What is the World Coming To???

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.

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9 responses to “What is the World Coming To???

  1. Hey, Clayton…
    Thanks for reading the post. I don’t know who Kathleen is, but I’m glad she shared the link with you.
    No doubt we disagree on most of what I said, coming from two completely worldviews and all. I bet over a cup of coffee or a cheeseburger we could have some great back and forth and probably be friends.
    One thing is for sure…you live in a prettier city than I do. Durango is a wonderful town. Haven’t been there in a long time, but remember it fondly.
    Be Well,
    Titus

    • Titus- Thank you for responding to Clayton’s post. As the one who sent him the link in the first place, I’d like to add just a little bit to what he said.
      I find it very frightening to read a religious post that, basically, tells people that this world is hopeless and the only solution is to put your heart and thoughts in the next life. An afterlife that, even as a believer you must admit, you do not know with certaintly even exists. Yes, you can believe in it but you can’t “know”. Nobody can.
      We have a duty as humans to make the most out of this life-that also entails contributing to the goodness in the world, helping others, caring about the future of our planet. Because this may be all we get. And what’s wrong with that anyway? Depsite all the ugliness and heartache, this is still a beautiful, amazing world with lots of compassionate “helpers” (as Mr Rogers would say :)).

      best regards,
      -kathleen

  2. Excellent post, Clayton. Thank you for all the links to additional info as well.

  3. For an atheist, does it not take faith to believe that something is not true? It takes faith to believe that something does not exist (i.e. eternal life in heaven), when there is no evidence, proof or research stating otherwise, correct? How is the atheist’s faith more valid than the Christian’s faith?

  4. KP-
    No- it does not take faith to believe that something is not true. Atheists do not have faith that something does not exist. They simply do not believe there is substantive evidence to support a belief in a supernatural deity. Does it take faith for you to disbelieve in elves? Or Bigfoot? Or Allah? The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. If strong evidence emerged for the existence of a God, I would change my belief. But what about you? If some evidence revealed that your particular version of God was wrong, would it alter your beliefs or would you continue to cling to faith? What is your method for discerning false gods from the “true” one?

    • How do you respond to the fact that Jesus Christ existed (historical evidence) and spoke of God’s existence, using this as a a very simple, surface level example. There is much factual evidence that solidifies the Bible’s truths that you can search out on your own but if even if you choose to not accept the Bible as a historical document, there are many other credible historical sources. I actually was believing in a particular version of God that was wrong when I was strolling along in my Catholic upbringing until Biblical truths revealed to me the one true God known through Jesus Christ and I abandoned my inaccurate beliefs. I realize and accept that faith in this revelation plays a huge part, and this, along with factual evidence and documents substantiating the Bible’s records, allow me to determine the one true God from false gods; however, you can’t deny that Christ lived, died and spoke numerous times of God while He was on earth. Well, I suppose a person can deny these truths about Christ just like they could deny the theory of gravity, which is unseen, and still be wrong. However, where is your proof that God does not exist, and so again I ask – what makes your belief that God does not exist any more valid than a Christian’s belief that God does exist?

    • You also might find this blog post an interesting read, as evidence is cleary cited for many of the statements: http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/09/13/christianity-has-done-more-for-science-than-atheism-ever-could/

  5. Clayton: I am a friend of Titus and one of his former professors. If I may, I would invite you to read a part of what you call our “old dusty book”, a book we are not afraid to invite others to explore for themselves. My I suggest a most unfamiliar book that many Christians most likely are unaware of its place in the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes. You can find it here. https://www.bible.com/bible/59/ecc.1.esv Then if I may, I would invite you to return to Titus and continue a discussion with him. He is one who, even if you strongly are at odds with his worldview, is one you truly could have that cheeseburger with…and if you were in Texas, he would buy. Thanks. Prof. Lay (proflay.wordpress.com)

    • Our friend Koheleth is a bit hard on the woman question, don’t you think?
      As for “nothing new under the heavens”, I suppose he doesn’t get out much.
      There’s some nice language (“for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens”) ; but I wonder why Prof Lay recommends this particular example of middle eastern wisdom literature just now and in the present context. Why this why now?

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