Following on from yesterday’s reflection, Paul makes a suggestion as to why we are blinded to the truth. It is the obvious answer but it is also worth thinking about for a moment. Sometimes I do not think we fully realize the extent to which our minds are led astray by the prevailing mindset and philosophies of the world around us. What do I mean by that?

I certainly do not mean that we have to advocate eternal suspicion of everything that the world has to offer us. We do however, have to be aware that some of the philosophies that underlie the values of the world do not have Christian origins and nor are they compatible with Christianity if taken to the extreme. For example, one of the most prevalent underlying philosophies in today’s world is utilitarianism. A person ought to measure the worth of an act by its usefulness. The adage, “The greatest good for the greatest number of people” is derived from this idea.

Advocates of capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia and many other ways of life (or in these cases death) all have recourse to the philosophy of utilitarianism. The reason why these views are contrary to the Christian Gospel is that they do not recognize the absolute value of human life. Indeed, utilitarianism by definition cannot advocate such a position precisely because it cannot allow for absolute truth or moral norms within its framework.

Similarly with pragmatism: Here the effectiveness of achieving any given end is the measure of value rather than the moral end in itself. Thus as long as the company is making money for its owners, it does not really matter how the workers are being treated! When given a concrete application it is easy to see the problem with pragmatism also.

Another philosophy worth mentioning is hedonism. Here pleasure is the absolute by which all acts are measured. There is nothing wrong with pleasure provided it is sought and achieved in ways that are morally acceptable. This means recognizing once again the absolute dignity of each and every human person.

When we subscribe to various world views we do well to have a look at the philosophies underpinning them to see if they are compatible with the Christian faith.

How carefully do I examine a point of view before I give it my support. Morality and what is good, can NEVER be decided by public opinion. It is a matter of absolute truth.

Lord, take away the things that blind me to the truth of Gospel and the truth about what it means to be human and to act in accordance with my human nature. Keep me faithful to the truth.