Several years ago, I began reading a book called The Island of Doctor Moreau, by famed sci-fi writer H.G. Wells. The story centers on an island where the line between human and animal has been blurred, creating a society of half-man, half-beast creatures that live in relative harmony. Over time though, the island’s inhabitants begin to lose their humanity, reverting into savage monsters that fight and kill each other without mercy. When the novel’s lone human escapes back into civilization, he finds himself pondering the sins of humanity, and whether we are any different than the monsters he left on that island. Given the recent Knockout epidemic, I think Wells may have been on to something.

“Knockout”, or “Polar Bear Hunting” as it’s sometimes called, is a violent game targeting random people across the country. The practitioners, who are mostly teenagers, approach a stranger and see if they are capable of knocking him/her to the ground with a single punch, to the delight of their friends. Some victims have died, but the game persists. World magazine dives deeper into the attacks, explaining,                

“What makes knockout different from the crimes we are more accustomed to is that it has no discernible motive or goal, and not even passion to commend it. Knockout is done for the sheer fun of it. As opposed to stealing because you’re hungry or gunning someone down to settle a score, knockout is that end-of-the-line-of-Western-civilization kind of violence: gratuitous.”

Violence for the sake of violence. It is motives like this that make you wonder what’s wrong with the world. Christians know that sin still permeates every fiber of our existence, leading to greed, wrath, and all the other troubles of life. But often we find ourselves wanting more explanation. Why would someone do this? Who is to blame?            

In an old article by Cliff Young, the author writes on our lost sense of responsibility. We have been raised to believe all our mistakes are someone else’s fault, trapping us in a web of denial.        

“How far will you go to avert responsibility for your knowledge, actions and values in the face of shame, embarrassment, personal safety or negative public opinion? Will you stand up for your beliefs or admit your wrongdoings, or will you run, hide and blame others for your situation or transgressions? I sometimes hear people say, ‘If it wasn’t for so and so, I would be married and happy’ or ‘If such and such didn’t happen, I would be in a much better place’” or ‘It’s not my fault because….’ Okay, maybe there are some unique circumstances in your case where someone or something can be attributed to having had a negative impact on a portion of your life, but that is now history.”

Whatever the reason, it’s clear we’ll never understand how much we lost in The Fall. Even with the all-encompassing grace of Jesus there are still those who seek out the darker places of the soul. Jude 1:10 describes such men as “unreasoning animals”, truer words were never spoken.

*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor of Crosswalk.com.