ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“Do you believe the Islamic terrorists to be evil?” the radio host asked the lady who had called his program Aug. 10. There was a pause. “No, I do not,” she replied. “We should look at ourselves to discover what we did to make them hate us so much. This is all our fault.”
In only a few seconds the caller revealed her anthropological perspective of the world. It is one that is shared by many in the United States. It is not only a misguided view, but in the war against terrorism, it is suicidal.
Anthropology is one’s understanding of the origin and development of the human race. It seeks to comprehend the workings of culture as well as individual behavior. And, realized or not, everyone has an anthropological perspective.
Those with a humanistic anthropology believe that mankind is basically good. This view cuts across political and theological lines. The bottom line of this anthropological view is that men and women are inherently good and must be conditioned or provoked into bad behavior.
The talk show caller referenced above is a sterling example of someone who believes that the human race is basically good. In her mind, those who commit terrorist acts are not evil; they are simply misunderstood. In other words, we, the United States, must have done something terrible to cause them to hate us so much.
Those who share the caller’s humanistic anthropological perspective believe that poor economic conditions or American foreign policy are the reasons that terrorists loathe the United States.
The caller honestly believes that if someone sympathetic and understanding, like herself, could sit down and have tea with the terrorists, listen to them and feel their pain, the whole terror threat would evaporate.
Others holding the humanistic view of anthropology believe what the terrorists need is a really good psychologist. Just a few sessions with Dr. Phil, and their lust for jihad would be cured.
By contrast, those with a Bible-based, or bibliocentric view of anthropology — like myself — believe the aforementioned humanistic understanding is naïve, misguided and downright dangerous.
A bibliocentric anthropological perspective holds that mankind is sinful and self-centered — people basically act and do whatever is necessary to promote or protect self.
Those with a bibliocentric approach to anthropology believe mankind must be taught or socialized in how to behave properly. However, no amount of socialization, education or religious training will ever eradicate the bent toward self-interest. Hence, a constant accountability is necessary.
I believe the terrorists that planned to blow up planes flying from England to the United States did so because they hate anyone that does not embrace their view of the world.
They hate because they were born with a propensity to care only about themselves. That natural egocentric fire has been fueled by a theology that instructs them it is Allah’s will to kill infidels, who happen to be anyone that will not convert to Islam.
They also believe that in sacrificing their lives for the cause of Allah in jihad, they will be rewarded with a sensual paradise, which is just another appeal to man’s natural self-interest.
Because I understand that man is inherently evil, and that the terrorists’ theological view exploits this natural inclination, I do not believe it is possible to reason with them.
The liberal/moderate anthropology that sees Islamic terrorists as misunderstood freedom fighters that can be negotiated with is not only naïve, it is suicidal.
The caller to the radio talk show indicated that she believes the terror threat we face in America is our fault. She could be right. That is, if the mere fact we are breathing is our fault.
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears each Friday in Baptist Press, is editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.