so long as you dont get pregnant, why not? As the idea caught on, the normal curve shifted so that the new midpoint moved to the left and came to rest on a new norm, called recreational sex. Now those who used sex recreationally were normal and those who saved sex for marriage became abnormal. The new norm, like the old one, created a new peer pressure so that those who werent sexually active were embarrassed to admit it and were considered nerdy by those who were. The virgin was attacked as someone who was out of touch and needed to get a life. Girls, who under the pressure of the old norm would have been restrained from entering a sexual relationship with guys that they really loved, now, under the new norm, found themselves entering into sexual relationship with guys they hardly knew or even cared about.
At first it was just the young people whose strong hormonal urges needed little convincing in the short term but came to regret it in the long term after a series of one nights stands or impermanent relationships made them regret giving an intimate part of themselves to someone whom they now hated or detested.
The young people were told by the liberal humanist that sex was alright so long as they protected themselves and the Age of Contraception was upon us. They forgot to tell them that they werent dogs and that, as humans, they put much more into the sexual act than their bodies. It is an act of intimacy, and trust, and love, and personal commitment with humans beings and, although we were able to give them a pill to prevent them from getting pregnant, we didnt have a pill to prevent them from feeling used when they discovered that there was no true love or trust, or intimacy, or commitment on the part of their partner.
I remember seeing a documentary in which a young Jewish girl, who had grown up in this liberalized atmosphere, was being interviewed. She spoke freely of her many sexual partners whom here parents allowed to sleep overnight in her bed. However, half way through the program, broke down and cried. When asked why she was crying, she said, Sometimes, when a boy is lying next to me in bed, I wish that he really meant it when he said that he loved me. You cant offend human dignity and get away with it.
Whenever I have shown this program to my high school seniors, I see the heads of my female students, and sometimes even my male students, nod in agreement. T he end result is that the girls, and even boys, end up distrusting each other because they sense that modern sex is a predatory game in which people use each other and move on. Often they develop emotional calluses which protect them from feeling the pain of rejection. In other words, they invest only their bodies but refuse to become emotionally involved. In that way they can continue to avoid becoming abnormal by the new standard and, at the same time, protect their innate need to be valued. What else could they do? The new norm said that sex was a recreational activity and everyone expected everyone else to comply. Of course, there were some of those religious fanatics who still thought that the purpose of sex was reproduction and that it should take place only in the context of marriage. But they were abnormal and who wants to be that? The Bible says, Woe to him who calls good evil and evil good and that is exactly what the new sexual norm is doing and, by doing so, it has led our children into committing the only unforgivable sin: the Sin Against the Holy Spirit of Truth.
Such is the ignorance of modern liberals about our human nature. They only see the mechanics not the underlying meaning. According to their view, the only problem connected with promiscuous sex is the possibility of an unwanted child and that problem can be easily solved through contraception or abortion.
If the young people were looking for support from the older generation, they were sadly disappointed, because it soon became apparent that the older generation, instead of defending the former norm, were capitulating to the new norm themselves. The sins of their childhood had become their norms for today. For example, a Catholic lady, whom I respect as a person, recently complained to me that she was disappointed because her recently divorced son was getting married again. I was surprise to hear that it wasnt because she believed in the indissolubility of marriage but rather because she had hoped that he would have shacked up with a few girls before entering into marriage again.
But the problem isnt just the fact that the older generation has accepted the new norm for their own children, the problem is that they have accepted it also for themselves.
This point was illustrated when, while teaching at an evening high school, I met a very respectable Jewish teacher who has recently lost his wife after 35 years of happy marriage. After her death, his friends kept urging him to enter the dating scene by attending senior citizen functions. He said that he kept putting them off but eventually gave in and began to attend dances and other functions. He was soon disillusioned by what he saw. He said, Reilly, do you know what sex has become today? No I said. To which he responded, Its become a pelvic handshake which has no more meaning than that. The senior citizen are as bad, if not worse, than the young people of today as they drift from one relationship to another without the benefit of a marital commitment.
So, under the new norm, sex has become the coin of the realm for favors done and a pelvic handshake between friendly acquaintances and, as predicted by the previous norm, the number of Unstable Families skyrocketed while the number of Stable Families plunged. The number of children born out of wedlock has increased by over 400%. The number of abortions since 1972 is over 42 million and the number of women raising children by themselves has become so large that we no longer use the term broken family to indicate a negative and unusual condition but instead we use the term single parent family to indicate a normal and widespread condition.
We have placed ourselves and our children in a sexual free-for-all in which all of the old rules that were meant to protect us have been wiped away, and we are reaping what we sowed. As a high school teacher who taught for 39 years in the inner city, I assure you that sexual freedom has not brought happiness to either the boys or girls. If anything, as I have already mentioned, it has destroyed the trust that ought to exist between them and has replaced it with mistrust and , even worse, it has caused them to create a callousness towards casual sex which protects them from being hurt by the sense of rejection which follows after we have shared an intimate part of ourselves with another person.
However, there are other consequences too. Under the old norm, it was impossible to have a venereal disease epidemic because the norm was a monogamous marital union. If one person contracted a venereal disease, the farthest it could spread was to one other person. However, today, under the new norm or multiple partners outside of marriage, venereal disease is spreading like wildfire as the infected people spread it to multiple partners who then spread it to other multiple partners, who then spread it to even more. Doctors tell us that in some Philadelphia high schools a large percentage of the students have one or more type of venereal disease, many of which are either hard to cure or totally incurable.
Another consequence is that females, whom most of our sexual laws were designed to protect, now are discovering that males are less inclined to form marital unions with them when they can get what they want without any permanent commitment. The feminist movement, which set out to enhance the lives of females, has inadvertently created a sexual holiday for males who no longer see any reason or feel any obligation to form committed relationships. The females were led to believe that only by becoming as promiscuous as males could they become fully emancipated. Instead of asking the males to become more responsible, they ask the females to become more irresponsible and, as society in its wisdom knew, most of the time she was left holding the bag. The playboys of the world couldnt have asked for a better premise upon which to practice their inclinations.
Thus, Shacking up has replaced marriage in many instances and some sociologist had suggested that the high divorce rate can be traced to this fact. Both males and females by forming the uncommitted relationship involved in shacking up grew into a patterns that whenever the relationship ran into difficulty, they simply dissolved it and moved on to another. Now, when the same problems arise in marriage, instead of working them through, they follow the same patterns that they had developed with previous relationships.
And finally, each generation creates the norm through their own behavior which will influence the behavior of their own children. To illustrate this point, I ask my students to play a game called Most of the People I Know. I tell them that I will ask a series of questions which they are to answer for themselves. And then I proceed to say Most of the people I know take drugs or dont take drugs; most of the people I know are married or are shacking up.; most of the people I know are faithful in their relationships or are unfaithful; most of the people I know are honest and can be trust or are dishonest and cant be trusted. The questioning continues in that vein and then, when I stop, I say, I dont want to know you answers but in all those categories most of the people that I know followed the moral standards of society. Now what I want to know is what happens when most of the people I know die and the world belongs to most of the people that you know? There is a visible shudder among the students as they contemplate their answer. I am just trying to show them that the norms that we have created today will be passed on to our grandchildren who, through their natural inclination to deviate from the existing norm, will deviate even further. No one ever got more by asking less.
God know what the future holds for us.
Well, I see that my time is up. Heres Dom