By Gary DeMar
“Compassion and humanity are virtues peculiar to the righteous and to the worshipers of God. Philosophy teaches us nothing of them.” — Lactantius (c. 240–c. 320), Divinae institutiones
Literature is often a signpost for where we are in our worldview thinking. It’s not that everybody who reads the latest popular novel holds to what an author is expressing, but popular literature can tell us something about cultural shifts. Do readers engage critically with the material? Do they see certain undercurrents of thought? Is there a moral shift going on that is not immediately picked up on or never noticed? Consider the crime novel as an example that worldviews and morality go hand-in-hand, one must account for the other:
The genre of crime fiction (or mystery) is by its nature aligned with a theistic worldview. In order to have an interesting crime novel, one must have a crime: that is, an act that both the characters and the readers acknowledge as being genuinely transgressive. If there is no moral order to the universe, there can no such thing as crime; in an atheistic world, the idea of moral transgression is not even a coherent concept. If atheism were true, then murder, rape, or betrayal would be the equivalent of failure to get the appropriate building permit for a new business: there could be utilitarian reasons to prohibit certain acts, but there would be no moral element to the prohibition.
Archimedes (287?–212 B.C.) once boasted that given the proper lever and a place to stand, he could “move the earth.” His problem was that he and his fulcrum needed something to stand in order for the lever to do its work….
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