Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Of North Korean ICBM tests and sex-robot "ethics"
"The good gets better and the bad gets worse."
- Mose Allison
On several recent Sundays, my pastor has prefaced his sermon by saying he was going to delve into a topic so controversial that most modern pastors of most stripes avoid it: end times.
For one thing, it's a fool's errand. Just ask William Miller, the Baptist preacher who, two years in a row, convinced his congregation to gather on a Vermont hillside to witness the Second Coming. (A core of diehards, even after the second year's gathering, stayed together under the leadership of Ellen White and came out to Battle Creek, Michigan and founded the Seventh-Day Adventists.)
And the buzz-saw cacophony of life in this fallen realm rarely calms down to a level so unusual it's worth remarking upon, if you'll notice.
Still, history shows us that there are times when there's a clear spike in the intensity of human folly.
Yesterday, I mentioned, in the course of my Independence Day post, that there's a thread of sanguine outlook that one has found over the past several years - and often from smart and principled people on the right; pieces on the subject from Kevin Williamson and Victor Davis Hanson come to mind - that makes a compelling case that we've never had it so good.
It's hard to argue with the abundance of evidence they cite: cell phones that allow us to instantly retrieve pretty much any information, however esoteric, we wish to get, medical advances that have put most diseases known to our species behind us, opportunities to prosper in an array of exciting fields of endeavor, and, yes, the enduring stability of representative democracy as the form of government in a number of nations.
I won't run through, yet again, my plethora of evidence to the contrary. I did so yesterday, and have enumerated them many times on this blog.
Rather, let me put on the table two items of fresh evidence to be found on this morning's Drudge Report: North Korea's ICBM test and its diplomatic aftermath, and a "code of ethics" shaping up among the world's makers of sex robots that would put the making of sex robots explicitly designed to look and sound like children off-limits.
I kind of surprise myself that I don't blog more often about the ratcheting up of tensions between North Korea and - well, the world, actually. But the fact is that even the wonkiest think pieces about the subject, penned by the most erudite strategists applying their minds to the matter, tend to end their essays with a paragraph the gist of which is, "There are no good options. This is about as tough a conundrum as the world has faced."
Then there's the sex-robot-ethics story.
There's a general sound of alarm that we ought to heed that questions what will be left for human beings to do for their livelihoods as automation pervades more and more of the world of work.
And now comes the possibility that we won't even need our fellow human beings for . . .
. . . what?
What is sex for?
Once in a while we catch a glimpse of a pair of dogs or cats in the throes of instinctual impulse, an act which, in nature's clever design, will perpetuate their species.
But the literature, including scripture, produced by our species on the subject attests to at least the possibility of more noble reasons for human beings to interact thusly.
Because we have souls, and therefore the capacity for love, we form families, in which the children produced thereby can find encouragement, trust, comfort and loyalty, and can learn supremely important lessons about cultivating a dignified bearing, a sense of humor, a work ethic and a yearning for God.
The cynic will point out that adultery has always been with us, as has sex untethered from marriage, and that the whole matter boils down to self-gratification not much elevated from the above-mentioned dogs and cats.
C.S. Lewis discusses a passage from Orwell's 1984 in which the protagonist demands of the heroine that she tell him with the utmost conviction that she adores the bodily sensation of orgasm. He wants to hear that she craves not him, but the experience contained solely within herself.
And that's the ultimately terrifying thing about a libertine view of sexuality. It reduces our fellow human beings to objects of our gratification. Secondary considerations are eroded until we no longer even consider them. And then, yes, we are reduced to the level of dogs and cats.
We've now made that possible. Consider that pathetic spectacle of someone engaged in union with a robot, the "human" partner bringing to bear all the passion we're familiar with: the heavy breath, the pronounced veins in the forehead, the sweat. A brute animal getting off with a machine.
Do not both of these disparate stories from today's news lineup have in common the theme of the human being deciding to jettison his humanity?
So much for being made in His image and likeness.
It was for just such decisions on our part that a flood and fire and brimstone were imposed upon a hopeless world.
This may not be a peak moment compared to various other times in human history. In any event, an astute person will take such indicative developments as a reminder to be vigilant.
You want your lamp well-oiled for the moment of reckoning, and that will surely come.