By: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
—– Original Message —– From: Steven
To: ‘Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 8:06 PM
Subject: re: Guilt & Remorse
I was wondering about something on the emotional dimension. Do you ever feel guilt or remorse? Never, sometimes, frequently?
From: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 10:16 PMTo: StevenSubject: Re: Guilt & Remorse
Yes, When I do something I regret, I feel it very deeply. I hate admitting I’m wrong, just like everyone else, but I try to clean up things the best I can. The frequency depends on the frequency of my offense. The feeling lasts until I clean it up. I have a fairly sensitive conscience I think, so I try to do everything according to my highest standards, but, I’m not perfect, so yes, I feel bad when I don’t perform as I believe I should.
What were you thinking about? Is this an issue you struggle with? Is there someone in your life that struggles with this?
—– Original Message —– From: StevenTo: ‘Thomas Lee Abshier, ND’ Sent: Saturday, July 11, 2009 11:31 AM Subject: RE: Guilt & Remorse
I feel guilt and remorse with a frequency and intensity within the normal range I believe. It is occasional. I try to do things right the first time and clean up my messes after the fact, should they occur.
Actually my question was somewhat related to the firearms discussion. If you felt only certitude with no self doubt or questioning or humility, then that begins to sound like a description of God’s chosen enforcer. Disturbing and dangerous. In your beliefs, you are so radically different from all the other people I associate with, I was just wanting to get a further sense of what makes you tick.
Your answer does give me some comfort.
Remember M. Scott Peck? His book the Road Less Traveled was popular many years ago. His later book, People of the Lie, was very good I thought. Here he attempted to do the first serious psychological examination of human evil, as distinct from moralistic and religious discussions on the subject. According to his research, it seems that human evil breeds in a psychological environment characterized by certitude and lacking in self reflection or recognition of one’s own flaws and limitations.
Thanks for your comment
From: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND Sent: Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:29 PMTo: StevenSubject: Re: Guilt & Remorse
Thanks for your comments. I especially liked your insight from Scott Peck about evil. One of the points that this discussion and observation establishes firmly, is that both you and I both believe in evil. We both feel remorse at having committed it. The offenses we commit are in general limited to somewhat minor excursions from Absolute goodness.
Even though we both try to do good, and occasionally miss the mark. I classify all violations of perfection as belonging to the realm of evil, as opposed to be good or neutral. I believe that anything other than the perfection of way of Christ is a type of evil, or sin, which means “to miss the mark.” There are degrees, types, and levels of evil, but they are all violations of perfection, and hence fall into the category of evil.
There is a broad area of normal behavior that has no moral implications. That is a realm where we have complete freedom of action. When we know the law, and listen the the voice of conscience, the voice of the Holy Spirit, we can relax and live life in full enjoyment of that realm of moral neutrality.
If we do step over the line of the law, we can return to a restored relationship with God and others by confessing and repenting to both God and others. God will not hold us from relationship when we confess and repent and ask for forgiveness. This is an act of humility, that acknowledges that there is a Godly standard that has been violated. And, it also acknowledges that the life and victory over the system of evil and temptation has been experienced and overcome by Jesus, and that the power of sin can be commuted by divine decree by acknowledging the victory, sacrifice, and Lordship of Jesus.
We all should want to be perfect, in the sense of following God’s laws, but there is a slavery that accompanies following the letter of the Law. And this is not the burden that God wants us to bear. Rather, the joy of life arises in living in the freedom that arises from obeying the spirit of the law. We don’t want to sin casually, but when we do we need not fret or obsess or feel guilty other than for the instant of recognition, repentance, and warm restoration. Forgiveness is given freely, the sin that causes separation and alienation is instantly repaired and forgotten. We really are children, and we make a lot of mistakes. The repair of relationship with our fellow man needs to be as gracious in our giving of forgiveness, and restoring relationship, as God is to us in His forgiveness of our trespasses against His law.
God has no need to control us or punish us. Rather, God (the Father) cannot be in the presence of sin, imperfection or error. (UnGodliness is the general descriptive word that includes all thoughts, speech, and acts that are outside of the resonance of God’s character.) Defining and acknowledgment evil in all its forms, from the most subtle to most egregious, is very important, because by becoming aware of unGodliness, we can choose to be consciously sensitized.
1) The way of perfection is narrow, and any excursion outside of it has a spirit of evil mixed within it.
Matthew 7:12 “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
2) In Christ there is Liberty, and all things that are Godly are allowed.
1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
The path of goodness is razor thin, and all behaviors off that path, even slightly separated from perfection, fall into the category of evil. In polite society, normal behavior falls inside of a fairly well defined set of acceptable evils, including gossip, white lies, flirting, sarcasm, petty theft, passions, and intoxication.
As you note, Scott Peck’s perspective is, “According to his research, it seems that human evil breeds in a psychological environment characterized by certitude and lacking in self reflection or recognition of one’s own flaws and limitations.”
Within your summary comment are words that imply good and evil, such as “flaws”. And the word “flaw” only has meaning with respect to another relative frame, or an absolute frame of reference. Either another person judges the flaw, or God judges the flaw. There is only a flaw if there is a standard against which to compare.
We can only define terms such as good and evil, flawed and perfect, by acknowledging another frame of reference by which to evaluate the evil. Clearly, the absolute frame could establish the definition and standard of good and evil. But evil could also be defined by a another person and their standard. All this to note that we must use a standard when we use words that contain value judgments, good, better, best, mediocre, poor, awful, distasteful, sweet, beautiful, strong, or acceptable.
My point being that it is impossible to make any value statement about anything without implying the existence of a standard, either God’s Absolute standard, or the standard of another observer.
And further, it is impossible to imply the existence of a relative frame without implying the existence of an absolute frame. The concept of the Absolute frame was once commonly accepted by the scientific community, before the Michelson Morley experiment of 1887, which did not detect an ether drift as was expected. This null result was interpreted as being an absolute refutation of the existence of a stationary ether, an absolute frame of reference in the physical plane.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity replaced the theoretical function of the ether, but it did not provide any mechanism for the phenomena, it only gave us a descriptive mathematics that allows computation of magnitude of effect. From that time on we have lived in a world where all things were considered to be relative. The philosophers, psychologists, and social scientists have appropriated this concept and made it the preeminent perspective, the trump card used in resolution of any disagreement in theology, method, taste, or moral judgment.
But, on a logical/mathematical level, all things cannot be relative. This is because all relative points of view are subsets of a set that includes all frames. This all encompassing frame is the Absolute. It is the Frame from which God views and sees the entirety of the play of life.
The Absolute frame is the perspective that views all relative perspectives and sees the relationship of all relative perspectives. The Absolute perspective is the viewpoint superior to all individual viewpoints, the one that sees the content of all individual viewpoints perfectly, and sees the relationship between each perfectly. The Absolute frame is able to integrate and judge all perspectives, and choose the perfectly balanced middle point that most accurately defines the standard of good and evil.
I don’t believe my perspective about how humans should relate, or God’s set of Laws is necessarily coincident with Absolute Truth. Rather, I have done a great deal of introspection on some topics, and according to the amount of evidence and reason applied to a particular subject, I believe it is worth defending that position in discussion and advocating for that perspective.
I feel my perspective is grounded, but I am always open to anyone who can show that it is wrong because of having used faulty data, or improper logic in reaching conclusions. I try to be Absolutely correct in my statements and evaluation of life, but I hold open the possibility that I am wrong. I constantly compare my theories of life with data from others, from scripture, and from my own observation of people and nature. I speak what I believe is right, and I defend a position with the certainty that I believe it deserves.
The concept of the “Absolute Truth” that I refer to so frequently is an ideal, something we all strive for. I bring it up as a polarity, a goal, a concept that if there is such a thing we should strive for it, rather than simply assuming that all perspectives are of equal value as would be true in a totally relativistic universe without an Absolute standard or frame.
I believe in relativity, which I define as the realm of comparison of individual perspectives. We all have a personal universe of our own tastes and personal needs that satisfy our particular nervous system. To the extent that the satisfaction of such tastes does not violate the space of others, and does not violate the Absolute Law/Way of God, then that personal taste, and relative perspective is harmless and actually should be celebrated and enjoyed as an expression of our individuality. The personal perspective is a gift of God and it is wonderful. The absolute frame is the perspective of God, the way of God is the standard of Absolute goodness, and in it is the maximal joy possible in this world.
The psychopath or sociopath could be defined in these terms as living in the ultimately relativistic world, the world where his perspective was totally consuming. As such, he would be unaware of the perspective or standards of the actual Absolute reality, or the feelings, needs, and desires of others in his world.
This is a novel perspective, to define the psychopath and sociopath in terms of relativism has been taken to its furthest extreme. Clearly great evil can be committed without conscience by the person who is lost inside of his own imperfect world to such a degree that he believes his thoughts, feelings, standards and desires are universally good and true, and should be imposed upon the rest of the world.
The person who is unable to place himself in the world and feelings of others will not have the negative feedback associated with creating pain in another person’s life. If a man believes the other person is wrong, and that he has a right to correct them and impose his absolute perspective upon them, this can be dangerous.
There are several perspectives that could generate the extreme case of the relative, self centered perspective: 1) If there actually is no external world, other than my personal perception. This is the extreme expression and implication of the philosophers such as Bishop Berkeley where nothing is provably existent other than my own mind. 2) If there was a concept that the personal world was superior to all other perspectives, or 3) If the personal perspective was identical with the Absolute perspective.
Of course, none of us in polite society believes we fall into such extreme cases of myopia with regard to the needs and perspectives of others. And few are deluded enough to believe they know God’s perspective without error.
Still, we must wrestle with the more practical considerations of daily interactions and personal temptation. We must somehow put into context the existence of evil in its minor versions, such as mentioned above, the polite sins of pride, over-consumption, resentment (un-forgiveness), lustful gazes, gossip, intoxication, petty theft, sins of omission, errors of perfect balance, and white lies.
The reason that we are caught by the temptations of even these mild forms of evil may be as simple as unmoderated desire. And, the reason for our lack of moderation may be an excessive relativism, a myopic view of the the sequence of events, a self centered perspective regarding pleasure, and a generally non-introspective perspective about the forces acting on me, and the effect of the forces I generated.
If we could perfectly see the Absolute perspective, and the perspective of others, we would submit to the Absolute, and make reasonable accommodation for the personal needs of others.
From the perspective of logic, it is interesting to note that all polarities bend back to become their polar opposite if taken to the extreme. (Note: discussion of entropy, order and disorder, could be inserted here as an object lesson).
With a perfected introspection, a perfected view of the relative perspective, and a perfected perspective of the Absolute, the individual would be in the position to make an accurate judgment of their own flaws, and choose to moderate their passions.
If a person actually had the Absolute perspective, God’s viewpoint, and acted upon it, then they would be the personification of goodness, since the Absolute perspective is absolute goodness.
The individual perspective, taken as Absolute, can be a deluded perspective, or it may be accurate. The individual who declares his perspective is that of God may be a saint or a psychopath. It is a fine line between holding an accurate view of Absolute reality, and being possessed by a deluded view of the Absolute. The distinction is small, but the difference in character is vastly different.
Yes, I am comfortable with the notion that evil exists. However, I find that considerations of absolute and relative are irrelevant to my understanding and possibly to Scott Peck’s understanding too, although he should speak to that issue himself.
His intent was to say that such a condition exists and it can and should be studied with an understanding that reaches beyond and adds to what has already been covered by the moralistic and religious view.
Why study evil and possibly treat it? Because evil causes suffering, not always within the life of the person living it, but most certainly in the lives of its victims. Psychology had already defined the categories of sociopath and psychopath, so he pursued the definition of human evil as an identifiable condition with its own unique characteristics compared to the categories of sociopath and psychopath.
Examples of your beliefs that differ from all other people that I associate with include your extreme interest in the Absolute and being right to name a few. All I really can say for sure is that according to my observation, nobody else that I know talks about these things in the way you do. I do not associate with pacifists and fence sitters. But other than you, I do not associate with extremists either.