I like to understand why people believe what they do. In particular, I wonder the most about people who have little or no religious affiliation. Coming from a very conservative and religious upbringing made it easier for me to understand matters of faith and the existence of God. I therefore assumed that everyone saw things the same way.
That assumption was disproved when I entered into high school and during my time in university. I came across young, intelligent and passionate people who rejected religious beliefs, especially Christianity, and who carried a vision of what they considered to be a tolerant world in which everyone lives their own truth.
I later came to understand that this way of seeing the world is known as the postmodern worldview, which rejects the notion that there’s only one way of understanding the biggest questions like why am I here, what is my purpose, what is true and how should I live my life?
People who hold the postmodern worldview say that we can’t know if there is an objective way to see the world. However, why do many of them seem so sure about how they think the world should work? They are sure because they tend to subscribe to the philosophy of Karl Marx who taught that “humanity suffered and languished for ages under the oppression of a tiny handful of exploiters who tortured millions of toilers”.
In my opinion, a new alternative to religion emerged as postmodernism rejected Christianity and replaced it with the Marxist philosophies that many postmodernists hold. This secular philosophy comes in many guises and names such as liberal politics, political correctness and the tolerance movement. It prioritises the self-identification and self-gratification of its proponents and has the following hallmarks that could easily make it a religion in its own right:
1) It has a creed: respect all views except those found in the Bible.
In this worldview, everyone is entitled to believe in their own truth (except outspoken Christians). The Bible to them is an archaic, women-hating, LBGTQ discriminating, racist, imperialist and unscientific work of fiction. The existence and influence of biblical Christianity is a threat that must be fought in every way possible, according to the postmodern, cultural Marxist (PCM) paradigm. The biblical Christian worldview at its core, explains the world in terms of an Almighty God who appeared to humanity in Jesus who was fully man and fully divine. Jesus describes himself as the way, the truth and the life and that no-one can stand before God except through him.
2) It has a moral standard: do whatever you want.
Morality in this philosophy is relative. In other words, right and wrong are in the eye of the beholder. It is also situational, meaning it can change depending on the context a person finds themselves in or who the person is. This flies in complete opposition to the Christian understanding of morality being the manifestation of the nature of God in people, who are made in his image. He is the essence of Good so any deviation from his will is by definition evil and wrong.
3) It has a creation story: in the beginning the universe formed itself out of nothing through the Big Bang.
The answer to the question where do we come from according to PCM believers is the Big Bang and after a series of very unlikely accidents the emergence of living cells through abiogenesis (literally meaning life from non-life). This was followed by the eventual evolution of humanity from our common ancestor with other living creatures. Evolution is taught as a fact and many millions of dollars are spent indoctrinating young people into this idea through the school system and by high-profile celebrity scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and David Attenborough.
Many Christians are divided on the issue of how we got here. Some ascribe to theistic evolution, which says that God created the world by causing the Big Bang and directing evolution over many ages, which is symbolised as the days in the first chapter of Genesis. Others take a more straightforward interpretation of the same biblical text and believe that God created the world in six literal 24-hour days just over 6,000 years ago.
4) It has a covenant: I don’t judge you, you don’t judge me.
PCM believers need a way to ensure or at least promote social cohesion in a belief system in which each person or identity group can determine their own morality. The PCM worldview addresses this by insisting that one person cannot impose their own morality on someone else except where you transgress the rules of political correctness. This is the social contract they wish to establish, however it omits a very necessary requirement of a contract: the agreement of the other party. This becomes a problem when a person chooses not to believe that people can decide their own truths or morality. Whenever such opposition arises, the PCM crowd tends to vilify, shame or slander people who don’t agree with their view of the world.
The Christian covenant, or social contract, is different because it is between God and each individual person. It was first described in the Old Testament where God offered to bless people who obeyed his commands and curse people who did not. A common misconception is that God expected humanity to live up to their end of the bargain in the Old Testament. Rather, the ongoing failure of God’s own people, the Israelites, was intended to show that human beings cannot live up to God’s standard and are unable to obey him perfectly. A few people in the Bible got it, such as Abraham and David. They realised that we must have faith in God’s goodness and trust in his forgiveness of our disobedience and wrongdoing. We are all cursed by sin and need God to do something about it, which he did by sending his Son, Jesus.
The Old Testament was always a precursor to the New Covenant, or New Testament, where Jesus lived a perfect life and willingly died for our sin in order to pay the price for our shortcomings and rebellion against God. His resurrection proved that the sacrifice he made completely paid for our sins so that whoever believes in him as their saviour will not spiritually die for an eternity in hell but will life forever with God. The New Testament frees us from the penalty of sin and empowers us to love God and each other without shame, guilt or condemnation.
5) It has commandments: the rules of political correctness upheld by the State or government.
Adherents to PCM ideology must conform to the tenets of political correctness, which is its moral code. Political correctness elevates the self-identification, values and concerns of so-called oppressed groups over those who are considered oppressors. It is a set of rules that favours would-be victims and minority groups by giving them the moral high ground solely on the basis of being part of those groups.
People who accept political correctness see the role of government as protecting the interests of those who are oppressed while punishing perceived oppressors, who they believe abuse the power they have obtained. They see it as power that the privileged have obtained at the expense of others.
Christians believe that moral laws come from the God of the Bible, who is the ultimate Law-giver. These standards were revealed to Moses on Mt Sinai in the Old Testament and included the Ten Commandments that underpin the Western legal system. God have us the Law to make it clear that our actions have objective moral consequences and that we are responsible for those actions as individuals. Jesus explained that in the New Testament, God’s commandments can be summed up in two commands: “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul and strength” and “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
The commandments reveal that human beings are responsible for their actions, not the groups they identify with. People are accountable because they each have a will and conscience that direct their behaviours. It means that in the truest sense, everyone is a victim and everyone is an oppressor. Therefore our accountability is to God and the delegated authority he has given to institutions that reflect his will such as parents, leaders and governments.
6) It has a communion: the sharing of alcohol and sex.
Rituals are tangible expressions of solidarity between people within religious groups. They are acts through which followers show their allegiance to the values of the religion or group. Every religion has rituals that followers participate in, whether its kneeling in prayer towards Mecca if you’re Muslim, reciting the Rig Veda of the Gayatri Mantra at dawn if you’re Hindu or taking communion if you’re a Christian. People go through rituals to honour and connect with the tenets of their belief systems. These acts often become part of their routine, which helps them step into deeper, more profound spiritual experiences.
In modern society, no rituals are more common or celebrated than social drinking and casual sex. They are the manifestation of a culture devoted to self-worship and self-gratification. The sexual liberation driven by PCM beliefs completely rejects Judeo-Christian values about sexuality. It is fueled by uncontrolled inhibition towards lustful behaviour granted by the warped consciences of drunk party-goers, both young and old. They relish the transient intimacy they have with other like-minded fun-lovers, even if it’s at the expense of physical and emotional hangovers they experience over the following days. The shame that is part of the ritual inevitably leads to more drinking and casual sex (and shame).
7) It has a crusade: to protect the planet.
Saving the planet from the destructive effects of human activities is the major concern for PCM adherents. There is no greater threat to life on earth than climate change, although fears of the nuclear annihilation of humanity come a close second. They ascribe innocence and purity to the natural world, which they must preserve. Although there is some truth to their concerns, many environmental alarmists have a tendency, for example, to decry climate change deniers as heretics and label people as a cancer that plagues Earth.
Christianity is maligned for the Bible’s teaching to “rule over” the Creation and its association with the Crusades, which were military conquests of the Holy Land in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. The Crusades had very little to do with the true Christian mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ that proclaims our salvation through his death, burial and resurrection. Christians are not primarily focussed on saving the planet or political conquests but believe that Jesus will return a second time at which time he will restore his Creation to its initial beauty and splendour for enjoyment by believers in Jesus for eternity. Meanwhile, people are meant to care for Creation.
8) It has clergy: Hollywood celebrities, left-wing politicians and postmodern academics.
Every religion worth its salt has preachers proclaiming its message and PCM ideology is no different. We hear their sermons on popular late night comedy shows, they preach on social media and indoctrinate susceptible minds on university campuses or on the street. They tell us that “hate-speech” is heresy. They accuse many Caucasian men of the original sin of “white privilege”. They label everyone who doesn’t share their views as a fascist. They shame their opponents into towing their line. Yet they often seem to embody the very transgressions they detest: judgment, hate and exclusion of people who do not think the same as them.
Admittedly, many Christian preachers fail to uphold the truths of Christianity. Hypocrisy is a universal human failing. However the message of Christianity unites all people in their shortcomings for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Christianity further unites people in their value before a God who so loved us he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. We are all condemned but, more importantly, we can all be saved if we believe. Christianity offers to exchange our shame for God’s acceptance where there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
9) It has a call to compassion: to care for the victims of the unfairness preached by its clergy.
There is no doubt that those who promote political correctness do so out of their concern for the most marginalised people in our society. The world, indeed, is unfair. Some people are born into privilege while others immediately or at some point face the challenges of poverty. There is also no argument that historical injustices have shaped the social and economic landscape we currently find ourselves in. Suffering is a tragic reality of life made worse by the capacity of people to inflict it on each other. It comes as no surprise that PCM adherents want to level the playing field for people who have it worse.
A problem arises though in how we define unfairness. The PCM worldview breaks down unfairness into inequality (the unfair differences between people) and inequity (the unfair results of those differences). For example, people who are poor (or suffer income inequality) pay more for the same expenses as a proportion of their income. They are often unable to access essential services like medical care without government assistance (due to the inequity their poverty creates). Having compassion for less fortunate people is therefore very important, but how we respond to their plight is just as relevant.
Liberal ideology errs by putting the responsibility of caring for the most vulnerable people on governments funded by public taxes. Money is coerced from the community to pay for the government benefits and programs that help the most disadvantaged people. This approach may work in the short-term but it becomes problematic over time as it can create a disincentive for people to make the sacrifices needed to find work. Such sacrifices for unemployed people who are able to work often result in the loss of those government benefits for not much gain. Governments are permitted to raise taxes, however they often fail to address the long-term needs of poor people who become dependent on the benefits they provide.
10) Its has its consummation: a global socialist system of government that looks after everyone.
The PCM utopia is a society in which the government or the people collectively own all the wealth and distribute it to everyone equally. It’s a world where everyone shares the same or very similar outcomes. We’re told this approach will end unemployment, poverty and inequality. Such an economic system is called socialism, which has been pursued by many governments in the 20th and 21st centuries to devastating results.
When the government tries to enact equality of outcome by taking from the ‘privileged’ and giving to the ‘underprivileged’, it takes away the incentive for people to act personally responsible, innovate, risk-take, build, invest and be charitable. Socialism destroys the foundations of Western civilisation built on capitalism – the private ownership of property and the means by which an economy produces goods and services. These foundations are found in Christian biblical traditions such as the Ten Commandments which tell us to not steal (which endorses property rights), to keep the Sabbath (alluding to the dual responsibilities of work and rest) and to not covet (by not resentfully desiring another person’s possessions or position in life). Though it is not perfect, capitalism is largely responsible for the unprecedented prosperity the world has seen in the last century.
It is very difficult to disprove socialism to its proponents who seldom reflect on its possible flaws as a theory. Socialists in response often appeal to its supposed inadequate implementation as the main reason for its past failures. The Christian worldview states that inequality of outcome is simply the consequence and cost of living in a free society where the vast majority of people bear some responsibility for their circumstances. Jesus said, “the poor you will always have with you”. He said this not to judge the poor but to reveal that those who are rich will always have a responsibility to voluntarily help and support those living in poverty.
So, do you agree that the postmodern Marxist and liberal philosophies have religious elements to them?