OUR NATIONAL DIVIDE: SECULAR MORALITY VERSUS THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW — PART 1

Introducing The Topic

Generally, I avoid getting personal. Oh, I most certainly talk about my Christian faith and my personal opinions, but making it about me risks confusing the fact that I believe something with proof that what I believe is true. Wisdom requires us to rest our beliefs on a more objective foundation. Usually this foundation is formed from postulates or axioms — assumptions — that we all share. Unfortunately, far fewer of us now share the same objective foundation. So, we find our debates more difficult to resolve amiably, even among family members. Why? Because we start with differing assumptions, we arrive at different, more complex truths that are in direct conflict.

Why don’t we share the same objective foundation anymore? Even people who should know don’t know (or won’t admit what they do know). Consider the observation of an Associate Professor of Philosophy.

What happened? I admit I don’t know. My best guess is the huge impact that Henry Sidgwick and G.E. Moore had on the formation of analytic ethics. They also had a pretty big impact on a number of high status British intellectuals. Moore’s Principia Ethica had a big impact on Keynes as a young man, along with many of his associates in the Bloomsbury Group. And since their moral theories are abnormally secular, historically speaking, contemporary analytic ethics has inherited its abnormal secularity from them.

When Did Moral Philosophy Become Overwhemingly Secular? (kevinvallier.com)

What happened? Consider the fact that the author calls himself a political philosopher. He observes what for a political philosopher must be an astoundingly huge change, and he admits almost complete confusion as to the cause.

What happened? Instead of being taught the teachings of the Bible, which Christians believe to be divine revelation, our schools taught us a Secular ethos. Instead of making certain we learned the teachings of the Bible — what they believed — successive generations of American parents trusted politicians with the education of their children. Thus, we have become a more secularized society. That is, successive generations of parents have allowed successive generations of politicians to replace Christianity with the logic of a government approved Secular ethical system.

According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 44 percent of Americans say that it is necessary to believe in God in order to “be moral and have good values.” Or put differently, a majority of Americans—around 56 percent—think that you can be moral and have good values, even if you are an atheist. 

Atheism, Morality, and Society | Psychology Today

Why would so many believe the opposite of what previous generations believed, that it is unnecessary to believe in God in order to “be moral and have good values”? The answer is that that believe what they were taught to believe.

What is the logic of Secular ethics? Well that begins with a definition of Secular.

So to be secular means that 1) a person does not believe in supernatural beings, entities, or realms, 2) a person does not engage in religious behaviors, and 3) a person does not identify as religious and is not a member of a religious community.

To be secular is to maintain a naturalistic worldview in which belief in anything is always proportioned to the evidence available. It is about engaging in a variety of activities that are understood as this-worldly, and to identify with, or be a member of, non-religious groupings or associations.

What Does “Secular” Mean? | Psychology Today

Acceptable definition? Well, it is not much different from the dictionary definition, Secularism | Definition of Secularism by Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com). And is this definition of Secularism not what is taught in school?

Does Secularism provide a practical foundation for a decent ethical system? How does a Secularist judge the decency of his ethical system? To whom does he defer, the majority? Why? Part 2 in this series will consider these issues.

Christianity once provided the ethical foundation for Western Civilization. Now we supposedly exist in a post-Christian era. Nevertheless, our Christian heritage remains pervasive. What does it mean to be a Christian? Different denominations will argue for their own definition, but for reasons which once would have been obvious the Bible should guide us in this matter.

Question: “What is a Christian?”

Answer: 
A dictionary definition of a Christian would be something similar to “a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ or in the religion based on the teachings of Jesus.” While this is a good starting point, like many dictionary definitions, it falls somewhat short of really communicating the biblical truth of what it means to be a Christian. The word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:2626:281 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word “Christian” literally means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or a “follower of Christ.”

What is a Christian? | GotQuestions.org

Are you doubtful this definition is correct? Well, the author derived it from the Bible, and there is no other more appropriate source. Here are some additional references.

Does Christianity provide a practical foundation for a decent ethical system? How does a Christian judge the decency of his ethical system? To whom does he defer, Jesus Christ? Why? That will be the discussion of Part 3 in this series.

How will we end this series? Part 4 will address the conflicts that arise from the differences between the Christian worldview and Secular morality. Here I will also argue these differences provide the basis of our growing national divide.

21 thoughts on “OUR NATIONAL DIVIDE: SECULAR MORALITY VERSUS THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW — PART 1

Add yours

  1. sklyjd

    You stated, Secular people are as moral as any Christian, often more so.

    If that is true, how would you identify all the secular teaching results in public schools that seem to have failed as evidenced by the shootings taking place in Chicago and other high crime urban areas in the USA?

    Whereas, studies of children who have been taught in private religious schools are not statistically shooting each other in the same comparison statistics.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.
    .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The question should be: Considering that atheists only make up 3.1% of the population in the US, either way you look it why are mass shootings more common in the US than in the more secular countries?

      The children in the US are exposed more often to religious teachings and the way of life than in countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada and some countries in Europe whereas none of these countries even combined would likely not have as many shooters as the US. Furthermore, children from poor families in any country on the planet are involved in more crime than the middle to high income families, therefore it does not have any bearing on religious beliefs.

      From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama. (NY Times)

      I do not exclusively tie the argument to this study but at a guess I would reckon it is not far wrong and would be similar today.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @sklyjd

        Let’s assume your statistics are correct. Do you really think there are enough mass shootings in the USA to indicate anything except a small amount of strife of some sort? As the world’s most powerful nation, the USA is a target. The terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center were not exactly manufactured in the USA.

        A mass shooting is a particular type of crime. Why do people commit mass shootings? Terrorism. Rage. A strange egoistic desire to known, even if only for an infamous act.

        Are some of the killers unstable young people who shot up their schools? Yep, but they are going to secularized schools, and few would have called themselves Christians. Most were probably the victims of bullying, and some had adopted a nihilistic philosophy.

        On the other hand, the murderous, totalitarian regime in China is secular, and you won’t hear about any mass shootings. The news about mass purges, mass executions, slave labor, and so forth might get out, but nuts killing people? Not likely. As it is, the vast majority of the persecution is quite well organized and carried out as the official duties of “competent” civil servants and military personnel. The bottom line in China is that if it isn’t the state religion, the government is not inclined put up with it.

        The point is that if you are going to use statistics you first need to come up with a statistic that it actually makes sense to use. Because societies are so diverse and confronted with different problems, the number mass shootings doesn’t provide anything helpful, at least not for your cause.

        One other detail. It is not just a simple either or thing. There are numerous religious beliefs. The believers of each religion each tend to think in terms of us versus them. However, them is a very diverse group. If it doesn’t make since for Christians to lump Atheists, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and so forth altogether, then why would it make since for Atheists to lump Christians with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and so forth? In fact, if Atheists don’t want to be lumped with Nazis and Communists, they ought to practice what they preach and recognize the distinctions between those other groups, not just the distinctions between those who say there is no God.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes Tom, I see you mention those people who commit crimes and call themselves Christians. You cannot have it both ways, It is clear you are loath to admit “a real” Christian would do such a thing. As I have said in the past nobody is more moral or decent than anyone else regardless of their gods and beliefs, unless of course radical mentally unstable people get hold of a gun and unfortunately that is very easy to do in the US.

          As far as China is concerned it is likely the government that commits the majority of shootings. I would bet however that shootings by Chinese individuals in schools and public areas and the quantity of victims does not eclipse the US.

          The Chinese state recognises five religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism. The practice of any other faith is formally prohibited, although often tolerated, especially in the case of traditional Chinese beliefs.(https://www.cfr.org/)

          Atheism can be lumped with secularism, free thinking, alienists and even non religious spiritualism, but Nazis and communists? Those are political regimes. Please do not drag out the BS that the main motivation for Hitler and these regimes was atheism because I know you are smarter than that, but of course you also know Christianity is a religion and rightly included in the religious group.

          Like

          1. @sklyjd

            You really ought to go back and read what I wrote in my last comment. You clearly did not comprehend what I said. Where did I mention people who call themselves Christians and commit crimes? I am sure there are such people, but some people call themselves Martians, and they are not. I said that if you don’t think it is appropriate to lump all Secularists together then probably ought to reconsider the wisdom of lumping all Theists together.

            Are some Christians guilty of committing crimes? Some people do have mental problems, but it is what we believe that makes a true difference in our behavior. Anyone who believes in Jesus and tries to follow His teachings will do less harm to others than they might otherwise have done. Christianity does not instantly make someone perfectly good. The New Testament doesn’t make such a claim. When someone is “born again” and becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ, they begin a process of sanctification. Therefore, even being a Christian does not exclude the possibility of crime. It just makes it less likely.

            But who is a Christian? What people believe and what people say they believe are not necessarily the same thing.

            Is it relatively easy to get a gun in the United States? Yes, and I don’t have a problem with that. I look at a place like China, and I think you have lost all perspective. A gun is just a tool. We should not allow people with severe mental issues to operate potentially dangerous machinery of any kind. Yet with the exception of guns we still allow most of them to do so.

            The number of people the Chinese Communist Party persecutes and has in slave labor camps far eclipses the number of people who have died in mass shootings in the USA. However, since the Chinese have not been allowed to own firearms for decades, I would be surprised if there are many mass shootings. Surprise! Surprise! That’s the tradeoff you want?

            Why would you think that there is anything approaching religious freedom in China?

            • Prior to the election on November 3rd, Biden had been seen as pro-China. So, the Liberal Democrat news media largely ignored anything negative about China.
            • A large number of powerful American companies have business ties with China. So, the news media largely ignored anything negative about China. Why offend the people who buy advertisements?
            • The CCP both suppresses freedom of the press and has a large propaganda organization.

            Since the election, however, the tide of publicity has turned against China. Most Americans and even our greediest elites have enough sense to fear China. Once it finally sinks in that it cannot actually be controlled, only a fool grabs a dragon by the tail. It is much safer to grab a fire hose and shove it down a dragon’s throat.

            Not a big fan of the Council on Foreign Relations, but you did mention it.

            Click to access EF19K06.pdf

            You want to be a secularist who doesn’t have to worship something like the Chinese Communist Party? Then you may wish to defend the right of others to practice their own faith, even if they do believe in God.
            Here are some other references.
            https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2019/04/20/is-china-conducting-a-crackdown-on-religion/?sh=2671549619d3

            https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/1068681/download

            https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/china-conducting-mass-sterilization-muslim-minorities-amount-genocide/story?id=71519132

            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/05/slavery-will-never-be-history-turn-blind-eye-to-china

            https://www.foxnews.com/us/trump-administration-chinas-oppression-uighur-muslims-genocide-report

            Liked by 2 people

      2. Sklyjd

        You commented:

        “The question should be: Considering that atheists only make up 3.1% of the population in the US, either way you look it why are mass shootings more common in the US than in the more secular countries?”

        Thanks for your comment.

        There are far too many gray areas in your logic of comparing 3.1 percent of atheists in the US to a religious population.

        For example, while a poll of people who have religious beliefs have actually been taught religious beliefs in depth in childhood in the same propensity as reading writing and math, or secular atheist values, I would venture a guess than the majority of people who identify as religious are name only rather than devout practicing believers in God.

        I have brought up the need for a study to be make of all convicted criminals sentenced over the years to prisons be made to determine if they attended a secular public school or a private religious school in their youth. I never could find this type of study was conducted.

        I believe the results would be a far more accurate proof to compare to answer your contention, not only in the USA but in all the countries in the world.

        Until this study is made, all we are doing is sounding out opinions which may or may not be true or accurate until such time as all the falsehoods are eliminated as I explained in a post today, if interested,

        Active vs. Comatose Minds, 2020 Election? King Solomon Blog – Rudy u Martinka (rudymartinka.com).

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You guess that the majority of Christians are in name only rather than devout practitioners. How do you tell, do you count only the ones that go to church or set them a questionnaire?

          I think your desire for a study is flawed because it would create more of a grey area than ever. What about the atheists who really are not atheists? There are plenty around who are fence sitting, to scared to take the plunge either way. These people cannot claim atheism because it is a total disbelief or Christianity as it is total belief so what are they classed as?

          Another grey area is that it is wealthier families who can afford private religious schools and therefore the kids have less reasons to break the law, plus the “in name only” Christians may wrongly be considered as atheists in such a study, and as the churches are emptying I am told more Christians are worshipping at home in private, so based on church attendance your study may also claim them as an atheist.

          I have read your post, thanks for the link, and yes I agree about eliminating falsehoods and I believe there will be evidence of voter fraud, however it did not start at this election. Maybe Trump has done a good thing for your election system.

          Best regards and Goodwill blogging to you also.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sklyjd

            I really am not guessing.

            Church attendance has been recorded as decreasing over the past decades.

            I am a regular Sunday church goer and observe the empty pews and more gray hairs and less children in attendance in every parish I visit.

            My sister is a nun and her order has decreased from 2500 to 250 over time.

            Unless children and families are given economic assistance to afford make a choice to use their taxes to send to private religious schools, the numbers will continue to decrease in the future in my opinion.

            As for my suggestion, I don’t agree it is flawed because numbers are not opinions.

            Thanks for your comments. I will pray someday you will come to understand the peace and joy in life attainable when you believe in God.

            Regards and goodwill blogging.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom

    You commented, “our schools taught us a Secular ethos. Instead of making certain we learned the teachings of the Bible — what they believed — successive generations of American parents trusted politicians with the education of their children.”

    Discerning question to probe, what does it mean to be a Christian?

    Looking forward to your next posts. I really am concerned on the issue of how religion is waning in the USA mainly because most parents cannot afford to send their children to private schools and the result is as the schools close, religion will wane.

    Worse yet, the single family households living in poor poverty neighborhoods where it could help the children are closing because parents cannot choose to pass on or ever learn…

    ….”what does it mean to be a Christian.”

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Rudy

      Well, I guess this post briefly tackled what it means to be a Christian and the problem of secularizing our schools. What you meant by the paragraph that starts with “Worse yet” I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tom,

        What I meant of “worse yet” is that when a child grows up in a single-family household and lives in a poor high crime neighborhood, it is proven statistically they have a higher risk of starting off on the wrong paths in life because they have no moral parent father figure to emulate or guide them during their most vulnerable and impressionable years.

        Add never being introduced to the Bible to help them on the right paths in life is not possible. That is because even if a parent wants their kids to be sent to religious school, it is totally beyond their economic means.

        And as more and more private religious schools close for the same reason, in my opinion, the worse yet scenario is being set on stage to make it even harder for Christian taught morality to survive or flourish in the future in our Nation.
        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Secular people are as moral as any Christian, often more so. Secularists do not need a higher power to understand right from wrong, we actually know why we have basic human morals and it is a scientific understanding of human evolution rather than coming from any supernatural source just as the definition you posted.

    Secularists are no different to Christians apart from being non-believers in supernatural gods. This is quite simple, but the reasoning behind why theists believe in gods and the related issues from the written doctrines to the political understandings without evidence or facts and often to the contrary of them is the fascinating part for secular people because there are so many different gods, ideals, attitudes and answers.

    Look forward to part 2 Tom.

    Like

    1. @sklyjd

      Secular people are as moral as any Christian, often more so. Secularists do not need a higher power to understand right from wrong, we actually know why we have basic human morals and it is a scientific understanding of human evolution rather than coming from any supernatural source just as the definition you posted.

      In all that, I did not hear a basis for moral behavior. I just heard the contention that Secular people are as moral as any Christian.

      What we believe makes a difference in our behavior. As a Christian I understand that when I sin at the time I choose to sin I sin because I am believing a lie. This is why the truth set us free from sin.

      So what will Part 2 be about? Based upon Secularism, the absence of a belief in God, how do Secularist determine the difference between good and evil? That is, what sources do Secularist draw upon for wisdom?

      Do I have an axe to grind? Am I biased? Yes. Nevertheless, Part 2 will serve no purpose if I don’t try to get at the truth to the extent I can. So I look forward to your comments.

      If you wish to suggest a relatively short reference, please feel free. I don’t have time to read a book, but an article would be helpful.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Perhaps it is good for Christians to live in a post-Christian (or at least non-Christian) era. When we assume that people around us agree with us because we share a common world-view or ethical base or moral code, we are slower to witness to the Gospel that makes us different. When we know we are strangers living in a land that is not our home, we are more deliberate in imitating Christ and living his way. J.

    Liked by 1 person

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