Have you ever asked yourself: “What is my place in the universe?” If you would be willing to pause for a moment to think about it (and why wouldn’t you?), shouldn’t this be one of the most important questions, if not the most important one anyone could ask? But, amazingly, most people today either haven’t asked it at all or have just dismissed it as unanswerable or with the simple answer: “I have no real importance in the universe.” Now, having such a perspective may seem to be humble and, even, noble. But is it correct?
Up until about 100 years ago things were very different. Most people in Europe and the United States would have answered the question in theistic terms. One’s view of one’s self was in relation to the Creator God, the same One Who is described in the Bible and Who was believed to exist by the vast majority of people. In short, aside from a minority consisting of Jews, Atheists/Agnostics, Muslims and people of other faiths, almost everyone saw himself or herself either as a Christian or a sinner before God.
But over the course of the previous century a new view had been gaining strength in intellectual circles, slowly supplanting Christianity, first in the halls of academia and, eventually, in the entire culture. This approach came to be known as Humanism and was frankly admitted to be a religious alternative to Christianity and other supernatural religions in a Manifesto authored by a group of prominent teachers in the early 1930’s (the first “Humanist Manifesto”).
Humanism featured a starkly different perspective on human existence than Christianity, rejecting the supernatural both on the personal and cosmic levels. On the cosmic side, it rejected the idea of an Almighty Creator and Lord of the universe in favor of a Materialistic view, which held that, ultimately, the universe consists only of matter-energy, space-time and mindless forces of Nature. Consistent with this was the notion of humanity as the ultimate source and standard of truth and morality. After all, if there was no Higher Authority, then we must determine truth and morality for ourselves.
Over the past 100 years Humanism has so effectively become the dominant view that it became rare that anyone would dare to question it. Those who dared to do so would tend to be viewed as odd or ignorant, at best (holding to antiquated and disproved beliefs) if not outright crazy. In American culture, the so-called “Scopes monkey trial” in the 1920’s was probably the clearest sign of the conquest of Humanism. For, although the Humanist side lost the actual trial, it clearly won a decisive victory in the court of public opinion. So it is that most in Europe and the U.S. today just take the Humanist view of humanity and the universe for granted: that we are tiny specks in a vast impersonal Cosmos, mere accidents of Nature, biochemical machines which are the most complex product of the process of Evolution, a process governed by mindless forces.
But is the Humanist view correct? Does it explain human existence? Does it stand up to critical scrutiny? Were we correct in rejecting the old way of looking at things? Or is there another approach which may work better? That such questions are rarely asked today is, in itself, a dangerous thing. Socrates has been credited with saying that “An unexamined life is not worth living.” This seems undeniably true. But in order to properly examine one’s life it is critical that one see it in the proper universal context. Sadly, most of us today have become so convinced that there is only one way to view ourselves and the universe that we have lost our ability to think critically about it and also to think about alternative views.
The goal of what follows is two-fold: to shine a critical spotlight on today’s dominant philosophy: Humanism (including its metaphysical and epistemological partners, Materialism and Empiricism) and also to shine a much-needed new light on its predecessor: Christian Theism. For, although Christianity was the dominant view for almost two millennia, it has been pushed so far from the center of modern culture that it is almost completely unknown by most today.
As one whose personal intellectual journey followed this “two-step”, I came to realize first that today’s dominant view turns out to be what is known today as an “Epic Fail”. Upon reaching this conclusion I fell into a period of total Skepticism. But, unlike some, it seems, I could not remain in skepticism. What followed was a brief flirtation with Zen Buddhism. I was initially drawn to Zen because of its denial both of Theism and of all conceptualization. Coincidentally, it happened to agree with today’s dominant view of the Cosmos (which was well-portrayed in the Carl Sagan “Cosmos” PBS mini-series of the early 1980’s and has recently been updated), which said that all of our experience and thinking are illusions and that ultimate reality is something quite different from what we perceive it to be.
But, if both Zen and modern scientists and intellectuals are correct, then all that we think and experience are merely passing fancies with an illusion of meaning. In short, if this is the case, then we are all the victims of a cosmic joke of sorts. However, even if we are all deceived, it remains the case that we undeniably exist as the subjects of the deception. After all, only a truly insane person believes that he or she doesn’t really exist. Furthermore, there are countless other things we really know to be true, in contrast with countless things we know to be false. It is simply impossible to function moment-by-moment without being able to make this distinction.
Being unable to accept the “Grand Illusion” view, I continued searching. But I was still too much under the sway of my Humanist up-bringing to give any real consideration to Christianity. While I had received catechism in Catholicism at the behest of my parents, I had never truly considered the teachings of the Catholic Church. For, this brief training was easily overcome by the Humanistic indoctrination I was receiving 5 days a week and 9 months every year in a very “progressive” suburban Philadelphia school district.
We all tend to believe what we are taught every day. And to those who object to me calling my public education an “indoctrination”, I would point out that all education necessarily involves the teaching of basic doctrines, “basic” because they are the base upon which everything else is built. All philosophies (including both Christianity and Humanism) have their own basic doctrines, which cannot practically be questioned. After all, one simply can’t go through life thinking that their most basic beliefs about themselves and the world may be wrong.
So I continued searching in every possible direction I could find other than Christianity. Until one day when I suddenly became convinced that I was not an accident of Nature. Rather, I was a creature who had been created by a Creator, created for a relationship with Him. In retrospect I consider this the day in which I became a “born-again” Christian. I had not been prompted to begin thinking about God by any other person or by reading the Bible or any other book. It was simply the opening of a vertical connection by God to me which had not existed before. And once this happens to someone, everything changes.
Within a matter of days I became convinced that the Bible must be what it says it is: God’s unique revelation of Himself. I became confident of this because, of all ancient religious scriptures, the Bible alone described The God Who had just made me aware of Himself. I would add that I had not ever truly been an Atheist who was certain that there is no God. But I was what Christians call a “practical atheist”, who thought and lived on the assumption that Christianity was false and that it’s impossible for anyone to know for sure what ultimate reality consists of and for any one religion to be true. I would later see that this in itself is just part of my previous belief-system.
Having become a true believer in the God of the Bible and the Bible, I began to describe myself as a Christian for the first time and I began seeking the fellowship of other believers. I now saw myself as a Christian not because I had been brought up as a Catholic or because I was an American, but because I truly believed in Christianity. In short, I had come to see that, despite all of the progress in Science and technology and some other areas which had occurred since it was supplanted, it was the previously-dominant approach to truth, Christian Theism, not Humanism, that was actually the correct approach.
In short, the developed world made an intellectual and spiritual wrong-turn about 100 years ago and needs to get back on the right road, turning back to Christianity from the Humanism which can be seen to be self-destructive both in principle (in destroying the true meaning of human nature and human life) and in practice (in destroying the sanctity of life and the civility, freedom and prosperity which depend on this).
This is the path that I am praying that God will lead many others on. It is reflected in the diagram below. The perspective which I came to have is also illustrated in the diagram further below (https://christianityistrue.org/the-duality-of-creation). And I pray that He will use this site toward this end. Soli Deo Gloria!