Another School Shooting, Another Flawed Response

Here is Bruce Thornton making the most important points about the shooting in Parkland, Florida (emphasis added):

Our culture’s inability to talk meaningfully about the most consequential phenomenon in history.

The reactions to the Florida school shooting have been so predictable that most commentary starts with some variation of “here we go again.” The usual “solutions” to the problem are trotted out, each with its varying degrees of weakness, and none able to achieve what everybody expects––no more massacres of kids at school. But more interesting than this fossilized debate are the unspoken assumptions behind the various recommendations, and our culture’s inability to talk meaningfully about the most consequential phenomenon in history: human evil.

. . .

The common denominator of all these useless or ineffective solutions is our reductive understanding of human nature and its innate potential for destructive acts. We moderns live in a world created by materialist determinism, the notion that all reality is material, and so all problems and their solutions come from the environment or psychological states created by the environment––poverty, bad parenting, broken homes, inadequate self-esteem, a violence-saturated popular culture, or a lack of counselors and therapists to treat elastically defined mental illness. When destructive behaviors result from these conditions, we then turn to the “human sciences” and their techniques to give us solutions, and we expect the state to apply the cure though policies and laws reflecting the knowledge of experts. After all, isn’t that what the modern state is supposed to do, solve all our problems and free us from pain, risk, and suffering?

That’s why everyone thinks that the problem of school shootings is one that the so-called “human sciences” can explain and solve through government law and policy. But “evil,” the go-to word when we have nothing to say in the face of such horrible crimes, is a spiritual, not a material condition. Evil results from human free will, our ability to choose whatever we think will satisfy us, and our flawed human nature that will always keep us from creating the perfect world.

. . .

Good, evil, free will—haven’t these last few centuries of secularist domination taught us that those are all chimeras, that our unique selves are mere bubbles floating on great oceans of economics, genes, evolutionary selection, environment, or unconscious forces?

. . .

The determinists have carried the day and have, as Hamlet put it, torn the heart out of our mystery. And then we are surprised that some commit atrocities just to prove that they are not piano keys played by inhuman materialist forces.

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