The course of the world has followed an amazing track that unless it is seen in its great perspective, it loses significance.
What must be traced are things that took place throughout history in a rather massive arena: the arena of world thought.
We must look back to understand where we are now. Then we can see precisely why things have turned out the way they have, and we will have some clear indications of where things will be going. It didn’t suddenly all magically happen. It has been centuries in the making.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 1:9]
Our spiritual crisis in the West today has its roots in the Age of Reason, that seventeenth-century period out of which emerged the rationalists and the empiricists.
In the 1600’s and 1700’s, strains of humanistic, man-centered thought came together and flourished, producing a widespread change in assumptions about reality. A group of thinkers known as the Continental Rationalists, composed of Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza, assumed on faith the mind’s ability to function correctly, independent of any external guidelines for thought and independent of God’s revelations about his creation. The mind could build a sound, unshakable system of thought, they felt, by deductive reasoning from simple premises, reinforced by truths retained from the biblical worldview from which they could borrow for the sake of convenience.
Then another group of philosophers known as the British Empiricists took things a step further toward modernism. This group, composed of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, denied the existence of the “innate ideas” held by the rationalists. All that man can know, they proposed, must originate in experience. All “abstract ideas” such as God or truth must derive from some sense impression in order to be intellectually valid.
Of the three philosophers, only David Hume explored the implications of a pure empiricism with unremitting vigor. All that man can legitimately know from experience, Hume concluded, is a succession of sensations. Therefore, since things like God, one’s personal identity, and the events of life are not immediate sense impressions like pain or color or size, we cannot know that they exist. Man experiences only a succession of events which habit and memory lead him to connect together into various unifying experiences. Our experience has no necessary connections with the future; therefore, no reliable knowledge is possible by empirical observation derived from experience if it is true that there are no real, necessary connections between events.
What Hume was in fact saying was that just because the sun has risen every day for thousands of years gives us no warrant to predict it will come up again. Hume had just declared the death sentence on what philosophers call causality – the very foundation upon which modern science is founded. Connections between things and events perceived by sense impressions could no longer be made. You can imagine how this notion shrank the field of acceptable knowledge.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. [Colossians 2:8]
Recent events that shape our world today.
By the mid-1950s, America was absorbed with “modernism.” From the fins of our automobiles to the shrinking swimsuits of Hollywood models, it was apparent that America was making a deliberate turn toward the new, the modern, the materialistic, and the shocking. The music, the movies, and the media of the day reveal the degree to which this change was taking place in the popular imagination. Hot jazz, rhythm and blues, and the early rock-and-roll hits were slightly off color, and young people took a mischievous pleasure in scandalizing their elders.
As GIs, Army nurses, and others returned to the campuses following WWII, the relatively new discipline of psychology became a major topic of interest. By the mid-1960s, psychology was the hottest major in American universities. Many of psychology’s insights into the reasons behind human behavior are of value, and some of them confirm what the Bible had said long ago. However, today we can see that some of the founders of that science – like early astronauts of the mind – were among the leading contributors to the shift in values taking place in American attitudes.
The principle which made secular psychology so radical was that it introduced a break with much that had gone before. Just as the theories of Charles Darwin had undermined belief in God as the Creator, modern psychology also tended to turn people against belief in God.
It taught that there was hidden depth and substance within each individual. The outer person was a compromise; the inner person was profound and important. Psychology thus concluded that the true self, buried under a false covering of social conditioning and religious prejudice, was struggling to be set free. For some psychologists, therefore, religion was seen as a hindrance rather than a help to human personality. Much modern secular psychology preaches individual self-interest as the ultimate reality at the expense of compassion, concern for others, and devotion to a higher purpose in life – as in our relation to God and our fellow man. “Pop psychology” has contributed in no small way to the chaos of hedonism, secularism, and nihilism in modern culture. [Billy Graham, Storm Warning]
We went through a true cultural revolution in the 1960s in which the value system of the country shifted away from one of belief in transcendent values and absolute standards. We wouldn’t always agree on what they were, but there was a general consensus that we believed in absolute standards. The vast majority of people believed there were such things as moral absolutes. All of the polls show that.
In the 60s there was a fundamental change of thinking. Cultural Marxists introduced it on the college campuses, moved through the student movement, eventually infected the media. It was a time when, for some, any action taken to oppose the war in Vietnam was considered not only acceptable but commendable. It erupted with the riots at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and it deteriorated into the bombing of the U.S. Capital in 1971.
All along the way, the agents of “change” excused and rationalized each and every act of defiance – no matter how violent, no matter how unlawful. Every illegal act was glorified under the high-minded ideal of “civil disobedience.” The nineteenth-century American writer Henry David Thoreau and the Indian nationalist and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi became the spiritual icons. Campus buildings were taken over, students were denied the right to attend classes, and public officials were denied the right to speak. Anything went, as long as the cause was right. The end justified the means. We’re still reaping a bitter harvest from the seeds that were planted by the sixties kids. Now, they’re running things. [Rush Limbaugh, See, I Told You So]
As the hippies of the 60s shaved off their long hair, got rid of their tie-dyes and their beads, and went on to Wall Street and became Yuppies, it infected the business community.
The values of the 60s which rejected authority, rejected tradition, rejected God, rejected absolute standards, are now mainstream today. What started out as a rather limited protest against Vietnam and authority in the 60s, has invaded the mainstream of American culture. Look at the values of the 60s, and you will understand what’s wrong with America today. So today what we have is the value system of the 60s which is largely the product of the existential writers, Camus, Sartre, and others who said there is no God and the meaning of life is your own heroic individual efforts to overcome the nothingness.
The 1960s had a great impact on changing societal values and traditional mores. Following that influential decade was the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision which completely and absolutely altered the way we view human life. This Supreme decision wasn’t just anti-human life, it was also anti-traditional values. Once society accepted the Courts’ decision, other absolutes also quickly fell. For the Court to rule as it did in Roe v. Wade showed a total disrespect for Judeo-Christian values and Judeo-Christian history. Society officially declared its move away from a Judeo-Christian view, by way of its chief law-making institution, and dramatic changes occurred.
Hostility toward religion and religious persons in the public schools, fueled by cultural Marxism, began shortly after this time. In a matter of a few years, things went from objections to required prayer to objections over a student privately praying over his lunch. Practices once routinely accepted, such as children writing book reports on Christianity and Jesus Christ, are seen today as illegal.
The advent of moral relativism following the expulsion of Bible reading and prayer from public schools in the ’60s, and the legal system’s growing antagonism to anything not of this world, put the government in the place of God and sought to make man the focus of worship. This led to the denunciation of what was once considered pure and holy and good and the elevation and promotion of that which once was regarded universally as vile and decadent. [Cal Thomas, “The Torch and the Light,” Christian American, January 1993, pg. 29.]
In many ways, today’s Americans have forgotten notion of personal responsibility. We see clear evidence of this everywhere. In our public schools children learn to do “whatever is right for me” regardless of how their irresponsible behavior affects others. Too often we ship our elderly to “homes” more for our convenience than for their welfare. Divorce (the breaking of marriage vows) is a national plague. Television promotes violence, considering only ratings and not the long-term consequences for a society now numb to outrageous and destructive behavior.
One of the common denominators of Western societies since the 1960s has been a growing tendency to excuse anti-social behavior (including crime) by blaming society instead of the individuals who commit these deeds. Collective guilt has replaced individual responsibility. Back in the 1960s, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, said that “all of us must assume a share of the responsibility” for rising crime, which he attributed to such “root causes” as slum conditions which “for decades we have swept under the rug.” He neglected to mention that murder rates were falling throughout those decades, contrary to his theory – and that this trend reversed itself and murder rates skyrocketed only after he and his fellow justices began creating sweeping new “rights” for criminals during the 1960s. [Thomas Sowell, “We suffer the consequences of ’60s liberalism,” AFA Journal, January 1994, pg. 14.]
Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil. – Isaiah 5:20
Out of the chaos of the 1960s sprung the relativistic anti-American, anti-God sentiment that propelled Bill Clinton into the national arena with his new morality and friends made up of the antiwar movement of the 60s. A few years later, even more radicals from the period were given prominent places in American government with the election of Barack Obama. Marxist ideals had finally taken root in the White house as globalists are poised to move America into the next stage of the New World Order.