The popular atheist blogger, Hemant Mehta, ponders change with the question, “What happens when atheists are no longer a minority?” He mentions the human need to belong to a group, and the fight for a cause, and then invites answers to that question. Reading a few of the 1,600+ responses will verify the lack of common purpose, besides eliminating religion, that the question reveals, inspiring the Rene Descartes paraphrase of the title of this essay.
There are some that would lament the of loss of the fight. There is some expression that the future will somehow be better even when in 20th century history the absence of religious influence in society and government were proven not to be the panacea for human happiness.
The question that immediately comes to my mind is why isn’t the fruit of the fight evident before one begins? Would that question even be necessary for a Christian?
Christians Have Experienced Social Struggle Before
A historical example, not exactly equivalent to today’s atheism in America, but it does illustrate the differences in goal setting, were the thoughts in Christian minds when in 311 A.D. the Edict of Toleration was granted by Roman Emperor Galerius, and then later in 313 A.D. with the Edict of Milan given by Emperor Constantine. Those two proclamations gave the Christians of that day freedom from torture, violent death, and a despised social status.
Then for the first time it became possible to observe the Liturgy in its fullness, and seriously and earnestly to attempt to mold the life of the empire according to Christian ideals and standards. (Catholic.com)
It is obvious to me that what happens when is to find an ideology to fill the void left by an absence of belief in a creator who has and is giving us lessons as to how to best live.
Our society is becoming the Roman Empire revisited, without the spiritual gods but still necessitating conforming to the desires of the ruling class. Democracy hasn’t its emperor yet in America (it has pretenders) but it does certainly have a ruling class – the intellectual elite.
Where Do We Find Them, This Higher Class?
Many are found in the law, defining for us what law will rule our lives. They are the Supreme Court. A vast number of members of Congress have attended a university or college. One school, Harvard, appears to dominate.
From its founding years Harvard’s seal read veritas, surrounded by the phrase christo et ecclesiae (Truth, for Christ and the Church). The shield of arms, that is seen everywhere on campus and on their website, drops Christ and the Church from view. A prophetic action that is being made apparent in the politics of America today. As we know, the future becomes history, so I am thankful that Peter Singer hasn’t moved to Cambridge in this United States of Harvard – yet.
So it seems natural to look at our schools that trained these leaders; those leaders that determine proper social behavior.
I know that I am not the only one who has ever pondered the behavior of living things. Since the Catholic Church fostered the development of science many centuries ago, gigantic structures in the form of university departments and government grants have arisen to try and give rationality to these questions.
One teaching institution, Cornell University comes to this conclusion regarding bird migration:
When migratory patterns evolve over hundreds or thousands of years the urge to migrate becomes part of the birds genetic make up. There is still much to be learned regarding the evolution of long-distant migration and the origins of such migratory behavior.
So…I pondered this learned conclusion and wondered if they were describing a chicken and egg problem, or has the natural selection theory of the 19th century become obsolete, and we have a new theory where the act of migrating causes a new DNA sequence to appear like magic. I agree, there is much to be learned.
What Does Atheism and Why Birds Migrate Have in Common?
Are they taught at the same place? Does atheism and Evolutionary Biology sound like a familiar pair in teaching, public debate, media presentations, books, etc. Or, atheism and Theoretical Physics.
We know from research that in the last 10 years that religious skeptics among the college educated has risen from 33% to 50%. The under 30 group from 18% to 34%. This report concludes that among other reasons:
For years, some observers have claimed colleges and universities are a breeding ground for anti-God sentiment. The data does lend support to the notion that college campuses are comfortable places for young people to abandon God and assume control of their own lives.
But, we are also seeing a large change in the general category of women from 16% to 43% and all under 30s from 18% to 34%. Are the intellectual elites beating social attitudes into the heads of their charges? This study by sociologist Mark Regnerus concludes:
In conclusion, the college experience—more than the education itself—seems corrosive to religious faith only among those who were at an elevated risk of such corrosion when they arrived on campus. This spells good news and bad news for all parties here. First, it suggests that antagonistic professors are having little effect on the religious faith of most students. Faith challenges and belief systems hanging in the balance are not the norm (though they do of course occur). Second, it suggests that Christian “revivals” during college rarely connect those that entirely lack a religious sense. Instead, evangelistic efforts tend to connect best with the dormant faith and inactive-but-intact belief systems of previously religious youth. Accounts of completely new conversions—from either one religion to another or from no religion at all to a committed faith—are uncommon.
What is the Word Close to the Action?
I live on the west coast and have known people from Harvard, the dominate university in the law game. However, I am not close enough anymore to ask questions. I do happen to know a fellow parishioner who has 30 years experience in state university education who daily lives close to the students at the University of Nevada, Reno. Chuck Clement is Assistant Director of Student Conduct and Safety. For the last 17 years, he has dealt with students in the dormitories, allowing him observation of student attitudes, as well as teacher and administration behavior.
Recently, I talked to him about my concerns.
HL: “What are the major influences on a child up to college age? Is it school, is it parents , is it other kids, is it television?”
Chuck: “I think it’s a lot of things. The biggest factor, although a lot of people doubt that, but I think is still the case is your parents. That family unit, that family structure.”
HL: “How do you see that?”
Chuck: “I see it when students who have that and are in college, have less conduct problems because they have that strong background. Here’s Johnny. Johnny has come back to the halls and he has been drinking a lot. If it is a very serious thing then I’m talking to the parents. I notice a lot of students who do that, their parents have different last names. Their mother has one name, their father has another, they might have a third name. Sometimes it’s an aunt or someone else.
The other factor is media. When you are bombarded with images, music, commercials, movies, language; all these things are sending out messages. They are being bombarded by those messages. By the time your kid is 12 or 13 the amount of influence you have on your kid in changing them is limited. We have kids that when they show up at the residence halls and they are drinking a lot, we talk to them and they say yeah I started when I was 12. They have 6 years of experience drinking a lot. We call home and say your kid has a serious drinking problem (they say) no he doesn’t, he did great in high school. The blood alcohol level is a .25”
HL: “Are the parents unaware or they just making excuses?”
HL: “What about the kids that are really good then. Are you able to relate that to the home life?”
Chuck: “These are the kids that are coming to work for us. These are the resident assistants. They want to be the leaders on the floor. They are the ones who are sharp, they are getting their degrees, working in their classes, getting the good grades. They are involved in student government, student leadership. They come to me and say I’m looking to get a job, how would you suggest I apply, would you be a reference, those kinds of things.”
HL: “You don’t often see what kind of a home they came from.”
Chuck: “Don’t have to. I can tell that they are squared away. At 18 and 19 you dont’ get squared away like that unless you’ve been doing that for several years. Was it a grandmother, was it an uncle, don’t know? They may not have had a traditional home life but somebody has said here is how you behave, here is what’s good and here’s what’s bad. They’ve taken those lessons to heart”
HL: “What about their progression through the university? Professors as a group seem to show themselves as anti-religious, pro-abortion, to change what is marriage.”
Chuck: “University (life) has a very open attitude. You can do what you want whenever you want. Here are all of these young men and women who will have sex with you, you can drink, you are an adult now, you can do all these things, you have freedoms. The ones that don’t deal with that effectively are the ones we see (for help and discipline)…they are put into an environment where they have all these options. The three issues we have that cause us to loose the majority of students are alcohol, marijuana, and video games.”
HL: “I have trouble reconciling the idea of modern society telling people they are free to do what they want and then telling them exactly what to do. Have an abortion, have sex whenever you want.”
Chuck: “I think what they (in society) are saying, is do what you want and you don’t have to have responsibility for your actions. From my perspective I DON’T think what they (the universities) are saying is, okay do what you want and if you make these choices there will be huge consequences. The Church says, you have free will but here are the bad things that are going to happen.”
HL: “In other words, the university is not taking the same responsibility for the kids as the Church.”
Chuck: “Or the parents.”
HL: “I know from (media) reports that professors actually belittle kids for their religion.”
Chuck: “What they are doing is saying you don’t think like I do, you need to think like I do. If you sit there quietly they don’t care. If you speak up and say I think you are wrong and here is why, they say, no-no I’m the one in charge. There is a power differential there. Parents have a power differential too, but ideally the parents are saying I want you to do this and here is the benefit to you, then they know what the benefit is. ”
What Do We Do Now?
A return to an understanding of traditional Christian values, like a strong moral family, will reverse the forces of deterioration in our society. We can see in the statistics and know from experience with other countries since the mid-last century the results of such a loss. We have huge prison populations, large numbers of fatherless children, many new sexually transmitted diseases, acceptable drug use, human trafficking, guns at schools, and criminal riots being encouraged by incompetent leaderships.
We are faced now with an advanced corrosion of those Christian values with a movement to change marriage into something unrecognizable therefore relegating our children to a life dictated by government bureaucracy manipulated by the intellectual elite.
I have said many times that history is much more important than science. We live in time and a limited amount of it. While growing from child to adult we learn from our own mistakes, but that process can stop depending upon our will and opportunity to learn. History is the experience of the past and will show us a future to avoid or embrace if we pay attention.
In other words, a plan for ones life must start with understanding rather than just complaining or adopting a popular agenda mindlessly, whether in or out of school.