Will America suffer the same fate as Europe and the rise of what Karen Armstrong calls “secular fundamentalism”? We seem to be headed in a similar direction with the secularization of our schools, courts, media, morality, perverse sexual practices, and politics. Christianity in America, like Christianity in Europe, is under attack. We see it every day. Judges are being scrutinized for their religious beliefs, especially on abortion and homosexuality. A similar thing happened to Italy’s nominee to the European Union’s executive commission a few years back. He was attacked by EU parliamentarians and the press because of his view that homosexuality was a sin. The attacks were so vicious that he had to step down.
What’s happened to the once-Christian Europe when a court has consistently denied the parents of their infant son Charlie Gard to seek alternative medical treatment in the United States? The appropriate word is “evil,” as Charlie’s father yelled out to the court. There may not be any hope for Charlie, but it’s not the court’s right to kidnap and put their child to death.
George Weigel, a theologian and senior fellow of the Ethics and Policy Center in Washington, D.C., says that the culprit “is the atheistic humanism that took shape in the 19th century.”1 Whether in the form of Auguste Comte’s positivism (empirical science is the only reliable worldview), Charles Darwin’s naturalism (nature is all there is), or Karl Marx’s materialism (the spiritual world is an illusion), it attempted “to exclude transcendent reference points from cultural, social, and political life,” Weigel contends. “In specific, it reversed the view that the Hebrew and Christian God was the source of human freedom and dignity and proposed that this God was the obstacle to both.”
Acquiescing to secularism struck at the heart of moral reason “in a culture that had given the world the very concept of moral reason.” Two world wars were an indictment of humanism and materialism, but instead of rejecting the materialistic worldview that was used to justify the wars, the people adopted a “hyperindividualism” which has led to “a lack of confidence in the future.” When you no longer believe in the future, you tend to discount the past (rejection of Europe’s Christian civilization), deny the future, and live only for the present, both in philosophy and practice.
To show the detachment many Europeans have to the past and future, during the heat wave of 2003, the French continued their summer vacations. If a family member had died, they remained unburied and warehoused in refrigerated lockers which were soon overflowing. In Germany, there are no death notices in the newspapers, no church funeral ceremonies, no secular memorial service — “as though,” Richard Neuhaus observed, “The deceased did not exist.”