Saturday, August 7, 2010

Imago Dei

Today I was driving down a fairly busy four lane highway, when a driver a few cars ahead of me decided to randomly slam on his brakes. The next car quickly responded with brakes and swerving.

I had to make a quick choice... rear end the car in front of me at a high speed or risk it- hitting the brakes and swerving into the left lane, hoping for an opening in that lane.

I swerved, barely missing the car in front of me.

As I passed the stopped cars to my right, I saw the reason for the mayhem...

A Dog.

Are you kidding me? For the love of humanity- hit the animal!

Whatever you do, don't get yourself and others killed trying to avoid... a dog. Nobody wants to be responsible for hitting Max the Retriever, but nobody really wants to be responsible for saving a dog and killing a human. They teach that in driver's ed. Back in high school, a kid in Omaha was paralyzed when he swerved to miss a squirrel.

I drove by the madness on the road, then I recalled a conversation with my philosophy professor back in the day.

I was talking to him about the moral argument for God's existence, which I consider the most intuitive (i.e. It's naturally obvious) of the classical arguments. I asked him if he thought there would be a moral obligation in the following scenario: A house is on fire and you can save the baby or the dog. Are you morally obligated to save the baby? If so, where does this sense of "ought" come from? Is it mere preference and/or socialization, or moral obligation based on something outside of us. And something in us.

It made me think of the aforementioned scenario on the highway.

If a child were to wander out onto the highway, there would be an obligation to brake, swerve or whatever to avoid the child. But not in the case of a dog, cat, deer, raccoon, or bird (btw: two of my coolest roadkill- a hawk and coyote).

The difference, of course, is that we we're made in the "imago dei"... image of God. His fingerprint is on us. We have souls. We are eternal beings, and although we have some things in common with animals, a dog will never watch a sunset in awe of its Maker. A dog cannot lift its paws in worship or sing a hymn of praise. It cannot repent and surrender its will.

Nor can it blog about its experience of almost getting killed on the road.

All said and done- I'm glad the dog is still alive. But I'm more glad that I'm still alive.

Cue Pearl Jam.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a very expected reaction from a "Christian"...

Cakes said...

Cue "Thrice - Image of the Invisible"...

Metropuritan Mark said...

That's a very expected comment from a cynic...

But how does that further the discussion on morality and the sanctity of life?

What do you mean by "Christian"? Are you saying a true follower of Christ would not make this distinction between humans and animals? If I were to post a comment on a Hindu blog about the sanctity of cattle, I would expect that kind of a blog post from them. Of course, they have a Hindu worldview. How would a comment "typical 'Hindu'..." help validate my case? But also, I don't think I would put "Hindu" in quotations, because I think that's what authentic Hindus believe.

I think you may be responding to some of the harshness of my post. I think that came from the fact that I almost died on the highway. Moreover, two days ago, 1 mile away from where I almost died, I came upon a fatal accident that happened 1 minute before I drove by. I wondered if a dog had something to do with it. I hope not. But if it did, it was a senseless tragedy. That's the pathos of the post.

I would love to hear more about your perspective. If you live in the Iowa City area, let's grab coffee so I can understand where you're coming from. Email me: markarant76@gmail.com

janemarie said...

More than the thought about "sanctity of life" is the thought "split second decision." In your post you sound judgmental recalling your past and how you know of someone who was paralyzed etc., and I'm not sure if we can judge like that or even reason that way. The cool thing is that God's mercy reaches past the end of our split second decisions, and we can be assured of God's sovereignty.

Carl said...

So what was the professor's retort?

Although, the important question here is did you hit the hawk and coyote at the same time?

Confessions of a Seminary Wife said...

loved this post. i was following jesse a few months ago (with the kids in my car) and saw a dog in the road and swerved a bit (ok i may have braked some too . . .) which as soon as i started to swerve i realized it was stupid. death of my 2 kids or a dog? duh. jesse reminded me of the exact thing you just wrote about (minus to the whole we're made in the image of God thing) and kindly reminded me to never swerve on a busy highway for a dog because after all . . . it is just a dog. and all dogs go to heaven . . .

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