Ellis Potter, in a talk posted by Apologetics315, made an assertion that I found to be quite helpful in explaining how Christianity is not, as Christopher Hitchens asserts; evil, totalitarian, and oppressive .
All things comport to a particular form (or several related forms) and when the form one is made to conform to is violated, bad things result. Ellis’s point does not end here, however, as this by itself would sound no different than the moral argument, which itself is solid. Coming from a Buddhist background, Ellis posits that there is “freedom in forms”.
Take gravity for instance. It’s form grants us the freedom to easily and predictably move from point A to point B and any attempts to violate the form of gravity are met with swift consequences. It is easy to focus on the negative consequences that result from attempts to violate the form of gravity. But what we ought to focus on are the freedoms we gain by understanding and honoring gravity.
With the form of gravity we are free to walk around and not float off into space. While we generally take this freedom for granted, all we need to do is look to the trouble astronauts must go through to accomplish even the most basic task in space where there is no (or very little) gravity. Without the form our bodies have been designed for even the most basic task of eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom become monumental chores that require teams of experts to find solutions for the most basic functions.
Ellis goes on to state that violation of form is not a violation of freedom. We do not consider our lack of ability to defy gravity on our own to be a violation of our freedom. We are still free to choose within the form we’ve been placed. Namely, we can choose to sit, walk, run, and jump all because we exist within the form of gravity.
And this leads me to a very import insight Ellis’s train of thought elucidates: Wanting to violate our form means we want to be God.
Wanting to operate or lay hold of choices outside your from means you wish to change your from. A desire to choose outside of moral forms is an implicit statement that we think we can run the rest of the universe. At the least we express a desire to have unlimited control over our corner of the universe, meaning we do not wish to be under any restrictions whatsoever.
And therein lies the rub of Christianity. Do we accept that we are contingent beings that exist in certain forms or do we wish to change those forms to suit our needs and then get mad when we discover that we are not the master of our universe?
I, for one, love the forms that exist. They help me “run the race with endurance marked out before us” (Hebrews 12:1-3).