Is our Thinking Too Shallow?
Updated: Jul 13, 2022
What Does It Mean For America?
Romans 1 and 2 Timothy 3
Nihilism “is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.” (https://iep.utm.edu/nihilism/)
Annihilation is the natural extension of Nihilism.
“Nihilism” comes from the Latin nihil, or nothing, which means not anything, that which does not exist. It appears in the verb “annihilate,” meaning to bring to nothing, to destroy completely” (https://iep.utm.edu/nihilism/#H1)
Couple this with, “The average American reads at the 7th- to 8th-grade level, according to The Literacy Project.” (https://www.wyliecomm.com/2021/08/whats-the-latest-u-s-literacy-rate/)
And finally, “54% of adults in the United States have prose literacy below the 6th-grade level……(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy_in_the_United_States#NAEP)
What does prose literacy mean? “It refers to the knowledge and skills needed to search, comprehend, and use continuous texts. Examples include editorials, news stories, brochures, and instructional materials.”
The ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.
Put in another way, the majority of Americans do not know how to “think.” Thinking is a process that reading can and does fuel. But, thinking is more than reading, and more than comprehension. Both set the stage for the discipline of thinking. What happens when so many can’t read or comprehend at a needed level?
The sad fact is that our nation is left to be lied to, duped, given false promises, and, worst, agree to immoral conclusions. All because too many of us have not learned how to think!
On the surface, few would agree with many events of recent and past history, that have resulted in catastrophic results. But, history has too many such results to ignore. And, a passive and ignorant acceptance of a philosophy of annihilation is floating below those actions
This is not surprising. For fundamental philosophic ideas float below most human actions, even if they are not recognized. One does not have to think about the ultimate “why” if they “feel” that what they are doing is “right.” Or worse, they have been conditioned by others about what is “right.”
And, maybe no philosophical “idea” is more dangerous than a nihilistic foundation giving birth to popular restatements that contain annihilation foundations: cancel culture, outing, and any other idea that proposes to bring people’s existence to little or nothing.
The challenge in this marriage of annihilation foundations to present interpersonal relationships and other social and political relationships, is that the actors of “canceling” assume that there is only one justified opinion: theirs!
This sets the stage for repeating some of the most bloody and immoral actions in human history. We need look no further then the bloodiest century of human history: the 20th century!
A few examples to consider.
Over 5 million Jews were annihilated over the course of World War Two. Articles and research abound seeking to explain why. The simple answer is that “you know, they were Jews!” Unspoken rumors about Jews abound, they “get ahead” in the world. Or, they populate so much of the politics of the world. The unspoken conclusion: well maybe they deserved it! This undercurrent continues to today. A short trip around the world and one is shocked with the continuous power of anti-semitism.
Among the many genocides in the 20th century that so many would like to ignore and we easily forget, Rwanda, stands out. Some estimate that as many as 800,000 Tutsi were killed by Hutus in 90 days. As in the Jewish holocaust, articles and research papers abound. Political antagonisms and tribal differences undoubtedly were core issues.
But the core question remains. How could so many Hutus annihilate their Tutsi neighbors of decades. Someone convinced them that, these Tutsi did not deserve to live.
“Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Burundi, Syria, and Myanmar have all experienced large-scale murder operations…” (https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aau7292)
Whatever the reasons, someone had to have convinced a large number of people that the other people did not deserve to exist. Annihilation as a philosophy of life, births action that appear to be “ok,” no, it is good, no, it is mandatory!!!!
Nihilism has given birth to a dangerous and acceptable action: annihilation! Few would actually confess that they believe in a philosophy of annihilation. But, the lack of consciousness in the dignity of human life, is expanding at a rate that has become impossible to control. All of the God given boundaries, controls and warnings about unrestrained evil in us, have been unleashed.
Multiple times each year we see on our media devices mass murders. Some US cities have become so violent that the numbers killed each weekend numb us.
Politicians point fingers at each other. None wants to admit that not only do they not know what they are doing, they can’t bring themselves to see that evil that has been in us since the day that Adam and Eve rebelled. This evil nature animates human action at every level. Released from even just institutional, or sociological controls, much less Biblical boundaries, evil easily spins out of control. Violence, in all of its forms, and, from all sources, results.
Evil has been unleashed and is now almost completely unbounded. The promise of God has come upon us: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” ((Romans 1:28-32)
We are a nation whose unseen fundamental philosophy is annihilation! The chants are no longer spoken in hidden places. We hear them in public places, unashamed. Cancel them! Out them! Kill the babies! The Supreme Court deserves no respect. Get rid of the offending members. Pack the court so that we get what we want! Defund the police. If, in the process, some of them die, it is nothing more than they “deserve!” My body, my choice! With a total deafness to the body inside the woman, equally crying out, my body my choice! Etc., etc.
Now back to my original quotes on the comprehension level of too many people in our nation. Couple that together with new research on the biblical trustworthiness of pastors in the US, and we are crossing uncharted waters. “A new nationwide survey of America’s Christian pastors shows that a majority of pastors lack a biblical worldview. In fact, just slightly more than a third (37%) possess a biblical worldview and the majority—62%—hold a hybrid worldview known as Syncretism.”
My question: can we really think enough to understand the deepness of the antagonistic philosophical foundations upon which so many decisions and actions are built today? I am not saying that a majority of people actually understand where what they do comes from. Because we are a generation of people who don’t think, don’t push back, don’t question, we are easily duped into mob thinking.
And, the fundamental foundations of today's mob think are anti God. The image of God has been raped from our knowledge, leaving us bereft of the dignity of man, and unprotected from violence, and, the violation of anarchy.
Paul warns Timothy that, “in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” The world will reveal itself: “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power…”
What a list!!! Nothing is left out. When God gives a people over to a “debased mind”(Romans 1:28), anything evil is possible.
The most terrifying statement in the list, is the last one, “having the appearance of godliness…” Paul’s list moves between passive aggressive actions and clear anarchy. What other reason is there for including “disobedient to their parents,” in the list. If one can reject the authority of parents, it’s a short path to the rejection of authority in general. “No one sits over me!” Whether public anarchy results from this, it reigns in the heart nonetheless.
The passive aggressive posture of the other actions, is dangerously cloaked in a thin veneer of spirituality. Any significant number of people around us, nurturing both the anger and the nihilistic philosophy, is not only dangerous for the nation, it is a risk for Christians. Are we prepared to think deep enough to see these actions in the culture and in those around us: and to protect ourselves?
Beyond daily trusting God for time and eternity, what can we do to avoid being duped by Satan?
Of course, protest, vote, debate anywhere we can. Use the tools of democracy.
Build a lifestyle of learning to think…with scripture as our guide, instructor, and boundary. See my article on “learning to think. https://www.dwightpaulsmith.com/post/learning-to-think-rooted-in-the-bible. There are four parts. This is the first but will lead you to the other three.
Catechize your children with the most important truths from the Bible. See this outline in my article, “Growing our children in the life of faith is the most important thing we should be doing?” https://www.dwightpaulsmith.com/post/do-our-children-grandchildren-know-what-we-believe.
Consider educating them yourself, at least through 15 or 16 years old. If you don’t do this, get to know and get involved in their local school.
Build a reading plan for them that gives them alternative to the twisted views of history, science and human experience that too many are exposed to today.
Do our children and grandchildren know what we believe? See my article on my website by the same title. Subtitle; Growing our children in the life of faith is the most important thing we should be doing?
If only 30% of our pastors have a biblical worldview, then, be very choosy about what church you attend. Learn to recognize thoughts that sound nice, or relevant, or, humanly comforting, but have little or distorted biblical roots. Find another place to gather
Limit your children’s access to media. For the unfiltered mind, there is great danger. A danger from which many will not be rescued.
May God protect us from the evil one, give us joy in serving Him, and, take us safely to His eternal kingdom!
“If you read the New Testament and it looks nothing like your Christian experience, maybe you're involved in Evangelical syncretism. If your Christian experience is barely distinguishable from other religions, maybe you're involved in Evangelical syncretism. If your Christian experience is having zero impact on the world around you, it's likely that you are involved in Evangelical syncretism. If your Christian experience has never cost you anything, I'm SURE that you're involved in Evangelical syncretism.” https://www.reverencejournal.com/journal-enties/2020/2/3/american-evangelical-syncretism?format=amp
“We tend to assume people intuitively understand why a belief the God who revealed himself in the Bible and in Christ is incompatible with a belief in reincarnation or the healing power of crystals. Because of this assumption, we spend almost no time explaining to our fellow churchgoers why New Age and Christian beliefs are incompatible. The result is that many people in our churches have a malfunctioning plausibility structure.” https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/new-age-beliefs-common-america-common-churches/?amp
“A new study has found the dominant worldview of adults in the United States is syncretism, a customized combination of various worldviews, and they rely on this worldview when making life choices.” https://faithstrongtoday.com/robynroste/new-study-reveals-syncretism-is-dominant-worldview-of-american-adults