As we live in an age of atheist intolerance, where the elitist mainstream media constantly focus negatively on Christians, we need to remember how ground breaking the Christian faith really is, writes Hanne Herland in her regular column at The Christian Post.
So, let’s talk about the massive impact Christianity and the revolutionary message of Jesus Christ has had on the Western civilization. After all, over 80 percent of the American people believe in God, research showing that only 2-8 percent of the world population are atheists, according to Pew Research Forum, Encyclopedia Britannica, ISSP 2008 etc.
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Still, believers in God are told by the regressive elites that they are old-fashioned, outdated and simply out of touch with reality. (Photo: Hanne Herland with Milo Yiannopoulos. Illustration)
It seems that the atheists who define what is considered politically correct today, display their utter ignorance of history by blatantly mocking Christianity in the mainstream media. Several of our most important values come precisely from the Judeo-Christianity heritage and its ethics.
Professor at Yale and Harvard, historian Robert R. Palmer and Joel Colton state in A History of the Modern World that Christian philosophy was revolutionary in that its definition of humanity was inclusive of all people, an altogether new view on the value of human life. The early Christians worked to relieve suffering, help the poor and so on. They taught humility and that all men were brothers.
In Ennemis Publics, by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and one of France’s well-known authors, atheist Michel Houellebecq, they are convinced that we would never have human rights without the originally Jewish and later Christian hypothesis, the incredibly bold idea about the creation of man, formed in the likeness of God, and therefore also sanctified.
Palmer states that it simply is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Christianity’s influence on the development of Western values. It was Christianity that introduced the principle of equality, which unleashed the revolutionary idea that each man, regardless of class, gender, and race, has a unique value. Even though this viewpoint would later be a secular idea and one of the cornerstones of secular society, there is no doubt about its religious origins. The famous German philosopher and atheist, Jürgen Habermas states in The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion that Christian theology in the Middle Ages and Spanish scholasticism as the origins of what we today call human rights.
Habermas also points out that modern moral philosophical and political theory pays a high price for excluding the very Christian ethics that in history has demonstrated the ability to motivate individuals to care for one another, to perform just actions.
In Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, Pope Benedict XVI seems to concur, stating that after years of emphasis on scientific and technological progress alone, Western culture now suffers from a lack of emphasis on moral energy. This is the greatest threat to contemporary culture. Without solidarity, individuals become destructive. Democracy itself depends on citizen solidarity to avoid becoming the tyranny of the mob.
Early Christianity came into existence, marked by revolution, and developed among the lower classes of society, with a radically new view of the poor. This is symbolically well illustrated by Christ being born in a manger. The radical Jesus, went starkly against the political and religious elite associating himself freely with the feeble, the sick and – as the first feminist – broke the customs regarding how to engage with and validate women.
Christian ethics became the source of human rights and one of history’s most important contributors to the leveling of class differences. Socialism took several of its most famous values from the pool of Christian thought. The idealized dignity of the worker, the willingness to fight for the rights of the common man and those with lower income not to be degraded by rich landowners, clearly reflect Christian attitudes. Respect for all, regardless of rank is a genuine Christian idea.
It is pointed out by Melanie Phillips in The World Turned Upside Down that both Berger, Hegel and Max Weber saw Judaism as the main victory of rationality and secularization over paganism. The sociologist Peter Berger asserts that it was in Judaism that radical new ideas of how humans best should act as morally responsible appeared, ideals that later influenced both Christianity and the secular Western world on a massive scale.
What becomes clear, is that the secular quest for relegating Christianity out of the public sphere overlooked vital points that today are at the forefront of the debate: Removing religious ethics from the centerfold of society ended up, to many secularists’ surprise, to weaken vital ethical principles in society.
This gradually became evident in the 1970s onward. Intellectuals in the Western hemisphere did not realize that by removing the focus on Christian philosophy from public awareness, as the elites increasingly grew hostile to religion as a whole–the founding ethics of solidarity were no longer preached to the same degree as before.
It was not fashionable anymore to speak about the ten commandments as vital ideals to maintain stability, order, and empathy in society. Today, many scholars assert that secularism simply has not been able to motivate individuals to care for one another sufficiently.
To a large degree, egocentrism and materialism have become socially acceptable, while solidarity, selfishness, humility, and spirituality lost ground. What we need today is to remember history and the vital Christian contribution to Western civilization and the revolutionary message of Jesus that fundamentally changed the way we perceive the value of human life.