"Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me" John 14:1
Home arrow Open Letters arrow Ethics and Morality arrow CHOMSKY, YOUR THINKING IS FLAWED (Letter 2)
Written by Kevin L. Howard   
(See our first round of correspondence: http://www.neednotfret.com/content/view/15/55/)


October 16, 2006


77 Massachusetts Avenue Bldg. 32-D808
Cambridge, MA 02139


Dear Mr. Noam Chomsky,


Your foundation for right and wrong isn't the same as mine.  And even if it was, what if my moral intuition deems your moral intuition inferior?  What sort of worldview leaves us in this quagmire?


Just because people could come up with multiple interpretations doesn't prove relativism.  For instance, is it fair (or right) of me to take your words from your letter and say that you're a right-wing evangelical Christian?  If the possibility of multiple responses keeps us from being able to make accurate choices about religion, then calling you an evangelical Christian is fair game.


With a relativistic approach, we end up with no standard for right and wrong or even language itself.  Perhaps atheists deny God because they want no accountability for how to live.  So they set up pseudo-ethical systems (e.g., this government is wrong to oppress that smaller government).  If relativism is true, who can say which country is wrong for trampling another?


Many folks worship themselves under the guise of atheism or agnosticism.  Some intellectuals see themselves as non-religious, perhaps because they feel superior depending only on themselves.  But everyone has a religion, formal or otherwise. 


My guess is your worldview has a creation story--how we got here.  It has a fall scenario--how we got into this mess.  And it probably has a redemptive element--how we deal with our predicament (i.e., some say human reasoning, the state, or a few noble deeds).


How can the question of "Is man good or bad?" be meaningless, but then you talk about actions being noble or awful?  Were Hitler's actions awful?  Was he wrong?  Were his actions evil?  Was he evil?  The Christian worldview permits me (demands me) to say he was evil.  Your worldview doesn't.  No worldview without a holy deity affords its followers the consistency to say someone is evil.


Your premise for looking at the world is wrong.  Man isn't just a machine with the possibility for a range of actions.  Man is made in the image of God, and at the same time sinful.  The truth of man's sinfulness is foundational for viewing media, governments, and ourselves.  Understanding that we are sinners helps us understand that people in power often take advantage of the weak. 


Jesus is the key to understanding everything.  The apostle Paul says of Jesus in Colossians 2:2b-3 "...in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  Without Jesus as the starting point in our thinking, we're bound to end up with wrong conclusions.  (Even some Christians have thought wrongly about many things.)  The Bible teaches us about God's original plan and the tragedy of our sinfulness.  Because of the Bible's teachings on sin, we can understand why people claiming to be Christians do horrible things and why atheists claming to be wise have become fools.  People are sinners.


What do you think of Jesus?  Do you find any fault with him?  Many folks have run into so-called Christians and rejected Jesus because of those who profess his name.  Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh (John 10:30).  That's the decision humanity faces--to trust or disbelieve.  If you study him and his words, you may find life.


Denying that man is evil and instead talking about his actions as being noble or awful is equivalent to denying the existence of pain and instead talking about degrees of feeling.  The existence of pain is self evident and so is the existence of evil. 


The Bible explains the range of actions a human can commit.  We're created in the image of God, yet we're sinners.  Your worldview may account for the range of human actions but it can't honestly evaluate any of those actions.  Are we just accidents of nature?  If so, why care about anyone else, especially those in other countries?  A godless worldview explains nothing, except that man will go to almost any length to justify why he doesn't need God.  As a believer in Jesus, I have nothing to lose if I'm wrong.  But you have everything to lose if you're wrong.


The Bible makes it clear that your reasons for disbelief in God stem from your choice to deny what you know.  Romans 1:21 says, "For even though they [pagans] knew God, they did not honor him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened."  People choose to believe a lie when they reject God's revelation through Jesus, yet they are blinded (by choice) by Satan himself.  As the Bible teaches in 2 Corinthians 4:4, "...the god [Satan] of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."


I want to encourage you to take another look at Jesus and his teachings.  As the apostle Paul goes on to say in Romans 3:4, "μη γενοιτο γινεσθω δε ο θεος αληθης πας δε ανθρωπος ψευστης καθαπερ γεγραπται οπως αν δικαιωθης εν τοις λογοις σου και νικησεις εν τω κρινεσθαι σε."




Kevin L. Howard




November 6, 2006


Dear Mr. Howard,


Apologies for lack of signature.  Am writing from away, and it's being mailed through my office.  Modern age.


I think you and I have exactly the same foundation for our moral intuitions: namely, our shared innate capacities, moral and rational.  Of course, we use these capacities in different ways.  If I understand your position, you use these capacities to decide to have faith in a God who created man.  I use the same capacities to decide not to have that faith.  On many particular issues-say, were Hitler's actions awful, to take your example-our shared moral intuitions would lead to the same judgment.  On others, the decisions we make-such as your decision to accept the doctrines of some religious faith-might lead to different judgments.


I certainly raise no objections to your decision to adopt certain doctrines and to have faith in what they declare.  I think I have the same right to make my own decisions, which turn out to be different from yours.




Noam Chomsky


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