An interesting article in the Jerusalem Post says Godlessness Has Doomed Britain. The subtitle says, “No Holds Barred: Atheism equals nihilism, neither of which are fertile ground for a national resurgence.”
The author wanders from his topic somewhat, talking about the disadvantages of an established church from a “marketing” perspective:
One key difference is that in America, there is no official state church. There is no archbishop of Canterbury, no chief rabbi, no official defender of the faith.
Religion lives and dies in America like a commercial enterprise, and is therefore highly entrepreneurial. If pastors excite their congregants with a message that is uplifting and relevant, they can be sure the pews will be filled. If they deliver sermons that send would-be worshipers into deep comas, their churches (and alms plates) will be empty.
He has a point, but success is not measured by numbers. There was a time when a state church meant almost everyone was in church, and the churches were full. We as believers must look to the Scriptures for the right way to organise a church, rather than make an evaluation based on what “seems to be working”.
The author’s main point, though, is that the abandonment of faith has meant the abandonment of ideals. Atheism breeds cynicism, and the cynic is too busy being cynical to exercise any positive influence on society. Faith, however, produces hope, and with hope comes the desire to have a positive impact, to give others hope.
This decline of faith and optimism may account for why Britain – once the most advanced nation on earth, which gave the world parliamentary democracy and inimitable centers of higher learning – is today more famous for exporting reality shows like Big Brother and Project Catwalk. For while religion affirms the infinite dignity of the human person, its absence robs life of its sanctity. Universal exploitation and humiliation for fame and fortune are the inevitable outgrowth.
Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807, ending it completely three decades before the US, with Christian abolitionists like William Wilberforce taking the lead against that abomination.
But a century later, Britain is better known for football hooliganism, the gratuitous degradation of women in its most-circulated publications, and one of the highest out-of-wedlock birthrates in the world.
The author doesn’t approach the topic from a Biblical perspective, but from a humanistic one. He looks at human nature, and says that atheism produces a mindset which leads to the decline of a nation. He may not be using Scripture, but in this case he is correct.
The Scriptures are not silent on this topic. Psalm 9:17 declares judgment on the nations that forget God. Psalm 144:15 says, “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.”
The Scriptures tell us that rejection of God never ends well, and this article recognises the human impact of that rejection. We live in a nation that has gone its own way, and the societal and cultural decline that we see all around us should be no surprise.
You cannot really blame the Tories, or Labour, or the Nationalists, or even the News of the World and Rupert Murdoch, for the ills of society. The wrongs of politicians and the media are only symptomatic. If the people of Britain wanted to follow God, they would not support corrupt media and unrighteous politicians. The ills of society always flow out of rejection of God and His truth.
So is Britain doomed? Again, we’ll go to the Scriptures, which tell us, “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy” (Psalm 145:8). There is only one hope for Britain — a merciful God. He is indeed slow to anger. It is not too late to seek Him.
Thank you for the link, Anon. It’s an interesting article. I’ll give a few comments. The psychologists seem to have drawn some pretty hefty conclusions from data that is open to other interpretations.
“Drs. Pyysiainen and Hauser note that the moral judgments provided by religious subjects did not differ from that of atheists.”
This is not surprising to a Bible believer. Romans 2:13-15 says, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;”
Boiling that all down, it tells us everyone has a conscience, a “law written in their hearts”. It’s part of the image of God in man.
I Timothy 4:2 tells us that people, by rejecting God and His Word, can have their conscience “seared with a hot iron” so that it does not work as it ought to. But the Bible tells us that knowledge of right and wrong is inherent, whether people are believers or not. By disobeying God we sear our conscience and mess up our sense of right and wrong, which is why not everyone agrees on right and wrong, but there are going to be many things that almost everyone agrees on, religious or not.
In other words, the Christian looks at the data from their study and says, “Well, of course. We told you so. It’s been in the Bible all along. You’re drawing all the wrong conclusions, but your data is spot on.”
Nevertheless, I wonder what moral questions they asked. I think you would find a significant difference in the percentage of Bible-believing Christians and atheists who believe extramarital sex is always wrong. An atheist, ultimately, decides he is the moral arbiter, while a Christian answers to a different Judge, and that is going to affect our approach to moral questions. We may go the same way on many issues, but not on every issue, and certainly for different motivations.
The big problem in British society is not the “moral judgments” people make, but the moral judgments they act upon. If you took a survey of British society, I suspect you would find that millions of people would say that the exploitation of women by printing immoral pictures in the newspapers is wrong. You would also find that millions of those same people regularly buy the tabloids, and a lot of them look at those same pictures they would condemn.
In a godless society, people are much quicker to leave moral judgment out of their actual decision-making. For a committed Christian, that simply isn’t an option.