“Materialism and Secularism vs. Christian Belief and the Supernatural,” by Andrew Schatkin

At this point in the Western World, Europe, and North America, the predominant philosophical system, if it can be so called, is secularism and materialism. Secularism and materialism are not precisely thought systems or, better put, philosophical systems, but primarily economic in their basis and thus materialism and secularism focus on economic growth and prosperity. Thus, for most people in this system, things are measured by material goods or perhaps wealth acquisition In its essence, the system is a capitalist system based on greed as the basis for bringing jobs and economic prosperity.

However, as a system of thought (if it is a system of thought) I find materialism and secularism wanting. Where humanity and human persons are solely measured and understood on a solely economic measurement and basis, the results can be disastrous. Communism and fascism both are based on the person having only an economic role in the system. Thus, without the face of God and Christ or, perhaps better, some recognition of human rights flowing from that system, millions were disposed like chaffs of wheat under those systems of thought The same might be true of the acts of terrorism occurring today. Absent a God of love and the idea of human rights, these things do happen.

Let me now attempt to understand why I find secularism and materialism as an inadequate basis for thought and how they fail to provide a basis for understanding who we are as human beings; where we may be going; and how the world is as it is. First, there is a great deal of evil in the world or in the Christian idea and concept sin. This is grossly and blatantly obvious. There have been six genocides in the twentieth century. The history of the last century has been a history of mass slaughter and death. Christians believe that human nature is fallen and twisted. Those of us who have lived long enough and drawn some conclusions know that we are a selfish and selfish and self-directed species. This is what Christians largely understand through the use of the terms sin and evil. Materialism and secularism have not only no explanation for evil and sin but mostly fail to address it except in pragmatic and corrective actions and solutions.

The second failure of secularism and materialism is that they fail to account for why we are; how we came to be here; and fail to deal with our mortality and that we all must die. Secularism and materialism address our presence on this planet with the big bang theory and the theory of evolution promulgated by Darwin. These explanations to my mind are weak and inadequate. There is nothing that exists that was not made or created in my experience whether a desk, a house, or a car. No explosion can give rise to this inhabited planet, with plant life, fish, and animals. Nor can an explosion give rise to the entire universe with all the stars and planets. Nor can evolution adequately explain how human persons came to be. Materialism and secularism have no explanation why the only place where life may be and is found is on this planet and this planet alone. It is quite clear to me that the narrative in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 is not only true but the only way we can grasp and understand how we came to be and how this planet with life came to be. It is eminently clear that the heavens are uninhabited and life may only be found on earth.

Finally there is the last question that materialism and secularism fail to account for. Christian belief posits that we have the potential to live forever in heaven and eternal joy with God , depending on our life decisions. Al of us deeply know and it is embedded in us that we have personalities, feelings, and something in us beyond our physical being. We are more than plants and trees and animals. We have something more in us than veins and even our brains. We are unique each of us and secularism fails to deal with our mortality and our deaths.

I have stated here why I find materialism and secularism wanting as philosophical systems, if they are that, since they are really and actually have their basis in economics.

I make this last comment: Many in our increasingly secular society say abortion should be permitted as a matter of the right of a women to make this decision. I do not deny that there is not a measure of truth in that view. The Christian opposition to abortion has its basis in the infinite and eternal value of all men and women from inception to the point of death. Governor Cuomo of New York recently submitted a bill to the legislature allow abortion in the third trimester of the baby’s life. I can only say that secularism and materialism can and do take this position. I also note that the vast majority of abortions are performed on poor black and Latino women. For the reasons I indicated, the secular and materialist position on this issue is weak. Human rights are embedded in our system and they stems from, I believe, Christian influence over many centuries. Babies, particularly female babies, were regularly aborted in China. Abortion in some deep sense devalues the human person and we are left with the view that all that matters is money and material goods.