Free thinking is supposed to be a major hallmark of the American way, but can we really think freely? If you are a typical American, your mind has probably been hacked by at least one of the five thinkers below. Those schools of thought are clearly at war against Biblical truth. Yet the weird thing I observe is that oftentimes those conflicting beliefs “co-exist” in the minds of many Christians here. This creates crisis of ignoring the Biblical truth because people cannot believe several contradicting opinions in the real sense. This blog is written to expose them to help American believers to rethink what they really believe in, and to clear out some “weeds” in order to continue to be transformed by the Biblical truth. In reflecting on this I’ve been reading through the book The Closing of the American Mind and wanted to start to write some notes and a timeline on key thoughts and thinkers that have led us to where we are as a way of highlighting the root of the problem. Below is going to be a rough logical listing out of that timeline which I hope to dive more into over time but I thought some people might be interested in just seeing the timeline.
A Timeline of thinkers and some influential takeaways people have taken on today:
Theory of evolution gave a viable alternative to a Christian worldview. In that it gave a basis for an overarching story that did not necessarily involve God. Survival of the species being its theme.
Gave a end times story to this alternative world view. Man needing revolution and the elimination of private property to get to a point of a secular utopia. Also strong anti-authoritarianism and the end of unequal class distinctions which he believed are the heart of the human problem.
“Will to power”. Gave a philosophy that it is more important to will something, to grasp out to a meaning and purpose than to steadily study the world or even yourself. His philosophy is one that is not attractive to many as a whole rather this laid the ground work for the idea that what you will to happen or assert as an individual is more important than finding the truth through deep searching.
Gave a philosophy of repression based psychoanalysis. Your subconscious is constantly acting our this desire for sex from the outset of your life that is the basis for all of your desires. Repression plays a big role in desire in other areas… From him came the ground work for the sexual revolution in terms of escaping those societal devices that keep people “repressed” sexually (although that seems almost counter-Freud). Also attempted groundwork for the secular worldview to have a means for values.
Martin Heidegger 1889-1976
Authenticity is moving from a sort of non-existence to truly existing. People are only able to really stand out as individuals and are most themselves when they remove themselves from others. The idea is falling into the background of things in a group, you are just one of the bunch.. Another aspect is things are mainly understood in doing them.. He saw examining things abstractly as meaningless like in older philosophers like Descartes because they go on and on without sure conclusions, whereas we can know and figure out those things we can utilize.
— There is a fact/value split here. In the older thinkers Kant/ Descartes there is an idea that things that are in the values area (virtues, religious thought, ethics, love, etc.) can be discovered but not in the same way those more scientifically studyable things could be. I think Heidegger and Nietzsche’s thought led to a more radical seperation of those things from the scientific or physically “available” sort of things being the only ones worth really incorporating into life at all.
A Secular Worldview Framework can be seen from this:
LIFE EXPLANATION: Evolution rather than Creation
Things are moving forward and will just keep doing so.
GOAL FOR HUMANITY: Radical Utopia rather than fulfillment of Creation
An ideal society is within our reach.
THE PROBLEM FOR INDIVIDUALS: (Sexual) Repression rather than Sin
If we can be more free sexually then we will be more happy. (although admittedly this does NOT seem to be Freud’s own idea since repression produced the very desires and values needed for society..)
THE PROBLEM FOR SOCIETY: Class distinctions rather than disconnect from God
Those in ‘power’ tend to hoard it.
THE SOLUTION FOR INDIVDUALS: Authenticity rather than the Will of God for you
The most important thing you can do is assert and know yourself.
THE SOLUTION FOR SOCIETY: The elimination of ruling classes (Critical Theory) rather than The Return to God
If everyone can be equal then the ‘wealth’ will be distributed and all will be able to access the means of happiness.
Short summary of the worldview: All things being explained through physical natural means. There is no place for the virtues or these deep ideas about the whole of things, other than to keep yourself going, because as Heidegger says they are a waste of time.. We can never hope to figure out everything and only have one life to live so we should spend it contemplating what we can know touch and mess with.
Now there are real gaps in this thinking. For instance if values are based on repression doesn’t that make them essentially meaningless? If evolution is the framework for all things then does it actually point to societal progress? Even more importantly for class distinctions, don’t those at the top tend to have their own set of problems? Isn’t depression, anxiety, moral/ethical evils still very much alive at all classes whatever defines the class? Can the things that seem to be at the core of our being (values) really just be a side-note in life? What “hope” is there in utopia if the utopia will never be seen by those building it?
From this I think the important take away is to spot these things when our thinking is along with them. Stop and ask, is the reasonable? Is this Biblical? If not then what is the Biblical world view on this subject? We need to read good books and especially scripture to really get our heads out of the dominant world view in our times and into the worldview that God is declaring in His word… It also makes it clearer for me that Biblically there really is a worldview that encompasses all the areas key to life. It is so important we give it proper thought and talk about it with others, God is working a truly amazing solution in the world and we are right in the middle of that plan.