So Kathleen sent me a link to a post from one of her Christian friends on the topic of “What Is the World Coming To?“. I’m sure the author of this post (Titus) is a thoughtful, well-meaning individual who legitimately cares for the well-being of the planet. Unfortunately, much of what he pays attention to and prioritizes seems to me to be all wrong. Let me summarize his thoughts:
- Teachers are sleeping with students
- Various nations are bombing each other
- Miley Cyrus is disgusting
- The world is only going to get worse and we need to find Jesus. Quickly.
For the record, I agree with much of what Titus has to say (especially the part about Miley Cyrus). And of course we are all sickened by the wars that seem to drag on endlessly. And I’m also generally against teachers sleeping with their students. Where we depart is the conclusion that (1) The world is becoming a worse place, and (2) We need to find Jesus.
What Titus ignores in his post is that while there is a remarkable level of suffering in the world, quality of life by all measures is improving in almost every part of the world. If you doubt this just look at worldwide data on life expectancy (here and here). If you want to hear the good news about social progress and improving living conditions in the third world you can kill an entire afternoon by going to http://www.ted.com and searching for “Hans Rosling”. Global malaria cases are on a downward trend (take a look). On average, humans are far less violent to one another than they have ever been (check it out).
What Titus also misses is that these improvements in the world have been brought about not by an outpouring of love from an immanent deity, but through technology, improving economies, and the breaking down of social barriers that have traditionally impeded many individuals from pursuing their own self interests. This has more to do with people discarding their faith than it does people clinging to their faith. Somehow through all of what Titus views as moral depravity, the world seems to be tricking itself into improving life for its humans.
It is common for Christians to ask what the world is coming to. This is because in their mind it started out as a perfect utopia 6017 years ago. If you haven’t noticed, the earth has never been a utopia. If you long for days of yore, you long for polio, slavery, and superstition. You long for burning witches, bigotry, and ignorance. You long for a life that in the words of Thomas Hobbes that was “harsh, nasty, brutish, and short”. In fact, the world has never been better for human beings. And the more we guide our moral sense by logic and empathy (instead of ancient texts) the more progress we seem to make on this planet.
To the theists of the world, it is time to start looking at the world through the lens of data, science, evidence, and logic. If you keep looking at it through the lens of what your old dusty book lies to you about what morality is, you will come to the same tired, pessimistic, and wrong conclusions that our good friend Titus has come to. Only a person blinded by dogma can ignore the incredible progress being made in the world and fail to realize what an exciting time it is to be alive.
We don’t need more memory verses. We need more logic, empathy, and technology.
At the end of the day Titus, you are right. Miley is pretty gross. The difference is that I didn’t need a 3,000 year old book to figure that one out.