Conflict Versus Harmony
Rousas John Rushdoony
Man since Darwin has viewed life as conflict because of a radical and essential conflict of interests. Capital and labor are seen as necessary enemies; farm and city are held to have opposing interests; the generations are supposedly necessarily at war with each other; adolescence is seen as by nature a time of rebellion; races and nationalities are assumed to be natural enemies, and so on and on. Racism, a modern phenomenon, is a product of scientific theory, specifically of Darwinism. We have not mentioned another area of assumed conflict, the sexes; the "war of the sexes" is seen as inescapable. The logic of Darwinism is a conflict society; struggle to gain the advantage over others, do in others before they do you in, it's a dog-eat-dog world, and survival is the chief if not the only virtue. There can be no peace in a Darwinian culture, only perpetual warfare between various groups. The rhetoric of minority and majority groups today is the rhetoric of conflict. As a result, the more we "war for peace" in any area of life and thought, the deeper the conflict becomes.
As Henry Van Til pointed out some years ago, culture is religion externalized. The culture of a conflict society sees only a deepening of its premise that conflict is basic to life and progress. The Dictionary of Sociology states in part: "Conflict arises out of the principle of limitation inherent in a finite universe. The wishes and interests of sentient beings run counter to each other, and the quality of egoism impels each party to seek to eliminate the other to the extent necessary for the satisfaction of his own desires. By analogy, the term may be extended to include the struggle with inanimate or subhuman objects (cf. struggle for existence), but in its sociological meaning all the parties involved must be human," (Charles J. Bushnell, "conflict," in Henry Pratt Fairchild, editor: Dictionary of Sociology, p. 59. New York, N.Y.: Philosophical Library, 1944.) The premises of this definition are, first "the principle of limitation inherent in a finite universe." Now Christians believe in a finite universe even more than evolutionists, but they do not see finitude as requiring conflict. Because of God's providence, there is no necessary conflict. Humanism, however, from Plato to the present, has insisted that the world is over-populated. If other people are necessarily at war with you for the available resources, then conflict is necessary. If, however, the all-wise God has provided resources for all if men will work to develop them, harmony is then the key,
Second, this definition sees that a "necessary" conflict of interests "impels each party to seek to eliminate the other." This gives us a world of total warfare, whereas in the Biblical view all peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations must be converted, made members of CSSH Quarterly Vol. XIV, No. 2 (Winter 1991) Jesus Christ, and brought into communion and community one with another. This is why creationism is so essential to world peace; evolution presupposes a cosmic mindlessness and perpetual conflict,
Third, this conflict is not only with other peoples, and hence racism, but also with inanimate objects, and hence the humanistic presupposition that man is at war with his environment. There is a necessary link in the minds of non-Christian environmentalists between population control and abortion on the one hand, and a pagan view of the environment on the other. The belief in the conflict of interests pits man against man, and man against things. Instead of an essential and metaphysical harmony of interests, this false faith insists on an essential conflict of interests.
There is a reason for this. If the God of Scripture is recognized as the Creator and Governor of all things, then all of creation has a common origin, a common meaning, and a common purpose and goal. If God be denied, then there exists only a total warfare, a total struggle for survival and domination, The result is a chaos of conflict....
There is no small dismay in the media over the rise of Islam and its growing militancy, This, however, should be no surprise to us. As Christians, we should recognize the reason for this. St. Paul set forth the basic premise of his position thus: "he is a Jew (i.e., a covenant man) which is one inwardly" (Rom. 2:29). As against this, Mohammed declared, "He is a Muslim who is one outwardly," and the "five pillars of Islam" are all aspects of externalism (regular repetition of the creed, repetition of prescribed prayers five times daily, almsgiving, observance of the Feast of Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca), Modern science has also reduced man to externalism, to an animal status. The externalism of Islam has been vindicated and the Biblical stress on the governance of the Holy Spirit discredited by such a view of science.
In a mindless world, the fortuitous concourse of atoms means conflict, and progress through conflict, through the clash of varying forces. The premise of Hegel that life is a perpetual conflict, leading to a resolution, leading to a new conflict, is not only the Marxist premise but that of all non-Christian modern thought and action. This leads to cultural polarization and enmity. Peace attempts became at the same time war strategies. Nations seek to establish cooperating trading blocs in order to war against other traders as well as against dissenters in their own midst. The goal is peace through coercion, peace through some kind of warfare. The result is "perpetual war for perpetual peace."
In analyzing the idea of the conflict of interests, we have been dealing with one of the two basic concepts of our time. The other has its roots in modern philosophy, beginning with Descartes and culminating in Kant and Hegel, namely, the intellectual destruction of an objective world order and the substitution of man's autonomous mind in its place, Hegel summed this up in the belief that the rational is the real. The loss of reality in our time has its origins in this insane idea. What the intellectual elite sees as rational is hence reality! Our modern planning is in terms of the ostensible reality of what the planners declare is rational....
Pluralism apart from Christ leads only to conflict, whereas pluralism in Christ means that our essential government comes, not from self-interest and an ugly survival of the fittest warfare, but from the peace of God through Christ's atonement, God's law-word, and the governance of the Holy Spirit. Freedom in a secular society is another name for unending conflict. Freedom in Christ means that we are governed, not by self-interest, but by the grace, law, and Spirit of the Living God.
Editor's Note: Abridged and reprinted from a position paper by Rev, Rousas John Rushdoony in Chalcedon Report, No. 310, May 1991, P. O. Box 158, Vailecito, CA 95251.