THE ULTIMATE CAUSE OF THE MORAL MESS IN AMERICA
While having lunch with a university professor who has taught biblical texts and topics, philosophy, apologetics, and other related subjects for at least parts of four decades, I asked, “What is the major difference you see in today’s students (especially in Millennials) from the students you taught in the early years of your career?” Without hesitation he replied, “Today, especially in Millennials, there is the loss of conviction that there is absolute truth.”
His answer reminds me of a passage in an essay from a 2016 book authored by Kenneth Woodward, religion editor of Newsweek for nearly forty years. From a career that generally would be the same time in history as that of my above mentioned professor friend, Woodward writes in his book, Getting Religion—Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama, the following:
. . . [Y]oung Americans who arrive on campus aiming to develop a “philosophy of life” discover . . . the reigning ethic is moral self-authorization and nonjudgmentalism: what is right for me may not be right for you but no one has the right to judge anyone else. Nor should anyone be required to justify their actions. In fact, most students [today] lack a moral vocabulary for doing so.
In the most searching studies we have of the moral lives of American collegians, sociologist Christian Smith found that many . . . could not identify a moral problem they had recently faced or misidentified a problem that was not moral at all. Asked what made something right, an all-too-typical response was this: “I mean for me I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it, but different people feel different ways, so I couldn’t speak on behalf of anyone else as to what’s right and what’s wrong.” This . . . moral relativism is part of what Smith calls the “dark side” of emergent adulthood, but it is also the prevailing moral context against which students with a sturdier sense of right and wrong must defend themselves in and out of classrooms. (410)
From whence comes this moral “self-authorization” and “nonjudgmentalism”? Why has such a moral morass developed in America, even to the highest levels? In a 2006 book authored by a former U. S. President, we find the affirmation of this relativism that is eating away as a cancer in our nation: “Implied in its [the U. S. Constitution’s] structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth . . . any idea or ideology or theology or ‘ism’ . . . that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course . . .” (Obama, The Audacity of Hope 93). Any idea or theology—really?
The implications of such are staggering, and we are observing why and how they “play out” in human society. The late Dr. Warren said it better than I: “The loss of faith in God . . . has led to the abandonment of religion and to the rejection of objective standards of morality. When men reject or abandon faith in God, they reject all absolutes. When one rejects all absolutes . . . he must regard all of his moral ideas as nothing more than mere human inventions. When a person denies that there is a single moral standard which is equally applicable to all men at all times in all places, he is rightly branded as an exponent of ethical relativity.”
With statements such as the preceding, and with his unparalleled work in the 20th century as a champion against atheism and agnosticism, Warren laid a foundation for the work of Warren Apologetics Center. Without absolute moral judgment there is no absolute truth. Without absolute truth there is no absolute moral judgment. There cannot be one without the other, and there is neither without God! Both flow from God.
People with this knowledge, means, and love for truth should support the great and good work of the Warren Center. It is absolutely on target in providing the answer to what the number one cause is for the moral decay in America today. It is the loss of faith in God. The loss of faith in God is the ultimate reason why there is a loss of the conviction of absolute truth.
Charles C. Pugh III