Friday, February 27, 2009

Lighten Up

It's a sad day in America when a Hollywood producer has to be the one to point out how politically correct we've become, and how it has shriveled us.
Clint Eastwood made a very good point and it illustrates something I've always though but been afraid to say.
We are a nation of different ethnicities and all of those ethnic groups have idiosyncrasies and most of them are funny.
Perhaps part of the reason we can't close the racial divide in this country is because we can't joke about it.
Personally, that is the best way that I know of to diffuse a tense situation.
I have had many black friends and we laughed hardest when we were telling racial or ethnic jokes.
I have had not as many Hispanic friends as I would like but the issue of race was always something to laugh about, not tiptoe around.
I have had even fewer Asian friends, but about the only one that sticks in my mind was a guy I worked with at Cracker Barrel. On a busy night, I was stuck behind him in a narrow aisle.
"Chop chop." I said.
"Oh, oh," he turned, "Because I'm Asian, you say 'Chop chop."
Another time, coming up behind him I mistook him for another Asian that worked there and called him by the wrong name. He turned with a wry face, "Yeah, we all look alike, right?"
Once I was working with two black guys, Toby and Jonathan. As it happened, I was the one doing what might have been considered the easier of the three jobs. I was scanning boxes while they unloaded them.
At once, they stopped and looked at each other and said, "What's up with this? The two black guys here are doing the manual labor and the cracker is back there with his little tiny scanner."
I chuckled and said, "Get back to work." Then, in a fit of mischief, I added, "Boy."
I confess I even cringed a little when I said it but it got the desired result. Howls.
I used to have a bad habit of calling people "cotton picker" in mock anger. More than once, I inadvertently applied the label to black men. And I'm still alive.
Once shortly before Martin Luther King Day, I ran into one my sups who was black.
"I guess you and Greg (another black sup) will be taking Monday off." I prodded.
"I will," replied Donny, a former second stringer for the Miami Dolphins, "Greg just gets a half day."
Greg's skin is considerably lighter than Donny's.
My black friends like to kid us about being pigment challenged and uptight.
They're right, we are. And it's funny.
I like to think that the few friends I have that are members of a different race than I am know that I like them for who they are and their stereotypical trappings only make me like them more because we can laugh about them.
One of the funniest jokes I've ever heard actually has a Democratic source.
What do you call a black man at a Republican banquet.
The key-note speaker.
I didn't have a whole lot to say on the issue, I just thought I would take perhaps the only opportunity I'll ever have to praise a Hollywood icon.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Devan and I visited the university art museum today.
It is incumbent upon culturally engaged people to take in the sweep of artistic achievement, to appreciate properly the complexity of the human race, to feel the epic emotions that rage in each of our psyches and . . . it was free.
Now, I am no country bumpkin. I know when to clap at the symphony. Which is precisely at the point when everyone else begins to clap. At the last concert we attended, I got lost in the movements of Beethoven's sixth. I was back on the third movement, waiting for the thunder and lightning of the fourth. The movement ended and I settled in. Ah, now for the climax. I was horrified when everyone began clapping.
Uncultured swine, I snarled under my breath.
As it happened, I was the swine, or at least the uncultured one. The thunder and lightning had been some less bombastic than I was expecting. (Think of a soft summer Seattle shower, as opposed to the Oklahoma frog-strangler I was anticipating.)
But, in the interest of broadening my horizons and smoothing down my dog-eared corners, I suggested we go to the art museum.
Upon entering, we were asked if we were here to look at anything specific. I hedged. I'm accustomed to brushing off sales clerks with, "Nope, just lookin'." but is such a dodge acceptable in an art museum?
Devan, on the other hand, did not hedge and responded precisely with that retail brush-off I was avoiding.
"We're just looking around."
This surprised me, as Devan is normally somewhat cowed and intimidated in the face of the unknown; generally a real hand-wringer.
I cringed.
"Okayyy." the girl leaned across the desk with that smile she no doubt crafted for the fifth-graders on a field trip from Harlan County.
"The exhibit on this floor is a paid exhibit." The word "paid" had a curious force to it and a little shower refracted the sunlight streaming in the glass doors.
I looked around the first floor and caught sight of a work to which I could instantly relate. It shouted frustration and confusion, even anger. At a passing glance it resembled a scrambled scrawl.
The reason I could relate to it so well was because it resembled a work that I keep by the phone in the kitchen. It's on a Post-It pad. I completed the work one day when I was on the phone with the insurance agent and my pen wouldn't write. The deep swirling scratches in the yellow paper remind me of despondency on a sunny day.
This particular artist had communicated well his angst. It was even darker than mine. I felt for him.
"And," the magnanimity continued, "the upstairs exhibit is our permanent exhibit and it is free."
"Well," said I, catching Devan's free-spirited chutzpa, "that's probably where we'll want to go."
The dazzling smile did little to melt the frost from her eyes.
I grabbed Devan's hand and together we clomped up the stairs. (I wore boots, which in retrospect, may not have been the proper footwear to wear to an art museum. If I had not left my ballet slippers at home . . )
As we ascended the stairs, I began to open my mind, discarding all prejudicial preferences.
This is not a Thomas Kinkade gallery.
I did well throughout the first six or seven works, giving each the attention it deserved.
I came to a point where there hung a roughly 4'x6' frame. Glued to the canvas, covering every square inch, were straight twigs, approximately three to four inches long. They were all affixed vertically. There were slightly different shades of brown, some twigs still retained the bark.
I knew immediately what to do. I backed up several feet and let my eyes glaze over.
My aunt and uncle had a calendar like this back in '92. If you look at it long enough, something will jump out at you, like a coffee-cup, or a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
Devan interrupted my reverie. "It's called 'Rain'." she pointed to the placard.
I studied it some more. "Yeeesss, yes, I see that!" If you looked at it long enough it became unbelievably clear. The twigs . . . . were raindrops! Somewhat elongated, somewhat solidified, somewhat brown, somewhat . . . .wooden, but raindrops nonetheless. I moved on, satisfied with my appraisal and furthermore determined never to get caught in rainstorm like that! Beethoven should've composed a movement about that rainstorm.
Further down, we came to a particularly expressive piece. It was a wide piece of canvas tacked to a framework of two-by-twos. Vertical tears ran strategically down the work, exposing the skeletal two-bys. The canvas was predominately brown and black. In large block letters, one in between each tear, was the word HA!
Instantly the spirit of the artist spoke through his work and I began laughing too.
I felt I could even discern what he was amused about! It was too hilariously funny, the mischievous nature of this artist. I could even see him laughing, head thrown back, embracing the moment as he counted the money paid him for the ripped, bespoiled canvas.
Just around the corner, I was taken aback by a stark representation. The emotions one felt gazing at this masterpiece literally ran the gamut of experience.
At first I was sobered, even saddened by the somber tone of it all; so black, so . . . . rigidly utilitarian. The rectangular work suggested a trapped man, one desperate to break free from the chains of society. It was eight feet tall and approximately six feet wide. Then I saw a touch that brought tears to my eyes, a neon EXIT sign perched at the top. What torture, what futility had this man experienced and portrayed so well in his art!
Then, I began to see another dimension to his idea. It was satire! He was displaying a bold contempt of the conformity adhered to by our capitalistic society. The triumph of his journey from incarceration to independence, futility to freedom, captivity to contempt burned a smile through the tears.
Next to this masterpiece, there was a large, clashing cacophony. A dual toned irregular rectangle thrust bluntly down into a splotched white expanse.
I sneaked a peek at the placard.
I sniffed.
It was, except for a little acrylic whang.
Next up, I was simply not prepared for what I saw. It was a landscape scene. Two blurry figures walked along a deserted beach. Little dot-dash-dot clouds flocked in the sky.
Here I was stumped. What a cryptic message. What dark implication lay behind the azure sky?
Then I smacked my forehead.
Devan said, "Babe, don't do that."
"Of course," I said, "He is trying to get us to see the emptiness of mere Impressionism."
"How so?"
I couldn't believe she asked.
"Well, " I explained, "just look at it! It's as plain as the nose on your face."
Her brow wrinkled. "That one?" She pointed.
It so happened the next painting was a large, bald head shaped like a thumb. A large Roman nose took center stage.
"No, no." I motioned. "Here. This ghastly beach scene. Doesn't it just send chills up your spine the way he portrays the presumption of Impressionists."
Devan shivered. I still haven't asked her whether she got it, caught a sudden draft, or was being a peasant.
I marveled at the artistic finesse and satirical wit before moving on.
Devan was gazing at a pastoral scene with trees that were grossly and crudely depicted as trees with actual branches and leaves. Moreover, there was green grass and a house.
I puzzled over this for some time before deciding that some artists just didn't get it.
Walking out of the gallery was what did it. Observing the unwashed masses of college students streaming around us I mused, After all, there are bound to be some prosaic schmo's out there who have nothing better to communicate than, than . . . natural beauty.
Bourgeoisie was the word for which I was searching.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Irreconcilable Differences

My wife and I had an argument last night.
I was attempting to appeal to her reason.
She deals with a certain problem in a haphazard fashion. Instead of starting at square one and working it out from there, leaving no unfinished details, she plunges in at the middle and begins working at it from there, leaving half of the problem unattended.
We can get to that later, she says.
But why not attend to it now? I say. And then it won't be preying on your mind.
It's not preying on my mind, says she, because I know I'll deal with it later. No sweat.
But why not do it now, I persist. There's nothing to be gained by procrastinating and nothing to be lost by seeing to the whole thing at first.
The way you see it, she stonewalled. The way I see it, it is positively manic to obsess about the possibility of failure every time you deal with a problem. I mean, how morbid is that? Do you then consider death each time you wake up in the morning? Do you calculate the odds of an aircraft engine plummeting through the roof as you drift off to sleep each night?
That's preposterous, I sputter. An errant aircraft engine I cannot control! Things beyond my control I leave to fate.
Ah, but you could- she arched her eyebrows. -you could live in a cave.
A cave.
Yes, and be relieved of the fear of death from the sky.
You're reaching, I mumble.
Not really, she answers and then hastens on, But then, if you live in the cave, there is always earthquakes.
Really, I protest.
It's perfectly logical, she continues, If every possible scenario is to be taken into account, and every precaution taken, then you will, . . .you will . . .
I will . . .
-Be extremely preoccupied, not to mention fearful and you'd likely develop an eye twitch or some sort of tic and contract high blood pressure which would doubtless kill you before the jet engine or the earthquake had the opportunity.
My way, she advances, is actually healthier.
That's a leap, that's an Evil Canievel leap, I say.
No, no it's not. And really when you think about it-
I don't think you're thinking about it.
-when you think about it, it is more responsible. Yes, and more efficient. The more you worry about unlikely possibilities, the more likely you are to neglect some necessary responsibilities. So you see the enormity of the situation. You must not obsess about everything, because too much else depends on you.
Well, here then, I could just walk across the interstate for a shortcut, and hang the traffic. I can't be bothered with it! It's obsession.
Well, now, let's don't be silly.
Me . . .ME?
Certainly, you're stretching the analogy to the breaking point. There is a greater likelihood of you being hit by traffic than not being hit by traffic walking across the interstate. There is almost zero likelihood of dying by aircraft engines. You have made quite a leap there yourself, mister.
I'm just- . . .I'm only taking your philosophy to its logical destination!
But, don't forget the original argument. You said to obsess about everything, I said you musn't obsess about everything, only big things. You must leave such small things to take care of themselves. In reality, there is a very small chance of expiring due to falling engines or earthquakes in Kentucky.
I'm temporarily speechless
Then, finally, But . . .but- we're talking about squeezing the toothpaste tube from the middle!

It's fiction. We've never argued about the toilet paper, either.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Fountainhead

I think cautions are cheesy, for the most part, but, be forewarned that one of my points turns on a novel scene that depicts rape.

Add Glenn Beck to the list of conservatives in awe of the writings of Ayn Rand.
Reading Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, I was made to think of Rand.
Lewis' protagonist, Ransom, has been abducted by a Professor Weston and taken to a distant planet, where he is to be given as a sacrifice to the inhabitants. Ransom escapes and finds the natives friendly and helpful. Weston, viewing the inhabitants through his own parameters of greed and gain, has misunderstood the alien intelligence to be hostile and so brought Ransom as a gift.
After escaping, Ransom becomes well-acquainted with the aliens and their comes a culmination where he and Weston are brought together before the Oyarsa (similar to an arch-angel.) In explaining his actions to the Oyarsa, Weston proudly proclaims that he is seeking the betterment of humankind, to the detriment of all other life forms, be they intelligent or no. He views Ransom as a traitor to the human race for not submitting to the fate that he had deemed necessary and being the intended sacrifice to the aliens. It was Ransom's duty, he contends, to further mankind by his own sacrifice, and furthermore, Weston sees no immorality in slaughtering all the natives of any given planet because he is making great gains for man in the process and, in all his frank pride, he tells the Oyarsa so.
The Oyarsa is puzzled by Weston's paradox and asks the professor how it is that he claims to seek the good of mankind by destroying a member of mankind. Weston curtly responds that he is a scientist and doesn't wish to be distracted by philosophical conundrums.
There are two things here that serve as a perfect foil for Ayn Rand, the patron saint of conservatives.
The first is a simple reminder that Rand held traditional philosophy in utter contempt and blamed it for most of the world's problems. It is the common scorched earth retreat of humanists to snarl at the superfluity of philosophical and moral debate.
The second contrast is more disturbing.
Weston's assertion that Ransom was obligated to submit to his fate and fulfill his role as a lesser member of the human race, and by his sacrifice further the race relates specifically to a bizarre, erotic scene in Ayn Rand's first novel, The Fountainhead. The hero of the book, Howard Roark, takes advantage of the heroine. Rape is strongly implied, and yet, the heroine, Dominique, despite thinking of it as a rape, privately recognizes that she wished it. Rand, when criticized as depicting a rape in less than its horrific domination, replied that she supposed if it were truly a rape, it was a rape by "engraved invitation." And, indeed, Dominique loves Howard Roark as a man who has simply taken possession of what was his. It has shades of the ultra-chauvinistic contention that from a woman, no means yes, and non-consensual sex occurs because the woman subconsciously agrees to it.
Besides the sickening implications for rape victims, her explanation of the incident tells more.
Rand described herself as a hero-worshipper, so it can be assumed her heroine was prey to the same adulation and despite struggling against Roark, could not but submit to the man who had a right to her because he was a superior man.
The parallel I see is obvious. Weston asserted the right of the powerful, as did Roark.
Ransom, thank God, defended his right to life. Dominique capitulated.
Now, as an integral part of her ode to humanism, this submission of one human to another may seem contradictory. But humanism ultimately seeks as its end the good of "mankind", not men.
It's code for self-advancement. Since we can be assured that secular humanism would not seek the furthering of human goals if all humans came to be subservient to a higher power, such as God Almighty, their altruistic dodge can be debunked. They seek the advancement of humanism, and are not to be convinced that the true ideals of humanity be anything other than complete authority; masters of their own destiny and captains of their own fate.
Rand believes that ultimate power lies within human control, stating that "-man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress." But, even as the individualist she was, in subjecting Dominique to the degradation of Roark, she recognized that though individual will was supreme, there must still be a hierarchy to maintain forward progress. Each individual will competing with all others, asserting their own dominance, seeking their own goals, will inevitably collide.
Now I know, or assume, that if asked to trace their propagation of Randian ideology to it's fountainhead, most of today's conservatives would deny her premise. Most of their identification with her may be strictly on the basis of her contempt for socialism and the diminution of the individual for the good of the state. But there is a sweet seduction in her premise that appeals to the individual in us. It is dangerous to laud a person and a philosophy so indiscriminately when her reason, her basis for her proposals and her philosophy was the authority of man and his ultimate power.
There's a hook in all that bait.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Way Out of the Wilderness

Conservatives are embroiled in an identity dispute. Their time in the wilderness recently underway predictably and understandably has engendered a lot of "soul-searching", strategizing (to be definitely differentiated from "strategery") and house-cleaning. Michael Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, has used some revolutionary lingo (if you're not conservative, get out of the way), and proceeded to fire every current staff member.
Pragmatism being what it is, there will be some new marketable platform, complete with one-liners, and catch phrases.
Now, this is not necessarily a prediction, since certain signs of this have already become evident; it is simply what I believe will begin to emerge from conservative think tanks and punditry over the next two years or so.
Conservatism will be increasingly displaced by libertarianism. I have mentioned the love affair that conservative thinkers have with Ayn Rand and objectivism. Libertarianism is not technically objectivism, in fact, Rand made a point of distancing herself from the libertarians of her day. But the seduction of "individualism" binds them together ideologically. Rand's worldview is exactly opposite of socialism, which is what conservatives now are drawing up as the opposition. Objectivism has the added allure of seeming very American, very independent.
Conservatives as a whole have had something of an uneasy alliance with social conservatism.
Libertarians, as a whole, have no dog in the social hunt. This determination to "keep government out of the bedroom" is what will, I believe lead to greater popularity of libertarian ideas in conservative circles. Americans, for instance, may be more pro-life than pro-abortion, but the middle truth is they are more pro-choice. In other words, they may dislike the idea of abortion, but they would dislike more the idea of a total ban on abortions.
Libertarians, by and large, are very fiscally conservative and socially, morally disinterested.
Look for more creeping libertarianism from your favorite talk show or columnist.
I believe it is coming.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Way I See It

I reached the age of political accountability in 1992.
Prior to that election year, I possessed about as much knowledge or opinion about the subject as you might expect of a fourteen year old. I knew I was a Republican. I even vaguely remember listening to the '84 election returns. As each state came in over the radio, I wondered (without being terribly concerned) what either candidate would do with all those boats. (Radio "v"s are practically indistinguishable from "b"s, especially to a six-year-old. In '88, we held mock elections in my 5th grade class and I knew enough to vote for Bush, as did every other kid in the twenty-something member classroom, except for one Jesse Porter. He was a likable kid. I even remember speculating that no doubt his parents were pro-Dukakis, and he was simply following their lead. I, on the other hand, had come to the pro-Bush position independently and as a result of careful consideration.
It was in '92, however, that I began to take a greater, if still one-dimensional, interest in politics. This was due mostly to the growing popularity of Rush Limbaugh. I listened innocently, and became acquainted with satire, and punditry for the first time. (My repertoire of 'sixties music increased exponentially as well, as I listened to countless parodies sung by a Bill Clinton stand-in.) The race between George Bush, Sr. and Bill Clinton was the atmosphere in which my views began to form. Pres. Clinton is something of a watershed in my experience. Everything political is now measured against and compared to the reign of this polarizing politician. My 14-yr. old choice was very black and white. Clinton was the personification of everything I knew I should be against. The outcome of the election was bitter, and my adolescence was spent in political exile.
The Congressional elections of '94 added to my experience, as the fickle public issued a mandate of a different sort to the man they had elected two years before.
'96 was another distasteful experience. Being somewhat less than thrilled about the Republican nominee didn't lessen the disgust of the prospect of another Clinton term.
.2000 was predictably the dawn of a new era. Social conservatives, initially divided and generally ambivalent about the son of a tepidly conservative former president, soon came to see a firm pro-life advocate and a President clearly uncomfortable with the militant homosexual agenda. 2001 was a very brief, almost evanescent glimpse of national unity spawned by a horrific terrorist attack. Then just as quickly as it was formed, the united front dissolved, aided by the corrosive frankness of the cowboy president. The punching bag issue of the war on terror aside, the next seven years proved to be at least as politically contentious as the Clinton years.
George W. Bush, whatever else might be said of him, was a man of conviction, a man who, in his words, despised "hand wringing" or second-guessing. The poll-driven relativism of Clinton that elicited such outrage from the right in the '90's was replaced by the dead certainty of Bush, which garnered a greater response of anger from his opponents than Clinton's hair-splitting ways had from his.Historically low approval ratings, however, failed to prompt one single politically expedient decision from the lame duck, whose resolution only served to infuriate his detractors further. I remember animosity from the right during the Clinton years, but I was increasingly stunned by the nastiness of the political climate as Bush's second term rolled on.
Now, to the point of the blog, there are, certainly, a bloc of perhaps 35% who will as a matter of simple genetics vote Republican and another 35% who will vote Democratic for the same reason, but the 30% in the middle are the ones who decide the fate of the nation. Therefore, it is this 30% I will hereafter refer to as the voters.
Among other tendencies of the voting public, I seem to see a reactionary pattern, at least since Reagan. The economic prosperity and the triumph over Communism carried over into four years for Reagan's VP, but amidst a mild recession in '92, the public wanted to try something different. Eight years of Clinton bred contempt for the Democrats in 2000, so they elected the Republican, perhaps also as a conciliatory gesture toward the man they'd booted out eight years earlier. And now, once again, they wish to try something different.
A stronger tendency is the penchant for personality contests. In '92 Clinton was effused with all the youthful charismatic energy of the ghost of JFK. In '96, he'd lost some of his mystique, but whatever charm he retained was still more than a match for Bob Dole, who was seen as stiff and even angry. In 2000, Al Gore, sinking under the weight of eventual Clinton fatigue, took on more water with his unapproachable elitist anger and sank, albeit agonizingly slowly. Bush, in my opinion, was elected not on his merits or his policies. (Both of which gave him excellent credentials, for my vote) He was elected because he was more likable than Al Gore. In 2004, the early-on favorite for Democratic challenger, Howard Dean, shrieked his way right out of the campaign and left it for John Kerry to pick up. Now, one might have expected greater things from Kerry. A Democratic senator from Massachusetts, with the initials JFK, no less, not to mention beautiful hair, a coif second only to that of his running mate no doubt held more of the aura of the slain hero of Camelot than did Clinton. Not to mention that anybody, Walter Mondale, should have been able to vanquish the battered incumbent, especially given the cosmopolitan urbanity of the Vietnam Vet contrasted with the Texan National Guard pilot curmudgeon. Alas, the detachment of Kerry proved more disenchanting to the voters than Al Gore's anger, and although the election was no landslide, it was nowhere near the nail biter of four years before. The cowboy lived to fight another day.
Then, in 2008, it is almost as though the public admits that they just gave Bush another term because they felt obligated to make it up to his father. In Bush up to here, they shut the door on his party so fast that it dealt John McCain a humiliating blow on his way out. Here again, though, we have the issue of personality, more clearly defined than ever before. In the Democratic primary, the Clinton coronation collapsed under the weight of yet another Kennedy comparison. Hillary was a given before personality was weighed. For her part, Hillary gave it the college try, but she had an unshakable ex-wife shrillness. Then there was the Bill baggage. The repudiation of Hillary was in part a tacit admission of guilt on the part of the voters for their '90's dalliance with her philandering husband. Their other choice was a young, fresh face and an electrifying speaker. And in the general election, the personality choice was an easy one. Youthful energetic change in one box and old, cranky monotony in the other. Issues be hanged.
Simply, simplistically, you may feel, put, the outcome of elections are based on popularity, and these popularity contests are decided by the fence sitters, who call themselves moderate.
What that means to them one can only guess, but the result is clear. They hold no convictions on social issues, and their views on fiscal policy are negotiable and for sale to the highest promise. They hold our future in their hands for the foreseeable future; a future that if left undisturbed by a higher power, holds only more cycles and treadmills.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

More Incoherence

I suppose the question left unanswered by my last blog is only troubling if you find relevance in debates concerning fairies and pin heads, or flies and holy water. I do find these questions pertinent, even if you consider "fairies" in its modern contextual slang. (I'm sure the question has arisen in theory more than once in performance rehearsals of Swan Lake or The Nutcracker.)
Seriously, the questions that we sometimes diminish as superfluous or just silly because of their abstract nature are what underpin our basic doctrines and beliefs. For example, a child's curious agnosticism may cause him to ask, "If God can do anything, can He make a rock so big He can't move it?" The average reply is a snort, but really, the question is making a specific point of God's omnipotence and exposes the ultimate inadequacy of logic when explaining the concept of God.
So, the nonexistence of objectivity I proposed naturally creates a follow-up question.
If no one can be truly objective, how can we ever be sure of finding the truth? If nobody can weigh the question without any preexisting bias, doesn't it become impossible to establish anything as the absolute truth?
You must acknowledge the beginning bias, which in turn acknowledges the precondition of instinct. From whence came your desire to believe in an Almighty or your desire to disbelieve in Him? I'm not talking about upbringing, not talking about environment. As a child, when you were first presented with an idea or statement concerning the nature of the spiritual or the material, you were predisposed, however slightly, to choose one view or the other. If you insist on the impossibility of the child totally uninfluenced by upbringing or environment, consider a hypothetical child brought up in a vacuum, say a round room, with no human interaction, sustenance delivered by automation. You would have to contend that this child, deprived of any interaction with any means of shaping his views, would be a blank slate upon reaching adulthood, and have no preferences or inclinations. (Assuming you would not propose something so ridiculous, let's move on.)
If you acknowledge an inherent predisposition, independent of any influence, you acknowledge something unexplainable. Now, if it was an evolutionary development, let us take it all the way back to the first man, or first life form in possession of reasoning capabilities. Upon what did his or its choice hinge upon? What, for instance, gave it the instinct for survival that dictated the actions of the man or organism? Don't tell me survival is simply inherent. It makes as much sense as saying that the universe has always existed in some form or another; or, that something cannot come from nothing. That statement is a monstrous inconsistency for the atheist or the theist. It protests both arguments and there is no third choice, so it is an illogical statement.
So, to sum it up, if you can bring yourself to acknowledge an intangible, truly acknowledge it and accepts its implications, you then have a point of reference and everything else can then be mapped and established.
Frank Peretti gives an excellent example in a speech in which he uses a chair for a point of reference. He asks us to imagine that we are in a round room, no corners, and completely dark. We have no concept of location or distance; completely lost. But, in our stumbling and groping, we come upon this chair. The world settles into place. We now have a point of reference, and everything makes sense.
As I said before, atheistic nihilism doesn't lend itself to sanity. Even computers have logic to operate on. To disavow any absolutes sets us adrift in the round room, and there is no chair to comfort us.
(Again, notice the inconsistency of our vocal atheists. They all protest the existence of absolutes but yet make statements that subscribe to a moral code, however oblique.)