Posted in Worldview Analysis

Fear, Pure as the Wind Driven Snow: A Challenge to be a Little Courageous when Facing Peer Pressure.

We will return to this…

“But to what shall I compare this generation?” inquired our Lord Jesus Christ about His current generations faithlessness (Matt 11.16). The incarnate Lord stood before them and rather than embrace Him, they mocked Him and defamed His lifestyle, calling him a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Matt 11.19). Before Jesus came the last prophet of the Old Covenant era—John the Baptist—was sent to prepare the way (Mal 3.1). He did not do any of the things the Lord did being a dedicated Nazarite, but to him they said, “He has a demon” (Matt 11.18).

All in all the people failed to discern the times they were living in. They did not know the proper way to act for they, like previous generations of unbeliever’s, did not have faith in God. This was one of the texts that kept rolling around in my mind as I drove to the eye doctor to pick up my youngest daughter’s new glasses.

Handling Pressure and the Conflict that Ensues

To say I was a bit agitated would be a bit of an understatement. I prefer just living life unbothered by the concerns of others. I try to keep my head down and avoid conflict. I am supposing that this is a normal trait among most people. Those who know me personally would, I’d imagine, disagree. They’d say that I have a tendency of being a bit of a bull in a china shop. Meaning, rather than avoid conflict I go in all horns and snorts, crashing into anything that gets in my way. Admittedly, this may be how it appears on the outside looking in, but the truth is I would prefer a much more peaceful life if it were offered to me.

You see, I have a bit of a problem. When I see conflict, though I would like to ignore it, I feel a burden to confront it. Growing up I hated peer pressure. In fact if a person or a group applied pressure to me I had (have?) a reputation for digging in my heels like a stubborn mule. I’d rather receive the blows of others (either physical or verbal) than to succumb to the whims of everybody else. Don’t get me wrong I did some stupid things when I was a teenager and a young adult, but I didn’t do them because others tried to influence me. I did them because I wanted to.

I was 13…

There is one story in particular that stands out in my mind anytime I begin talking about the pressure we face from the people in our lives. I had just moved to a new town during my 7th grade year. Being a new kid, I tried to avoid trouble like the plague. Naturally I’m an introvert, and so I tend to keep to myself. Well, I tried to…let me say that. It was after lunch one day that the confrontation took place.

After eating your lunch, if it wasn’t raining, you were instructed to go outside for about a 30 minute recess. Not sure how much this holds true today, but back in my day (as my kids like to mockingly point out) that’s how it was. Anyway, I was minding my own business just looking around at my new environment, hating my life, when three guys came up to me forming a half circle.

We were standing by a chain-link fence and the leader of the pack offered me a skoal bandit (a tiny packet of snuff). This kind gesture was in fact a test. If I did as the leader “requested,” I’d be accepted. But, if I failed to do so my life would be forfeit. Or rather, my peaceful day would be ruined.

Well, truth be told, it was already ruined. Why these guys couldn’t leave me alone I haven’t the foggiest? But there I was being pressed to do something I’d never done, nor had any inclination to do. I knew what the likely response would be if I declined the offer, but decline their offer I did anyway. Two of the guys snickered amongst themselves, but their leader…he feigned being offended. Unfortunately for me, the aforementioned fence was to my back…so, I was trapped.

The guy who was addressing me, his name, I later learned was Paul. He had a reputation for being a bit of a troublemaker. He was a couple of years older. He’d spent some time in juvie and he liked to fight. He wasn’t small for his age, which is precisely how I felt at that moment.

I don’t remember his exact words, but it was some sort of violent act he was going to perform on me if I didn’t comply. Straight out of the scene from the infamous Christmas Story movie, I realized I was Ralphie. Again, I declined the offer. Again, came the threat. By this time his two goons were starting to get a little excited. At that moment, I felt my world begin to stall. Everything came to a crashing halt. All else vanished from focus even though I felt as it there were a thousand eyes focused upon me.

It would have been so easy to just give in and put the stupid packet of minced tobacco into my mouth. Just take it, and place the little thing behind your lower lip and it would all be over with, Kristafal!

NOPE! No way, I’d rather fight and lose than give in.

As my heart hammered within my chest, echoing in my ears, I stood on my convictions and once again declined the offer of the teenage thugs who wanted to pummel me. By the grace of God I survived that encounter. And it was His grace (undeservingly so) that sustained me for the next couple of years, before I moved to another state, another town, another school where my fortitude would be tested again and again.

At the Eye Doctor

Before I told the tale of my 7th grade encounter, I mentioned that I was picking up my daughter’s new glasses. I had taken her and my youngest son to the optometrist the week before. Ohio, like many states, has mask orders that have been declared by divine fiat…er um “executive order” by the governor. A process that has circumvented the state’s legislature in order to illegally enforce whatsoever those in power decide is best for all of us.

Fear driven…

As a result people are being driven and herded by fear. Fear of the virus, fear of the state, fear of being sued and fear of looking bad in the public eye. Businesses in an effort to stay open have bowed the knee to whatsoever those in power have decided what is best for moving forward. And so, you can add fear of losing one’s source of income into the multitude of fears currently driving an alarming number of citizens in this nation.

The Process…

In order to see the eye doctor, you need to make an appointment. On the day of your appointment you need to walk up to the door and ring the bell. They lock the door after every patient comes in or goes out of the office.

***(On a side note: I’m not sure how this isn’t a violation of the local fire codes. I’m pretty sure that all public or private businesses are not supposed to be able to lock in their customers, for if a fire did start they’d be putting their lives at risk. But hey, what do I know? I’m just one of those science denying fools that refuses to wear a mask everywhere he goes).1

The Conversation…

To enter the Dr.’s office you are supposed to wear a mask. Well…my kids and I did not have a mask. When I was asked “why?” I responded that we had health related issues. (This is a known exception in our state, but now they have tried to come up with a way around it.) The receptionist asked, “Where is your exemption slip from your doctor?” I said, “Don’t need one, because we are healthy…that is our health issue that prevents us from wearing a mask. We are not sick.”

Knowing me she laughed and called me “Bad.” Then she went behind her desk and got three masks out of a box. They looked like napkins with rubber bands attached to them. She then said, “Kris, you have to wear the masks. These are really thin, so they are easy to breathe through.” I said, “I can’t.” She asked, “Can you give me a reason?” I said, “I have several, but I’ll give you one. My religious convictions prevent me from doing so.” (She knows I’m a Christian pastor as does the doctor).

She came over to where me and my kids were sitting and said a little more quietly, “I don’t think he’ll see you if you don’t have masks. I understand what you are saying, but I don’t know….” “Would you like me to talk to Dr. Heiby? I can,” I inquired. She told me she would do so.

When she returned, she notified me that the doctor would be fine with no masks, but unfortunately one of his techs refused. She said the tech had just recovered from the flu and didn’t want to chance getting sick again. So I said, “Alright. The kids can wear them on their chin, but I will not be wearing one. I don’t have an appointment, but they need to be seen.” As the tech was handing my boy the mask, she dropped it on the floor. She told him, “You can pick that up and use it.” I commented with a little mirth, “Yes, that will work wonderfully now.”

Back to the Beginning

So, I tell this story as a bit of context to why I was thinking about Jesus’ comments to His generation for their lack of faith. Yesterday, I received a phone call from the eye doctor that the glasses for my daughter were in. After scheduling the time to go in and pick them up, the eyeglasses tech said “make sure you bring your mask.” She said this even though I had made it clear to everyone in the office that I do not (nor will I) wear a mask. She was doing it to make a point. And, it irritated me, though I was polite when I got off the phone.

Visiting Numbers 13-14…

The lady’s comments got my thoughts churning. And as I mused my mind naturally turned to God’s Word. There is a passage that I think speaks perfectly of our current cultural climate; particularly, in light of the mask hysteria that has gripped the hearts of so many.

“The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.”

(Numb 13.32-14.1)

God had promised the Israelite’s great wealth. He was giving to them a land that was rich in blessing; a land flowing with milk and honey (cf. Exod 3.8, 17; 13.5). All they had to do was march in and take it. They were not alone, for God promised to fight for them. Could not He who delivered them from slavery and bondage in Egypt not give to them what He promised? Could not He who destroyed the mighty armies of Pharaoh, made water come from a rock and bread fall from the skies, could not He have delivered to them the blessings that He promised? Is not the Lord greater than all the troubles we might face in this life? Is He not God and therefore the sovereign over all creation?

Fear drifts…

But the people of that day trembled in fear. Their leaders stirred this fear up within their hearts and the people worked themselves into a frenzy. Do you know what they were afraid of? The “what-ifs?” of life. They had seen and heard from God, but they could not reason beyond their circumstances. Peer pressure is a powerful tool, and the ten unfaithful leaders who caused the people to rebel against the Lord of Life used that tool to their advantage.

What is most telling of this historical narrative is how the people refused to listen to reason. Rather than being moved by realistic appeals in the form of God’s promises (cf. Psa 12.6) and various evidences from God’s mighty works at the hands of Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua. Rather than allow the testimony of truth have a positive effect on them giving them courage, the people were driven to hate.

“…all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.”

(Numb 14.10)

Had God not intervened on behalf of His faithful servants (aforementioned), they would have been slaughtered. God stood in the gap for the faithful, but in so doing He was also removing His merciful grace from those who were driven by reckless fear.

Everyone of us at some time in our life will experience fear. We will be afraid of something. But it is what we do in light of that fear that shows our true character. Are we people of strong courage or are we something else.

Currently, politicians, media pundits, and your neighbor’s are promising that if you just listen to them then all will be well with you. You will be “safe” and your needs will be met. But is that how godly men and women are called to act? Are we not instructed to “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added unto you” (Matt 6.33)? God is the one who protects our lives. It is He who is called the great refuge of our souls, not just later but now! (Psa 5.11; 11.1-7). Stop trusting in the might of men, and start trusting in the might of the Lord (cf. Jer 17.5). Stop being driven by the fear of the “What-ifs?” of life. Instead realize that it is God who controls all aspects of life…all…including your health.

ENDNOTE:

1The “science denying” comment is tongue-in-cheek. I don’t deny science. Its a conceptual tool, not a living, breathing thing. Science is as useful as the person using it. There are two piles of data in light of the efficacy of mask wearing. One set is forbidden by the current social media and corporate media elites. That data is being suppressed and villianized; censorship is currently occurring in our nation…but that is another matter, for another day.

Posted in Musings

The Compassionate Neighbor

“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?’ And he said, ‘The one who showed mercy toward him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same’” (Luke 10.36-37).[1]

 

Narrow-sightedness…

When we read, we hone in on various keys in the text. We do the same thing with our hearing. I’m sure you’ve heard the familiar phrase “selective hearing.” That is usually a charge laid at the foot of the spouse who has failed to give an attentive ear to their significant other. It is not as if we do not hear, but we hear what we want to. A word, a phrase, an idea or symbol catches our minds eye and we run with it. We then filter out everything else said. Or in the case of the subject I started with “we…filter everything else we read out.”

A little Info on Luke 10:23-37

In the above text we find Jesus presenting a question to his questioner. Jesus has been teaching the masses in Israel. He has been demonstrating His authority and power. His knowledge and wisdom have been put on display. Everyone that witnesses Him is confronted by Him. Either He is an egotistical madman, or He is who He claims to be (cf. Luke 10.23-24).

A scribe or a “lawyer” (NASB), which is just another way of saying “an expert in the law” decides that testing the Lord is a good idea. He inquires: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10.25). This question is not really the question. Or said another way, this question is not really the issue that this religious leader is driving at. Remember, his desire was to test Jesus; to set a trap.

What this means for the reader is that when the religious expert asked the question, he was looking for a specific answer. He was ready for the answer given by the Lord. He anticipated it, as we shall see in a moment.

Jesus pointed this lawyer to the Law-Word of God. “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (Luke 10.26). Every good Bible believing Jew knew the answer to this question. This expert in the law was ready for this moment. Immediately he recites a summary of the Law-Word of God:

“And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10.27).

Jesus acknowledges that the man is right, and then says “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10.28). And here is where we see that the questioner revealing his hand: “But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10.29; italics added). Let’s let that simmer for a bit….

Introducing the Compassionate Argument

Recently, given the current COVID-19 pandemic I’ve been hearing of a great push for compassion on the eldest generation in our nation. The politically driven left winged media (a.k.a., the progressives) have attempted, with some force, to use their soapbox to ridicule Trump. Under the guise of what I now term the “compassion argument.”

We all know that “social distancing” has now become the immediate norm. Handshaking is for the foreseeable future off limits. And no longer will it be found acceptable to go to work or perhaps even venture into public if you catch a cold, a sniffle, or have an irritating cough. It could just be allergies, but “HEY” we don’t want to take a chance that you “might” be the death of “ME.”[2]

So, what is the “compassionate argument” or the “argument of compassion?” The argument of compassion states that we need to be concerned about the welfare of others. In other words, we need to be loving our neighbors.

From a practical standpoint the argument is said to look like this: Social distancing, avoiding all forms of brotherly (human) contact, and staying home when sick. If you fail to do these things. If you fail to stay away (6 feet now!) from people in public. If you cough, have a runny nose, go somewhere feeling fine and then end up feeling a bit under the weather, then, well there’s no other way to put it…SHAME ON YOU!

I say all of these things with my tongue firmly pressed in my cheek and a bit of a smirk etching on my face. I think that, as far as it goes, we ought to do these things to the best of our ability. We should be washing our hands, covering our mouths when we cough, blowing our nose rather than letting it drip onto our lips so that we can spit it on the unaware passerby when we enter into conversation.

If you feel sick and you are able to, stay home. Some might prefer that you always stay home if you get sick, but some of us have deadlines, inspections and unfortunately live week-to-week; and so, while staying home with a head cold might be desired it is not practical.

Back to Luke 10 and the Word called Love

When the religious expert asked Jesus the question about the greatest commandment, he was looking for a specific answer. When the media or some other uses the compassionate argument, they are doing the same thing. Sometimes when Christians read their Bible’s and they read or rehearse from memory the loving God/loving neighbor commandment, they too hone in on a specific answer. More to the point, they look to a particular word “love.”

Most people would probably say that love is a good thing. Hard to remember when you’ve been heart broken, but overall, mostly true. Emphasizing love may also be a good thing, but it is the manner in which we emphasize it, the sense in which we take it, prescribe it, live by it that determines whether or not this is true.

My concern in this post is what emphasis of love we as Christians place on it. I am not saying that the world does not love. Certainly, there is a version of love in the world, but that love is not comparable bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece with the Christian concept.

Seeking justification…

The scribe wanted to know “who his neighbor was?” The identity of his neighbor was the motivation for asking the question. The reason the scribe asked Jesus the question was to trap him. He had set a snare and he wanted Jesus to step right into it. From a historical and cultural context Jesus did a lot of things that irritated his fellow Israelites; the religious establishment in particular. One of those things was socializing with what I suppose we might call the “outcasts” of society. The “misfit toys” from the classic Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer clay-style cartoon.

The scribe wanted Jesus to answer the question of the greatest commandment in order to pigeon hole the Lord into looking like a fool. Jesus had a reputation of associating with tax-collectors, prostitutes, and…Samaritans. If loving God was the chief goal of a godly person, which entailed being clean before God (not touching or dealing with that which defiled a person), then it did not appear Jesus fit the bill.

Being ceremonially clean was a legitimate concern for the Israelite as seen in the books of Moses. Since the Exodus God had set the offspring of Jacob (Israel) apart from the rest of the nations. This was a sign that they were God’s people. This was a status that they were set-apart (holy; i.e., clean) from the filth that permeated other nations. The religious elites of Jesus’ day had misinterpreted and misapplied the meaning of those texts, and so were in error. This man sought to justify himself as a true lover of God and he did so by insinuating that not everyone was his neighbor. For the non-ceremonially clean—those sinners outside of covenant Israel—he did not associate with.

This attitude is highlighted in Jesus’ parabolic teaching of the “Good Samaritan” in contrast to the religious leaders of Israel (Luke 10.30-33). The priest and the Levite steered clear of the man beaten on the road half-dead (i.e., left for dead). But not the Samaritan. This “unclean” Gentile-mingled mongrel (what the Jews of the period thought) demonstrated love for neighbor. He was compassionate (loving) on the person in need.

And so, Jesus’ question of the questioner at the end of his teaching— “Which…proved to be a neighbor…?” —nipped the issue in the bud. The Lord effectively flipped the trap on his opponent. How so? Well, to love God entailed loving one’s neighbor. And though it is impossible to love your “neighbor” without loving God first, you cannot really have love for God in your heart if you don’t love your neighbor (cf. 1John 3.17-18).

With expertise that could not be matched Jesus disarmed the trap and reset it for His unwary opponent. In other words, Jesus anticipated the follow-up question and answered the question in the way He did (which was biblically accurate) in order to entrap His antagonist. He does it by citing Leviticus 19:18.

A Quick Look at Leviticus

 I find this to be most interesting, and since it deals with the compassionate argument identified above, I want to make my final point with it.

 “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”

This text is sandwiched between two chapters filled with material that many Evangelical’s steer away from (some from embarrassment). Chapter 18 starts with God commanding Moses what to say to the offspring of Israel (Jacob). He says,

  • “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes and, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God” (Lev 18.3-4).

Towards the closing of chapter 20 we find the charge reiterated:

  • “You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out. Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them…I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples… ‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine’” (Lev 20.22-23, 24, 25).

The point being that God had called and set-apart the children of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in order to be His people (cf. Exod 19:4-6). He expected them to reflect His mind/heart. He commanded them to honor His Law, to be Holy as He is holy (Lev 19.2). The concern is to be different than the rest of the nations of this world. To be guided by the voice of God, to live according to His will, and not entertain the thoughts and practices of those nations that He had drawn them from (Egypt), and was giving them to possess (Canaan).

The command to love your neighbor came with numerous explanations (see Lev 19.9-18a). The key to remember was to be just in all things, which meant “…not be[ing] partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly” (Lev 19.15). To act in anyway contrary to the edicts of God in light of one’s neighbor was to act hatefully in one’s heart which was expressly forbidden (Lev 19.17).

How this relates to the “Compassionate Argument”

We have in this country settled in on one object of concern. We have narrowed our focus to the tip of a pen. The dreaded Corona virus (COVID-19) is in our crosshairs. Many see nothing else.

The virus is deadly. People have gotten sick and some have died. It is therefore argued that we need to shut everything down in concern (compassion/love) for our neighbor. But loving one’s neighbor is not one-sided. We have made it one-sided though. How so? We have shown partiality to one group while neglecting another.

This bed has been made for some time in our nation as it stands regarding partial love. Class warfare argues to favor the poor while neglecting the rich (add any other descriptor besides “poor” or “rich” and it’ll still apply). That’s a sanitized way of looking at it. Class warfare argues to hate one sector of society for things that many find distasteful (often because of jealous/envy/covetousness) covered in an argument of love and compassion for another. We are doing the same thing with this virus.

It is being said that we need to be compassionate to the elderly, to the weak…we need to prevent the spread of this virus lest we kill others. This sounds good. It appears sweet. But what about the family who will lose their home? They’ve lost their job, but if things do not change soon, they will lose more. What about those families who are hurting because the solution has robbed them of living? Why is it not possible to practice good hygiene and let those who are not sick return to work? Are we so foolish and arrogant to think that there are not other things that can kill just as easily as this little bug?

I am growing more and more convinced that we, in an effort to justify our fear and panic, want to sanitize false beliefs by calling them compassion. When in reality we care very little for our neighbor(s), and instead only care for our own skin!  


ENDNOTES:

[1] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard Bible (NASB 95’).

[2] **Yes, I know I went from plural to singular verb form there but I did it on purpose. The real concern in all of this isn’t really about our “neighbor,” but is for many just the sacred “ME” regardless of how strongly one might argue the contrary.

Posted in Musings

Fear Blind: Sacrificing Freedom for False Security

 

Although I would imagine that a lot of COVID-19 material has been written on WordPress and other blogospheric sites, I find myself compelled to speak on the matter at least one more time. I do not do this out of anxiety or fear (although, I am well aware of how quickly and easily such things can grip your heart), but out of a desire to point out something that people need to seriously consider: The Unknown.

My concerns…

As a pastor, I’ve had to keep up-to-date on the daily news briefings related to this particular virus. I will admit up front that I am a conservative, and as such I prefer Fox News over other media sources. However, that is not to say that I take whatever Fox News says for granted. In my relatively short life, I have learned that I need to be critical of all teachings regardless of their proposed source. Therefore, I also watch other personally less than desirable media outlets like CNN and MSNBC, and I have been known to read the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, as well as the NY Times. Not from enjoyment, but I find it necessary to hear what the other side has to say.

In particular, I have paid attention to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) websites and their running number of verified cases vs. deaths. Why? To familiarize myself with the actual data, rather than extrapolated data based on models created with variable assumptions ingrained in them.

Two Important Articles put the Issue to Light

Last week I read an article by John Ioannidis an “influential Stanford University epidemiologist.”[1]  You can read his article HERE, but the gist of the argument provided by this highly respectable and cited researcher questions whether or not our response is akin to an elephant running from a cat and then subsequently falling off a cliff, due to fear of the unknown. In this humorous analogy the cat represents the data present on COVID-19, the elephant represents the totality of our response, and the cliff represents the unforeseen danger or unthought about consequences of acting without all the facts.

There was an immediate rebut of Ioannidis article provided by “prominent Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch” which you may also read HERE. Lipsitch argues that,

“if we don’t apply control measures, the number of cases will keep going up exponentially beyond the already fearsome numbers we have seen. Scientists have estimated that the basic reproductive number of this virus is around 2. That means without control, case numbers will double, then quadruple, then be eight times as big and so on, double with each ‘generation’ of cases.”[2]

Knowing How to Read

When we read our reading will vary depending on what type of literature it is. We all do this to some extent. No doubt some are better at this than others, but for the most part we do not read every piece of literature with the same interpretative lens.

For example, you read the comics for enjoyment. You’ll read the obituary to see who has passed on (either for a sentimental value or just curiosity). You read a sports section to see where your team (if you have one) has been competing against the other, etc.

When it comes to reading, I can get through a nice entertainment piece (novel, short story) very quickly. If my reading is research oriented then this take considerably more time. I highlight, draw lines, and scribble notes on any anything available. Recently, I started using “sticky notes” on my computer and was mildly impressed with their simplistic value for keeping my notes on various works organized. When I study my Bible I’m slower still.

An Appeal to Ignorance…

One of the things that I look for when perusing articles like the two I’ve mentioned thus far is identifying certain key terms. I do the same thing when I’m listening to various media outlets. Or, even when in conversation with others (much to the chagrin of my wife). When it comes to the COVID-19 crisis what I am constantly hearing is “…we don’t know how bad this thing will get,” “…we don’t know how many people have it, carry it, or will die from it.” In short, while the virus is certainly novel (new) there are many unknowns about it. What seemingly has people in a stir is the possibility of danger.

To be quite frank, I hate “What if…?” scenarios. Why? Because they are mere conjecture. The only person influenced by them are those invested in them. When a person or a group “makes a statement of ignorance about their respective [subject], and yet proceeds to draw a definite conclusion based on their non-evidence”[3] they have just committed a fallacious (false) argument; an Appeal to Ignorance. That is to say they have taken an “unknown” and then reasoned to a supposed known. This argument can be used in the same way from the opposite position; thus, it proves nothing.

Guessing Game…

Lipsitch in his article uses the terms “estimate,” “perhaps,” “unknown,” “nearly certain.” All of which amount to what? They are guesses, educated guesses…sure, but guesses nonetheless. How then can he claim that without the current measures enacted upon much of the current population that this virus will burn out of control doubling, quadrupling, even multiplying by a factor of 8? These are “what if” scenarios that may or may not occur.

This is what spurred Ioannidis to write the article he did. We are making decisions, in some cases radical ones, in order to fight an uncertainty…all the while pretending that we are certain our efforts will give a good outcome. This seems to be a wonderful case of the shifting sands argument. No foundation, but we keep building as if we are firmly established in our convictions on a rock. Assuming that our house will stand, when in fact it is near collapsing in on itself.

Current Data…

If you look at the current data, even as it seemingly grows as more and more cases/death totals come in, what do we find? That on average the mortality rate is about 1.2-1.5% in the U.S., and if we take the grant totals from around the world, we see about a 4.4-4.8% rate. There is no apparent rise. This does not remove a possibility of drastic increase, but it does seem to offer further support to arguments presented by those of the same mind as Ioannidis. Moreover, it highlights that one ought to make effective, logical arguments based on the data we do have. Not a mirage of data that is yet to be seen. If you argue, “Yes, but it could be worse,” then the rational questioner retorts “on what basis?”

A couple days ago, the president mentioned that on average 37,000 American citizens die every year from the flu (influenza). In 2017, it was nearly 80,000. Influenza is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States of America in 2018.[4] His point was that we’ve never done anything like this before; shutting the entire nation down out of fear. He didn’t say that last part, I did.

The Unseen Enemy

This fight against COVID-19 is caricatured as a war against an invisible enemy. Okay, but what “invisible” enemy are you truly fighting? A virus or the unknown?

When you attempt to argue from ignorance (i.e., Appeal to Ignorance) you are essentially building your position on fear (i.e., Appeal to Fear, a subset of Ignorance argument above). This is where a person or a group of persons “[argues] for a position on the basis that negative consequences will follow if a person [or group] does not accept the position.”[5]  Which is precisely the manner in which the current media storm, along with members of the medical community, and other “experts” argue.  If you don’t do “this” (and you can fill in the list of demands already being placed upon the American people), then “that” will happen. But “that” is unproven because “this” is not really known.

Who is this Enemy…?

I do agree that we are fighting a war against an “invisible enemy,” and not I’m not talking about the devil although I do not deny that he is invisible to the naked eye, and a truer enemy one will not find. But the real enemy we are fighting against (and we are losing) is our own hearts/minds.

Just another day…

Every day we face death. Every stinking day. We do not know when our deaths will come. I’m deathly allergic to all forms of bee venom (all manner of bees, wasps, and hornets). According to my allergist 1/10th of a normal injection of bee venom from say a “yellow jacked” would more than likely cause anaphylactic shock. Back in 2011 I circled the drain once.

“So what,” you say. “What’s the big deal? What’s that got to do with the current COVID-19 discussion?” you ask. My bee allergy is not relatable to COVID-19 as one is a virus and the other is a reaction to venom. Its not that type of analogy. What I am arguing is that I do not let that truth of the deadliness of the venom rob me from my way of life.

My family lives in the country. We live on a wooded 5-acre lot next to other larger wooded chunks of land. Bees, wasps, and hornets are everywhere. About every other year I have to have an exterminator come out and destroy a bald-faced hornet’s nest. Last year, the kids noticed one at the end of our long driveway. It was the size of a basketball, and there were huge hornets everywhere. They are extremely aggressive.

I cut over 2 ½ acres of grass every week. I also run 3 to 4 times a week on our property doing 5-K’s. We have an above ground swimming pool that attracts every type of bug around, including all of those that I am allergic to.

If I were to get stung, I run the risk of dying. The mortality rate for a bee sting for me even with an Epi-pen and antihistamine meds is very high. Much higher than the current death rate of this virus that has so many in a frenzy. But I do not let that dictate my everyday life. If you drive a vehicle, you likewise do the same thing; you put your life and the life of others at risk. Should we ban the use of automobiles because they are the 3rd leading cause of death of American citizens (around 163,000 in 2018).

Freedom or Slavery…

My question is this? Are you really willing to give up your freedom to live in order to grapple with a false sense of security? Because guess what, you can still die at home. You can still get an illness at home locked up in quarantine. You can still break your neck, have a blood clot travel to your heart, lung or brain. Death is around the corner. It is the invisible enemy that is always hunting you (in a figurative sense). You will die, but it seems to me that an important question is “How are we going to live?”

If a depression does hit this nation, what will the ripple effect look like here in the U.S. and the rest of the world? Will we see parents destitute in poverty unable to take care of themselves or their families? Will we witness suicides rates rise as depression begins to set in? What about pillaging or war as people try to fight for resources? Will famine and other diseases see an increase? Do you think that is just an example of fear mongering?

What about the next time an unknown enemy descends upon us? Will the response time of governmental takeover be shortened? Are we really willing to sacrifice our freedoms for a false sense of security? I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I find them laughable. But do you really suppose that these scenarios are somehow less realistic than the one so many are holding to now in blind fear?

Please think…

Currently, we are pretending the cat in the room is more dangerous than the unseen cliff that we were precariously dancing around? I’m not fear mongering here. These are real realities. This situation we find ourselves in regarding COVID-19 needs to be examined from more than one angle. It reminds me of the part in Jurassic Park where you see the one velociraptor straight ahead, all the while you’ve missed the other two about to pounce on you from their hiding spots.

Our field of vision has become so narrowed that we are missing other life-threatening realities. Are you really willing to sacrifice your freedom for a false sense of security? Sadly, I think many people just might be. Time will tell.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Kelly Crowe, “Prominent scientist dares to ask: Has the COVID-19 response gone to far?” CBC News, modified March 19, 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/coronavirus-covid-pandemic-response-scientists-1.5502423.

[2] Notice that Lipsitch does not know this, but assumes it. This will be identified later in the article by pointing to certain key terms in his writing. He argues from what is not known, and then makes a definite statement of what is known (or what he states is known) although this is not proven, but merely taken for granted. By stating this will happen, although the data to support his conclusions is lacking, is to appeal to the fears of people; evidently fears that Lipsitch personally has. Unfortunately, he is not alone.

[3] Joel McDurmon, Biblical Logic in Theory and Practice: Refuting the Fallacies of Humanism, Darwinism, Atheism, and Just Plain Stupidity (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2011), Kindle Edition, loc 6176.

[4] This information is not hard to find if you are willing to set aside your social media accounts and do a little research on some reputable sites.

[5] Jason Lisle, Discerning Truth (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 20  ), 54, Adobe Digital Editions.