A few weeks back, I watched a fascinating video discussing dissent from Darwinism. Towards the end, Stephen Meyer (who was one of the three being interviewed) made a comment about the importance of three men’s ideas upon the modern-day Western world. Darwin, Freud, and Marx together laid the groundwork for a secular worldview detached from Christianity, and they did so by addressing some of life’s fundamental concerns without God in the picture. Darwin gave us a non-theistic origin story, Freud reframed sin and guilt into matters of psychology, and Marx painted a portrait of a utopia that we can build ourselves. Even if a secularist no longer agrees with one or more of these men, the successfully rebuilt the storyline of humanity, beginning, middle, and end. And without a Deity to assert that He is the main character of the narrative, we are finally able to become the protagonists that we’ve always dreamt of being.
The problems here are multitude, but among the foremost is that secular humanism diminishes the importance of humanity by attempting to erase God from the picture. Even though the God of Christianity is often depicted as a megalomaniac and a narcissist who demands our exclusive worship, the Bible clearly argues that worshiping Him actually benefits us. The command to have “no other gods before me” is not megalomania if there truly is only one God. It is a plea to embrace reality. To worship anything other than God is like watching the Olympics from your bed while thinking that you are an Olympic athlete. It’s a farce, a fantasy, and a waste of a life. Furthermore, if the God of the Scriptures is true, then we are also exalted as being the bearers of the His image. We certainly are not God, but He has ranked us above His other creations. According to Darwinism, however, there is no Creator, and there is no intent within the cosmos. We are here by chance, just like everything else. We build cities and own dogs instead of dogs building cities and owning us because luck was on our side (not that chance and luck are stand-in deities or anything…).
However, I whole-heartedly agree with Peter Jones that secular humanism is on the decline. It’s secular utopia will never come because humans are fundamentally religious. And although secularism truly is its own religion, it is a rather ineffective one. For any religion or ideology to conquer, proselytes must be made. The very mission that Christ left to His church is to make disciples of all nations, and Christianity still exists today because Christians strive to reproduce themselves, to expand the faith. The same is true of all other religions as well. The methods and the degree of emphasis change, but reproduction must occur, or the belief system dies out.
For most religions, the most basic vehicle of reproduction is… reproduction. For example, Islam is often reported as being the fastest growing religion in the world, and although Muslims throughout history have made pointed goals of converting adults (often by the use of the sword), their growth today is primarily due to their high fertility rate with an average of 2.9 children per family. Christians follow suit with an average of 2.6, but atheists and agnostics come in between 1.3-1.6. Secularists, therefore, are reproducing themselves at significantly lower rates than the traditional religions.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone. If the great goal of a randomly generated life is self-actualization, then children are not likely to be a high-ranked priority.
As a Christian who firmly believes the truth of Psalm 127, I presently have one child (with the hope of many more both biological and adopted to come), and she is honestly a tremendous disruption to my life. Because my wife and I take Deuteronomy 6:7 seriously, she consumes a great deal of our time and energy. While she is asleep, we spend hours discussing and planning how we can best teach and train her in both life and godliness. As two thirty-year-olds, we are giving to her the time and energy of our youth, and we pray that she benefits from it all. We also pray that she in turn cares for us in our old age. Yet if we look at our time and energy given to her as purely an investment, we 1) only have influence over her path to adulthood, not control and 2) could easily place a burden upon her shoulders that she cannot and should not bear. Instead, we give to her freely, even if we never see a return on our time and effort. We give because our God is a giver, and we are His image-bearers. Time with her is less time writing and reading for me, and that is okay. I give myself to her with the utmost joy.
To be honest, however, I cannot fathom how childrearing can become a joyful and selfless endeavor without the biblical concept that it is better to give than to receive. Without a higher calling to reproduce myself, to diligently teach the faith to my children, why should I bother with having children at all? Or at least, why would I give the youthful energy of my twenties and thirties to them? Why should I raise people who may not even care for me when I become dependent upon others again? Furthermore, if I adhered to secularism, why should I diligently indoctrinate my children with my vision a secular utopia when I will likely never see it myself?
Of course, I know that there are zealous secularists who really believe that perfectly just society is possible and within reach, but in general, it seems that secularism tends to produce a rather apathetic regard for the distant future, which is the inevitable conclusion of a worldview that is limited to this life alone. And while secularism works poorly as a faith, it fairs even less when offering hope. Secular eschatology (if we could even call it that) is far too frail to support the tremendous weight of hope. Secularism simply isn’t religious enough to maintain its own status.
Somewhat agreeing with Jones, a sociologist named Peter Berger agrees that secularism is not the inevitable result of modernity. He states:
Modernity does not necessarily produce secularity. It necessarily produces pluralism, by which I mean the coexistence in the same society of different worldviews and value systems. That changes the status of religion. It’s a challenge for every religious tradition. But it’s not the challenge of secularity; it’s a different challenge. The problem with modernity is not that God is dead, as some people hoped and other people feared. There are too many gods, which is a challenge, but a different one.
Secularism may have successfully made people less religious, but it has not made them less spiritual. It has only birthed a pluralistic kaleidoscope of self-governed spiritualities. The collapse of Christendom, thus, has not produced an Enlightenment dreamscape; it has only facilitated the largescale return of paganism into the West. Abortion on demand, sexual deviance called freedom, and a form of environmentalism that bleeds over into virtual animism are all more characteristic of ancient Rome than colonial America. Many may happily agree with this statement, given the atrocities committed during the Imperial Era of the world. But lest we forget, the Roman Empire was largely upheld by a juggernaut military and the dread of crucifixion. Christendom has certainly had its fair share of committed horrors, yet the progress of modern society is rooted in the Christian worldview. A demolition of biblical truths will not progress society; it can only rewind it back to lesser days.
Even though the secular dream for society will not come to pass, we Christians have a hope that will not fail. A utopic upgrade of this life will not come, but Jesus will. At His return, He will make all things new, and sin and death will be forever defeated. But we know that this blessed hope is not escapism; instead, it is fuel for us daily to do all things to the glory of God. It is a constant reminder that this life is temporary and fleeting, but its effects will endure throughout all eternity.
Take heart, brothers and sisters, because whether the world around us rejects God for materialism or for other gods, we serve the one who has overcome the world. The secular (and even pagan) utopia is not coming, but Jesus certainly is!