Thursday, April 12, 2012

Secularism and Suicide

Innovation requires experimentation and modification. If we try something new, we scrutinize the results. If we try a new vitamin or exercise, we try to monitor its impact. If a new vitamin is giving us cramps, we might try to modify the dosage or perhaps even nix it entirely.

However, when it comes to societal experimentation, propaganda often overwhelms caution. Modern secularism is so thoroughly promoted by government, university and media that little attention is given to its impact. It has simply become one of those ideologies that have been accepted apart from reason and examination. In fact, it is so thoroughly accepted that even a majority of educated Christians demure.

The secularism of Western Civilization today is fundamentally characterized by the marginalization of God and traditional religion from the public arena. The sixties saw removal of school prayer and the Bible, the acceptance of extra-marital sex, pornography and abortion, and the establishment of moral relativism and multiculturalism.

Consequently, when a teacher argues for honesty and ethical behavior, it’s no longer because there is a God-given right and wrong, but because honesty provides its own rewards (which it often does). In other words, cheating hurts you and hard work advances you. It’s all about you and what works for you. However, the teacher will not admit that, sometimes, what works isn’t what is ethical.

How does secularism impact the students? In the short run, it’s hard to demonstrate. However, there are some associated objective measures that should cause hesitation in regards to our secular experiment. Since the sixties, crime, abortion, venereal disease, and depression have gone ballistic.

Perhaps suicide is the most telling measure of all. It is suicide that pronounces the clearest, the most direct message – “Life, as I have experienced it, is not worth living!”

  • Diana Graines, in Rolling Stone, noted that prior to the 1960s, teenage suicide was virtually nonexistent among American youth. By 1980 almost four hundred thousand adolescents were attempting suicide every year. By 1987 suicide had become the second largest killer of teens, after automotive accidents. By the 1990s, suicide had slipped down to number three because young people were killing each other as often as they killed themselves. (Vishal Mangalwadi, The Book that Made your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization, 4)
It is interesting that the secular innovations that promised greater happiness and fulfillment seem to have caused the very opposite thing. Some will object that correlation is not the same thing as causation. However, we find this very same correlations throughout the Secular West and relatively absent in more traditional cultures.

We therefore need to investigate the impact of secularism. Many – even non-Christians -   have already sounded the alarm. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, observed that,

·        The prisoner who had lost faith in the future—his future—was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and become subject to mental and physical decay.

Secularism provides no basis for hope or faith beyond the physical world of chemical-electrical reactions. Consequently, in a valueless world, there can be no basis for meaning or morality beyond our own arbitrary decisions to create meaning from non-meaning. Similarly, Arthur Deikman, a Buddhist-like psychotherapist, writes about the poverty of secular psychotherapy:

·        Human beings need meaning. Without it they suffer boredom, depression, and despair…Western psychotherapy is hard put to meet human beings need for meaning, for it attempts to understand clinical phenomena in a framework based on scientific materialism in which meaning is arbitrary and purpose nonexistent. Consequently, Western psychotherapy interprets the search for meaning as a function of childlike dependency wishes and fears of helplessness. (The Observing Self, 4)

Secularism is incapable of affirming anything beyond the material. Many psychotherapists have noted the relationship between the absence of meaning, purpose, and moral absolutes and depression. In Speaking of Sadness, David Karp writes,

·        Cosmopolitan medicine banishes that [extra-material] knowledge by insisting that suffering is without meaning and unnecessary because pain can be technically eliminated. Symptoms are divorced from the person who has them and the situations that surround them, secularized as mechanical mishaps, and so stripped of their stories, the spiritual ramifications and missing pieces of history that make meaning. (191)

In a secular world, nothing has meaning apart from death. We are nothing more than freaks of nature. Consequently, even the atheist, Friedrich Nietzsche, admitted,

·        He who has a “why” to live for can bear almost any “how!”

Nietzsche erroneously thought that he could merely will his way to that all-important “why.” However, he died in an insane asylum. Today, it seems that others are suiciding in the vain attempt to find that “why” which secularism has stolen.

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