I have a prediction to make. This prediction is not a prophecy, but it may be a little better than an educated guess. I have seen a growing trend in American society and it has caused me to think through the eventual possible results of this trend. Unfortunately I cannot give a detailed explanation of all possible outcomes in this blog post, but I can at least lay some good groundwork that can eventually be built upon.
So, what is the growing trend? The growing trend is a heightened concern for morality among the general public. This cry for morality is secular in that it does not invoke any god.
This move towards morality in the public square is by no means a perfect move towards morality as many moral items are left off the table by the public; however it certainly is a call for morality in general. Why is it not a perfect call for morality? Because while certain moral items are pushed (e.g.: anti-bullying, income inequality, equal rights for all people, care for the poor, care for the environment), other items are either ignored or not considered immoral (e.g.: sexual promiscuity, drug proliferation, pride, self-righteousness, financial and temporal waste on unnecessary goods, materialism, ignorance).
Having said that, morality is becoming more and more spoken about among the general public for a number of reasons. I will only focus on one reason here in this post, and here it is: many renowned and influential atheist thinkers are pushing their idea of what morality is and how our society should move towards it. These individuals’ ideas are spread rather quickly through mediums such as youtube, facebook, twitter, and whatever other social media option that is out there these days. Of course the university has played a large role in this as well, it is just that the popular ideas are spread much more quickly now through other means.
What is my prediction as to what will eventually happen to this growing trend? Before I give that, I have to give a little more background.
Moral Basis Shift
Morality in America was once driven by Christianity. However, it is no longer this way. (Do not get all up in arms, I did not say that it was legally founded on Christianity. Although the rights of mankind were definitely acknowledged by the Declaration of Independence to be granted by a Creator. I simply stated that Christianity was the driving force behind morality in America, and that is certainly true.) Morality in America is now driven by secular forces. How did this happen? Well, there are at least two factors and the second factor can be divided into two parts.
Factor 1: Many inside Christianity became overly concerned with man-made religious laws rather than the God ordained and Scripture detailed laws. These people emphasized religion over God’s heart and so many people in America were turned off to Christianity because of the overburdensome man-made religious laws.
Factor 2: Many who claimed to be Christian started using Scripture incorrectly and inaccurately and made Christianity look deplorable. Division A: Some of these people were actually Christians who either ignorantly or knowingly misused Scripture. Division B: Some of the people who claimed to be Christian were actually not Christian at all, they were just raised in a Christian society, and so adopted the title of Christian but were not actually followers of Christ.
As a result of these factors the public saw a lot of hypocrisy and started using Christianity as a religious safety net instead of as eternal truth. Since Christianity became only something invested in on the side, Christianity no longer dictated the moral compass of the society. Certainly Christianity still played a very large role in the society’s conscience, but it was no longer the basis for making moral decisions.
This shift has been ongoing for quite some time. However, the previous Christian basis for morality cannot be understated when trying to understand the present cry for morality. Without the previous Christian foundation, today’s cry for morality can hardly be explained. It is only because we are a nation that used to be Christian based that we have come to the moral conclusions that we have now.
My prediction to the growing trend has many aspects to it, so let us take it one step at a time.
The secular cry for morality will eventually hit a climax. Just like most things in society, it will rise, but then there will be a natural reaction to it. Since this cry for morality is secular, the cry for morality is a relative one. Almost all secularists have to eventually conclude that morality is relative. Even Sam Harris who believes that morality can be scientifically deduced recognizes that morality is relative to a large degree.
Since morality from a secular viewpoint is relative, someday people in society are going to get wise to the fact that they do not actually have to follow what other people call moral. Eventually people are going to start questioning the merits of those who are telling them to live by the current society’s standards of morality. Eventually people are going to get sick of society telling them how they ought to live and they will rebel against the standard. Eventually people are going to see the inconsistency in insisting that morality is relative and yet demand that certain moral distinctives be followed or else there will be consequences.
Why do I think this will happen? Because it happened in the Christian church. Remember that we talked about how some inside the Christian church started to teach as doctrine the precepts of men which led to a benumbed public? Well, eventually the public will see that the secular cry for morality is just a secular creation of man-made religion and many will refuse to be entrapped by it.
There is a big difference in the result between society’s rejection of the church’s man-made religious rules and the rejection of society’s man-made moral laws. The church’s man-made religious rules were what was mostly rejected. The idea of morality was still set in stone, and even the belief in God was still strongly supported. So people did not throw off morality as much as they threw off the constrictive restraints certain church folk placed on them.
However, when people understand that morality itself is relative, it will not be certain constrictive notions of morality that they will throw off, but they will throw off morality itself. The social framework, once the foundation of morality is removed, is one of either anarchy or dictatorship. So yes, anarchy could develop because people will realize that morality is just a man-made concept that does not actually hold any sway in their lives. When people reject a secular viewpoint of morality, there is no foundation upon which to fall. Society simply falls.
Inside Christianity, however, when the Church finally repented of its creation of man-made religious laws, they realized they moved away from their foundation of Christ, so when they fell, they fell on Christ, their foundation. Once the man-made religious laws were removed, Christ and His directives came to the forefront, so there was still a foundation. However there is no foundation to fall on once people reject the man-made moral laws that a secular society wants to push.
Now, of course society will not last long with anarchy. So eventually people will have to begrudgingly adopt some kind of moral standard. However, they will do so knowing that they are being hypocritical. The difference between that and what we have now is that our current society adopts certain moral standards and thinks it is truly moral. Our current society is proud of itself, or as I noted in an earlier blog, it is self-righteous. The society, once it builds itself back up again from anarchy, will know better than to think that it is righteous; it will recognize that it is simply trying to survive. There is no moral goodness in their actions, there is only survival.
There is a possibility that with the destruction of the secular call for morality that there will be a renewed search into religion. Once society realizes that their secular creation of a religion of man-made morality was bogus, it is a possibility that society will eagerly search out truth and try to find it in the form of a religion. This could lead to revival in many religions. However, I am not very convinced of the possibility of this.
I believe it is more likely that the hearts of people will grow cold to morality in general and will focus mostly on survival; survival will become more important than morality. Morality will only be used so long as it helps people survive. When morality gets in the way of survival, then morality will be pushed to the side. Of course morality does help a great deal in survival and that is one reason why it is so revered now, but morality will be used as a means to an end, not an end in itself. In other words, morality will become more and more utilitarian.
Eventually people are going to realize that secular morality does not have any real authority and they will rebel against the relative morality that is being preached as absolute. Once morality itself is rejected, there will be no foundation to fall upon as a society and anarchy will result. However, to ensure survival, society will knowingly hypocritically enforce certain morals to ensure survival. Eventually morality will be seen as a means to an end, and not an end in itself.