The Ethics of Naturalism Are Unnatural

by Mike Spaulding

Two scenes from a movie I recently watched got me thinking about the ethics of naturalism.  Hollywood veteran Sylvester Stallone starred in the movie “Cliffhanger” and the suspense in the plot enabled it to live up to its name.

For those unfamiliar with this movie Stallone plays a trained mountain rescuer who along with fellow rescuer, actor Michael Rooker, are tricked into aiding a fugitive gang who have managed to steal several hundred million dollars from the Federal Reserve but during their escape by airplane are forced to crash-land in a desolate mountain range.

Playing a convincing role as the cold-hearted villain was actor John Lithgow.  The two scenes that caught my attention happened within minutes of one another.  The first scene showed one of Lithgow’s gang murdering a rescue helicopter pilot played by Ralph Waite.  In shock and dismay over this cold-blooded act, Rooker screams, “he never hurt anyone.” In other words, Waite did not deserve to die. Lithgow without missing s beat, in an equally cold-blooded line only remarked, “how touching.”

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The second scene moments later featured Lithgow murdering his female companion to gain leverage in a struggle with his co-conspirators to maintain control of the quickly evaporating escape plan.  Just before Lithgow murders his female companion he asks her if she knows what the greatest virtue of love is.  Before she can answer Lithgow answers for her by whispering in her ear, “sacrifice.” He then promptly murders her.

This is a violent movie but is candid in its portrayal of man’s dilemma ethically speaking.  These two scenes clearly demonstrate the great paradox that man faces when trying to explain and live an ethical life apart from belief in God as the moral law giver…

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