~ “When I was a kid back in the 1930’s and we would drive to church on Sunday morning, there wouldn’t be a car in front of any of the neighbor’s houses because everyone else was on their way to church as well. But now, well, on my way to church most Sundays I look at all the car’s parked in people’s driveways and…..” he began tearing up and didn’t finish his sentence.
That is an excerpt I had with a 82 year old minister. A few years later he died and I spoke at his funeral. I said nothing but positive things, I left out how sad he had become with American culture. I left out of my eulogy all of the sorrow he grappled with as he often confided in me,
“Kenneth, I believe it’s my generation’s fault for what our country has become”.
Although he was a Christian minister, and he often looked at things from the angle of the ministry, he was also a retired school psychologist and had a lot of empathy for the poor and meek. On more occasions than I can count, I remember him tearing up has he would tell me stories about people who were hurting emotionally, and how he wished he could do more to help him. He was convinced that as the church had become more irrelevant to people’s lives, it had led to an overall breakdown in the moral and community fabric of America.
The world has changed quite a bit from when that minister was born in August 3rd, 1925. It was the month before his birth, in July of 1925 that John Scopes went on trial in Tennessee. Scopes was a teacher who had been charged with illegally teaching evolution in the classroom. Seems wild to think that it used to be illegal to teach evolution, but then again, I was born more than fifty years later! What would be eventually referred to as the “Scopes Monkey Trial” became a national phenomena, it is credited with being the single biggest moment in 20th century Americana when it came to bringing evolutionary science into the mainstream.
90 years later here we sit in an entirely new country,
—) Our country has lived through numerous wars in that time
—) The evolution of the television, and the Internet has given us a society that few could have imagined back in the Roaring Twenties.
—) The automobile was in its infancy in the 1920’s, it has now become engrained into every element of our culture; we build cities, houses, and communities based on the integration of the automobile into our everyday lives.
—) The cell phone which all of us carry in our pockets, and connects us to the entire world via the Internet, is a far cry from the old style phones of the early 20th century.
—) Women’s suffrage led to monumental breakthroughs in women’s right to vote, and equal pay in the workforce
Everything about our society has changed dramatically since 1925 and in many ways I often find it difficult to imagine what daily life was like back then. After all, what did people do after work each day without televisions and the Internet? Did they really sit out on the porch and talk to their neighbors all night?
While all of this new technology envelopes our every waking moment in the 21st century, it is possible that we might forget the significance of science in the 20th century; not merely in the awesome scientific discoveries when it comes to disease and invention, but in the way science changed so many of the cultural aspects of our society.
After all, it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to notice that as the percentage of Americans who believe in evolutionary science increases, the number of Americans who attend church decrease <article>.
Has science replaced God?
It was German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who said, “God is dead” because humans killed him, and perhaps there is some measure of truth in Nietzsche’s thought if we connect the dots and realize that 21st century has all but killed God.
Is a belief in God and a belief in evolutionary science compatible? Some religious people believe they are; many Jews and Christians believe there are no contradictions in adhering to a belief in the divine alongside believing in evolutionary science. Yet many scientists, people like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, would suggest that science and god are not compatible; that the two are mutually exclusive.
Whenever things get bad in a society, people tend to look for signs of hope;
—) Hope that tomorrow can get better
—) Hope that things will change
—) Hope in people who will help make things better
Many people look toward Providence and hope that the Divine will reach down and make things better; they “hope” that God will see them in their plight.
In a world rocked by science, a culture that has experienced earth shattering changes thanks in large part to technology and scientific innovation; is there any place left to have hope in God?
–) As extremist religious groups in the Middle East and Africa continue their purge of the land, is their any hope that the region will ever see peace?
–) In the Middle East, where women are more often than not, second class citizens, is there any hope that they will ever be treated equally?
–) In the United States, where depression and loneliness are fast becoming an epidemic, is there any hope that people will be spared lives of lonely desperation?
–) In Europe, where countries such as Greece and Spain are on the verge of economic and social collapse, is there any hope for stabilization?
In a world where Science has become an all encompassing force, engrained into the very fabric of our cultures, is there any hope that God is there, and he is not silent?
Many thoughts to ponder as I sip my coffee this morning,
p.s. thanks to Callie from Colorado for being on the *Live* show last night! We had a great time discussing community! Thanks to the many people who tuned in and all those who watched the video later in the night as well. Monday we will be back with an all new *LIVE* show.
Here’s last night’s show;
Categories: Science & Culture