Evolved Into Bystanders

The Bible is a pretty old book.

I know we’re sceptical of old things. Old people aren’t revered they are put in homes. Old appliances aren’t kept but thrown away. Old training methods are replaced with new, quicker, more scientific training methods.

We hate the old because a lot of us believe things are getting better. Social Darwinism proclaims that humanity is on a constant plain of improvement. A few bumps here and there but otherwise the theory is that we are more developed and therefore better than those who lived 2000 or 3000 years ago – it’s science.evolution-of-man

Or so it seems. In his brilliant essay The Funeral of a Great Myth C.S Lewis masterfully highlights the grave mistake of not distinguishing between the truth of biological evolution with the myth of social evolution. If you haven’t yet read it go do it! HERE

Maybe we aren’t as far ahead of our ancient counterparts as we like to think. Maybe the question of right and wrong, good and evil and how we should act is the same today as yesterday as the turn of the millennium.

I say this because in the Bible, the author of the book of Romans (Paul), writes that part of our human problem is that we are sinful. That means we have stopped worshiping and listening to God (who is good, generous and has designed us for love) and instead bunkered down in our own little worlds – trying to make something better than God could do. Now of course a large part of this rejection of God leads to us becoming our own Gods (legends in our lunch boxes, the centre’s of our own worlds, etc, etc).

Here is the interesting bit – Paul says that a fruit of this is that we ‘invent ways of doing evil’ and while we know that what is going on is wrong we stand back and applaud each others actions. We end up just looking after number 1 and we only love others if it will benefit us.

ENTER the story of Aida;

As reported HERE in the SMH 16/1/2014

aidawide-620x349Yet, as a 29-year-old Sydney woman known only as “Aida” discovered this week, a crowd of people can be watching and you can still be very much on your own. At 4.30pm on Monday, on busy Railway Street in Liverpool, Aida fought off a man who tried to drag her into a car. There were three other men inside the car. There were “dozens of people around”.

Not one of the people came to Aida’s assistance, despite her screams.”

Here is the rub, when writing about this situation, the journalist did not seek to make any moral judgement on the bystanders, instead she writes the following;
It’s easy to have a reflex response to such an incident with all its horrible echoes of the Anita Cobby case. Someone is in trouble. You help them. If you don’t, you are morally flawed and/or a coward. But psychologists offer an alternative view. They call it the “bystander effect”.”

Apparently it’s natural for us to not want to help and this innate desire grows larger as the size of the crowd watching increases.

In the past such an act – to stand by as a woman is abducted by thugs – would be called wrong. Because we were so strongly influenced by Jesus words to love our neighbour and to seek the good of the other. Some may have called it a sin of omission.
But we’ve moved on from that haven’t we?
We don’t need Jesus any more with those archaic throwaway lines.

We’re far more advanced in 2014 and we’re clearly better for it. Our Psychologists support our indifference to another’s suffering, confirming that the evolved life really is all about me.

But I wonder if maybe, just maybe we know that this is not what an evolved life looks like.

And if that’s the case, then maybe Jesus still has something to teach us.


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