April 10, 2001
It is hard to back off the hectic pursuits and graspings of life, and it's hard to resist the relentless pushes and pulls of an unstable world.
We worry about viruses and back aches. We worry about our jobs, the stock market and the possibility of a recession. We worry about taxes and where the money is coming from. We worry about our relationships and what is happening to our children. We worry about gas lines and rolling blackouts. We fear that the Chinese communists will become self-destructive, in a pique because their candidate lost the presidential election in America.
We hear it said that "the joy and meaning of life is in the journey, not in the destination." This is a popular way of thinking. However, implicit in this view is the idea that life is not going anywhere, and the total meaning of an individual human existence is contained in an envelope of time between conception and birth.
This constricted view of what it means to be a human being has a religious foundation. It is the religion of humanism, a system of beliefs founded upon the assumption that man is sufficient within himself and can find salvation in striving to establish a social utopia on earth.
Thomas Huxley, 19th century scholar and theorist, was one of humanism's most influential spokesmen. He lived his entire adult life crusading against the dogma of the Christian religion. He invented the word "agnostic" to describe himself. He implacably believed that reason and science would ultimately resolve fundamental human conflicts and create a world worth living in.
The delusion that man can bootstrap himself to perfection with the tools of technology and science is contradicted by history. As the pace of human power over nature has quickened, the history of our species throughout the 20th century has been a near uninterrupted chain of brutality, war, carnage, cruelty, disorder and chaos. Today, the world festers with self-inflicted tragedies and horrors.
While humans are capable of good, they are also prone to cruelty, violence and perversion. There is no correlation between technology and morality. Every advance of technology empowers the best and the worst that is in man's nature.
As Gus R. Stelzer detailed in his recent book, The State Against Religion, it was the late John Dewey, highly celebrated American educator and philosopher, who applied the values of humanism to the system of government schools.
Dewey admitted that humanism is "a philosophical, religious, and moral point of view." During the 1930s and '40s, he preached the doctrine that a belief in the supernatural (God) was an "encumbrance" from which we should liberate ourselves. He wrote,
In zealous pursuit of a man-made utopia, today's American socialists and communists, posing as liberal intellectuals, have imposed a moral disaster upon America. Egos bloated by a false sense of omnipotence, brains hopelessly clogged with congealed, ideological mush, and with the assistance of The American Civil Liberties Union and The National Education Association, they have proceeded with a program to proselytize our youth, and dismantle a structure of morals and standards carefully put in place to protect us from the primeval forces of our dark side.
History is a canvas upon which we have painted a vivid picture of ourselves. This projection of our inner nature is clear, detailed and easy to understand. The only honest reaction to an honest look at history's portrait of us is abject humility and a longing for redemption.
As religious scholar Reinhold Niebuhr observed,
Niebuhr put human destiny into the context of eternity with these remarkable words:
There is no more fitting time for considering the destination of life's journey than the days leading up to Easter, a holy day set aside for the celebration of that wondrous moment when a shout went out, reverberating through the centuries and changing the world forever: "He is not here! He is risen!"
|© 2001 Creators Syndicate, Inc.|
11 apr 2001