Monday, January 15, 2007

Heroes

Wesley Autrey was simply waiting for the train with his two daughters. He wasn't planning on risking his life, he just reacted. A young man nearby began to have a seizure and staggered backwards, falling onto the tracks of the New York subway. Death appeared certain, as a train was already coming out of the tunnel and into the station.
What happened next shocked a city. Wesley, a construction worker and navy veteran, leapt onto the tracks, situated the man between the two rails and flattened himself down on top of him. The train cleared them by less than an inch. the young man is recovering in hospital and Wesley is trying to get used to his new found fame. You can watch a video of an interview with him by clicking on this link.
Understandably, Autrey is being hailed as a hero for his actions. We hear stories like this and we hope that, if placed in that situation, we would do the same thing. But, the question is, what makes us, as human beings, applaud actions such as these? This is obviously a worldview question.
Stark materialism can't provide a satisfactory answer for it. Neo-Darwinists call acts like this the result of "enlightened" selfishness. So, a Neo-Darwinist would say that parents care for their children and family as a way of guaranteeing that their "selfish genes" get passed on to the next generation. But, even if this explanation were reasonable, it certainly doesn't explain why someone would jump in front of a train to save a stranger.
In a worldview in which meaning is limited only to this earthly existence, self-sacrifice in acts of heroism are actually the peak of stupidity. What possible selfish purpose would it serve for someone to lay down their life for another if that would end their opportunity to perpetuate themselves.
On the other hand, for a person with a Biblical worldview, this type of act makes complete sense. Jesus said that "Greater love has no-one than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend."
Since this life is a pre-cursor to an eternal life with God, and since each human being was created in God's image, heroic acts like this are to be admired. It's hard to deny that we know this intuitively. That's why we all look up to heroes!
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