Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Compulsion to Repair A Deformed Body

Buying a New Car
For anyone who has been in the US market for a new car, you are likely familiar with the term "lemon". Anytime that a new car is purchased, the dealer must allow the buyer a "grace period" of so many days (depending on the state) that allows them to test out everything on the vehicle. If anything is not as the manufacturer says it is supposed to be, the car may be returned as a "lemon" for a full refund without questions or obligations. I'm not sure exactly what happens to the car from this point, except that what is wrong is repaired, and it is then sold again (hopefully not with a "New" sticker).

Compelled to Fix Deformities?
The fact that the car can be returned and repaired requires the initial concept that the vehicle had a design, before it was produced. The vehicle is compared to that design and any deviance must be repaired before sell. This leads to an interesting observation about a behavior of the human species. If someone is born with physical "abnormalities" or psychological "issues", we try to "fix" them, so they reflect a prior standard. But if naturalism is true, they are already in the original state (there is nothing to repair, no need for therapy or surgery to "repair"), they are their own standard...unless we admit that there is a standard by which to compare and repair towards. Since, according to naturalism, evolution is constantly changing the original state, there is no unchanging, objective state. Yet, we treat mental disorders and operate on cleft palates. Why do we do so if there is nothing to repair? The answer to that question can be one of three options (or all), and all three of them are founded in God: design, human intrinsic worth, and beauty.


Design?
If we are to say that there is an optimal status of our bodies and mental states, then we assume there is a "correct" configuration. But evolution does not have a "correct" configuration of molecules. It only has what is produced. Yet, humanity as a whole does not act as if what is produced is the "correct" configuration. That indicates that we understand that there is a correct configuration- a design. And we all know that actual design requires and actual designer- be it the computer I'm working on now or the clay pot excavated in South America. When my computer breaks, I try to fix it because I know that there is a correct configuration of the parts. Archeologists look for missing pieces of artifacts because they know there is a correct configuration. If we do not recognize that the human body and psyche have a correct configuration, why do we tamper with evolution? Why do we continue to work against nature and against evolution?

Intrinsic Worth?
There are two ways to deny that human body and psyche were designed but treat it the way we do. The first is that we must believe that humanity has worth that is above that which could also be done with the same time, money, effort, attention, and other resources. But evolution does not allow for such a thing on an objective level. All things are objectively worth the same on the naturalistic worldview. The only worth given to something comes from another thing. This is subjective worth. See my discussion of subjectivism in my post from two weeks ago; it applies here also. 

Beauty?
Many people will not accept the idea that beauty is objective, but there is nowhere else for them to go, if they wish to still avoid the implication of a Designer and Purposer of creation yet still affirm the value of repairing the human body if deformed at birth or treating the human psyche if disordered from birth. The other way is to acknowledge that the human body as evolution has produced is beautiful in the average configuration. Before I get to our concept of beauty, I want to first focus on the boundaries that provide us with the "average" configuration. Any boundary that we use to produce our average configuration will be artificial if evolution is how life diversifies. The standard evolutionary paradigm requires that all changes over time in the forms of life has been gradual. There are no hard lines. Because there are no hard lines, the distinctions that we make, such as "species", are actually artificial.

If we wish to have even a chance at getting an objective standard for "beauty" we can't use an artificially created boundary. Which means that we must take into consideration all life's body forms. Now, I don't know the exact configuration of the average life form, but I can say confidently that it is nothing like the human body of today. With innumerable branches of diverse body plans over the course of three billion years, it is safe to say that the average body plan of life is not very close to the human body plan today. We should realize that a truly beautiful configuration is actually closer to a fish, than what we believe to be beautiful today. And an amoeba closer than a fish's body plan. Let us not forget the plant kingdom...

Just As You Are
There is no way to escape God's existence when our behavior toward other humans demands a non-subjective, non-relative foundation. God establishes all the reasons above. With God we have all the reasons in the world; without God, we have none. God created man in His Image and with a specific design in mind. Because every individual person is created in His Image, every individual possesses intrinsic worth and beauty. We must keep in mind that even though there is a general design that God used to create every individual (and that we "repair" towards), God had a specific design for each individual. Just because something is different about someone when they are born does not mean that they are not intrinsically valuable, beautiful, and designed to be exactly who they are. If God does not exist, and if a surgery or treatment fails to meet our expectations of beauty or functionality, then the child does not even have relative worth.

One of the awesome things about Christianity is that the foundation of our value, beauty, and design lead to two more important things. First, we were all born for a purpose. No person is any less designed, less valuable, less beautiful or less purposeful because they don't meet a "standard" of physical appearance/ability or mental acuity set by the society. Second, because we were created in the Image of God and possess intrinsic purpose, no circumstance or happenstance will change the fact that we were designed, have intrinsic value, have intrinsic beauty, and have an ultimate purpose- even if the surgery/treatment is not a "success" or is not even attempted.

Of course, it may be easy to think we or others don't possess any of these when pain is not involved or a violation of a relative standard of beauty is present. We tend to not see the design, value, beauty and purpose in ourselves when we are in pain or don't "look" a certain way. We tend to overlook the same in others when they are in pain or don't "look" a certain way. We are always looking forward to "the other side"; we are always looking to be healed or glamorized. We act as if value and purpose cannot coexist with pain or a differing "look". But, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, sometimes pain or a certain "look" is what is needed for us to realize our purpose or next purpose.

I would also add that pain and certain "looks" cause us to understand our value (and others' value), by how others treat us (and we treat them)- everyone should take this seriously. If we don't understand certain people to be of value (especially those in pain or with deformities or with amputations or whatever), it will show most in how we react to their circumstance (shun them or comfort and help them). Anytime we ask, "why doesn't God heal me/them?" we are saying to ourselves or that person, "you are not valuable, you are not beautiful; you have no purpose, and you are worthless unless you fit my idea of what the perfect human body is like." Any time that someone asks the questions about a whole groups of people: "why doesn't God heal amputees?" or "why does God create deformed children?" or "why does God create mentally disabled children?", it is much more revealing of the questioner than those being questioned.

Why Does God Allow...?
Now, I can see this one coming, so I'll answer it now. Am I saying that we shouldn't treat or operate on people? Absolutely not. We have to remember that purpose does not end with a single individual. It is nearly impossible to say that God will allow something to take place and only effect one single person. We have all had experiences with those in medicine who could learn more patience, loving-kindness, and gentleness; and we have also seen those who are the most patient, loving, and gentle. Without people to display these attributes to, they would not be present or evident.

But its not only about the physicians, what about the victim. All of us could use a bit of knocking down of our pride. The fact that we have to be taken to a medical center of any kind reminds us of our mortality and dependence upon others, and especially God. With that last one, we can have a renewed and greater sense of value and purpose, if we allow it to. But why stop with the physician and the victim?

Of course, we could also go into the benefits for the cause of the visit (the person or another person); the families of the physician, victim and cause; and every other person that each of them will come into contact with in the context of the single person's visit to the medical center. Then we cannot forget that the effects do not end with the present moment, but continue into the future, where more people will be effected. The purpose behind such events and original designs can be mind-boggling. It is hard to think that humanity's universal drive to repair and treat others' bodies is the Designers way to encourage us into situations that will inevitably change our lives for the better...but only if we allow Him to, and only if we allow those situations to change us in a good way...it might even help us realize our own value and purpose is in the service of others.

For an example of what I'm talking about, please watch this video:


Conclusion
Humanity has an overwhelming drive and compulsion to treat physical and mental abnormalities in other humans. We have searched the natural realm for a source for such a desire, but no avail. We saw that Christianity is not just a default position because naturalism won't work, but it allows for every source that naturalism does not produce. Christianity explicitly fits this reality of human behavior, while naturalism cannot even make itself merely compatible.

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