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Unformatted text preview: Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism jOHN FINNIS \\\ jOSEPH M. BOYLE,]r. GERMAIN GRISEZ CLARENDON PRESS - OXFORD I987 t ‘4 I. Boyle, Joseph M., 194.2— . Oxford Unioem'y Press, Walton Street, Oxford 0X2 6DP Oxford New York Toronto Delhi Bombay Calcutta Madras Karachi Petaling jaja Singapore Hong Kong Tokjo Nairobi Dar es Salaam Cape Town Melbourne Auckland and associated companies in Beirut Berlin Ibadan Nicosia Oxford is a trade mark of Oxflird Universiy Press Published in the United States by Oxford University Press, New York © john Finnis, joseph M. Boyle, Jr., Germain Grisez 1967 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be repmduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in anyflmn of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser British Libray Cataloguing in Publication Data Finnis, M. Nuclear deterrence, morality and realism. I. Deterrence (Strategy)—Moral and ethical aspects 2. Nuclear warfare—Moral and ethical aspects 1. Title II. Boyle, Joseph M. 111. Grisez, Germain 172'42 U22 ISBN o—rg—deflge-g ISBN 0—!9—(924791—5 Pbk Librag of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Finnis, john. Nuclear deterrence, moralitj and realism. Bibliography: p. Includes index. I. Deterrence (Strategy)—Moral and ethical aspects. 2. Nuclear warfare—Religious aspects—Christianity. II. Grisez, Germain Gabriel, 1929— . 111. Title. U162.F48 1967 172'42 5—2380; ISBN o—rg—deflge-g ISBN o—rg—deflgrfi (pbk.) Set by Oxfiird Text System Printed in Great Britain at the University Printing House, Oxfiird by David Stanfird Printer to the University ‘ “1:: :17qu -.. ~ XIV Concluding Christian Thoughts XIV.I WHY WRITE THIS BOOK? Coming to the end of a book like this, one may well feel dis- heartened, not only by the bleak prospects of every political and strategic option, but also by the seeming futility of efforts to reason about the whole matter. Arguments make little im- pact upon reality. The policies of great nations, and their gigantic security systems, are hardly likely to be changed by philosophical reflections. Even individuals are unlikely to be convinced by a book of this sort. Almost every rcader comes to it with definite convictions, for or against the deterrent. And though we have tried to examine the facts carefully, and to develop cogent arguments, we are under no illusion that our work will seem absolutely tight. The network of factual observations, definitions, distinctions, analogies, and other arguments is extensive and complex. Each reader may have found in our train of argument some laboured stretches, if not halts, where it seemed sensible to get off. From past experience, we anticipated such dissatisfaction when we began this project. Why, then, did we undertake it? As a constitutional lawyer concerned with social and political theory, a moral philosopher, and a moral theologian, we have been reflecting on nuclear deterrence for many years. Having reached our conclusions by some distinctive arguments and assessments, we thought we should refine and publish them. But the effects ofany such work are, we think, the responsibility of readers more than authors. Reading the work of scholars on moral issues can help one think through, re-examine, and refine one’s own views. That has been our own experience, especially in working on this 368 Concluding Christian Thoughts great issue. So we hope that, even ifit seems inadequate, our work too may be found helpful. At critical moments in history, when the inertia ofvast histor- ical trends is exhausted, the marginal impulse of ideas can markedly affect the direction ofdevelopments,just as smalljets can set the direction ofa large space vehicle once it enters into orbit. We do not pretend to identify or foresee such a moment. But one might come if the present balance of power began to break down. Ifthat were to happen, and radically new options were to open up before humankind, it could be important to have available a body of moral thinking which now seems futile. Even now, the approach we defend is important for society and politics. Although convinced that the intention to kill the innocent embodied in the deterrent is morally indefensible, we have argued (XIII.374) that everyone in the W'est———and especially unilateralists like ourselvesmmust beware lest the resolve of our nations be corrupted by a moral idealism too weak to reverse the murderous national policies. Compromises between moral requirements and deterrent capabilities may bring the West to a point where its deterrents are fatally weak- ened without the slightest offsetting improvement oftheir moral character. At the same time, we have argued that conventional, short-sighted political realism and strategic thinking must not prevent the West from making the sacrifices and taking the risks realistically required to work towards a world order less vicious and threatening than today’s. x1V.2 REALISM? What seems to us balanced realism may seem to others mere lack of the courage of our convictions. Opponents of the de- terrent may think us ineffectual for deploying an elaborate moral argument against it, only to accept certain positions not far from those of conventional realists. Proponents of the deterrent may think us naive and evasive. For isn’t it clear that if many people accepted the moral case for unilateralism, the West would be gravely weakened in its resistance to an ideology that cares little for morality or conscience? Is our more complex “v.2 Concluding Christian Thoughts 369 political advice anything more than a salve for tender con- sciences? And isn’t there something unhealthy about the moral- istic concern for personal clean hands? Indeed, if consistent moral reasoning condemned the deterrent, wouldn’t that be a reductio ad obsurdum of moral reasoning itself? Doesn’t every- thing, even ‘reason’, have its sensible limits? Well, the deterrent seems realistic because so far it has not failed. But it is optimism indeed#whether naive or wilful—to think that the deterrent strategy can be maintained indefinitely without disaster. Many strategists and military men who have thought honestly and deeply about it will freely admit that this is so. Yet they hope that some day, soon enough, there may be mutually agreed nuclear disarmament. But this hope, too, is optimism, and very shallow. For, as we have argued (XII.I), the history of the nuclear era offers no ground for considering mutual disarmament a realistic prospect in the foreseeable future. When conventionally realistic policies failed in the past, the disaster was usually quite limited. (Not always, nor for every— one; the disaster that befell European Jews 1930—45 was virtually total. It deserves to be called a ‘holocaust’.) Our moral judgment on the deterrent is not grounded on the prospect of nuclear holocaust. But that prospect—one in no way dimin- ished by close acquaintance with the facts about existing deterrentsAcertainly casts an eerie light over every attempt to portray nuclear deterrence as worldly realism. Even ifone can set aside the prospect ofapocalyptic devasta- tion, one should admit the absurdity of the present world order. Rival superpowers propose competing visions of a peaceful world of freedom, peace, and justice. Yet they assure one another of destruction (‘if...’); they exploit other peoples, though in different ways and to very different degrees; and they spend vast wealth and resources in their competition, while in large measure neglecting the present misery ofa world they hope to benefit in the future but also threaten to destroy. But can we, consistently, argue in this way? Or are we sliding into the consequentialism we have rejected? Our moral abso- lutism, against consequentialism, will doubtless have seemed to conventional realists a very unappealing aspect of our case, 370 Concluding Christian Thoughts quite apart from its implications for the deterrent. Even if realists grant that consequentialism fails as an ethical theory, still they will defend consequentialism’s emphasis on the actual realizations of human goods in prospective states of affairs. How can moral absolutists care enough about real human misery to ground an argument on it, rather than on the moral law to be fulfilled for duty’s sake alone? Manifestly we are neither Stoics nor Kantians. But, con- fessing to being Christians, we may be suspected of another form of deontologyof the legalistic voluntarism so strong in much ofthe tradition ofcommon morality. Those imbued with this voluntarism placed great emphasis on keeping the Com- mandments, avoiding sin, keeping out of hell, and getting to heaven. They considered wise those who obey God and gain a future reward, and foolish those who defy God and receive their just deserts. If this book rested finally on a vision of humankind subservient to a superhuman tyrant, the realist might rest his case on the human self-respect such a vision so demeans. Here is a true challenge: to show, in some other way, why it makes sense to adhere, whatever the consequences, to the stringent precept against killing the innocent. To meet this challenge adequately would need a book as long as this, at least. But we can outline an understanding of the Christian faith, an understanding which we think fairly articulates the common Christian tradition. Though that faith includes God, divine commands, heaven, and hell, our account is quite dif- ferent from the near voluntarism which many readers, we think, will have assumed, or been taught, was the core of that tradi- tion, and of common morality. Those who know better may pass over the following section. Those who are curious to glimpse the foundations ofa tradition which, after all the distortions and misadventures of its course through the centuries, is still shared by the authors of this book—not as traditional, but as trueimay be willing to read a simple profession of faith. Justification for these beliefs may be sought elsewhere. Here we state them only—and just to the extent necessary—to identify the realities which make moral absolutes integral to authentic realism and self-respect. x1v.3 Concluding Christian Thoughts 371 XIV.3 A PROFESSION OF FAITH The life and happiness of the one God is the shared life and happiness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That life and hap- piness forever precedes their creation of everything, visible and invisible. They created not for any benefit to themselves, but to express God’s goodness and to enlarge the family of persons. Human persons, and the human family, are made in the image ofthe divine persons and family. But human persons do not at once share as fully as they can in the life and happiness naturally proper to God. Created with their own nature and possibilities, they are endowed with a certain real independence from God. Having the power of free choice, men and women do not become members of the divine family against their will. The mutuality required for full friend- ship—as distinct from relationships such as masterislavei is possible between divine and created persons because created persons can accept or reject the divine proposal, and their role in it, with a freedom similar to that with which God makes it. We believe, then, that life in this world is the embryonic stage of the life each human being is created to live, that death in this world will be birth into another life, and that for those who do not reject God’s proposal of full friendship, the other world will be a common home: in the words of the tradition, ‘heaven’ or ‘the kingdom’. That common home is to be rich not only in the life and happiness natural to the divine persons but also in the goods proper to created persons. Human life in this world has its great significance not only as the acceptance or rejection of God’sgoffer of friendship but also as the shaping of human selves and relationships which can continue in the everlasting life of the divineihuman family and friendship. Like the acceptance or rejection, so the shaping ofselves and relationships is in and through free choices. But human persons are called to God’s kingdom as bodily persons, whose relationships with one another are bodily, and whose life and flourishing require a corporeal world. So in developing one’s gifts through work and play, as in every mor- ally significant action, one prepares material for the heavenly kingdom. God’s promise is to re-crcate and perfect the material we cherish and prepare, not least our bodies lost at death, and 372 Concluding Christian Thoughts to make these realities part ofthe fabric of that ultimate sharing oflife and happiness. Human goods, therefore, cannot be fully appreciated if con- sidered only in the context of this world, in abstraction from the place they will have in heaven. Nothing of true human worth brought to be in this world is of merely passing value. Whatever is humanly good is to last. All the consequences for persons of their own and others’ acts are important, for human goods are important not merely as ideals, but as realized in actual persons and communities. Most important among these consequences are what people do to themselves and to one another when they make choices, and when their behaviour carries out a choice. What sort of persons men and women are, what sort of communities they form and build up—~these are more important than anything they have, and than anything else they might try to achieve. But all the good fruits of human nature and eflbrt are important. Wishing all men and women tojoin the heavenly communion freely and make their personal contributions to its richness, the creator provided human beings with a guide to their choices and efforts: the moral demands of their own reasonableness. These demands, like a law written in human hearts, direct each human person to promote the goods immanent in moral personality and morally ordered community. Choices which respond to those demands prepare most effectively the material of the heavenly kingdom. Choices which do not respond to those demands violate human goods in pursuit of some arbit- rary and distorted fragment of human fulfilment. Such choices fail to prepare worthy material for the kingdom; in making them, people refuse to make themselves ready, as individuals and as a community, to share in the heavenly communion. Stringent moral precepts which can seem senseless in the this-worldly predicament of an individual or community thus can make sense when human life is understood in its most far- reaching and proper perspective: its relationship to a heavenly life and community which, even in this world, is being built up in and through human choices and efforts. The moral ‘abso- lutes’ are not arbitrary hurdles; they require that, in serving human persons reasonably, one refrain from any choice to violate a human person in any of the basic aspects of his or x1v. 3 Concluding Christian Thoughts 373 her personal life and well-being. And this requirement is an implication ofan upright person’s will towards integral human fulfilment, a fulfilment which begins and develops, but cannot be completed, in any this-worldly life or community. But how do wrongdoing and suffering fit into this picture? Since humankind was created and called as a family to share in the heavenly community, each person can accept or reject God’s proposal, not only as an individual, but also as a member of a human community. The rejection of God’s proposal, by those who should have led humankind, from its beginning, into the communion of divine friendship, left humankind in a state of division and conflict, and since then no one comes to be in friendship with God merely by coming to be as a member of the human race. This basic situation ofcommunal alienation is the fallen human condition, called ‘original sin’. God created the world good, and human life in this world would—so he discloses—be very different had humankind lived as a community in the friendship with God which at the be- ginning he proposed and made possible. Pervasive alienation would not be the human situation, and somehow, mysteriously, even death itself would not be everyone’s fate. The distraction of fleeting gratifications and the false security of possessing things and dominating other persons would not have the appeal they now have. But as it is, fear and conflict, self-indulgence, avarice and exploitation pervade human history. In this world, noble and generous self-sacrifice, true freedom, justice, brotherhood, and peace will always be exceptional, limited, and fragile. But sin’s abuse of freedom is possible only because God sus- tains sinners in being, together with their free choices. Having created persons free so that they may willingly accept his plan and be true friends, God does not withdraw the gift of freedom when it is abused. Conceivably, God could prevent sin and its consequences by being more selective about whom he creates and what sort of world he shapes and sustains. But though God does not choose he does accept (see X.6) all the evil we find in this world, in view of the good, otherwise impossible, that in his providence he will bring out of the situation which involves this evil. Regarded without reference to the real point of human life 374 Concluding Christian Thought: in this world, the evil which God thus allows is unintelligible and altogether appalling. But when this world is seen to be a smithy for shaping the selves that will last into eternity, and a workshop for fabricating the human material of the heavenly kingdom, the evil begins to become intelligible. Any analogy may seem to trivialize the nobility and sufferings of men and women; yet, ifdue allowances are made, an analogy can help: as an oyster cannot make a pearl without the traumatic irrita- tion of a grain of sand, so human persons could not become what they are to be without the challenges and opportunities that would be absent from a world free of sin and suflering. Thus understood, evil is less appalling, and especially so because Jesus Christ shows God’s good will toward humankind. The being and life ofJesus testify thatfifor all the awesome mystery of the divine nature and purposengod does not ex- ploit or cruelly punish the human race. For the Lord Jesus is a divine person, the Father’s eternal Son, who has voluntarily becomc man to share fully in the misery of this fallen world. Here he has established a new human community in friendship with God, a community which (though it includes many whose membership is not fully conscious) is the visible and self- conscious beginning in this world of the kingdom of heaven. During his earthly life,Jesus faced the sin and suffering which pervade the fallen world, dealt with them as best he could, stood against them, and eventually was overwhelmed by them. There are many wise and generous people who have tried to deal with evil on assumptions Jesus did not share. Some have thought it fundamentally a misunderstanding or illusion; others have thought it fundamentally a positive reality independent of and opposed to good. Jesus acted in the knowledge that, while evil leads to illusions and distorts positive realities, it fundamentally is a mutilation wrought by sin in the fabric of God’s good creation. So he did not deal with evil as if he were trying either to dissolve confusion or to destroy some opposing force. Instead, he dealt with it by healing, mending, restoring. That way of dealing with evil is the only way suited to overcome it. Every sinful, suffering member ofthe fallen human race is challenged by Jesus to turn from sin, to join him as an ally, and to accept God’s renewed proposal of friendship—to repent, believe, and enter the kingdom. In making his message x1v.3 Concluding Chrixtian Thoughts 375 credible to others, Jesus rendered himself vulnerable. Some were persuaded by his message and actions, and became his disciples. Those who refused became his enemies and took ad- vantage of his vulnerability. Faithful to his mission, be freely accepted at their hands injustice, sufiering, and death on a cross. That death makes it clear that the overcoming of evil cannot be a merely human accomplishment, but first and last must be a gift of God. Being the divine Son, Jesus avoided personal sin and was able to re-establish here a human community of friendship with God, open to all. But by his human efforts even he could not overcome all the misery of the fallen world, or protect himself and his own from the violence of those who rejected him. Only the divine work of re-creation can overcome death and all the other elTects of sin, and inaugurate the perfected community of heaven, in which alone complete peace and freedom will be achieved. That divine work has begun already, and its completion is awaited in hope by Christians living in a world which God has allowed to remain much as it was. Sharing in his love, service, sufiering, and death, Jesus’ fol- lowers can live like him, carrying on his earthly mission of healing evil and building up the reconciled community. They can thus respond to God’s gifts—which include a share in the continuing life ofJesusty contributing to the carrying out of his proposal, and so can deserve to be united with the Lord Jesus in the completed divineAhuman communion ofwhich he, being both divine and human, is the centre. The mysterious appearances ofJesus after his death, not as a ghost but as a bodily person more fully alive than mortals, showed the reality of this communion and suggested what it is like. The goods of human persons remain what they were when God created the human race. The basic requirements of prac- tical reasonableness remain what they would have been had there been no original sin. The significance of human life in this world still centres on the shaping of selves (‘soul-making’) and the preparation of the material of the heavenly kingdom. But in the fallen world, morally adequate options are fewer and less appealing than they would have been. In the fallen 376 Concluding Christian Thoughts world, men and women can fully discern and faithfully follow the law written by God in their hearts only by following the Lord Jesus. That way of life is rich in truly worthwhile goods, but it puts those who really follow it in a vulnerable position. They approach enemies, call attention to wickedness by offering reconciliation, and decline to explain away sin as error, disease, breakdown, abstract structure, or product of impersonal forces; they avoid resort to force, since it hinders trustful com- munication and cannot heal sin and its consequences. Reliance upon God, submissiveness to one’s role in his plan, simplicity of life, self-denial, religious single-mindedness, forgiveness of offences, beneficence towards the suffering, love of enemies, patient conciliation, and readiness to suffer evil rather than do it, even to the point of accepting death out of fidelity, as Jesus did: these are the specific standards and marks of a life which takes Jesus as its model, seeing him as the key and centre of human history. XIV.4. FAITH AND MORALS Such are the deepest roots of our conviction that common morality is sound when it insists on an unqualified precept against killing the innocent. But our sketch of the Christian faith also shows that this faith need not diminish concern about this world, and about the goods of human persons instantiated in actual states of affairs. It is not that innocent human life is to be revered because disobeying God’s commands merits eternal punishment. Rather, God’s commandments protect innocent human life and other essential goods of persons, and these goods are meant to last forever as elements of the divine—human communion for which God created humankind. Those who violate such ele- ments of the everlasting kingdom refuse to make themselves ready for that kingdom, and such refusal can amount to a final rejection of God’s proposal of friendship. And since God cannot impose friendship, one who thus rejects his proposal cannot share in heavenly communion and so will remain forever alien- x1v.4 Concluding Christian Thoughts 377 ated from God and his friends—a state of affairs analogous, but only analogous, to the human institution called ‘punish- ment’. The sketch also clarifies what we understand by moral real- ism. The Christian way, if followed to the end, is sure to lead to suffering, and likely to lead to disaster in this world, as it did forJesus. But any loss required at present by perfect fidelity to the requirements of morality is no waste, but rather the wisest investment. By contrast, the immoralities suggested by many worldly realisms are utterly foolish, both because they perpetuate human sin and suffering without end, and because they make no direct contribution to the fulfilment of God’s wise and loving plan for humankind. The applicability of common morality’s moral absolutes in the political sphere is denied by many sincere people who think, however, that individuals should pattern their personal lives on Jesus’ life. Non-resistance to evil, they point out, may be right for individuals who personally suffer the consequnces of their self-sacrificing policy, but it cannot be a sound policy for public officials responsible for the survival and well-being of the community. We agree that followers of Jesus sometimes may rightly do in defence of others what they are called to abstain from doing in their own defence. But even in defence of others, there are limits, including the moral absolutes of common morality. These remain the right standards for public leaders when they make decisions on matters such as the de- terrent. This should be plain to those who take seriously Jesus’ teaching and example, for these reveal the only realistic stra- tegy for dealing, at whatever level, with sin and suffering in this fallen world. Just as with individuals, so when nations choose a different way they intensify evil, further enslave them- selves to it, and increase their own suffering and the sufferings of others. Only peoples with short memories or those victorious in recent wars can harbour illusions to the contrary. The present balance of terror is no more than an example— striking and far-reaching—of the human predicament in the fallen world. Each side perceives the wickedness of the other’s intention to kill the innocent. Neither can proceed with this- worldly realism without matching the other’s wickedness. Thus both corrupt themselves, and falsify their claims to be devoted 378 Concluding Christian Thoughts to peace with freedom andjustice for all. The refusal of both to give up their murderous threats pushes the whole world toward unimaginable disaster and suffering. x1v.5 PROVIDENCE, THE WEST, AND THE KINGDOM But even some Christian moralists advise the leaders of the West to persist in the deterrent policy, and call this advice ‘realism’. Many serious Christians will not readily accept that, in the light of Christian faith, the West’s strategy is unrealistic. Unilateral nuclear disarmament would mean, theyjudge (and we do not dispute it), surrender to MarxistiLeninist domina- tion, a domination profoundly subverting the values of the West, including, at least, respect for religious faith and rever— ence for the dignity of human persons. The culture of the W’est was built up under the inspiration of Christian faith. Open, as their faith requires, to all that is good and valid in human reason and culture, people of faith formed their civilization from the rubble of the Graeco-Roman world, defended it against barbarians and Moslems, and made it eventually the first civilization to embrace the whole world. Before Christ, civilizations came and went; in much of the world, the course of history was unclear. But since Christ, human history as a whole, notjust ‘salvation history’, seems to have a definite direction. The Incarnation was a turning-point. History, together with the Gospel, now seems to be on a course of progress. Sharing this view of history, many Christians are utterly convinced that the West simply cannot, now, face a challenge to which there is no appropriate response, a ‘problem’ to which there is no solution. They deeply feel that the intention required for an effective nuclear deterrent simply cannot be a sin from which there is no escape but repentance and amendment. There must be some way out! How can a technological quirk, the invention of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, de- mand the surrender of everything which people of the West rightly hold most dear—of everything they have successfully, and at such vast cost, fought to defend and uphold? XIV. 5 Concluding Christian Thoughts 379 Such a view of history, for all its plausibility, misreads the Christian faith. By word and example, Jesus taught his fol- lowers to expect failure and suffering, not success, in this world. Earthly well-being and progress are not matters ofindifference to his kingdom, yet the growth of that kingdom will not be by such progress. Jesus made it clear that his kingdom is not of this world, and frustrated the deepest hopes of his own people by refusing to shape himself, and his mission, to their ex- pectations ofa Messiah. The Church of Christ, not the West, is the true bearer of the hopes of ancient Israel. Confusion between the socio-political order of the West and the kingdom of God incipient in the world underlies the ex- cessive attachment ofmany Christians to the cause ofthc West. They treat the common good of the West as ifit were greater and more godlike than the good of those tens of millions of innocents they are willing to threaten by the deterrent. In some of the borderlands of the West there are false liberation theologies, of Marxist inspiration, which reduce Christian re- demption from sin and death to political liberation from up- pression and poverty. But, pervasive amongst Christians in heartlands and borderlands alike, one finds also a false security theology. Never systematically developed by itself, this false security theology implicitly and semi-consciously reduces the peace and salvation of Christian hope to the earthly peace, safety, and well-being of the West. As a result, the Gospel is harmonized with the secularism of the liberal democratic societies. This secularism, no less than Marxism or Leninism, embraces the maxim that evil may be done that good may come ofit. Following the way ofJesus while exercising great power is hard indeed, though not, for those who can do it, a respons- ibility to be shirked. Jesus warned of the dangers of sharing in this world’s wealth and power. For those in power must organize, or at least tolerantly harmonize, evil as well as good actions, and must seek effective ways of competing with rivals who, at best, cannot be relied upon to refrain from evil and, at worst, can be expected to ignore every moral limit (XII. I ). Thus the attempts ofChristians to become full partners in the exercise of worldly power tend to corrupt. The support 38o Concluding Christian Thoughts which Christians give to the nuclear deterrent exemplifies Such corruption. The open and public adoption of this evil strategy did not appear from nowhere. On 18 November 1920 the Com- missariats of Health and Justice of the USSR issued a decree legalizing abortion; thus for the first time a modern civilized society made killing the unborn a national and public policy. The acceptance of the killing of the innocent spread and per- vaded Soviet policy and was accepted by the Fascist and National Socialist states as well. In World War II Britain and the US engaged in obliteration bombing; thus they joined in a policy of murder. The nuclear balance of terror is the evil fruit of evil roots such as these. And the poisoned sap spreads out, and back the way it came; once one has resolved under certain conditions to murder millions of people very like ourselves, one more easily approves the destruction in the womb of human individuals who seem so little like ourselves and in whose place we need never fear to be. ‘ Look with both eyes, unblinkingly, and you will see that Marxism and the secularism of the liberal democratic societies have turned the heritage of Christendom into a house divided against itself and polluted with the blood of the innocent. Here we use the liberty afforded by our democratic states, a liberty which would be denied us under Marxist or Leninist rule. We do not treat the crimes (great as they are) of the liberal democratic states as equivalent to the still greater crimes of the totalitarian states. We prize and honour the human and Christian values of the West, including those belonging to peoples now dominated by Marxist totalitarianism. We want our Western political and social culture, purified of its injus- tices, to survive for a long time, God willing, and to yield much fine material for the building up of his kingdom. But when Christians try to justify the nuclear deterrent by its necessity for preserving human and Christian values, they embrace the secular conviction that a sufficiently good end can justify any means necessary to it, even when the choice of these means is a choice to destroy goods, such as human lives, intrinsic to persons. Philosophically, this consequentialism is refuted (IX.2— 5): it provides no criterion for moral judgment, because the commensuration of goods and bads which it re- x1v. 5 Concluding Christian Thoughts 381 quires is impossible, since inconsistent with the conditions under which morally significant choices are made. But the Christian doctrine of divine providence which we have now set out (XIV.3)—that God permits what is bad only to draw good from it—afl'ords a premiss for another refutation of con- sequentialism (or, as it is often called, ‘proportionalism’). Anyone who accepts both consequentialism and the Chris- tian doctrine of providence should also accept the following as a moral principle: If one is in doubt about what is right, one may, and should, choose whatever one is inclined towards. For ifone accomplishes what one attempts, one can be certain that on the whole it was for the best, since it must fit into the plan of providence. This reductio ad absurdum of consequentialist or proportionalist methods of Christian moral judgment points to their radical theological inadequacy. They confuse human responsibility with God’s responsibility. Human persons, however, are not responsible for the overall greater good or lesser evil—the good and evil of‘generally and in the long run’—for only God knows what they are. The task of men and women is simply to carry out the part of God’s plan which he assigns to each of them, as his or her own personal responsibility. God assigns everyone some role in his plan, not because he requires human help that his will be done—for he in no way depends upon us—but because he wishes to ennoble human persons. Christ won for his followers the great dignity of con- tributing to the building up of God’s kingdom, not as slaves but as fellow-workers. Now, as the Father’s adopted children and brothers and sisters of the Lord, we all have the op- portunity to co-operate consciously in'the Father’s work of creation, the Son’s of redemption, and the Spirit’s of sancti- fication. Yet our life, for each one of us, must be spent on a very small detail in a little corner of the great edifice the divine persons are building. One knows enough of the plan to do one’s own work well, but not enough to revise and improve upon the design for human life provided by the law written in our hearts and by the Gospel. Everyone knows that people are not responsible for every- thing, but only for what is within their power. Not everyone remembers that people are not even responsible for everything 382 Concluding Christian Thoughts within their power. Men and women really are responsible only for those things which pertain to their various morally upright commitments and roles, and which can be promoted or pre- vented without doing evil. No matter how great the good at stake, if an evil means is required to serve it, one should say, simply: I cannot. In sum: when one contemplates the hardest cases, such as the deter-or-disarm choice, one simply cannotjudge according to the maxim: Trust your feelings and follow them. For, while feelings respond to what one remembers, experiences, foresees, and imagines, human providence cannot reach so far nor com- prehend so much that one could ever have a rational ground for judging that less evil will come if one violates a moral absolute than if one respects it (IX.3—4). Therefore, in such hard cases, one must remember that human responsibility can be rightly fulfilled only in co-operation with God’s providence. If one faithfully refuses to do evil that good may come, God will bring about the greater good and permit only the lesser evil. Moral purism? Let right he done though the heavens fall? Perhaps. At the heart of what some dismiss as moral purism lies the great truth that, in one’s choices, moral rightness is more important than any other worldly goodithat (as Newman forcibly recalledl) in the perspective of choice, non-moral evil and suffering can never be equivalent to even a venial sin one commits. The old saying about right and the heavens came from a world-view in which the heavens were not expected ever to fall. As Christians, we believe (and as people acquainted with modern physics, we expect) that they will eventually fall. Yet we also hope that the end of this physical universe, like the death of each human person, will not be the end. As he will raise each person, God will raise up the universe: there will be new heavens and a new earth. Meanwhile, neither Soviet domination of the world nor a nuclear holocaust need be con- sidered the falling of the heavens. But either would be a great catastrophe, and faced with any human catastrophe, the Chris- tian is to say: We look for the resurrection, and everlasting life. In considering socio-political questions, however grave, the 1 John Henry Newman, Apologia pro vita ma ([1864] 1967), 221 (ch. V) (quoted in second endnote to XIV.5 below). XIV. 5 Concluding Christian Thoughts 383 Christian moralist recalls that here we have no abiding city. The societies and polities ofWestern civilization will eventually pass away, unless the coming ofthe Lord forestalls their passing. The Church of Christ and her faith will not pass away. These cannot be destroyed or driven out of this world. In this world, Christians are to prepare for humankind a better life that will not pass away, and every truly realistic moral judgment will be made in that light. The Gospel’s true demands cannot fail by being ‘unrealistic’. But its voice can be hushed by accommodation to this passing world. Nor should a Christian moralist be swayed by fear about infidelity among Christians in a world dominated by atheistic Marxism. By maintaining the deterrent with its murderous intent, the world ofthe \Nest today, protected against the corrupting con- sequences of Marxist domination, corrupts itself. Each new generation is born and raised in a society whose hopes for peace and well-being depend upon living under nuclear terror and imposing that same condition oflife upon others. The wicked- ness of the deterrent’s murderous intent shapes many other public policies, provides a model for dealing with other pro- blems, and spreads throughout the private sphere. The public commitment to doing evil ‘to prevent a greater evil’ supplies an all-purpose tool for rationalizing abandonment of moral norms and doing what one pleases. The culture of pervasive terror nurtures pleasure-seeking and greed, while debilitating the restraints of self-control. And yet, children instructed ‘Be not conformed to this world, but put on the mind of Christ’ can hardly discern the difference between the world’s mind and Christ’s. For the culture of the W’est'is still formed by many elements of common morality and Christian faith, interwoven with immorality and unbelief. Thus, the authentic human and Christian values of Western culture are gravely threatened; their transmission to the newer generations is severely impeded; their continual gradual adulteration, compromise, and loss appear inevitable. A world dominated by atheistic Marxism plainly would be even more repugnant to Christians. Nevertheless, even when body and mind are overwhelmed by brutal or subtle arts, the 384 Concluding Christian Thought; human heart cannot be occupied by oppressors. If one comes under moral pressures because one has been faithful in trying to do God’s will, one who is prepared to pray for God’s help always can be confident ofhis grace, which will certainly suffice for what is truly necessary. So, if renouncing the deterrent’s murderous intent means surrender, still one should not fear the loss of faith or Christian virtue; such a fear betrays either a doubt about the reality of human free choice or a lack of confidence in the faithfulness ofGod to his promise of grace. Well and good for morally and spiritually mature persons of this generation, but what about the next generation? As always, the older generation will have a very heavy responsibility in the formation of the younger, and in a world dominated by atheistic Marxism, the price for fulfilling this responsibility will be high. And even if it is fulfilled, the young under such a regime will face hard choices. But that situation can be accepted in good conscience as a side-effect ofrefusing to violate innocent life, with confidence that a merciful providence will not permit the fidelity of parents to lead to the moral and spiritual ruin of their children. Thus, for the younger generation too, everything will depend in the last analysis on God’s grace and their own free choices. Christian moralists, too, are called to be ready to pay the costs of discipleship: surrender, if necessary and within their power, and the worst consequences of helping others keep the faith and live upright lives under the oppressor’s heel. But if, as is likely, those holding power in the West will never give up the murderous intent of the deterrent, Christian moralists are not exempt from paying the price of encouraging and guiding their fellow believers in alienating themselves from their im— moral societies. Their moral leadership is needed particularly because for more than a century, Catholics in Britain and America have worked to earn a rightful civic respectability. Without moral support, many will scarcely find it in themselves to give up their hard-won status as the best of good citizens. x1v.6 LOOK, JUDGE, CHOOSE To learn _what_the_deterrent actually is:r that is the first responsibility ofmoralists and religious leaders who wish to talk x1v_6 Concluding Christian Thoughts 385 about the deterrent. Not to talk in ignorance of the facts; not to substitute wishes for facts; above all, not to pretend that it is something other than it is, or, worse, connive with govern- ment officials to obtain fresh descriptions of the deterrent threat, so that an unqualified moral condemnation ofit can be avoided. Almost as serious a betrayal ofa Christian teacher’s respons- ibility: evading the moral issue of the present deterrent by focusing instead upon the moral acceptability of some con- ceivable future deterrentm for example, a strategy really lim- ited to threatening an adversary’s unjustly used forces. For even if some future nuclear strategy could be militarily adequate and morally acceptable, the grave immorality of the present deterrent remains. Worse, all such future possibilities seem, on inspection, to be mere fantasies—technically imposs- ible, or strategically excluded for want of any safe path from the present balance of terror to the projected new and morally acceptable balance. Another notion which, in reality, has nothing to offer to anyone concerned about morality: that the deterrent threat is a mere blufl". Some religious leaders seem to nurture this idea in their hearts, and perhaps mean to foster it by their remarks. They overlook, apparently, the scandal such a bluff would involve. The few insiders would be leading into the sinful in- tention ofthe deterrent all the many outsiders whom they asked to support the policy. Deliberately leading someone into sin is in one respect worse than sinning oneself: one becomes respons- ible not only for the evil of the object of the sinful choice but also for the moral corruption of one’s neighbour. Mutual disarmament: Its attractiveness is undeniable, for attaining it would eliminate the moral evil of the deterrent and no one would have to pay the real price of repentance and abnegation. But nothing in the present situation supports the hope that the nuclear powers will disarm to the extent ofaban- doning the use of nuclear terror. The existing situation must be changed in ways which, at present, are scarcely specifiable. As things now stand, leaders on all sides, even ifthey happened sometime to be men and women ofgreat good will, would need heroic courage to act on their good will, for in this fallen 386 Concluding Christian Thoughts world they would doubt that others shared it with dependable constancy, and their doubt would be reasonable. The hatred, fear, and suspicion that have marked human history have in no way been dissipated by the prospect—vividly foreseen in 1945wof universal catastrophe. For the balance of terror itself nurtures hostility. Thus, up to the present, mutual disarmament has been more a mirage than a real, even if very distant, goal. Ifupright people generally clearly understood the deterrent’s immorality, their principled rejection ofit could— undcr some conceivable, though unlikely, conditions—become a step on the way to making mutual disarmament a realistic long-range goal. But thus far the mirage, accompanied by rationalizations for maintaining murderous intent pending disarmament, has deflected the potential moral force of people of good will. There are yet other ways in which Christian moral teachers who try to defend the deterrent are gravely tempted to com- promise the moral truth. For it is easy to talk about inevitable sin, about gradualism in repenting, about tolerating (one’s own) sin, about choosing the lesser evil, and so on: temptations to be the West’s good servant, sooner than God’s. Very different is the proper role of Christian teachers: to face the truth about the deterrent, and about the \Nest’s guilt; and to urge their people to do likewise. It is a prophetic role: to speak the truth, as Nathan did to David, and John to Herod. Speaking this truth has another importance, too. Evangel- ization of today’s world is blocked by Western culture’s concealment of many forms of human misery, and by its pana- ceas for miseries it fails to conceal. One misery now shared by humankind is: living under the threat of nuclear holocaust. To delay indefinitely a clear moral analysis and denunciation of the murderous intent in every present and foreseeable nuclear deterrent—and instead to encourage people to consider de- terrence a mere problem, susceptible of solution by mutual disarmament—is to obscure consciousness of their shared pre- dicament. That predicament, in its human hopelessness and its absolute need for radical conversion to make possible even the first step on the way to mutual disarmament, is really an epiphany 0f the misery of the fallen human condition, the evil of which, seen and felt, would spur people to faith and hope in XIV-6 Concluding Christian Thoughts 387 the divine offer of salvation. But the predicament is masked, and its misery anaesthetized, when deterrence is presented as a phase in a humanly manageable progress to disarmament. And even from a worldly point of view, continued moral evasion is very dangerous, especially in democratic societies, where successful policies demand consensus over the long haul. Guilty consciences may eventually weaken fatally the deterrent they continue to support. So: anyone who discerns the immorality of the deterrent should at once repent. Having repented, responsible citizens will try to help their nations escape from the slavery of the balance of terror. But they will not do this by joining any campaign for peace, disarmament, or ‘freezc’, if it ignores, plays down, or leaves in shadow either their nation’s duty immediately to re- nounce the terroristic threat and system, or the very bad con- sequences likely for any nation which does its duty. Instead, they willjoin or develop a movement to work both for ending the balance of murderous intent and terror by simple re- nunciation of the deterrent, and for bringing about changes which could render mutual disarmament a practicable goal. Yet they will pursue these goals without optimism, moved only by the hope that so great a good as humankind’s liberation from the evils of deterrence may be possible if it is humbly sought for the sake of reverence for life,justice, and mercy. Many call out ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace. The true challenge of peace is to respond to God’s promise by unconditional repentance: the total exclusion from one’s heart of the will to kill the innocent. Such repentance is the only true beginning of peace; the repentant might still hope for its fullness: the conversion of their enemies, the preservation of their values, the survival of their world. If God in his loving providence should see fit to fulfil these hopes in this world: Thanks be to him! If not, those with faith must be prepared to say: Not our will but his be done. True peace is reconciliation with God, conversion of enemies, preservation of great goods, and survival, together with a humble readiness to accept these 388 Concluding Christian Thoughts gifts as God chooses to give them. Any other peace is counterfeit. Like every good gift, peace is possible only if it comes down from above, as a fruit of love. Love is the gift of the Spirit, who is the gift above all gifts of the Father and of Jesus. Since everything depends on their mercy, prayer for the gift of the Spirit is the first and most necessary means to peace. Many people can do nothing else for peace but purify their hearts and pray for it. We should not say: I really can do nothing about this appal- ling situation, all I can do is pray. For prayer is not only the profoundest realism; if sincere, it is also the most and best that anyone can do for peace. But one at odds with others does not seriously ask for their gifts, and cannot reasonably expect them. Just so, a realistic hope that prayer for peace will be fruitful requires us who pray to renew our faith and re-dedicate ourselves to God the Father, Son, and Spirit, who alone are able to bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. NOTES XIV.2 Moral absolutes and Christian faith... There is a sense in which unconditional adherence to the principle that evil may not be done for the sake of good (X.5) is specifically Christian, and is likely to seem unreasonable in a fallen world without faith and hope. For a fuller explanation, See Grisez, ‘Presiden- tial Address: Practical Reason and Faith’, Proc. Am. Cath. Phil. Assoc. 58 (1984) 2714. XIV. 3 A profession offaith... For a much fuller exposition, with ample references to the sources, scriptural, ‘traditional’ (magisterial), and theological, see Grisez, Christian Moral Principles, chs. 2o, 14, 21, 19, 34, 18, 22, 26. A more elementary synthesis: Lawler, Wuerl, and Lawler (eds.), The Teaching ofChrist (1976). XI V . 4 Divine commands and eternal punishment... See Grisez, Christian Moral Principles, 446—51. Hell as ‘punishment’, and the process which results in it, are anal- ogous, not identical, to the human institution ofpunishment ofcrime (which, Concluding Christian Thoughts 389 for example, always involves an element of sheer ‘will’ in the selection of the measure of the penalty: Aquinas, S. Theol. I~II, q. 95, a. 2c). XIV. 5 Providence, the West, the Church and the Kingdom... Some of the most important points are made forcefully by Stein and Anscombe in Stein (ed.) (1961), esp. 6o-2,142—51. Providence, moral evil, and nuclear holocaust... Some Christians seem to think that nuclear holocaust, or at least the extinction of the human race on earth by nuclear holocaust, is excluded by ‘everything we know of God’s love and mercy from Sacred Scripture’, etc: Higgins (1985), 302 (criticizing Newman for writing that ‘The Catholic Church holds it better for all the many millions on [the earth] to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal aflliction goes, than that one soul should commit one venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or ...’ etc.; Higgins denies that ‘divine Provid- ence would allow the human race to come to such an extremity’). We know ofnothing in sacred scripture, or in ‘the living traditions and testimonies of the same Catholic Church whose attitude to sin Newman was delineating so rigorously’, which lends any solid support to Higgins’ claims about provid- ence; we know of much which suggests that God’s love and mercy could well take the form outlined in Newman’s word-picture, or in VIII.3 above. The heart cannot be occupied, and in that sense remains master of itself... See Geach, in Stein (ed.)(1961), 98—101. X I V . 6 ‘Inevitahle sin’, ‘tolerating’ one’s own evil, ‘gradualism’ in repentance, etc.... A widely held tradition of Protestant thought considers that sometimes one must com- mit sin. This perhaps explains why an unequivocal condemnation of de- terrence need not lead to a call for unilateral nuclear disarmament. The World Council of Churches’ ‘Public Hearing’ of November 1981, and (it seems) the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches on 27July 1982 (quoted in the last endnote to IV.7) unequivocally condemned nuclear deterrence. But, instead of calling for unilateral nuclear disarmament, the ‘Public Hearing’ nevertheless said: ‘The practical consequences of recognizing something as evil may not be immediate or obvious. What may be possible for individuals, and even for churches, may not be possible, or at least possible in the same way, for governments and nations. What may be feasible in one set of circumstances may not be feasible in another. The exercise of collective responsibilities frequently entails compromises...’ Abrecht and Koshy (eds.), 30. Catholic faith teaches that sin is never inevitable: see VII.5 at n. 66. The first draft of the US Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter defended the main- tenance of the deterrent as a ‘temporary’ and ‘reluctant’ ‘toleration of moral evil as that applies to the problem of deterrence’; the second draft replaced that defence with a consequentialist rationalization, which it attributed to 390 Concluding Christian Thoughts the Pope. Both these attempts to defend the deterrent were conceptually defective and foreign to Catholic thought; they were entirely absent, however, from the final version of the Letter. For a useful but not entirely reliable history: see Castelli, The Bixhops and the Bomb (1983). For our critique of the Letter, see V1.6, text and endnotes. Evangelization and the mas/ring of misery by optimism about mutual disarmament... Everyone knows that Pope John Paul has stated that deterrence ‘can still be judged aeceptable‘ as a stage on the way to disarmament (see IV.7). How many people have even heard of, let alone pondered, his repeated reminders of the real situation? We refer to his many acknowledgements ofthe danger of ‘the permanent threat ofa nuclear war and the prospect of the terrible self-destruction that emerges from it” (in Latin, the prospect exstinctionis, qua genus humanum re deleat ipsum—of extermination, by which the human race would put an end to itself); of‘the prospect ofworId-wide catastrophe in the case of nuclear war’; of ‘an unimaginable self-destruction, compared with which all the eataelysms and catastrophes of history known to us seem to fade away‘; ofa ‘prospective of self-destruction’; and indeed ofthe possibility that ‘in the world evil [may] prevail over good, and contemporary humanity deserve a new “flood”...’: Encyclieals, Laborem exercens, paras. 2, 12 (AAS 73 (1981) 577,647 at 581, 605); Redemptor hominis, para. 15 (also 8) (AAS 7] (1979) 257-7324 at 271, 286); Diver in mixericordia, para. 15 (also 11) (AAS 72 (1980) 1177—232 at 1212, 1229); Dominum et vivifii‘antem (1986), para. 57. ...
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