Friday, March 28, 2014
The Growth of Atheism: Part 2. Fertilizer
(You can see Part 1. Here: )
Part 1 of the Growth of Atheism story was a review of some books I had read on the subject, which demonstrated how the breakdown of families --- and in particular those with defective fathers --- had caused some very intelligent children to grow into adults who had an innate bias against religion, and against Christianity in particular, because it speaks of God, “The Father.” These individuals reasoned their way and, using the Scientific Method, proved their way to a belief that God does not exist --- and even if He did, man does not need Him. Not trusting in families, not trusting in being loved, their faith largely was in themselves --- and they encouraged others to see the world as they did: only you are responsible for making yourself happy.
Now, logically you might expect that while atheists were sprouting and taking root in many academic circles --- in Europe and then America --- surely there must have been many intelligent God-fearing men raised in good, solid Christian families at the same time. And that is true. But also at the same time, the world has been changing in the last few hundred years, and many of these changes acted as a fertilizer, one which seemed to be absorbed more readily by the atheistic, “progressive” mindset of self-reliance. And so while the “good wheat” and the “weeds” were growing together in our culture, the weeds grew larger.
One of the first springboards for atheism’s growth, the first dose of fertilizer, was supplied by the Catholic Church itself. The Protestant Revolution arose from some valid complaints about the Church hierarchy, and a new weed “sprouted” in some minds: If I don’t like things as they are, I can change them --- I can determine what is right and wrong, for me. And like the atheist, more minds formed a bias toward what they wanted, not what God wanted. For many, overthrowing “the chains of religion” BECAME a religion, one without thought, only anger to obtain “what I want.” The French Revolution and its hatred of religion was an example of this in action, and a disaster for everyone involved. Later, as Benjamin Wiker points out in his book, religion was tolerated (in increasingly narrow limits), but religious differences became another fertilizer for the godless state, which counseled: “We’ll help protect your rights, from those other Christians who want things their way --- just give us the power.”
The age of industrialization provided another heavy dose of fertilizer for the “me first” mindset. Amidst the common lot of farmers, suddenly there were millionaires, made from men who once were farmers. And with new industrial efficiencies, men could produce more, faster --- and wages rose dramatically. “Henry Ford is paying $5 a day,” was the headline. And everyone wanted more money --- for themselves. (We see the same thing happening in China today, as the people abandon farms and head to the cities for money --- and as recent U.S. surveys show, those in the cities are much less likely to be thinking about God, or family.) The headlines today, in 2014, make it sound like the large gap between the richest and the poorest is a new thing. It isn’t. It certainly has been around since the start of the industrial age.
From the book How The West Really Lost God we saw that family decline paralleled church decline, and there were a number of cultural events which fertilized the decline of the family. Most were deliberately implemented and justified as good things, but their impact on the family was never considered beforehand --- nor the decline of the family’s impact on our culture.
The Second World War showed governments the strategic importance of mobility, and helped justify the building of the interstate highway system in the United States. Fast efficient movement of the military was now possible --- and of people. And the people did move fast, and far. Families which once lived near to each other for generations suddenly lived on opposite sides of the country. Children who used to grow up in parish families now moved from one parish to another, to another. Secure parish families for a child’s lifetime became a constant struggle to find new friends, for a year or two until the next move --- which their parents made for more money. And those atheist-inclined youths without fathers found other lost souls, who were learning that they too would have to depend upon themselves.
All of this focus on money and self exploded in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as live news coverage came into our living rooms, and became more political. “War is evil. Your sons are killing children. You can’t rely on the Church. You can’t rely on the government. You can only rely on yourself, so ignore them all and do what you want --- and just ‘Be Happy!’” And the heavy decline in marriages and growth in divorces, took a sharp turn for the worse. And liberalism, the New Society, stepped in. The state, not the Church or family, would provide for the poor, and help make you happy. The government, not you, has an obligation to love your neighbor.
Television began with shows which focused on “good families” and people doing virtuous things, but it was the internet that added yet another huge dose of fertilizer to the weeds of atheism and even evermore hatred of Christianity. From a family gathering site, television became a private thing in the bedroom, and the internet became obsessed with the bedroom. Over 10% of all internet websites are pornography. There are thousands of television channels for anything YOU want to watch, millions of musical delights for you to listen to ALL DAY LONG, and with this now all five of the senses have reached the point of our being able to give ourselves WHAT we want, WHEN we want it, WHERE we want it, HOW we want it, and even a virtual with WHO we want it. Everything entering our body can now be just as WE want it. Happiness is now ours to be had --- or so the advertisements proclaim. Only one question remains unanswered.
WHY? Why didn’t this make us all happy? Must we just continue trying until we get it right, or are we on the treadmill that Einstein described, where we “keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results.”
Fertilizers: attempts to purify failed Church leaders, industrialization to provide better products and jobs, a highway system to help defend us, television to help us know one another, and the internet to help us more easily speak to one another --- all good things which turned into waste: fertilizer. All had the intention to make our lives better, and yet all tore our lives apart. Even as we got evermore things “we” wanted, we found we had even less things of value in our lives. Surveys today show that the happiest people in the world are those in the smallest, poorest countries; those which are without the big cities and efficient highways and mass communications. All they have is God and family, and they are happy. Why?
Where did we go wrong in our struggles to make ourselves happy? How do we get off this merry-go-round of not believing in heaven, but wanting to create it on earth? How can we look at our sad, angry lives and think we’ve done a great job of controlling our evolution --- without God --- and want to control it even more? Can the government fix these bad results? Do we have to chop it all down (like the French Revolution) and start over? Must we pull all the weeds out --- kill each other --- to find happiness? How do we find some balance between what we think we want and what will make us happy? How can we live with one another? How can people of faith exist in a world which largely doesn’t believe in God, and people who view themselves as the ultimate creators.
Where do we even start?
Next: Part 3. Learning to Love Again.