The beginning of the twentieth century brought with it the hope for unchallenged optimism. H. G. Wells, the author of numerous popular science fiction thrillers, described a period of “evolutionary idealism, faith in progress, and complete optimism.”[i] He proposed that world leaders should create “a common world religion” that was not linked to Christianity or any other theistic religion.[ii] This new man-made world religion would derive its power from a new god, a world government run by world statesmen. “Our true State, this state that is already beginning, this state to which every man owes his utmost political effort, must be now this nascent [beginning] Federal World State to which human necessities point. Our true God now is the God of all men. Nationalism as a God must follow the tribal gods to limbo. Our true nationality is mankind.”[iii]
Judges, like all so-called ‘history books’ of the Old Testament, is really a prophecy. Judges is numbered among what are called the ‘Former Prophets.’ These books were called prophecies because the histories they recorded were regarded as exemplary. The histories showed God’s principles in action, and thus formed prophetic warning to the people. If we read Judges merely as a set of exciting stories, we miss this.
But it wasn’t long before his optimism turned to despair. Shortly before his death in 1946, Wells wrote The Mind at the End of Its Tether, an aptly titled book that was filled with numbing hopelessness: “The end of everything we call life is close at hand and cannot be evaded…. The writer is convinced that there is no way out or round or through the impasse. It is the end.”[iv] Wells had nothing to offer. Bound by his atheistic presuppositions, he could only conclude that there is “no compelling argument to convince the reader that he should not be cruel or mean or cowardly.”[v] What would fill the void? Wells did not have an answer. All of his self-appointed gods had failed him.
In Man We No Longer Trust
World War I was to be the war to end all wars. The dream was never realized. More sophisticated war machinery was heard racing across the skies and fields of Europe twenty years after the Armistice with Germany was signed on November 11, 1918. The sons of World War I veterans fought in desperation to realize the dream that this would be the war to end all wars. But World War II brought with it a weapon that reflected the arrogance of those who claimed to be the world’s saviors. Science stripped from a governing moral order was not the deliverer it was thought to be. Something was wrong with man. This “defect” could not be corrected by an appeal to reason or continued advances in science and technology. What some men designed for good, other men intended for evil.
Nuclear energy can be used to light cities or reduce them to ashes. Chemistry can improve nutrition or make nerve gas. Biology can make vaccinations or germ weapons. Science furnishes neither truth nor moral values.[vi]
The secular religionists had put their trust in technology and the Darwinian worldview of promised evolutionary advancement. Survival of the fittest had become the new ethical standard. The American industrialist Andrew Carnegie embraced the social implications of Darwin’s theories and applied them to the world of business. “That light came in as a flood and all was clear. Not only had I got rid of theology and the supernatural, but I found the truth of evolution.”[vii] John D. Rockefeller, using Darwinian logic, believed that “The growth of a large business is merely the survival of the fittest.”[viii]
Charles Darwin had swept the universe clean of any need for a deity. Soon after the publication of his Origin of Species in 1859, everything was up for grabs. Darwin had created a spiritual ozone hole. The depletion of the canopy of God’s grace and moral order soon increased the incidence of spiritual cancer. Could a cure be found? Darwin’s chance and impersonal universe was a spiritual dead end. A purely rationalistic, materialistic, and impersonal explanation for the existence of man and his world proved to be inadequate and unacceptable for many. As much as the materialists wanted to deny it, man is a spiritual creature, and he needs spiritual nurturing.
Atheism cannot account for rationality, love, or morality. This does not mean that atheists are always irrational, unloving, and immoral, but it does mean that they can’t account for rationality, love, and morality given their assumptions about the origins of the universe and our accidental place in it.
Man was becoming less than human through the entire supposed scientific process outlined by Darwin and the followers of his new naturalistic and scientific religion. The atrocities of Stalin and Hitler revealed in stark detail how despotic and cruel the impersonal worldview of naturalism could be. It is no accident that Communism and Nazism claimed Darwin as their patron saint. Darwin’s naturalistic and mechanistic approach to origins found an enthusiastic adherent in Karl Marx and his communist successors. Darwin’s Origin of Species, Marx wrote to Friedrich Engels in 1866, “is the book which contains the basis in natural history for our view.”[ix] There are no absolutes, man is nothing, and the State is everything. For Communism, the advancement of the State is the march of god on earth. Communism insures this through raw power, the Gulag, and the “necessary” extinction of millions to bring the “ideals” of Communism to the masses.[x]
It is significant to note that “after 1949 when the communists took control of China, the first new text introduced to all the schools was neither Marxist or Leninist, but Darwinian.”[xi] With Darwin, all things are permissible. For a fleeting moment, Communism was seen as the new god that would save us. But even here, disillusionment set in. It, too, was a materialist god that had failed to deliver on its promises.[xii]
[i]Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and its Confrontation with American Society (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books,  1993), 2.
[ii]H. G. Wells, The Outline of History: Being a Plain History of Life and Mankind, 3rd ed. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921), 1093.
[iii]Wells, The Outline of History, 1087.
[iv]H. G. Wells, Mind at the End of Its Tether and The Happy Turning: A Dream of Life (New York: Didier, 1946), 1, 4
[v]Wells, The Mind at the End of Its Tether, 18.
[vi]John R. Robbins, “The Scientist as Evangelist,” Trinity Review (January-February 1986), 3.
[vii]Quoted in John W. Whitehead, The End of Man (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1986), 53.
[viii]James Burke, The Day the Universe Changed (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1985), 271.
[ix]R. L. Meek, ed., Marx and Engels on Malthus (New York: International Publishers, 1954), 171. Quoted in Michael Pitman, Adam and Evolution (London, England: Rider & Company, 1984), 24.
[x]Mark Kramer, ed., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, trans. Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), and Lloyd Billingsly, The Generation that Knew Not Josef: A Critique of Marxism and the Religious Left (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1985).
[xi]Pitman, Adam and Evolution, 24.
[xii]Richard H. Crossman, The God that Failed (Chicago, IL: Regnery Gateway,  1983).
American Vision’s mission is to Restore America to its Biblical Foundation—from Genesis to Revelation. American Vision (AV) has been at the heart of worldview study since 1978, providing resources to exhort Christian families and individuals to live by a Biblically based worldview. Visit www.AmericanVision.org for more information, content and resources
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