In the Image of God : Chapter 1 : To Begin

1996 A.D.: Where do we begin? We begin with truth, as revolting as it may seem. The place? The most technologically advanced country in the world, the epicenter of humankind’s quest to protect the species’ vulnerability to annihilation via global cataclysmic events perpetuated by nature and by humankind itself.

The action? Two 18-year-old teenagers, one male, one female, prepare to eliminate a crisis hanging over their lives. The crisis? A life altering event, the introduction of a life into the world, a life that would cause a commitment, a lifestyle change of major impact upon two young lives - a change neither teen is ready to accept.

In a small room in a little motel in Delaware, two youngsters journey their dark hours together. In their minds, the waters they must maneuver are so black they must confide in no one. They have only each other, soul mates, in which to confide. Their passage is so bleak, so sinister, it is as if they are navigating the muddy waters of morality by the light of a moonless night. The only source they have to guide them comes from three stars high overhead: the star of social law, the star of faith, and the star of logic.

The young girl is quietly crying. He is holding her as they wait for the "beautiful" event to happen. She experiences the fear of life filled with possible pain from social rejection and parental disapproval over an event that will control and consume her life. This event will remove any control she feels she has over her life’s journey. Emotions coming in sharp cascading undulations of regularity rack her mind with pain greater than the pain of the labor. He holds her with trembling hands as he tries to reassure her, comfort her, comfort himself. He empathizes with her emotional pain while fearing her physical pain. Inundated with fear and confusion, she looks inward for a sense of direction but sees only the muddied waters within an eddy of contradicting principles.

Between the pain of contractions, they each gaze inward, desperately searching the imaginary heavens of their minds for the light. The only emanating lights come from three stars.

The light from star one - social morality as defined by social laws:
The brightest light, the closest light, the most promising light emanates from the star of social law and social institutions. The message is clear. The local radio stations have broadcast the information for a year. The local TV stations have painted the visual pictures for all to see. The local papers have been a battleground for the controversial debate. The public schools have used the concept as an exciting source of debatable material for their youngsters. Regardless of the general trend in public opinion, the fact remains that society had made a commitment.

Two youngsters, eighteen years young, saw what they perceived to be society’s decision, society’s final decree through the sacredness of the law itself. The decree: a fetus is not a viable entity. Society has clearly declared that it is okay to intrude on the inner sanctum of the woman’s body and physically turn the fetus at nine months in order to force it to emerge feet first. The purpose: to stop the birthing process at the point when the feet, body, shoulders, and neck emerge into what should be its reality for the next 90 years, a reality to which it was sent for a reason.

A nurse holds the red, wet, helpless body while the head is forced to stay within the birthing canal. A doctor, a protector of life, drives scissors into the base of the skull, into the brain itself. The point is not to kill the fetus, but rather to open a hole, a small hole with a sinister purpose. Methodically, the protector of life takes a small tube and prepares to insert it into the hole created in the skull.

The fetus struggles in the hands of the nurse, the cornforter of the sick. With its head held in the warmth of the birthing canal, the fetus listens to the reassuring heartbeat of its mother, the sound it has always known, always took comfort in. The fetus is overwhelmed with the warmth of its mother against its head, the strength of forceful hands around its body, the coldness of steel penetrating its neck, and the pain of the world surging through its skull.

Then, with all the skill of a trained professional, the protector of life methodically inserts a small tube into the "expertly" created incision. Reaching over, he turns on a machine and the brain is slowly sucked out of the "unborn fetus." The journey is terminated.

The starlight the two youngsters see emanates from society, a society that says sucking out a fetus’ brain seconds before birth is okay, that says capital punishment - murder - is okay. The two youngsters see a society that says a man who viciously rapes women and children needs only serve a few years in prison in order to fully pay his debt to society. They see a society that tells the same man that if he behaves in prison, they will absolve him of part of his debt.

The starlight of morality emanating from the star of social morality proves confusing. Add a little rationality from an 18-year-old brain and all of a sudden it is just as moral to terminate the fetus’ life four minutes after birth as at birth as long as it is done quickly. The 18-year-old brain asks, "Does four minutes make anymore of a logical difference as to when taking a life is moral or immoral?" Continuing with the semi-sophisticated logic of an 18-year-old, if one offsets the time of four minutes with a less traumatic, less inhumane means of dying, then the two should balance each other. The method in mind is a quick blow to the head and then simple suffocation in a trash bag, a dark environment similar to the one the fetus has experienced during its total existence.

But society disagrees with the rationality of the two youngsters and has built into its laws a technicality. Delaware law requires prosecutors to seek the death penalty for the "murder of any person under fourteen years of age." Using a technicality in the law and the social outline of morality, Delaware will pompously make a decision to either kill the two teenagers or ignore its own laws. All the while Delaware debates its decision, the two teenagers huddle in fear for their own lives and shame for what they did to a living entity, an action they believed to be more humane and less traumatic than that of a doctor during partial birth abortion.

Their crime involved rationalizing a decision they had to make using the light of society as a guide. We are all forced to follow this starlight; if we do not, we will surely suffer the consequences of our actions for society has little tolerance for those that do not abide by its laws.

The light from star two - religious morality as defined by faith:
Having barely begun their journey in life, the two frightened youngsters are confused and dazed by the intense starlight of social morality, social law, as it fades into the blackness of the heavens only to be replaced by the self-righteous light generated by the star of religious morality. The starlight radiates its message with the force of indignation, beaming down from the star of compassion, the star of religious morality - faith:

"It is very clear that it is not moral to take the life of a living entity. it’s the law of God. Everyone knows it. There is no excuse for not understanding the simplicity of it. You are eighteen and should know better. What would become of society if we tolerated murder? Therefore, we feel it is only right that you suffer the consequences of your action."

"We, therefore, are going to sentence you to death. No, this is not murder; this is something that needs to be done to make an example of you so others will not also take the heinous action you performed upon that poor innocent child. No, we will not be inhumane and we will be merciful by choosing a non-traumatic method of termination for you. We will use lethal injection rather than suffocate you in a bag as you did to your innocent baby. You will not be terminated through the process of having your brain sucked out by means of a small tube inserted through a hole punctured into the base of your skull, as is performed in partial birth abortion allowed under Delaware law. That is inhumane and we could never allow such action to be directed toward you."

"We have listened to your excuse for committing such an abhorrent act. We understand your logic of following the starlight of social morality and law. We do not accept your decision to add some sense of rationality to that law because it goes against morality, religious morality. Have you no faith ?!"

"Your sentence is now pronounced. You are to die for your actions. We are going to kill you in the name of justice, in the name of morality, a morality that transcends social morals. We are going to kill you because you killed and killing is wrong. The means of death: lethal injection, and may God have mercy upon your souls."

And just whose soul needs the mercy of God? Yours and mine, for we are a part of this society. We are a part of this confusion. We are a part of this constant state of moral confusion and chaos. Why did the two eighteen-year-olds terminate the journey of their newborn? Does it matter? Whatever the reason, the starlight of faith was not enough. Whether they chose to follow the light of social reason because it served their own ends or because they really believed in the established social morals and laws is not important. What is important is that social and personal conflict and confusion will continue to exist unless we find a means of resolving our moral conflicts.

The light from star three - a universal philosophy, a universal morality defining reality and our purpose within it:
The solution to the dilemma comes from star three, a distant star so far away, its light is barely discernible. But we have the tools, the technology, the rationality to focus in on that star and magnify its significance. We have the ability to begin the initial, in-depth study of star three in earnest. We can understand.

The message from this star is clear. Reality has a purpose, you are in reality, you have a purpose in reality. No one has the right to terminate anyone’s journey for any reason. The message is simple, clear, uncomplicated. The implications are simple, clear, uncomplicated. The message emanates not from the star of social morals and social laws and not from the star of religions and faith. The message emanates from a star of logic, a star of philosophy, a star with the message of a universal philosophy. The star’s name is panentheism. It is not a religion. It is a philosophy. Religion is a subject of faith. Philosophy is a subject of reason.

The star is far away from our thoughts because the light is very dim in its infancy; the star is nothing more than a fetus. Our understanding of who we are in reality has moved through the primeval period, animism, polytheism, henotheism, theism, pantheism, and is now coming to the panentheism stage. Panentheism is a message from a star that says all humans are created equally; we are all equal for our essence is our souls, not our bodies or minds. The soul comes from outside this reality through which it travels, and is located within its Creator. The soul journeys this reality to increase the very magnificence of the Creator. What is the soul? The soul is none other than a piece of the Creator Itself. In other words, the soul is, in essence, God.

If the star had been older and if the star had been embraced by society and religions, what then? Then two youngsters would have been sitting in a small motel room in Delaware, holding an infant, and seeing a piece of God, and that would have made all the difference.