Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Nonkilling


Nonkilling is emerging as a new field of academic exploration.

Scholars of nonkilling argue that humans are not hardwired to kill. These scholars rightly contend, in my estimation, that killing is learned behavior. For a detailed biological argument in support of this view, cf. Piero Giorgi’s book The origins of violence by cultural evolution  available as a free download by following this link.

This view does require rethinking the traditional understanding of Genesis 3 in which the first humans commit sin that results in God expelling them from the utopian Garden of Eden. The traditional position envisions a God incompatible with a twenty-first scientific worldview in which God is clearly not a deified human. The traditional view of de-evolving is also incompatible with evolutionary theory. Rabbi Harold Kushner helpfully has suggested interpreting Genesis 3 in terms of humans first experiencing freedom, an essential element of the image of God in humans and a vital step in evolutionary processes. This view is also one that resonates with Giorgi.

The definition of nonkilling and an outline of its feasibility as a political project was first articulated by Glenn Paige, a scholar at the University of Hawaii. His seminal book, Nonkilling Global Political Science, is available for free at this link.

Paige distinguishes between negative and positive peace. Negative peace is the absence of warfare and the definition of peace most commonly utilized. Positive peace is the well-being and flourishing of life, a definition congruent with both the Hebrew shalom and the Greek eirene, the two words that the Bible uses for peace.

Nonkilling is an academic discipline and way of life to which those who walk the Jesus path should commit themselves. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” I do not believe that he spoke only of those who brought an end to war (although this is truly valuable) nor to those who found an inner peace. Jesus called all of his followers to live into the fullness of peace, of which the practice of nonkilling is an indispensable component.

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