How Did We Get Here?

How Did We Get Here?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Correlation does not imply causation. I know this. Yet, I still cannot help noticing a concurrent rise of similar outcomes stemming from a conscious or subconscious choice: the decision to ignore God. And I am not the first to see this. One inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote about this phenomenon in the first century AD. Indeed, Paul informed the brethren at Rome that choosing to worship the creature rather than the Creator led to a laundry list of sins (Romans 1.18ff). 

Paul described this descent of man as follows. 

  1. There is a failure to acknowledge and thank God, despite the evidence for God (1.21).  
  2. One turns inward to his thoughts to rationalize his existence (1.21).  
  3. One believes his reasoning is superior to revelation (1.22).  
  4. Man’s folly becomes complete; he worships the creature rather than Creator (1.23). 
  5. Man exchanges the natural for unnatural (1.26-27). 
  6. Unrestrained men plunge deep into their sins while aiding and abetting others in their corruption (1.28-32). 

Current events prompt my reasons for contemplating this progression into darkness. Ours has become a culture of perversion and death. Perhaps, I am as guilty as those who have brought us here by insisting that we can understand the machinations of the fallen man; that there is a basis of rationale. Yet, I feel there is a rough outline paralleling the process described by Paul within the last three hundred years. Paul looked back into the centuries creating the world in which he found himself preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, that world Paul witnessed had not quickly come into being either but had slowly descended into idolatry and sin. Humanity had begun as monotheistic and plunged into polytheism.  

We likely need to go back to the Age of Enlightenment to explain our current situation. First, men began to become less likely to thank and acknowledge God. There was a Creator, but He had only wound up the clock of our universe and walked away. Some refer to this idea as deism. Thus, men like Thomas Paine said one needed to guide himself with a rational mind. Therefore, humanity began looking for alternative explanations for what he previously attributed to the purview of God. Though true that such pursuits brought helpful things like the scientific method, otherwise intelligent men like Thomas Jefferson concluded that the miracles of the Bible were not true and removed them from his Bible.  

Of these new “enlightened” men, one suggested a revolutionary thought that humanity had arisen from natural rather than supernatural processes. Charles Darwin wrote his findings in The Origin of the Species. Darwin was not an atheist, per se. On the contrary, his pedigree included a belief in God. Moreover, Darwin’s grandfather had written poetry mocking the atheist. Yet, somehow Darwin thought God could coincide with the concept of humanity climbing out of the primordial ooze to become the ultimate primate, rather than being fashioned in God’s image (Genesis 1.26-27). And by 1871, in The Descent of Man, even Darwin began wondering aloud that since nature disposed of the unfit, was humanity harming itself by failing to do the same?  

Those moved with interest by Darwin’s novel thoughts took his concept of “the survival of the fittest” and applied it to human reproduction. Whether it was Friedrich Nietzsche’s ubermensch (i.e., superman) or Margaret Sanger’s population control, it was a field of thought known first as Social Darwinism and later eugenics. We bristle at the latter as we think of Adolph Hitler and the murder of six million Jews during World War II. Yet, while we rightfully decry the ideology of the Third Reich, it’s an ugly truth that when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, 30 U.S. states allowed forced sterilization of those deemed unfit to breed.   

The consequences of the Second World War made eugenics less palatable to the American diet. But it did nothing to remove the ideology. Instead of going away, unpopular ideas like eugenics merely went underground into the ivy-covered walls of “higher learning” to find a simpatico relationship with other equally undesirable ideologies like communism. Here in the bosom of secular scholasticism, agents of societal change grasped the Confucian maxim that planning for a hundred years entails children’s education. And the one idea that provides the semblance of unity to these disparate ideologies is the need to remove the restraints of morality and religion. Nietzsche said God kept man from becoming the ubermensch, and Karl Marx declared faith as the opium of the masses.  

Within the last fifty years, secular academia has taught youth that they are nothing but animals constrained by old standards. They have told young people to question the meaning of the written word and allow for its private interpretation. And if students can deconstruct poems to declare a preferred message, why not other documents like the Bible or U.S. Constitution? A watered-down Gospel allows for the practice of sinful behavior. Repetition normalizes it. Professors and teachers tell young people that the only thing preventing utopia are institutions like the home. Government can be the mother and father. These instructors have even told today’s youth they can deny their biology and create for themselves an identity forged by the fires of faddism.  

I doubt anything I’ve written will convince those not already singing in the choir. As I stated at the outset, correlation does not imply causation. But, in truth, I never thought one article could be sufficient to discuss the ramifications of this observation regarding man’s precipitous fall within the last few centuries according to the paradigm Paul introduces in Romans one. And though we know Solomon stated long ago that there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1.9-10), we acknowledge that periodic times of awakening and revival have buoyed humanity and temporarily halted his self-destruction.  

Suppose you realize that you are not alone in your conviction that God intended man to be something more significant. In that case, you can merge with that greater community of like-minded believers (cf. Ecclesiastes 4.9-12). God has given us the armor we need for this fight (Ephesians 6.10-17), but we still need our “Band of Brothers” to watch our backs in this war against sin (Galatians 6.1-2,6, 9-10). In the interim, we magnify the God Who grants us victory over this world through faith (1 John 5.4). And we await our Lord’s glorious return (Acts 1.11).