Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fruit of the Secular part 2

Previously I began to describe what I see the real fruit of the secular to be. First it is apathetic and second it is hopeless or marked by despair. Now I would like to go on and finish with a third fruit, anarchy.

Anarchy, as I see it, is a complete lack of control or order. It would be the result of a society without laws and mores. We often see glimpses of this after natural disasters or in the wake of wars when governments are powerless to control the people. Death, looting and general chaos are the markers of this type of situation. You may be thinking, "well, just because a society is without religion does not mean that it is without laws or morals." This is partially correct but, as I mentioned earlier, without a religious framework, of whatever sort, there are no grounds for either laws or morals. They may be transferred from a religious worldview but they are not natural for the secular.
Let us look for a moment at the idea of laws. These are imposed on a society because certain things are seen as admirable and certain things are seen as despicable. For instance, in most societies it is illegal to steal someone's property. This is an almost universal notion and one that, if someone says it is not wrong, they will likely agree to as soon as something is stolen from them. C.S Lewis speaks of this in terms of quarrels. He says that every quarrel appeals to a baseline of right or wrong because both parties feel they are "right." Otherwise there would be no disagreement.
The objection is commonly offered that laws and notions of right and wrong are foisted upon people by the society in which they find themselves. This may be partially true but it ignores an interesting consequence. If laws and morals are unfairly pushed upon the unwilling masses then it follows that these could be changed. In the United States we live with a government system that allows for laws to be changed and amended by popular vote or opinion. This is, at once, the beauty of democracy and the danger of uneducated democracy. This means that if the popular opinion was strong enough just about anything could be made legal whether or not it was the healthy or right thing to do. That is, if opinion was strong enough that murder was a moral action then it could be made so. Unfortunately, we have seen this take place in a number of other societies and in a sense our own.
Let me toss this out there for our thinking. If popular opinion said that 2 +2 = 5 then we could pass a law that says it is. Sadly, this does nothing to change the reality that 4 is the correct answer. Likewise, if popular opinion said that evolution was the means by which the universe and the species came to be they could pass laws that required that it be taught in schools, despite evidence to the contrary...oh wait...they already have. Popular opinion and societal norms are no way to determine whether or not something is actually admirable or despicable. It is merely a means of showing how far away or near to a society is to what is right. Said another way, popular opinion is only the thermometer which measures the moral climate of a people. We can see this plainly in our political system. When a person is elected to an office, such as the president, there are those who like the election and those who dislike the election. Who is right? In the secular worldview, there should be no discontent with the choice of the people because it is exactly what they subscribe to, popular opinion running society. The death nail is, even those with a secular worldview believe that they have the "right" one and that their notions of morals, laws and values are correct. How can they say this? Sadly, I don't have an answer that makes any sense.
Finally, in the secular framework there would be no basis for either creating or obeying laws. If something can be true for you and not true for me then that would apply to laws as well. How can one person tell another that it is not right to steal, murder, rape or anything else without an agreed upon standard that is true no matter the situation? "Yes officer, 85 miles an hour in this school zone may be too fast for some people but not me." Who is to say otherwise?

Sadly, the secular worldview does not pass the crucial test of functionality. If the Wright brothers had built a heavier-than-air craft that did not fly no one would have offered them a patent or a contract to build them. This is what has happened in our culture today. Secularists have applied for a patent on a worldview that simply doesn't work, it doesn't fly so to speak. In fact, to make their worldview pass scrutiny they must borrow from religious worldviews and extravagant conjecture. They have produced a "bigger and better" system of beliefs that must transfer religious morals and values to itself and yet claim it does so without the aide of God.
If the fruit of a tree is bad then there must be something wrong with the tree. Clearly, the fruit of the secular is poisonous but we have yet to see it for what it really is because only the deranged and pathological can carry it to it's logical outworkings. In an effort to evict God from the picture these individuals have only shoved God behind a curtain and the image that displays on the screen is their own. It is equivalent to someone stealing my car, putting a new tag and new bumper stickers on it and trying to sell it back to me as if they never stole it in the first place. It isn't going to work.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fruit of the Secular

In common terminology the so called "fruit" of something is that which it bears, or the result of it. Obviously the fruit of a tree is something like an apple or an orange and the fruit of plants are things like tomatoes and cucumbers. We also use it in a more metaphorical way such as, "the fruit of our labor." That is, if I worked hard in school the fruit of my labor would be good grades...hopefully. We also know that in the Bible Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit telling us that it is love, joy, peace and that like. Now in society today there is a move to get further and further away from things like Christianity and some would even say religion all together. Highly educated professors, scientist, authors and others want to remove religion and all of it's nasty trappings from the world. With that in mind and I would like to reckon for a few moments what the fruit of the secular would be. Now, to be clear I am not suggesting that all secular people show evidence of this fruit, in fact, as we will see I think it is somewhat the opposite. However, if taken to it's logical outcome I believe this would be the fruit of a purely secular worldview and society.


First and foremost I believe the fruit of the secular would be apathetic or simply apathy. Webster defines apathy as "without feeling." In our common language we would probably say it is a "who cares?" attitude. It is easily seen in the younger generation of teenagers, at least from my perspective. If all is relative and there is no true right or wrong then who could possibly care what one person thinks or believes? Of course, this isn't the case because those who don't care for rules, laws and so forth always run up against those who do. Furthermore, if someone doesn't believe in God, the afterlife or anything else commonly associated with religion, why be upset with those who do? I have written about this in an earlier post as well. The fact of the matter is, people do care, some people who should be apathetic aren't. This, I believe, shows that when subscribing to a philosophy such as secularism one must borrow from other philosophies just to function in the world.
One statement that is meant to be somewhat tongue in cheek and yet is very telling is, "I don't believe in God and I don't like Him." We want to have someone to blame for all the mess in the world but saddling humanity with the problems is contrary to the idea that humanity can find the solution. What about, "If God is good and all powerful, how come bad things happen to people?" Well, if there is no God, no higher authority, how can we determine that bad things are happening to people. If God does not exist then only things happen to people and whether or not they are bad or good is a societal construct not a reality. Furthermore, when something "bad" happens to one person, in many cases it results in something good for someone else. If a mafia hitman takes out my brother that is bad for me but good for the mafia so who's to say whether it was bad or good. Typically, our notions of bad and good revolve less around the reality of it's goodness or badness and more around what suits our preferences. Who am I to say whether my brother's life was more important than the mafia maintaining power and control?

The second part of the fruit of the secular as I see it is despair. In secularism only the tangible is real and this breath of a life is all there is. Not only that but the only hope for humanity lies in either science which has been about as bad for humanity as it has been good, or transferring religious values into a secular person. Here is what I mean. First, I am not against science, scientific inquiry or scientific development. In fact, I owe a debt of gratitude to science for the ability to type this "blog" on a computer using the internet. There is no doubt that science has given us many good things from health care to transportation. However, science has also given us the atomic bomb, TNT, gunpowder, harmful drugs, and a variety of other harmful things. You see, science is an amoral endeavor. It can give us a whole bunch of things but it can't tell us how we should use them. As mentioned, science gave us atomic energy but it was up to us whether or not to use it for good or for evil. Science has given us allergy medication and it is up to us whether or not to use it for allergies or the creation of crystal meth. The idea for secularist is that if we just learn more the world will be a better place. Not so. It is good and beneficial to learn more but as with anything it is up to us to decide how to use that information, for good or for evil. Sadly, science is silent on that subject.
That leaves the other option, applying values to the secular that have already been arrived at by religion. When people decide to do something good or act in an honorable way for the betterment of humanity it is not because Newton, or Darwin or Galileo has told them to. The laws of physics and chemistry and biology do not show me that I ought to go and help people that are suffering. To believe that I should use my gifts to help other people is not a secular idea. Secular people may use that idea but let us not pretend that it came from their secular philosophy. If my explanation for the origin of life and species includes survival of the fittest or "natural selection" then I am hindering further evolutionary advancement by helping those less fit than I am. In that case I am working against the laws of the universe and against progress.
Alas, the only framework that gives a person hope for the future is religious. If I am hoping that my research in some area of science will help future generations I am making two very risky assumptions. First, I am assuming that they will care (read: not be apathetic). Second, I am assuming that they will choose to do the right thing and continue the work for the betterment of humanity. Only the religious perspective, Christianity in particular, offers hope for more than just today and this life.

I will continue this explanation in part 2 of this entry with:
Anarchy and a conclusion.