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Something Made Me Do It

“The devil made me do it.” Since the beginning of time, man has done his best to avoid taking responsibility for himself, trying to blame other people, God, the devil, or the environment as the source of our taking action. As of late, one of the more popular views promoted is the idea that deviant forms of behavior are justifiable because of naturalistic processes, usually genetics. This reasoning applies in many areas, relationships, violence, thievery etc…In other words, if you are gender confused, full of rage, or steal things compulsively, it is not your fault, it is just genetics. This is basically a sort of naturalistic determinism, where our moral and lifestyle decisions are predetermined by nature, and to fight against these is to deny any sort of “fulfillment.” This sort of thinking is extremely popular among “progressive” types (or is it, regressive?), who search for some sort of basis to promote moral relativism, or perhaps moral minimalism. Since the Christian and traditional western worldview views man as tainted by original sin, such a philosophy is completely incompatible, and should be rejected. For if we live in a fallen world because of man’s rebellion, it should not surprise us that some are predisposed towards certain types of immoral behavior, genetics or not. Not surprisingly, the entertainment media are one of the most easily observable sources trying to make this “genetics made me do it,” argument, even in the popular area of “puzzle dramas.”

Certain television shows, such as Criminal Minds, House, CSI, and others, propagate this sort of philosophy in search of an explanation for sickness or evil acts. For example, in the House episode “Open and Shut,” one of the main characters is struggling with his desire to cheat on his wife with younger women in the hospital. Another doctor (a confused female), later recites that a study demonstrated that men with a certain area of the brain larger than normal are more likely to cheat, and basically says, “don’t worry, its just genetics.” It also becomes clear she thinks he is “wimping” out by NOT cheating later in the episode. After seeing another case of “lying to protect those you love” (a recurring House theme), the character is seen starting the affair he had been considering, despite telling his wife otherwise. Sorry ladies, you simply have bad luck if you end up with this type of genetic anomaly of a husband.

Criminal Minds contains even more examples of this, mixing in scientific brain studies like the House episode above with the findings of modern psychology. For example, serial killers are very common in the show, and are usually explained by how a certain criminal fits a “profile,” which the team can provide to local law enforcement. A polymath character routinely spouts figures such as how “90 percent of kidnappers do x,” which supposedly explains the behavior found in the show. Racial profiling routinely occurs (if a character fits a certain “profile,” he’s probably a white male in his 20’s or 30’s), and everything that happens is explained in naturalistic terms, usually a brain malfunction or the degeneration of the psyche. While some characters do seem to at least consider the possibility that there is some sort outside forces at work in the world, these moments are few and far between, and the more “intelligent” characters reject such thinking.

Those who espouse the Christian and traditional western worldview often express frustration, especially in the political arena, when it comes to discussing traditional morality. When the naturalistic worldview demonstrated above is commonly accepted, is it any wonder many are hostile to the traditional definition of marriage? When it is assumed that behavioral choices are genetically predetermined, it follows that moral and relationship choices become “civil” or “natural rights.” However, if we hold to the correct presuppositions (the Christian worldview), such a stance is illogical, as it equates genetics with moral license, and rejects the creator’s revelation. How many of you have encountered the sort of naturalistic philosophy described above in the popular media?

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6 Comments

  1. Virtual Sinner says:

    I don’t see a contradiction between naturalistic explanations and God’s will. There are many things once ascribed to God which are now understood scientifically. God divided the light from the dark, and we now understand though our knowledge of the solar system why that works.

    We also understand through philosophy and psychiatry many of moral laws ascribed to God: thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery.

    • I readily affirm that the laws of nature and logic etc…reflect God as creator. What I’m objecting to is the idea that sin is explained in a completely naturalistic manner. In the Christian worldview, saying “I was made that way” to justify sin is not compatible. I hope this makes more sense…

  2. Virtual Sinner says:

    I wonder what you make of Dr. Drew. At least he’s a real doctor and not a fictional cop. I find the Doc very interesting and perceptive, but I don’t watch the antics of his patients.

  3. Andrew says:

    Original sin is the key here. I remember that when G.K. Chesterton was asked what was wrong with the world he replied, “I am”. Sin is not a popular doctrine or creed now. However, one cannot understand the gospel without first grasping sin. Man is inherently sinful and those who deny it are blind to human history, nature, and themselves. Lord of the Flies is a remarkable novel that deals with this aspect of human nature. The boys start a civil society but human nature takes over. They degenerate into savagery and murder. Sin and death are the most well documented aspect of the tendency human beings. Only in Christ’s substitutionary atonement can one receive grace for one’s sin.

  4. Grace says:

    So, if blame cannot be passed on the devil for his tempting us, resulting in sin being brought into the world in the beginning, does that make man more evil than the devil? I’m a little in over my head.

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