The development of thermonuclear weapons, together with fantastically powerful and frightfully accurate means for their delivery upon a global range of targets, has affected human thought in more ways than man usually recognizes. The results of this impact upon human culture will be felt for a long time. Christian thinkers and writers have felt the force of this shock to mankind with special weight in the field of social ethics. It may be helpful to notice something of the manner in which writers in this area have responded to the new problems which our modern technological development has posed.
Christian social ethics, in both the conservative and liberal wings of Christendom, has been concerned for a decade with the deeper implications of possible thermonuclear war. The past five years have shown a remarkably frank and forceful facing of the problems implicit in such policy decisions as are reflected by such terms as “massive retaliation,” “deterrence,” and the like.
There has been, first of all, a study of the possible objectives of a war fought with thermonuclear weapons. It is usually recognized that wars are fought to secure certain ends which are regarded as desirable. World War I was ostensibly fought “to make the world safe for democracy.” World War II was pursued with the hope of eliminating the drive toward dictatorship which threatened Western civilization. The fact that neither of these objectives was achieved (at least as they were envisaged) has led to a more sober appraisal of the possibilities of future wars.
In his volume Christianity and World Issues T. B. Maston concludes that the only possible good which might come from a war fought on the modern scale is the saving of a nation from enslavement by a foreign ...1
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