Friday, February 29, 2008

Under The Microscope

This one ought to spark some comments. Stay with the story all the way to the end, I think it'll be worth it.
A man in a white lab coat tapped a pencil on his clipboard, and then addressed the man sitting in front of him. “Okay sir, Thank you for volunteering to help us with our study. Just relax and answer the questions as honestly as possible. This test will serve as a profile of you that will help us catalogue your personality to prioritize the importance of your social hierarchy.”

The man bore a confused demeanor. “Could you repeat that please?”

He smiled warmly. “Sure. Simply put, we are trying to determine what is most important to you between family and country. I am studying how people prioritize the two most important aspects of their…”

“What about God?” He interrupted.

“I’m sorry?”

“What about where we place God in your equation? You know, God, country, family?” He could tell that the psychologist didn’t understand. The researcher was probably only a student.

“What does God have to do with priorities?” He wasn’t sarcastic.

“Well, everything. Without God, what is the purpose of prioritizing anything?”

“But sir, God doesn’t exist. Even if He did, He wouldn’t be tangible enough to figure into my study.” He flipped through his notes and refocused his thoughts.

“God doesn’t believe in atheists.” The man said, matter-of-factly.

“I’m sorry?”

“God doesn’t believe in atheists. Just because you don’t believe, doesn’t mean He doesn’t fit in or exist. And since He exists, He should figure into your equation.”

The doctor placed his clipboard on the table and stopped the recorder. “I’m sorry, Mr. Boone, but my study doesn’t include any religious aspects. It’s purely a social study that evaluates how you prioritize between family and country.”

“I see. Why are you doing this study?”

“Hmm…that’s a good question.” He smiled eagerly. “You see, I have noticed that as the nuclear family breaks apart, our society seems to become less patriotic and more self-centered.” He picked up his clipboard and cleared his voice.

Boone was ready to answer him. “Oh, that’s easy. It’s because we removed God from our culture.”

“I’m sorry?”

“You see, when we removed the Ten Commandments from the schools, our children no longer had a moral and ethical standard to follow. This paved the way for Post-Modernism to begin to devalue humanity. The sanctity of human life is lost. Special interest groups like homosexuals begin to demand rights, now that our moral and ethical system is displaced, and the Tolerance Movement makes Christianity seem hateful and narrow-minded.”

“Yes, well, I see…” he shuffled paperwork for a moment. “That’s all well and good, but I’m trying to identify a possible missing link between people and patriotism.”

“Well, missing link could be the key phrase. When Darwin suggested the Theory of Evolution and began to seek out the ‘missing link’ between men and primates, he helped remove God from our culture. Once God was gone, people no longer felt they were accountable to anything or anyone and could live as they saw fit. In essence, they became very self-serving and sought out only pleasure.”

“Yes, well…”

Boone pressed on. “Well, it makes perfect sense! Don’t you see? Take those Muslim countries over there.” He pointed across the room and the doctor’s eyes followed his fingers. “Those people are devoted to their god and are very national and patriotic. Over here, where there is no God, we serve ourselves first and our country second.”

“Hmm…” he picked up his clipboard once again. “That’s all fine, but for now let’s get back to the questions. If you had to stop a terrorist from killing your wife or a stranger, who would you save if you could only save one of them?”

“It depends.”

The doctor shook his head. “No, you only have to say your wife or the stranger. It’s your only choice.”

“That’s preposterous! There are too many variables.”


“Of course. You see, my wife is a Christian and I know that if she dies then she goes to Heaven. But the stranger… do I know if the stranger is a Christian or not?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

Boone nodded. “Sure it does. How could I send someone to eternity to face God on the Great Throne of Judgment if they aren’t saved?”

The doctor exhaled slowly. “All religion aside, who would you pick?”

“Well, I guess I would have to pick the stranger.”

“Really?” Surprise was evident on his face. “Is it because you don’t love her?”

“My wife?” Boone scowled. “Don’t be silly. That would make me a murderer, which would cause me to violate the 10 Commandments.”

“A murderer? But the terrorist is the one who shoots her, not you.”

“Ah, but Jesus told us that if we have hate in our hearts toward anyone, then we have already committed murder in our hearts.”

“I didn’t say hate, I asked if you didn’t love her.”

“Absence of love is hate, right?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know…let’s move on.” He made some notes and then asked, “If you had an opportunity to make love to the person of your dreams with absolutely no repercussions at all, and your wife would never know, would you do it?”

“Of course not.”

“Why not?”

“God would know. And that would be a violation of the 10 Commandments.”

The doctor bowed his head. “Remember, Mr. Boone, God doesn’t fit into our study.”

“Oh yeah, I keep forgetting that part.”

The doctor was impatient. “Well?”

“Well what?”

“Would you do it?”

Boone shrugged. “I thought we already covered that. Of course not.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s wrong. There is no allowance for sex outside of marriage. I would be sinning against myself, the woman, my wife, my children, my family…”

“All right,” he interrupted. “I get your point. Next question, if your wife was sick and about to die, but you could not afford the medicine that would cure her, would you steal it and save her?”

Boone shook his head. “No!”


“Of course not. That makes me a thief and violates the 10 Commandments.”

“But…” he checked his notes.

“But what?”

“But you are supposed to choose to save your wife.”

“And steal?”
It was the doctor’s turn to shrug. “Yes. It’s only medicine. It’s not like it’s money or a personal possession.”

“How could I do that and sin against my God? And in doing so, violate everything I stand for and believe in? Besides, God is not impressed with the value of the item stolen; He only sees the act itself…” he observed the researcher’s reaction. “What’s the matter?”

The doctor hesitated a moment while collecting his thoughts. “You see, there are different levels of truth. You are supposed to pick the one that saves your wife.”

“Then why ask me if you don’t want the truth?”

“I do want it. I just know what it is before you answer.”

Boone’s eyes narrowed. “Not in this case.”

“Seriously? You would let your wife die, just over a few dollars?” The doubt in his voice was evident.

“My convictions in God tell me that He has appointed a day in which we will die. We needn’t concern ourselves with that. If God wants her to live, then He will heal her. If He is ready to take her home, then she will die. It’s not my choice.”

The doctor scratched his head. “But it’s supposed to be your choice.”

“But it’s not. God alone has the power of life or death. We exist according to His will.”

The doctor shook his head. “You aren’t supposed to think that way.”

Boone caught his eyes for a moment. “Do you have children?”


“Wouldn’t you choose to die in their place if it would save them?”

He didn’t hesitate. “No.”


“That wouldn’t be true to me. Their life is of no greater value than mine.”

“Doc, you can’t be serious.” It was Boone’s turn to be doubtful.

“As a heart attack.”

“Look Doc…” He stopped. “Oh I see. You are a post-modernist.”

“Define that.” He was smug.

“It means that you don’t see any sense in a universe that sprang from nothing and evolved into meaningless life forms without design or designer.”

“In that case, yes.”

Boone pressed him hard. “Do you know Pete Singer?”

“Well, yes. He is one of my colleges and a professor at Princeton. Why?”

“Because he suggested that killing a disabled infant isn’t morally equivalent to killing a person. He went on to suggest that the life of a new born baby holds less value than the life of an animal.”

“Yes, that seems about right.”

“Then you would choose to die in order to save that lab rat over there?” Boone pointed at a cage across the room.

“Well, yes. The rat is innocent and cannot defend itself.”

“But not your child?”

“He is only a new born. He is just an infant. His life has no meaning.”

Boone sat speechless. He stood up then reached into his pocket. “Well, we’ll see about that.” He pulled out a pocketknife and produced a blade, walking to the caged rat.

The doctor jumped out of his seat. “Now see here!”

Boone reached for the cage door and the doctor put his hand on his sleeve. “Stop it!”

Boone spun around and held the knife at his throat. “Okay, Doc. It’s your call. Who dies? You or the rat?”

“But, but…” he stammered. “You can’t be serious.”

“Try me. Are you willing to bet your life on it?” He dug the knife into his neck and a small trickle of blood ran down his skin. “You make the call. Save yourself or save the rat.”

“Oh!” He started whimpering. “The rat.”

Boone shrugged and pressed harder with the knife until the doctor squeeled. “Stop, for the love of God, stop!”

“Are you saving yourself?”

“No.” He breathed heavily. “It’s just that you will be breaking the 10 Commandments if you kill me. That would violate your convictions.”

Boone smiled. “But Doc, you forgot. God doesn’t exist.”

“Oh yes He does, my mama told me so.”

“Then you better make peace with Him, because you are about to be in His presence.”

“Oh God!” He whimpered. “Please, no… I have a family, I have kids. Please have mercy.”

Boone grinned maliciously. “But you said yourself that your son is irrelevant. Remember, you are the atheist here, not me.”

“But,” the doctor looked at the ceiling. “There are no atheists in fox holes.”

“Ah, you are only trying to save your own skin, but…” with that, he released the doctor, who fell to the floor and grabbed his neck.

Now free, he was courageous. “I’m going to file charges against you.”

“It’s my word against yours.”

“Hah! No, it’s not! I was recording everything.”

“No you weren’t, you shut it off, remember?”

With a gasp, the doctor sprang from the floor and looked at the desk. His recorder was placed on pause the entire time. “Oh man…” he grumbled.

“Doctor, you need some new convictions, I believe that you have just outgrown your old ones.”

“You were going to kill me.”

Boone held up his weapon. Instead of a knife, he was holding a comb. Blood was oozing from a pinched mark on his hand.


dave said...

I finally got around to reading this one, and I gotta say my first reaction is to think that Boone's crazy (or has a plethora of guts).

My second reaction is thinking about how sad it is that we tend to rethink our beliefs and priorities only when we feel mortal danger. I hope I never lose sight of what matters because I am safe.

Travis said...

This story is interesting to me in several ways. First, because it could never happen, but it's fun to think about. Second, because it does expose how fragile our beliefs are. I hear stories about believers in China who are murdered on the spot for being at a Bible study. Is what we believe worth dying for?

Alison said...

That reminds me of the Martyrdom and Missions class I took in seminary. We learned about martyrs past and recent, mostly recent. I was amazed and humbled, also haunted for a long time.
I cheered silently for Boone --but to play devil's advocate, how much farther would Boone have to cross the line before we considered him in the same philosophical camp as people who blow up abortion clinics and murder abortionists to prove a point? (That made sense in my head.)

Travis said...

That's one of the tricky things about being a hero. Sometimes what we do doesn't come out the way we envision that it should. Boone was a gutsy fellow, but was he wrong for what he did?

Alison said...

Way to dodge my question. Just kidding! (kind of) Seriously, my hunch is that in this sue-happy society, the researcher could somehow sue for such an "attack." Would that go against Boone's devotion to keeping the law, even though it's man's and not God's law in this case? Or is this a case of civil disobedience, in a far-reaching kind of way?

Travis said...

In my mind, Boone wasn't as radical as the abortion clinic bombers, however, a risky move like that will definately open the door to scrutiny and civil suits that will be hard to extinguish. I'm inclined to believe that Boone would have weighed the cost before doing something so risky.