Another result of leaving out any consideration of something out there greater than the personal choices we make, greater than simply the individual’s right to do what ever I think is right…Well, we see all too clearly what we are reaping as a result.
David Bentley Hart says it this way. “If there really is no transcendent source of the good to which the will is naturally drawn, but only that of the will to decide what ends it desires- by which to create and determine itself for itself, then no human project can be said to be inherently irrational, or inherently abominable…our freedom from obsolete constraints, natural or moral, can lead toward monstrosity.”
Let me quote another thinker of our day. Listen to his words and think about what they say about our culture today.
“I believed in God when I was a kid but I gave up on that because everyone else gave up on it…
I realized and I was told by advertising that I just needed to do my thing and to fulfill my needs, and my needs got more and more dramatic…
What difference does it make?
Who’s anyone to tell me what I did was wrong?
Who said I was wrong?
I was just doing what our culture tells us to do. Just act on whatever you feel…
So what separates me from someone who does much better? Not a lot…
If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway…
Can’t I set my own rules?
Who owns me?
I own myself.”
These words seem a pretty reasonable description of today’s cultural climate. Act on my feelings? Do my own thing? Fulfill my needs? Who are you to tell me I am wrong?
Well, these are not the words of a famous academic philosopher. These words are from an interview with Jeffery Dahmer. He is the serial killer from Wisconsin who raped and killed 15 young men, along with eating some of them.
Now our brains will instantly go into the excuses mode and try to find a million reasons why the Jeffery Dahmers’ of our society have nothing to do with the way our society functions as a whole today. We have learned this from the experts of media and our education system. We have learned that someone like Jeffery Dahmer, a monster, has nothing to do with almost a complete collapse of any conversation about meaning and purpose, good and evil, right and wrong in the public square today. These issues of meaning, purpose, and morality are reserved exclusively to the private realm, and don’t you dare try to bring them up anywhere else.
Oh, we have freedom of religion in our country, but only if we treat our religion as a hobby. As long as it’s just something we do like root for the Dodgers or collect model airplanes then we can talk about religion in the public square. But, don’t dare publicly discuss meaning and purpose, don’t dare question the goodness or evil of worldviews and philosophies, don’t dare question someone else’s right to choose their own way of life.
No, the problem with Jeffery Dahmer is he was insane. Well, maybe, but the jury didn’t think so. He was sent to prison.
Well the problem is gun control. No, Jeffery Dahmer didn’t use any guns.
Well, the problem is poverty…Nope he was pretty well off.
Well the problem is…All right, brain. Just stop. Stop it!
Of course mental health, poverty, gun violence and violence in general are all real issues we will continue to address. Rightfully so.
But stop thinking the answers lie with thinking about these issues together for the purpose of finding human solutions to address them. Not if you have a secular worldview, a view of the world that doesn’t need God, or at least that doesn’t need to even think about God and his ways in the public realm. Without God and his ways, you will fail. Stop thinking things are going to get better when the only sacred thing we have left is human will itself, the right to choose what we think is right, when right or wrong is only what the courts say it is or people in power say it is. Things will definitely not get better.
Mind, Body, Spirit. Mental heath, physical health….What’s missing here?