The Foolishness of Materialistic, Relativistic, Humanism (It Leads Us To Crap)July 20, 2012
My opinions on this topic are taken from lectures I’ve heard on gnosticism and insights I’ve gathered from the late Francis Schaeffer.
The supposed utopian implications of naturalism are that God can supposedly continue to be justifiably pushed out of the media, the arts, and science so long as Evolution is not openly challenged. As long as Evolution stands un-questioned, naturalism will supposedly remain justified. As long as naturalism is predominant, objective morality, beauty, truth, and meaning will go down the drain. It will be replaced with our invented morality and invented truth which will ultimately end in destruction. The unforeseen downfall to all this is that naturalism inevitably brings about humanism, autonomy, and hedonism in the worst ways. These will become, and have already become the guiding factors of our societies worldview.
Let’s peer into gnosticism a bit – because it does have its roots in our current day. One would think that it is the opposite of naturalism. Gnosticism (from the Greek word “to know”) believes that “matter” is evil and that “spirit” is good. In comparison, naturalism says that matter is all there is and that there is no spiritual realm. So how are these at all connected? They are connected in the fact that they both extinguish final causation. Within ancient gnosticism, one was shunned from looking at objective purpose, meaning, and beauty in the world. Naturalism leads us to the same conclusion. There is no intention behind creation, only the illusion of it. Both gnosticism and naturalism are philosophical cousins in that they end up telling us that God sucks at his job. We are so much better at doing God’s job. Our invented morality is better. Our invented bases for reasoning is better. Our invented meaning, beauty, and purpose is assumed to be better than any objective reality outside of ourselves.
We shun conventional ways, and seek autonomy, individuality, and uniqueness. We no longer think of discovering truth in terms of connection with others or community. We are preoccupied with discovering and creating our own identity, thus our own reality. This is especially so in the 21st century where we can easily control the impressions others have about us via our virtual online identity. We are fascinated with the creation and maintenance of the creation of an identity. This is why Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga are viewed as revolutionary and courageous. We assume that the true self is the one we invent, and we are fascinated by those whom seem to be able to maintain their invented self. We assume that the self is to be set free from the shackles of history and convention. Within gnosticism creation is something we are to escape, and with naturalism it is something we are to ascend. Our desire for transcendence is inextinguishable.
There was a time when creation seemed to speak with formal and final causes which testified to God’s wisdom. Now we view God as a stranger to this world. God is now separated from his creation, and creation is now meaningless. Creation is now viewed as something that we are to manufacture, not something we are to see God in. It is no longer something which shows us God’s meaning, but is now viewed as raw material to be used solely for human interest. We assume that we could have made a better universe than God. We could have designed the human eye better than God. We would have created a world without evil. Yet, the Christian perspective is that God created us to be in need of him as a good thing, not a flaw.
Ideas have consequences. Doing away with final causation really leads to a blank slate where we are now in charge. We are the ones to invent meaning. We un-create God and seek to create our own purpose in his place. It is now up to us to decide what is meaningful. It is now up to us to leave some kind of impressionable mark upon the world during our short existence. As Francis Schaeffer puts it, we are like waves trying to prop up our greatness, yet will always fall back down into the sea. We are never able to stay up, yet we never cease trying. As Ecclesiastes says “all is an illusion”. Thus, in order to relieve the tension of nothingness, we will convince ourselves that we will overcome, yet we have no objective certainty of this.
With the worldview of naturalism in a post-Christian era in the West, we assume in our naturalistic humanism that we are closer than ever to overcoming our problems. But we are not. We will just continue to prop our heads up, assume greatness, only to fall back down again. And we will attempt this over and over, convincing ourselves that we’re almost there. We will do so until we die, and so it will go with generations after us unto forever. Some will fall into despair in that they believe this life is all there is and that they missed their opportunity. Others will falsely convince themselves that they’ve arrived at the self-actualization and heart-warming humanism that Hollywood and Disney foolishly preach.
The Christian perspective is that we are to see God’s hand in everything. We are to see his wisdom and understanding in creation – that is to the extent that we can understand it. We are to be in need of him as a good thing. Our identity is in being like him and even loving our enemies, not fighting everyone else for mere temporal survival. We are ones merely passing through this life, yet are passing by as though being encountered with frequent tests unto holiness. This is as opposed to doing whatever we think feels good, as that often hurts us because we are selfish, blind, and dumb, not gods. We are to be taught wisdom and to pass it down. Those in Christ will live forever with him and each other in a renewed earth very soon.