Where do we go from here?
July 26, 2017 | Dr. Everett Piper
The European Court of Human Rights ruled this week that Charlie Gard, a fatally ill one-year-old infant from England, could be removed from life support against his parents’ wishes. On Monday the case concluded, and his parents have agreed to allow their baby to be taken off life support.
Western civilization has thus come to the point where a mother and father find their basic right to preserve the life of their own child now denied by a court of elites who presume to know best when their son should die.
How did this happen?
In the early 1900s, G. K. Chesterton spoke of the unavoidable consequences of denying God as our creator and worshipping science above the sacred. Observing that the naturalists of his day were only too willing to turn their science into a philosophy and then impose their new religion upon all of culture, with near fanatic zeal, Chesterton said, “I [have] never said a word against eminent men of science. What I complain of is a vague popular philosophy which supposes itself to be scientific when it is really nothing but a sort of new religion and an uncommonly nasty one.”
Chesterton recognized that science could never presume to compete in the moral arena of theology and philosophy. He said further: “To mix science up with philosophy is only to produce a philosophy that has lost all its ideal value and a science that has lost all its practical value. It is for my private physician to tell me whether this or that food will kill me. It is for my private philosopher to tell me whether I ought to be killed.”
Chesterton knew science could answer the questions of mathematics and medicine, but he likewise was keenly aware it had nothing at all to say about meaning and morality. He warned that scientific “progress,” unrestrained by sacred principles, was fraught with dangers. “Survival of the fittest,” he contended, may be an interesting academic discussion when applied to a vegetable, an animal, or a mineral, but when practiced on people, its consequences are nothing short of horrifying.
C. S. Lewis also spoke forthrightly of Western society’s diminishment of God while elevating man and technology to fill the void. Predicting the rise of what he and others labeled “scientism,” in which naturalism and materialism are uncritically elevated to the status of a religion, Lewis warned of a dystopia where public policy and even moral and religious beliefs would be dictated by professors and politicians only too eager to assume the role of our new cultural high priests.
In his novel titled “That Hideous Strength,” Lewis asks the reader to consider an obvious question: After two world wars in which scientism has brought us the “advancements” of eugenics and the mass slaughter of millions of people via poisonous gas, rapid-fire machine guns, ballistic rockets, and atomic bombs, how is our new man-made god working for us?
“The physical sciences, good and innocent in themselves, [have] already … begun to be warped,” said Lewis. “[They have] been subtly maneuvered in a certain direction. Despair of objective truth [has] been increasingly insinuated into the scientists’ [or the cultural elites’] indifference to it, and a concentration upon mere power [has] been the result ….” Lewis knew that the struggle by the “fittest” for power and survival, when unhampered by any objective moral restraint, would always lead to the nightmare of Orwellian rule rather than the paradise promised by his professorial peers, and he cautioned his readers accordingly.
The list of those warning of the inevitable consequences of worshipping the created rather than the creator is long. Chesterton, Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, T.S. Eliot, and many more, both before and after them, all knew that when man reverses the equation of creator and created and thus denies God as his origin, humanity always suffers dire consequences.
Chuck Colson, the late founder of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, summarized it well: “Our origin determines our destiny. It tells us who we are, why we are here, and how we should order our lives together in society. Our view of origins shapes our understanding of ethics, law, [and] education … Whether we start with the assumption that we are creatures of a personal God or that we are products of a mindless process, a whole network of consequences follows, and these consequences diverge dramatically.”
If we are the intentional design of an intelligent creator, then we have a purpose, a destiny, and a way to live our lives in order to fulfill that purpose. If we are nothing more than products of happenstance and chance, then we have no ultimate purpose and meaning and no standard to guide the way we are to live. Morality becomes meaningless, and right and wrong are nothing more than social constructs — subject to the whim and opinion of those who position themselves to have the most power.
As Colson said, in such a world any claim to universal truth is considered suspect, especially if it claims its source in God rather than human understanding and accomplishment. In such a world, lies always fill the vacuum vacated by truth. When we think we are our own creators, there is little left for us to do but worship ourselves. Life really does become all about us. Education becomes little more than the formalization of self-worship.
As T.S. Eliot stated: “Every definition of the purpose of education … implies some concealed, or rather implicit, philosophy or theology. In choosing one definition rather than another, we are attracted to the one because it fits better with our answer to the question: What is man for?”
Welcome to the brave new world, in which “man is for” power. Welcome to the new religion of science over the sacred, and of progress over principles. Welcome to the temple of tolerance, where we worship the created rather than the Creator. Welcome to the world of Charlie Gard.