Subject: How to Increase our Teens’ Compassion IQ
Proverbs 19:22 “What is desired in a man is loving-kindness (mercy)”.
In an interview last week, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has explained for everyone why passenger David Dao, a 69-year old doctor, was forcefully dragged out of his seat by Airline authorities when, after he had boarded the plane, he refused to voluntarily give up his seat when they had asked him to do so. It wasn’t that there was a “serious breach in public trust”, or a “system failure” (two other reasons also cited by Munoz). Munoz told the reporter “You forget sometimes that the people you’re carrying are human.”
I think United’s public relations folks have more problems now to deal with. But maybe Munoz didn’t make another PR nightmare – maybe we as a culture don’t see one another as special, deserving to be treated with dignity and respect. For my theory to be true, we need to examine how our education system handles this issue. So what are our teens taught in school about what makes humans special?
George Gaylord Simpson was perhaps the most influential paleontologist and evolutionist of the 20th century. He was Professor of Zoology at Columbia University, Curator of the Geology and Paleontology Dept. at the American Museum of Natural History, and Curator of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. Here’s what he taught his students about what it means to be a human being: “Man has no special status other than his definition as a distinct species of animal. He is in the fullest sense a part of nature and not apart from it. He is literally kin to every living thing, be it an amoeba, a tapeworm, a seaweed, an oak tree, or a monkey.” You and I have no special status on this planet.
Former Cornell University Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Population Genetics William Provine went even further in his explanation of what being human means when faced with what he saw as the reality of Darwinian evolution: “The implications of modern science are clearly inconsistent with most religious traditions. No inherent moral or ethical laws exist, nor are there absolute guiding principles for human society. The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life.”
Our teenagers are smart. They understand the consequences of Darwinian evolution, even when their teachers aren’t as brazen and direct as Simpson and Provine. What Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection says is that people are modified descendants of an ancestor we shared with other animals. So, Darwin’s theory means people are nothing but animals. What Darwin’s theory also says is that peoples’ distinctive features are due to natural selection acting randomly on small variations over a long time. So, Darwin’s Theory also means people are not the preordained goal of any directed purpose.
Natural selection means “Survival of the Fittest”. It teaches that nature “selects” the most fit individuals in a population as they struggle for survival in their environment. As the most fit survive and produce offspring, the weakest die off and the strongest prosper. But there’s a real problem with this – it doesn’t correspond to reality. We rightly condemn United Airlines for, as Dao’s lawyer said, “treating people like cattle”.
What does correspond to reality? Our verse this week teaches that God desires loving-kindness, which is directly opposite the Darwinian mandate of “survival of the fittest”. The Bible teaches that the right attitude to have is that of Jesus Christ, who put the welfare of others before Himself:“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each look out not only for his own interests, but also the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:3-5). In what is called the greatest public speech ever given (The Sermon on the Mount), Jesus spelled out how to obtain mercy from God (hint: it isn’t increasing your survival advantage through Darwinian natural selection): “Blessed are the MERCIFUL, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7). We all agree with this, and there is a simple reason – because we are human.
Teaching natural selection in our classrooms, while removing biblical instruction, leaves our young generation morally deficient. Imagine if our schools actually taught what our founding fathers knew – that Jesus Christ’s mandate on becoming a responsible citizen means being less conscious of self and more conscious of my responsibility to others. As Benjamin Franklin testified, “As to Jesus of Nazareth, …I think the system of morals and His religion as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.”
To raise the “Compassion IQ” of our teenagers, we should follow Franklin’s advice – teach our teenagers the wisdom of Jesus Christ, not the ruinous consequences of evolution’s survival of the fittest.
“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #241
May 04, 2017