“This increasing godlessness in America is actually a good thing, to be welcomed and embraced” (LA Times). Professor Phil Zuckerman believes progressive secularism offers hope.
He admits that religious organizations do good, “however, such welcomed charity is ultimately an altruistic response to symptoms, not a structural cure for root causes.” He promotes secular efforts to address housing and healthcare. He believes secularism offers a better hope for human rights, environmental issues, and social justice.
I could reverse these charges. Secular solutions do not recognize the basic problem. Humans are not “basically good” and just need more education. We are selfish, prideful, and yield to our base desires. Reckon with that root cause and solutions make more sense. Yet somehow the secular hope is that a sociologist or politician will usher in a better program to fix the human condition.
It’s ultimately a worldview issue. Where is the hope if life is only material and limited by time? Where is the hope if we are all alone in a random, chaotic universe, and good and evil are just choices? Where is meaning in such a universe, if you deny the science that points to the metaphysical reality of a Creator God? Do you ever wonder how a mindless universe incapable of hope produces mindful, hopeful beings? A faulty worldview and its solutions address symptoms and cannot sustain hope. But even a misplaced hope teaches you something.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes about misplaced hope. You can blame the object of hope (politicians or programs), or “decide that the whole thing was moonshine!” (lower your expectations). Or as he wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world…I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” Hope, even misplaced, points to the transcendent.
Christians have hope for life here and now because of our future hope. Paul reflects on the Resurrection of Christ and writes, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). Christians have hope imprinted on our souls. The hope Christ offers is that you are more than a physical body and are not alone. Meaning comes from following Jesus into the sufferings of humanity and loving your neighbor. The basic problem is human brokenness, but by faith your hope is in the One who loves you, makes you whole, and offers you eternity.
The hope of America and the world is Jesus Christ, not increasing godlessness. But I agree with Professor Zuckerman on this: we should not fear what’s coming. Not because secularism has solutions, but because Christians have hope.