There is a funny idea that thrives in this world of ours, an especially dangerous idea. You might not recognize the danger just as a child might not have visible chickenpox for days after infection. You see, ideas are often like viruses: they infect our lives and our thoughts even without our recognition, and affect our actions and words in their own way. Unless people have an idea ‘immune system’ they will catch every single virus that passes by like someone who has mono. Though neither ideas nor viruses are technically ‘alive’ they both have genetic material. Ideas have a variety of different genes within them. There are some idea genes that lend virulence and contagiousness to every expression of it and there are other genes that lend immune resistance. While many idea genes are shared between numerous ideas, all have consequences. And one of these is particularly catchy and dangerous lurking in many different ideas around us today.
The idea gene that seems strongest and most prevalent in the idea viruses of today is what I will call the ‘Grand Plan’ gene. This idea, at its basic root is that if plan ‘A’ is made well enough, and enacted by the right or most enlightened people, it will fix problem ‘X’, and maybe even problem ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ as well. This gene enables every single idea that expresses it to look like it is doing something and maybe even saving something. The idea that ‘If everybody would just admit ‘A’ and do as I say, we will end poverty, or oppression, or war, or global warming, or fill in the blank with whatever social, environmental, or political ill you like. (Unwed mothers, disproportionate crime by race, the degradation of the master race….) Any idea with this gene is the most contagious idea around. To explain why I think so, I will have to first discuss the immune system, and then get back to the ‘Grand Plan’ gene.
The immune system of a person’s mind is his worldview. This can, of course, be stronger or weaker but ultimately, the defenses a mind has against contagious ideas come directly from their worldview: a set of ideas, doctrines, dogma, or prejudice that guides which ideas are let in, and which kept out. The more coherent and consistent these ideas are, the better the worldview, and the better defended the mind. Coherence keeps the mind balanced and intact, keeping the mind from accepting mutually contradictory ideas. Consistency with the surrounding world, known through observations and study of history yields a worldview that reflects true reality, and is therefore stronger. A mind becomes infected with virus ideas when their worldview immune system does not recognize a pestilent idea because of some adaptive coating around it, and infection occurs. The Grand Plan is so contagious because the human mind is, by its very (sinful) nature, imbued with pride. This pride tells a mind that it is the one that really knows, it is the one who could make that idea work, and infection occurs immediately.
The Grand Plan virus has led to the torture, murder, and massacre of millions of human persons from the Nazi grand plan to keep the Master Race pure, to the Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist grand plan to bring about a workers paradise, to the eugenicist grand plan of Margret Sanger and Planned Parenthood to eradicate black people through indoctrination and selective abortion sites. The only worldview that protects against this recognizes that there is only one Grand Plan, and it is God’s. When properly understood, this worldview yields the knowledge that every human act is destined to fail through the very humanness of the act, but the one Grand Plan which acts successfully to rescue doomed mankind came from a loving and personal God. This God sees the misery and agony and crime of all human persons, the susceptibility of all human minds and bodies to disease and pain, and made a Grand Plan to save us.
In this worldview, every human action is tainted with sinfulness, but good things can be done. These good things require every individual, working in humility, to do the good and right thing usually while disregarding the consequences. When God’s good people do this, every individual action is a little drop that God takes and channels into a mighty torrent with all the others in the culture and the world often ending in a flood of change.
This is exactly how slavery was abolished in the British Empire. Although William Wilberforce deserves a lot of credit, the faith and often costly actions of the Christian men and women of Britain channeled together by the hand of God nearly eradicated the vile institution as old as mankind known as slavery.
So watch out for anyone peddling a way to fix up the world, or to solve a problem, that involves anything other than you doing the right thing, and convincing others to do so as well, regardless of the cost.