Every year on this planet, I become more and more convinced of a certain fact.
In fact, let me back up for a bit. I have always loved a good debate on the topics of philosophy and religion, as long as all parties kept the respect level high and the arrogance level down (regardless of what worldview they were coming from). So when, in my first year at Chemeketa Community College, a whiteboard simply sat in the middle of the Student Life Center with the question: “Can we be good without God?” on it, there was no way I could not stop to read the responses to that question that were written on the whiteboard.
And perhaps you can guess what was written. The Christians and other assorted theists say no. The others say “How dare you! I don’t need God to give me a sense of morality…I have a sense of morality!” And so on and so forth. But one question, written on the “no” side, particularly caught my eye.
“Don’t you believe in the innate goodness of the human soul?”
That is the response that I remember. I remember it because I am sure that optimism like this is shared by more than just one person.
But every year on this planet, I become more and more convinced of a certain fact…no matter what worldview you are coming from, it is very, very hard to miss this fact. Humanity is so messed up.
As a self-proclaimed sociology nerd, as the son of a history buff who has picked up his own interest in history, you really can’t miss this one: Humanity is messed up.
As I examine history, I can’t help but notice how often evil people held power over a nation, and the nation supported them. The Canaanites sacrificing helpless children to fire in order to please their gods. The brutality of the Roman Empire as the Caesars kept finding new and grotesque ways of killing their victims. The corruption and immorality of the Catholic Church during the crusades and the renaissance. The British abused the people they were in power over. The way the Americans, the lovers of freedom and liberty, virtually annihilated the indigenous Native Americans to get the land they wanted. The way that the French people during the French Revolution danced around the guillotine with their children singing songs of joy whenever someone got beheaded for breathing a word of support to the monarchy. Nazi Germany could not have run on Hitler alone…he had to be supported. I don’t know how to examine history and come out thinking that humankind is pretty okay.
“But Carson, we are getting better and better! Humankind is more moral today than our primitive past.” You know, that is EXACTLY what enlightenment thinkers were saying. In fact, the belief that “education is making mankind better and better, without religion” was one of the cruxes of modernism. But we now live in what is called a postmodern society.
Why is it called post-modern? Because modernism is dead. Why is modernism dead? Because the claims made by thinkers in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s that we were getting better were slapped in the face by World War 1, World War 2, and nuclear weaponry, amongst countless other things. Modernists couldn’t make it through the 20th century without their position looking obviously insane.
When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with wars?
When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with slavery?
When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with economic fairness?
The evidence stands: Humanity is messed up.
As I examine present-day sociology, I can’t help but notice several things. For one, the number of “douchebag” men (I can’t think of any other way to put it, nor do I really feel the need to) is far higher than I ever expected. The number of men that go to such great efforts to impress the girl enough to win her heart, but then turn into manipulative, controlling jerks…these men are FAR more common than they should be.
I can’t help but notice teenagers getting more and more messed up by others. By parents who uproot their teenager’s life in pursuit of that parent’s ever-fleeting happiness. By each other.
I can’t help but notice the bullying problem in today’s schools. Bullies do not operate in a vacuum…bullying is built on the reinforcement of the surrounding society. According to Olweus’s research, a bullying scenario has several roles that are being played. The bully (A) has people that copy their behavior (B), and people that laugh at or cheer on their behavior (C).
Where did these dictators, these douchebags, these bullies, learn this type of behavior? Or was it in them all along?
No, every year I become more and more convinced of the fallenness of humanity. And it hurts.
And although I don’t have the time to cover it, I have become quite convinced of my own fallenness. I am not examining fallen humanity from a pedestal. Rather, I am right there with them.
So when Easter comes around, especially this year, the reminder comes exactly when I need it.
God is not the cause of all this stupidity, these wars, these abuses. God created all things perfect, but humans with free will. When man sinned, God’s immediate next move was to curse…but also to promise the solution. The seed of the woman.
I am reminded that when humanity fell, God put in motion the fix: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, but that’s not the whole story. Jesus Christ, crucified and then RESURRECTED. And He is still coming to take every tear away.
When I see an abuse that I can change, I can do what I can. But if I can’t fix it, I know that Jesus is coming. I know that because He RESURRECTED, and He said He’s coming back.
Everything else is small potatoes compared to this.