Christmas and Steven Pinker’s Decline of Violence

A few months ago biologist Steven Pinker released a paper (Article 1, Article 2) and a book claiming that despite 9/11, Rwanda, and other such events, violence is actually declining in the world. He rebukes the myth of the ‘noble savage’ by pointing out that most savages and our pre-civilized ancestors were incredibly violent. He gives the lie to the notion, popular among liberals but also the assumption of the more conspiracy-oriented people on the Right, [see Isaiah 8:11-13] that humankind is naturally good but is corrupted by ‘society’ and institutions, or [one has to say it] the 1 per cent, or whatever.

Interestingly enough, I was at a place this morning where we sang a couple of songs. Usually the songs we sing in that place don’t get public air play in malls or on background music systems, but during the month of December, for some cultural reason, the songs we sing at that time often get air play. Does anybody listen? Anyhow, here are a couple of verses of these songs:

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders wonders of His love

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord, O praise His name forever
His power and glory evermore proclaim
His power and glory evermore proclaim

About two thousand years ago there was born in Palestine a Child in a feed trough, one of whose titles is Prince of Peace. Unless you’re a young earther, two thousand years is a fairly short time in the history of the Earth and even of humankind since humankind was first set apart. And we are informed by one of His apostles (2 Peter 3:8) that with the lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day.” Any connection between all this and what Steven Pinker describes? Just sayin’!

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