What have we wrought?

What have we wrought?

Is God real? Is faith in God delusional? Ravi Zacharias argues three approaches to fashioning a reasonable worldview; Total Objectivity/Transcendence, Total Determinism, and Semi-Transcendence. Only the latter is the hope of producing a systemic coherent scientific and religious worldview. Following are some quotes to consider.

We are living now, not in the delicious intoxication induced by the early successes of science, but in a rather grisly morning-after, when it has become apparent that what triumphant science has done hitherto is to improve the means for achieving unimproved or actually deteriorated ends.
Aldous (Leonard) HuxleyEnds and Means: an Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into Methods Employed for their Realization (1937), 310.
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
Many of the most fundamental claims of science are against common sense and seem absurd on their face. Do physicists really expect me to accept without serious qualms that the pungent cheese that I had for lunch is really made up of tiny, tasteless, odorless, colorless packets of energy with nothing but empty space between them? Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. … Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.
 Richard C. Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons” in: The New York Review of Books, 9 January 1997, p. 31
“Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”
David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions
“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”
Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society
When a general principle is advanced, it collapses quickly into absurdity. Thus Sam Harris argues that “to believe that God exists is to believe that I stand in some relation to his existence such that his existence is itself the reason for my belief” (italics added). This sounds very much as if belief in God could only be justified if God were to call attention conspicuously to Himself, say by a dramatic waggling of the divine fingers.
If this is so, then by parity of reasoning again, one might argue that to believe that neutrinos have mass is to believe that I stand in some relationship to their mass such that their mass is itself the reason for my belief.
Just how are those neutrinos waggling their fingers?
A neutrino by itself cannot function as a reason for my belief. It is a subatomic particle, for heaven’s sake. What I believe is a proposition, and so an abstract entity—that neutrinos have mass. How could a subatomic particle enter into a relationship with the object of my belief? But neither can a neutrino be the cause of my belief. I have, after all, never seen a neutrino: not one of them has ever gotten me to believe in it. The neutrino, together with almost everything else, lies at the end of an immense inferential trail, a complicated set of judgments.
Believing as I do that neutrinos have mass—it is one of my oldest and most deeply held convictions—I believe what I do on the basis of the fundamental laws of physics and a congeries of computational schemes, algorithms, specialized programming languages, techniques for numerical integration, huge canned programs, computer graphics, interpolation methods, nifty shortcuts, and the best efforts by mathematicians and physicists to convert the data of various experiments into coherent patterns, artfully revealing symmetries and continuous narratives. The neutrino has nothing to do with it.
[In Semi-Transcendance] humanity is able to move outside of itself to a legitimate degree and what it ends up doing really in the ability to move out of itself to a legitimate degree it is then able to measure its pronouncements by external testing, external verification for correspondence and coherence. When you make a statement you can check it out correspondingly to be true. When you build a system, you can look at it as a systemically coherent worldview. This is the way it is in our courts of law. This is the way it ought to be in a scientific lab itself. When you make a statement it is measured against a referent. When you put together a system it ought to be coherent and brought together. Total Transcendence is logically, biologically, and ideologically impossible. Total Determinism is self-defeating. The Semi Transcendent way is the only way we are able to half rise outside of yourself make meaningful statements about reality and measure them up against the truth as they really correspond.
The Reporter Who Cried Trump

The Reporter Who Cried Trump

I do not share Trump’s underlying value system. I will wait and see what policies he actually proposes, but I do not have high expectations for the Trump Presidency. I have a feeling it will be an unpredictable bag of some positive and some disastrous policies. That being said, one major reason Trump won the Presidency in 2016 is people do not know what “news” to trust so they end up picking the news that fits their preferred worldview.

This is a dangerous situation when ideology trumps truth in reporting. It is simply the classic Aesop’s Fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf;” too many false alarms and the people don’t know when the alarm is real. Below is my retelling of this fable for our modern world.

The Reporter Who Cried Trump

There once was a reporter who was bored as she sat in front of her computer checking her social media rankings. To increase her followers she took a great breath and typed out, “Trump! Trump! Trump is a racist!”

The American people took to twitter to help the reporter spread the fearful message and drive Tump away. But no sooner did they reshare the warning, they found the news was fake. The reporter laughed at the sight of their angry faces.

“Don’t cry ‘Trump’, reporter,” said the American people, “when there’s no evidence of your charge!” They went grumbling and complaining back to their Facebook accounts.

Later, the reporter cried out again,”Trump! Trump! Trump is a Russin stooge!” To her naughty delight, she watched the American people take to twitter to help spread the fearful message and drive Tump away

When the American people saw the news was fake they sternly said, “Save your frightened tweets for when there is really something wrong! Don’t cry ‘Tump’ when the news is fake!”

But the reporter just grinned as her twitter shares soared and watched the people go grumbling and complaining on Facebook.

Later, she saw a real danger when Trump proposed a terrible law. Alarmed, the reporter jumped on twitter and cried out as loudly as she could, “Trump! Trump!”

But the American people thought the reporter was trying to fool them again, and so they didn’t reshare and many more unfollowed her.

During the next 24-hour news cycle, some people wondered why the reporter hadn’t returned to twitter to share more salacious news. They scoured social media to find the reporter’s latest news. They found her unemployed.

“There really was a Trump scare this time! But, the American people have scattered! I cried out, “Trump!” Why didn’t you reshare?”

An old man tried to comfort the reporter as they walked to the unemployment office.

“We’ll help you look for a new job in the morning,” he said, putting his arm around the reporter, “Nobody believes a liar…even when she is telling the truth!”

Elections, Fear, and the Loss of Empathy

Elections, Fear, and the Loss of Empathy

If I could sum up the response to the 2016 Presidential election, it would be fear. The rhetoric from the candidates, their surrogates, and the media has fostered a culture of fear that has led to terrible violence. Some voted out of fear for what a President Clinton would do to destroy their life. Some voted out of fear for what a President Trump would do to destroy their life. Too many of us voted out of fear.

In an effort ameliorate fear and elevate empathy, I offer the following posts from two very different people; each one giving their unique perspective on the elections. My goal is not 100% agreement. My goal is to foster meaningful dialogue. The only way we can overcome the irrationality of fear is to look each person with whom we disagree as humans beings. Human beings made in the image of God. Human beings who have fears. Human beings trying to make the best of a bad situation. Their choices may not be your choices, but that does not make them evil or racist or stupid… it just makes them human. If our starting point begins with respect for the dignity of each individual, maybe, just maybe, we can turn fear into something positive.

The Morning After...

By: Stan

I made an effort to speak to all of my closest friends yesterday via telephone, email, or facebook chat. I woke up, unhappy with the election results, but with a huge grin on my face. Unhappy that because of this election there are significant losses to come in climate change, science, and social progress, but excited to find out “why?” America has spoken, and we must pay attention. We must find out why the country feels the way it does. Burdened with a bit of a hangover from attending the election “party” at Brooklyn Bowl last night, I jumped out of bed at 7am and couldn’t wait to spend the next two hours at my favorite local coffee shop. I couldn’t wait to talk to the owners, baristas, two random, teary-eyed customers and anyone else I had the opportunity to listen to.

My opinion tonight was that most liberals came off as sore losers, licking their wounds in disbelief. I’m totally fine with that, my goal was to hear what they thought, not judge it. After all, this is all part of being an American, and a New Yorker. I have to say I am quite displeased with what I heard during this incredibly flawed experiment. I kept hearing things like “Sexist” “Misogynist” “Racist” “I’m moving to Canada.” These explanations, although common, are not what I see as the primary motivators of why America overwhelming gave control of the Presidency, House, and Senate to Republicans. I will try to address each of the common “excuses” below, and finally offer what I believe are the most likely explanation for the human behaviors, of not just the American election, but all elections in modern western democracies that have taken place this year.

Almost all the females I spoke with stated Hillary lost because of her gender. I heard “women can’t get ahead” talk of non-Louvre “glass ceilings.” Other females, friends and strangers alike went off on tangents such as “women can’t get jobs” “the wage gap” and “women who negotiate are treated unfairly.” Really? Again, the question is: why did America vote overwhelmingly Republican? More specifically America voted for a man who has NO EXPERIENCE in politics, spent almost NO MONEY on his campaign, and very little effort on “strategy.” Yet many women are suggesting, the explanation for this is a conspiracy against women?

Yet many women are suggesting, the explanation for this is a conspiracy against women?

  • A country where Hillary won the popular vote, is entirely made of misogynists?
    A country where the CEO’s of Hewlett Packard, Pepsi Cola, and Yahoo are all female?

This country hates women?

  • The first female campaign strategist to win a Presidential election ever was in charge of Team Trump.
    231 women ran for office in this year’s election, 89 got elected. That is the most ever.

Yet America hates women?

Certainly there is work to be done for women in the U.S., but compared to what? America in 2016 isn’t perfect, but there is no perfect system. Europe and Scandinavia are more progressive than us on social fronts, but they have small homogenous populations that all share very similar backgrounds and world views. America is 320 million unique individuals held together by nothing more than a story of Paul Revere’s ride, The Constitution, and that old guy with wooden teeth who had a hellish winter camping trip in Pennsylvania. It’s important for us to be critical of the U.S. and to strive for the progressive societies of Germany, and Sweden, but we cannot attribute the rebuke of the Democratic party, and Hillary’s loss to America being made up of sexists.

The next major response I have heard, read, and witnessed is the new game of “blame white people for everything.” Every time we don’t get the result we want “It’s racist.” Again unless you have clear evidence of that. That is not likely the motivation. I saw friends and acquaintances post “f*ck white people” “white people can die” on Twitter. Really? That is how you explain this election? The country that overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama twice is entirely made up of “racists?” We appointed the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, the first Latina senator, the Black Female Senator, and the first ever openly LGBT governor this year. Yet America’s more racist than ever? The constant attack on “white people” and “white males” is regressive, and hypocritical. It’s committing the act we liberals claim to hate most- judging large swaths of people based on things they cannot help- their heritage and sex. They also happen to be the largest group of individuals in the country, so it’s easy enough to bash 70% of the population, make excuses, and say they only reason they have anything is because it was given to them. This is false, incredibly divisive, and morally unacceptable. “Racism” and “F*ck white people” are not an explanation for the 2016 election results. They aren’t an explanation for anything, they’re just lazy excuses. Perhaps the explosion of social justice warriors, safe spaces, anti-white, and anti-male rhetoric is part of the reason the entire country that wasn’t on a coast or part of a large city voted for Trump.

You cannot explain the choices of this many Americans as “racist” “whites” “white men.” So although you’ll get points from other commiserating liberals, you get none from any self-respecting rational adult. Clinton lost because less people voted for her in crucial states. In Detroit, 80,000 registered democrats did not vote for her, she lost Michigan by a total of 12,000 votes. Compared to Obama, fewer women, fewer Hispanics, fewer Blacks, and fewer 18-29 yr old voters turned out for Hillary. Hundreds of thousands of would-be Democrat voters cast ballots for third-party candidates or wrote in other candidates names. It is not that angry straight white males showed up in droves- total voter turn-out was lower than 2012, and 2008- it is that Democratic voters did not show up for Hillary Clinton.The constant attack on “white people” and “white males” is regressive, and hypocritical. It’s committing the act we liberals claim to hate most- judging large swaths of people based on things they cannot help- their heritage and sex. They also happen to be the largest group of individuals in the country, so it’s easy enough to bash 70% of the population, make excuses, and say they only reason they have anything is because it was given to them. This is false, incredibly divisive, and morally unacceptable.

“Sexist” “Racist” “Misogynist” These terms just can’t be used to explain ALL human behavior. A pretty effective strategy I am guided by this principle, ”If one is not certain that malice was the motivation, what are the other more straightforward, and therefore more likely reasons for these results?”

Today, the day after the election, we live in same exact America that gave you marriage equality, the patient protection act, the affordable care act, progress on science, climate change, carbon emissions, Iraq, Afghanistan, Justice Sotomayor, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Bernie was a self-proclaimed socialist, and he came incredibly close to being the Democratic candidate. You don’t get to condemn the America that provided all these liberal successes, and progresses over the past eight years as being made up entirely of misogynist racist, sexist Nazi war criminals.

You are hypocritical for harshly critiquing the very system that gave you eight years of what you wanted the very instant it provides what you deem to be unsatisfactory results. Think of the conservatives last week who said “the system is rigged” when they assumed they would lose. Yet those same conspiracy theorists got everything they wanted through the simple act of voting. Is the system still rigged? Today we complain about the electoral college, campaign finance, and the “money in politics.” The same electoral college gave you eight years of Obama, and “Citizens United” has benefitted Obama and Hillary more than any other candidates in history. One’s political party losing can’t be explained by “the system is rigged” any more than President Trump can be explained away by “racism.”

So what is the underlying reason? Our election followed the emotional trend of all modern western democracies this year. Merkel’s party lost by a landslide in Germany. The U.K. voted for Brexit. Does that mean that those entire countries are made of sexist, racist misogynist a**hole boogiemen too? Or is there another way to explain these behaviors?

Why does this trend in voting exist? People are afraid. They feel uncertain about their jobs. About their basic needs to provide for their families. They feel terrified of Islamist Extremism and the Arab worldview. None of that is sexist, racist, or “Islamophobic.” It’s just human. We are by nature emotional, and tribal creatures. It’s in our DNA, and millions of years of evolution ensure it is not going away anytime soon. Before you jump to conclusions, emotions are not always bad. They are incredibly effective at protecting us from harm. They do this in a much faster way than our higher order cortical functions. Always sad, upset, and anxious about your relationship? Your limbic system is creating pain to show you, that this experience is not beneficial for you. You get a knot in your stomach every time you have to interact with a particular teacher or coach? Maybe that isn’t the best mentor for you. Emotions are an intelligent way for humans to survive.

Hillary Clinton did not lose because of sexism, racism, misogyny or any other ridiculous whiny excuse. She lost because she was a candidate with a tragic flaw- she’s unable to galvanize large groups of people emotionally.

For those of you who don’t know, I started my career as a research scientist developing drugs for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, but now I spend my time crafting marketing campaigns for luxury brands in New York City. I have spent time on the brand teams of Krug Champagne, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, BMW, and Bushmills as well as many others. Believe it or not, what I love about this job, and where it overlaps with my neuroscience background is the understanding of people, their behaviors, and motivations. Following is the most simple explanation I have for the U.S. election results in the form of an email from me to my Brand Director and C.M.O. this morning.
_________________
The U.S. Election and Marketing…

Hey All,

It’s important for us to remember, the candidate with the largest financial support ever in the history of politics, an incredibly well thought out strategy- Hillary spent her entire life preparing to run for President- failed b/c she was unable to galvanize humans emotionally.

The candidate with zero political experience, who spent less money than any major candidate before him, and who only had one policy- “make voters emotional” – wins the Presidency, House, and Senate handily.

Humans are emotional, tribal creatures. Any marketing strategy that does not resonate on these levels is a waste of time and money 😀

What are your thoughts on the election?

Moving forward from here...

By: Liz

I am a 4th generation American born, but I was still a Chinese child in an all white town less than an hour away from San Francisco during the Vietnam war. I grew up being called, a Chink, a Jap, a Commie, a yellow skinned Chinaman who eats dogs, and various other things. This is all by 1st grade. I’ve visited some small MidWest towns during college where people had never seen an Asian and would point and gawk or approach me and touch me (without asking) because they were so curious or shocked to see a “yellow” person. I went to graduate school in the 1990’s in Houston where I had college educated classmates who would cross to the other side of the road if they saw a Black person. I had classmates who openly used the N word. I had classmates who thought interracial relationships were biologically wrong. Just last night I had a white male older colleague make a dumb ass comment to me about having a “Sugar Daddy”. Yes, sexism is alive too. Thankfully I’ve never had anyone shout or throw something at me.

These stories of post-election racism are so sad and unfortunate and awful. And it’s sad that there is a segment of society that feels this kind of belief and behavior is acceptable. I hope I can convey this properly and my thoughts aren’t misconstrued, but, respectfully, I have to kind of disagree with the conclusion that “If you voted for Trump, you encouraged this.” I think it’s really sad that a parent is teaching her child to be racist. I think social media is partly to blame for the uncensored behavior and fueling the awful beliefs of a lot of people despite Trump. Facebook and Twitter and all have made it easy for anyone to say and do so many things without thought or repercussions. I don’t think most people think it’s okay to punch another person, but young people see it so often in the media or social media that their young minds normalize it. Sadly, yes, the fixation on his awful racist unfiltered behavior has made a lot of people feel it’s okay to behave this way too. But, sadly, some people behave this way anyway. But I know a lot of non-racist people who voted for him, and they weren’t voting to encourage racism. I don’t think the majority who voted for him believe it’s okay to be racist. Many of them were voting against corruption, against the ridiculous rising costs of healthcare, or are really mad that their manufacturing/tech job went overseas.But I know a lot of non-racist people who voted for him, and they weren’t voting to encourage racism. I don’t think the majority who voted for him believe it’s okay to be racist. Many of them were voting against corruption, against the ridiculous rising costs of healthcare, or are really mad that their manufacturing/tech job went overseas.

But I know a lot of non-racist people who voted for him, and they weren’t voting to encourage racism. I don’t think the majority who voted for him believe it’s okay to be racist. Many of them were voting against corruption, against the ridiculous rising costs of healthcare, or are really mad that their manufacturing/tech job went overseas. My high school and college Ethnic studies have educated me the history of new ethnic groups into America and the blame and racism by the general population that goes along with it (my Irish Catholic high school history teacher wisely used the immigration of Irish Catholics as an example so as to not offend anyone). A lot of blame is directed towards minority/Asian/Latino groups at the loss of the majority/white jobs.

My high school and college Ethnic studies have educated me the history of new ethnic groups into America and the blame and racism by the general population that goes along with it (my Irish Catholic high school history teacher wisely used the immigration of Irish Catholics as an example so as to not offend anyone). A lot of blame is directed towards minority/Asian/Latino groups at the loss of the majority/white jobs. But it’s the large employers who offer lower pay so that either they fire the majority to hire

But it’s the large employers who offer lower pay so that either they fire the majority to hire cheaper minority or overseas labor or the majority “American” won’t take that job as the pay is beneath them. No, this isn’t all of racism, but it’s part of it.Lisa, considering you and Jeff are from the MidWest, I’m sure you know many who voted for him and I’m sure you don’t think they are all racist. A lot of people are tired of the establishment. I don’t think anyone who voted for Mrs. Clinton voted for corruption or big money. And a lot of people really loved Mr. Clinton but I’m sure a lot of people look the other way at his own personal behavior. A lot of people are tired of the establishment. I don’t think anyone who voted for Mrs. Clinton voted for corruption or big money. And a lot of people really loved Mr. Clinton but I’m sure a lot of people look the other way at his own personal behavior.Yes, I was stunned and I cried my eyes out at the election results. I fear for myself and my children and our country. My healthcare costs are supposed to go down, but under his stated policies and the GOP legislative

Yes, I was stunned and I cried my eyes out at the election results. I fear for myself and my children and our country. My healthcare costs are supposed to go down, but under his stated policies and the GOP legislative majority my taxes will go up. I see corporate America trying to take my small business away from me. My friend is the manager and lead recruiter for a large corporation coming into CA that will threaten my profession and my small business (and he’s still my friend).For myself, now that the shock has worn off, I choose to pray and have hope. I tacitly accept the process. I pray that we all will have hope and will work together to try to change our Society to be

For myself, now that the shock has worn off, I choose to pray and have hope. I tacitly accept the process. I pray that we all will have hope and will work together to try to change our Society to be a better place.

Ok. I’m done with my ramblings. Thanks for listening.

 

Clinton and Trump Reflect the Triumph of the New Secular America

Clinton and Trump Reflect the Triumph of the New Secular America

I sat for some time staring at my election ballot wondering, “are these really my only choices for America’s next president?” Neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump share my Christian worldview; both are narcissists and both have serious flaws in their character that make them distasteful.

So how did we get here? How did we arrive at this place where the two major party nominees are so ethically flawed? The answer, in short, is that Clinton and Trump reflect the character and moral decay of America as a whole. As more and more people have rejected Christianity in favor of a secular worldview, the expectations of our leaders to be men and women of integrity (at least as that word is defined by biblical Christianity) has fallen to the wayside. Pew Research has tracked this rise in what they call the “nones”.

Religious “nones” – a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16% of Americans were “nones.” (During this same time period, Christians have fallen from 78% to 71%.)

Overall, religiously unaffiliated people are more concentrated among young adults than other age groups – 35% of Millennials (those born 1981-1996) are “nones.” In addition, the unaffiliated as a whole are getting even younger. The median age of unaffiliated adults is now 36, down from 38 in 2007 and significantly younger than the overall median age of U.S. adults in 2014 (46).

But even among the 71% who call themselves Christian, only a small percentage actually participate in the life of the Church and are guided by Her teachings. As reported by Toni Ridgeway on ChurchLeaders.com.

According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, more than 40 percent of people say they go to church every week, but statistics show that fewer than 20 percent actually attend. More than 4,000 churches close their doors every year. Between 2010 and 2012, half of all churches in the U.S. did not add any new members. Each year 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity.

In recent decades, this shift away from Christianity has increased so that for every new believer, four others shift towards atheism or agnosticism. The NY Times reports the rise in the “nones” as follows,

Over all, the religiously unaffiliated number 56 million and represent 23 percent of adults, up from 36 million and 16 percent in 2007, Pew estimates. Nearly half of the growth was from atheists and agnostics, whose tallies nearly doubled to 7 percent of adults. The remainder of the unaffiliated, those who describe themselves as having “no particular religion,” were less likely to say that religion was an important part of their lives than eight years ago.

The radical drift toward pluralization and secularization has led not just to apathy toward people who hold to a vibrant Christan faith, but a marked increase in animus toward anyone who trusts in Jesus as their moral authority. Anyone who holds to a biblical moral standard is perceived by the culture as judgemental and hypocritical. The balkanization of society means our leaders are no longer expected to follow any one particular moral standard of conduct because there is no “one” moral standard. Elizabeth Drescher reports on the impact for the kinds of leaders America can expect,

Some of the effects of the decentering of religion in general and Christianity in particular are easily recognizable. In the political arena, for instance, religious background is less and less important. Indeed, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City has highlighted his spiritual-but-not-religious self-identification as a credential for working effectively with diverse religious groups as well as those not affiliated with institutional religions. Where being unreligious was once a political liability, in some political races being too religious can now be problematic. Similar shifts in the role of religion in culture have been playing out for decades in education, health care and popular media. But more subtle transitions are also under way, those associated with how religious idioms—symbols, rituals, artifacts, doctrines, holy figures, turns of phrase and, by no means least, sacred stories—circulate in the wider culture. It is here that what might be called the none-ing of the United States will likely have its most pervasive and enduring effects on ways of perceiving, interpreting and expressing our experiences of reality, which have for centuries been shaped extensively by Christian ideas and practices. The wellspring of Christian idioms is, of course, Scripture; and we can fairly wonder if and how the growing population of nones might continue to engage Scripture and how this might change Scripture itself.

Some see the decline in Christain influence as a good thing for America. One such person is Mary Elizabeth Williams, a self-described Roman Catholic who writes the following,

“The percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years.” And as a practicing Catholic raising her children Catholic, I see this as cause for cheering.

Ms. Williams’ wish has been granted. Donald Trump is not the choice of “evangelical” Christians, but he is the poster-child of secular conservativism. As Neil Stevens concludes, “Evangelicals didn’t drive this car off the cliff. They’re just along for the ride, like the rest of us.”

So as I stare at my ballot and consider my vote for president, I realize that I am looking at two fundamentally flawed candidates; driven by the new religion of political ideology standing atop the corpse of Christian ethics. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reflect the triumph of the new secular America. In the “new America” driven by the “nones”, Clinton and Trump are the shining examples of the new normal for our pluralistic society. Whoever wins this election, the moral agnosticism of the “nones” will be the guiding principle. The angry atheists have longed for the day when the Christian influence would decline, and election day 2016 reflects the future of our secular America.

The words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his commencement address at Harvard University on June 8, 1978 are prophetic of our 2016 election choices.

There are meaningful warnings which history gives a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, the decadence of art, or a lack of great statesmen. There are open and evident warnings, too. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc. The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy.

Who should Christians vote for? I don’t know. We will each make our own decision based on what we see as the greatest priority for the United States of America. But know this, whoever wins the US Presidency in 2016, their nomination and election are the fruit of secularism, not Christianity.

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