Transformation or Progress as the Goal of Human Striving
The sixteenth and final post in the series on what is good about Christianity. This defends the proposition that the goal and purpose of Christianity of transformation is better than the secular humanistic goal of human progress.
Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor in A Secular Age identified transformation as the goal of life in Christian understanding before the Enlightenment. With enlightenment and the scientific age, the goal became a secular-humanistic one of human-driven progress. What is better, to seek transformation or progress?
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121, English Standard Version
We looked up. For tens of thousands of years, even as far back as 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. We looked up to the sky, the “heavens” for help, for answers, for meaning, for hope. Then, it changed. Slowly, but with increasing momentum. Robert Browning wrote:
“God is in his Heaven,
All’s right with the world”
We went from relief that God was safely ensconced in his vaporous hideaway, and not bothering with us cantankerous humans, to the “God is dead” conclusion of Friedrich Nietzsche. The skies were now empty. If things were going to be better, we could not look to the skies. We turned our gaze down at our fellow human beings and how we structured our communities and states to find how best to make the world a better place. Making the world a better place is now the only game in town, whether one is religious, irreligious or anti-religion. For the religious, convincing others of their ideas and beliefs is the key to making the world better. For the anti-religious, the goal is the same but to make the world a better place those in the prison of religion must be freed from unsupportable, outdated and harmful beliefs. Some, like Richard Dawkins, believe that teaching children your religion or faith should be prosecuted as child abuse.
Progress is a dangerous illusion
As I wrote earlier, John Lennon’s beautiful song “Imagine” is sort of a secular hymn rhapsodizing on human progress once the ideas of heaven, hell and anything transcendent are finally overcome by science and…