FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 215 Edmund R. Leach Featured artist is Edgar Arceneaux

An interview of the anthropologist Sir Edmund Leach

Uploaded on Oct 2, 2010

Interviewed by Sir Frank Kermode on 26 May 1982 and originally shown on the BBC. Sir Edmund Leach worked in Burma and Sri Lanka and was Provost of King’s College, Cambridge

All revenues to World Oral Literature Project

Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism(from Part 4 of Whatever happened to human race?)

 

 

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical flow of Truth & History (intro)

 

 

Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (1)

 

 

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of Truth & History (part 2)

 

 

Today I am going to look at  Edmund R. Leach and also mention the British humanist H.J. Blackham.

Edmund Leach

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Edmund Leach (British Army officer).
Sir Edmund Ronald Leach
Born 7 November 1910
Sidmouth, England
Died 6 January 1989 (aged 78)
Cambridge, England
Nationality British
Fields social anthropology
Institutions Burma Army
London School of Economics
Cambridge University
Alma mater Cambridge University
Doctoral advisor Bronisław Malinowski
Raymond Firth
Known for Ethnographic work in Sarawakand Burma
Theories of social structure and cultural change
Kinship as ideal systems
Disagreement with French structuralist Claude Lévi-Strauss[1]
Influences Claude Lévi-Strauss
Notable awards Provost of King’s College (1966–1979)
Chairman of Association of Social Anthropologists (1966–1970)
President of the Royal Anthropological Institute (1971–1975)
President of British Humanist Association (1970)
Knighted (1973)
Trustee of the British Museum(1975–1980)[2]

Sir Edmund Ronald Leach (7 November 1910 – 6 January 1989) was a British social anthropologist of whom it has been said:

“It is no exaggeration to say that in sheer versatility, originality, and range of writing he was and still is difficult to match among the anthropologists of the English speaking world”.[2]

Personal and academic life[edit]

Leach was born in Sidmouth, Devon, the youngest of three children and the son of William Edmund Leach and Mildred Brierley. His father owned and was manager of a sugar plantation in northern Argentina. Leach was educated at Marlborough and Clare College, Cambridge where he graduated with honours in Engineering in 1932.

After leaving Cambridge University Leach took a four-year contract in 1933 with Butterfield and Swire in China. He found out after his contract expired that he did not like the business atmosphere and never again was going to sit on an office stool. On his way home he stopped and spent some time among the Yami of Botel Tobago, an island off the coast of Formosa. Here he took ethnographic notes and made drawings of the Yami.

Back in London Raymond Firth introduced him to Bronisław Malinowski. Leach went to Iraq to study the Kurds, but he abandoned this and went back to London. He wrote: “I’ve got an enormous amount of ability at almost anything, yet so far I’ve made absolutely no use of it… I seem to be a highly organized piece of mental apparatus for which nobody else has any use” (D.N.B. 258). In 1939 he was going to study the Kachin Hills of Burma, butWorld War II intervened. Leach then joined the Burma Army, where he achieved the rank of Major.

In 1940 Leach married Celia Joyce who was a painter and also published two novels. They had a daughter in 1941 and a son in 1946. After he left the Army in 1946, he became a lecturer in social anthropology at the London School of Economics. In 1947 he received a Ph.D. in anthropology at the London School of Economics. In 1953, he became a lecturer at Cambridge University, later being promoted to reader, and in 1972 receiving a personal Chair. He was elected provost of King’s College, Cambridge in 1966 and retired in 1979; President of the Royal Anthropological Institute (1971–1975); a Fellow of the British Academy (from 1972) and was knighted in 1975.

His first book was Political Systems of Highland Burma (1954); it challenged the theories of social structure and cultural change. His second work was Pul Eliya, a Village in Ceylon (1961), where he directed his attention totheories of kinship as ideal systems. Leach applied his ability of kinship to his disagreement with French structuralist Claude Lévi-Strauss introducing his work into British social anthropology. His book Lévi-Strauss was translated into six languages and ran three editions. His turn of phrase produced memorable quotes, such as this on Lévi-Strauss:

“The outstanding characteristic of [Lévi-Strauss’s writing], whether in French or English, is that it is difficult to understand; his sociological theories combine baffling complexity with overwhelming erudition. Some readers even suspect that they are being treated to a confidence trick”.[3]

Leach’s work on Lévi-Strauss is often relied on by other authors. For example, in Richard Wrangham‘s (2009) book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, he relies on Leach in describing Lévi-Strauss’s analysis of cooking in relation to human culture.[4]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Political systems of highland Burma: a study of Kachin social structure (Harvard University Press, 1954)
  • Rethinking anthropology (Robert Cunningham and Sons Ltd., 1961)
  • Pul Eliya: a village in Ceylon (Cambridge University Press, 1961)
  • A runaway world? (London: BBC, 1968)
  • Genesis as myth and other essays (Jonathan Cape, 1969)
  • Lévi-Strauss (Fontana Books, 1970)
  • Claude Lévi-Strauss (Viking Press, 1970)
  • Culture and communication: the logic by which symbols are connected (Cambridge University Press, 1976)
  • Social anthropology (Oxford University Press, 1982)
  • The essential Edmund Leach (Yale University Press, 2001, 2 vols.)

Literature[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Noel Annan
Provost of King’s College, Cambridge
1966-1979
Succeeded by
Bernard Williams
Edmund LeachEdmund Leach in China, c. 1934

The Archive of the month for February looks at the life and photography of the anthropologist Sir Edmund Leach (1910-1989).

Leach studied Engineering at Clare College, Cambridge, but after several years working for a trading company in China he developed an interest in anthropology. He returned to university and eventually became a Reader in Anthropology at Cambridge and Provost of King’s College.

The Archive of the month shows photos Leach took as part of his field work in Burma (Myanmar) and on Botel Tobego (an island off Taiwan).

See the February Archive of the month.

The literary critic Frank Kermode interviewed Leach in 1982 and you can watch the interview on alanmacfarlane.com. Alan Macfarlane is himself an anthropologist and a Fellow of King’s.

Posted: Monday 4 February 2013 | News | News archive

 

An Analysis Of Francis Schaeffer’s “The Church At The End Of The 20th Century”

 

Francis Schaeffer has been characterized as an Elijah to the late twentieth century. Though not as inspired in the same direct sense as his Biblical forebears, Francis Schaeffer did articulate a vision of the future remarkable in its accuracy and a message startling in its relevancy. Schaeffer was able to accomplish this by extrapolating from the cultural situation of the late 1960′s and early 1970′s and projecting these trends into the future where the implications of these assumptions would have the time necessary to fester over into a comprehensive dystopian milieu. Schaeffer’s “The Church At The End 20th Century”, from a standpoint a tad less than nearly a half century in the past, explored a world not unlike our own where Western society has abandoned its Judeo-Christian foundations and stands poised to lose not only its order but also its liberty as a consequence.

Throughout the corpus of his life’s work, Francis Schaeffer categorized ideas as the primary force motivating history. Richard Pierard in “Reflections On Francis Schaeffer” says regarding Schaeffer’s philosophy of history, “People’s world views or presuppositions determine the direction of their political and social institutions and their scientific endeavors (199).” “The Church At The End Of The 20th Century” attempts to show how such distorted thinking comes to impact the structures of civilized existence such as the institutions of government and culture.

Francis Schaeffer concluded that the confusion and chaos rampant at the end of the twentieth century were traceable to the rejection of the Judeo-Christian foundations upon which Western civilization once sat. However, as a result, modern man has not drifted along as before, blissfully unencumbered by the burdens classical theism strove to address. Instead the whole world has pretty much started falling apart. In the first chapter titled “The Roots Of The Student Revolution”, Schaeffer provides a summary of the streams of thought he saw as establishing the backdrop of the contemporary world drama.

Having abandoned the Judeo-Christian worldview, modern man has also forfeited many of the benefits inherent to that particular body of thought. Being the God of both the physical realm and its order as well as the realm of the spirit and its yearning for freedom, those turning their backs on the God of the Bible inevitably end up losing an essential balance between these two pillars of existence.

Much of the social confusion characterizing the contemporary world is understandable in terms of these extremes dancing unfettered across America’s cultural landscape. In the mind of Schaeffer, philosophies and perspectives seemingly light-years apart to the casual observer were in the final analysis interconnected in that they stemmed from the same root problem.

A number of thinkers who have abandoned Judeo-Christian principles have attempted to find ultimate answers in an understanding of science construed though their materialistic philosophy excluding life’s spiritual component. Schaeffer referred to this approach as “modern modern science” (13).

Schaeffer deliberately distinguished between modern science and modern modern science in an attempt to emphasize the difference between the two epistemological approaches. Schaeffer stressed that modern science in fact arose amidst a Christian framework. The methodology’s earliest practitioners believed that one could understand the operation of the physical universe since it had been imbued with a sense of orderliness by its rational creator.

However, modern modern science would step beyond the confines of such a paradigm to exclude the role of God by arguing that the universe is a closed system complete in itself. But by eliminating the need for a personal Creator, modern modern science also eliminates those aspects of man transcending the sum of his material parts or those qualities Schaffer cleverly referred to as “the mannishness of man”.

When the cosmos is reduced to mere matter, man can no longer be seen as possessing those qualities that distinguish him from the proverbial furniture of the universe. Instead of arising as responses to metaphysical verities, things such as emotions, thoughts, and acts of creativity are reduced to nothing more than responses to electro-chemical biological stimuli. The aspirations the Declaration of Independence gives rise to become no different than the reaction to the gastrointestinal conditions sparking heartburn and may in fact possibly be interrelated.

The hypothesis of man as little more than an empty bag of mostly water, as the infamous Crystalline Entity put it on one episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, does not fit the data or provide much comfort on a cold night when we consider the aspects of existence seeming to rise above the immediacy of our biological functions. Such inadequacy no doubt provokes a response from those not willing to accept how divine revelation fills in these blanks but who realize that the cold scientism of Mr. Spock does not quite cut it either.

Schaeffer pointed out that assorted brands of mysticism are often, surprisingly, the children of scientism’s ultimate consequences. With rationalism found wanting, modern man feels he must step beyond reason and make what Schaeffer refers to as “a leap upstairs” in order to find meaning in nonrational experience.

Writing along similar lines, James Sire says of existentialism in “The Universe Next Door”, “….against the absurdity of the objective world, the authentic person must revolt and create value (100).” Values are not arrived at in a rational manner through contemplation upon transcendent criteria but through an intuitive choice based upon feeling much more akin to a mystical experience whether we decide to embrace New Age pantheism or various forms of political activism.

In such a situation, one is reminded of the famous statement in “The Charge Of The Light Brigade”: “Ours is not reason why. Ours is but to do or die.” The human heart realizes that there are things worth valuing beyond the concrete material universe even if it cannot justify the basis for this belief. However, when rational standards are abandoned, chaos of some sort is usually bound to follow.

Perhaps the most ironic thing of this entire discussion is that, the further each alternative gets from the Judeo-Christian standard, the more allegedly objective rationalism and subjective romanticism come to resemble one another. Schaeffer argued that, without some kind of transcendent reference point, even the imposing intellectual monolith of contemporary science breaks down into personal preference and social utility.

Schaeffer illustrated this by highlighting how Cambridge Anthropologist Edmund Leach preferred a theory of evolution whereby all human races descended from one common ancestor rather than arising separately from one another (92). Leach based such a conclusion on no other criteria than that the theory of a single common ancestor fit better with the notions of racial harmony.

No longer are scientific decisions to be made in light of the facts or data available at the time but in reference to the same kind of subjective criteria by which we would decide whether to wear a red or blue tie to work tomorrow. Right answers and wrong answers become predicated on their usefulness to society or at least to those wielding power. One might say objectively that objectivity is not quite what it use to be.

Things might not be so bad if adherents of these worldviews sat in a corner and kept quiet amongst themselves. Yet the ironic thing is that those convinced that no objective truth exists seem the most bent on inflicting their version of it upon everyone else in the attempt to remold society in their own image. Regarding the application of secularist perspectives, Schaeffer was perceptive in realizing that —- as in the realm of thought —- these non-Biblical approaches to social organization end up in the same place as well.

Schaeffer elaborates upon what he sees as three alternatives to a society built upon Christian foundations. Despite the differences in these systems, each bears a striking similarity.

The first alternative Schaeffer warns about is hedonism, defined as each doing their own thing. The second alternative is what Schaeffer refers to as “the dictatorship of 51%” or what social scientists and political theorists classify as pure democracy where there are no absolutes or standards beyond what is determined by the electorate, in a focus group, or by a committee. The third possibility Schaeffer foresaw was some kind of dictatorship, either in the form of one-man rule or by an elite technocratic bureaucracy.

As with scientism and the subjectivism from which the aforementioned approaches to politics and social organization derive their foundations, it would seem on the first view that anarchism and the various forms of authoritarianism would have little in common. But once again, closer investigation reveals that each shares a startling degree of similarity.

Anarchy promises liberation through the abolition of all traditional standards and institutions. This is either an empty promise or the proponents of this particular outlook do not fully realize what they are advocating.

Without eternal standards through which rights and property are respected, freedom rests on a most precarious foundation. For while the adherents of the various form of Leftism claim to stand for freedom and rights, this concern extends only to those professing an ideology similar to their own or pursuing related ends. Schaeffer illustrates this in the case of one student radical in Paris who told a caller to radio program, “…you just shut up — I’ll never give you a chance to speak (Schaeffer, 32).”

So much for freedom of expression. One cannot argue that such incidents merely reflect the heat of the moment and do not represent the true sentiments of those advocating total social revolution. Similar sentiments have been expressed by the very theoreticians of this movement as normative operating procedure.

Herbert Marcuse is quoted in “Left Of Liberal” as saying, “Certain things cannot be said, certain things cannot be expressed…which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination (Bouscaren, 13).” In other words, those seeking a world of absolute decentralization in terms of morals just as much as politics would set themselves up as an elite imposing their own arbitrary standards with the same radical rigor they employed in their conflict to rend asunder the traditional order. Francis Fukuyama, author of the acclaimed “The End Of History & The Last Man” noted in a May 22, 2000 Time magazine article titled “Will Socialism Make A Comeback” that a socialistic anarchism will come to exert influence over the world of the twenty-first century without having to assume the formal reins of government by orchestrating disruptive protests like those that now regularly taken place during global financial summits in an attempt to alter world policy.

Francis Schaeffer has been with the Lord since the early 1980′s. Yet the thought of this visionary Presbyterian continues to provide considerable insight into a world tottering on the edge of chaos and encouragement for Evangelicals having to navigate a variety of perplexing issues. Schaeffer realized that one could not avoid the dangers of the contemporary world by simply ignoring arenas such as politics and other forms of social engagement since such forces have the power to impact all facets of existence in a mass society. Schaeffer addressed the impact of worldviews upon different aspects of culture in the chapter “Modern Man The Manipulator”.

Particularly startling is the accuracy of Schaeffer’s predictions regarding technological development. Schaeffer warned, “Very soon, all of us will be living in an electronic village hooked up to a huge computer, and we will be able to know what everybody else in the world thinks. The majority opinion will become law in that hour (97).”

Today, this prediction finds itself on the verge of fulfillment. Leaders such as Newt Gingrich and as far back as Ross Perot have suggested that the networking capability of the Internet be utilized for the purposes of referenda in order to decide major issues facing the nation. However, Schaeffer correctly warned of the manipulation likely to result from the use of this technology by and against individuals not adequately grounded in the truths that do not change regardless of the latest digital innovations. The Information Superhighway can take the websurfer either to the accumulated knowledge of mankind or the electronic equivalent of a red-light district.

Some will dismiss Schaeffer’s injunctions as Evangelical eschatological hysteria, especially when he speculates about the bio-electronic manipulation of individuals in reference to a May 22, 1970 International Herald Tribune article about monkey controlled by radio receivers implanted into their brains (98). That is until one reads the May 22, 2000 edition of Time Magazine predicting that prison guards may someday be obsolete thanks to implantable biochips that could be used to modify inmate behavior. Then one realizes that Francis Schaeffer’s understanding of human nature is truly holistic, comprehending the present in light of the past and the future in relation to the present.

It would not be much of an overstatement to say that Francis Schaeffer played a primary role in awakening Evangelicals to the precarious state of the world around them. One cannot discount the influence of Schaeffer upon the contemporary Evangelical mind. Regarding Schaeffer’s influence, Clark Pinnock writes in “Reflections On Francis Schaeffer”, “He [Schaeffer] enlisted in this task fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye who, although they were world-denying dispensationalists at first, quickly became culture-reclaiming activists (Pinnock, 179).” In other words, Schaeffer helped Evangelicalism realize that the world and human endeavor possessed value beyond the number of souls that could be saved, central though individual salvation may be.

Schaeffer in no way sought to undermine the centrality of the individual, but rather hoped to expand Evangelical concerns to encompass all areas of thought and creation since the God the Christian served was the master of these as well. It was out of this sanctity for the individual created in the image of God that Schaeffer believed it was imperative for believers to engage in these other areas. Key to accomplishing this mission, Schaeffer believed each individual must take stock of their personal beliefs. Schaeffer often lamented that most people caught their presuppositions like they would the measles —- quite haphazardly.

Such reflection was just not to be a Sunday school exercise. Schaeffer saw it as groundwork for intensive apologetic conflict and engagement with a decaying world. Though himself a Presbyterian minister and evangelist, Schaeffer hoped to inspire Christians to get involved as salt and light in all academic disciplines and intellectual pursuits. Schaeffer said that the best thing a Christian scientist could do would be to invent a computer for the individual designed to counter the centralizing tendency of intrusive databases (Schaeffer, 99). No where did he conclude that learning was off limits to the believer since it had often been employed for questionable purposes.

I Chronicles 12:32 praises the children of Issachar for understanding the times in which they lived. Our own era stands witness to a rate of change unprecedented in the pages of history. Like the men of Issachar, Francis Schaeffer will be remembered as one of the few capable of rising above the confusion of the moment to determine the overall place of our times in relation to God’s providence and the consequences that will result from ignoring it.

By Frederick Meekins

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H. J. Blackham lived to the age of 105 and died in 2009. During the 1990′s I actually made it a practice to write famous atheists and scientists that were mentioned by Adrian Rogers and Francis Schaeffer and challenge them with the evidence for the Bible’s historicity and the claims of the gospel. Usually I would send them a cassette tape of Adrian Rogers’ messages “6 reasons I know the Bible is True,” “The Final Judgement,” “Who is Jesus?” and the message by Bill Elliff, “How to get a pure heart.” I would also send them printed material from the works of Francis Schaeffer and a personal apologetic letter from me addressing some of the issues in their work. After reading Francis Schaeffer’s book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? I was interested in corresponding with H.J. Blackham because of a very powerful and revealing quote of his in Schaeffer’s book. I wrote him in 1994 and sent him the cassette tape mentioned early but never got a response back. Below is the Blackham quote as given by Schaeffer:

The humanist H. J. Blackham had this same message that On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

Actually this one quote alone from Blackham made me want to share the message that Christ does provide a lasting meaning to our lives, and that is why I started writing several leading atheists in the 1990’s. In my letters I demonstrated that  there is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000 years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” ,  episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted, “Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not a philosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplified intellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pill because Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art and culture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about them because they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not thaof a cautious academiwho labors foexhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts and they have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our western society was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.” 

Origins of the Universe (Kalam Cosmological Argument) (Paul Kurtz vs Norman Geisler)

Published on Jun 6, 2012

Norm Geisler argues via Kalam Cosmological Argument for the origins of the universe with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. No matter how much evidence Geisler gave, Paul Kurtz refused to fully acknowledge the implications of it, while NEVER giving evidence for his own interpretation of the universe’s beginning.

_____________________________________________________

(Paul Kurtz pictured above)

Paul Kurtz  teamed up with H.J.Blackham and put together the Humanist Manifesto II which they both signed in 1973. I wrote back in 2012 when Paul Kurtz passed away that he was a fine gentleman that I had a chance to correspond with and I read several of his books (Forbidden Fruit was his best effort). One thing I vividly remember from the writings of Paul Kurtz was his love of life and his love for others. However, how can a materialist like Kurtz stay optimistic about his future when he did not believe in God or an afterlife? At the time when I was reading his writings that question kept popping up in my mind.

It is truly ironic to me that a truly outstanding person such as the British Humanist H.J. Blackham who lived such a long and interesting life would make the statement that “…On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing…” In fact, when Norman Geisler quoted this from Blackham in his famous debate with Paul Kurtz on the John Ankerberg Show, Kurtz said he knew Blackham and he was surprised that he would say such a thing, but that had been my contention that a secularist humanist worldview would logically lead to nihilism such as the nihilism that King Solomon discussed in Ecclesiastes (more on that later). How did humanist man get to that pessimistic conclusion? Francis Schaeffer has shed some light on that in his book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

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Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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Following is the first few pages of the chapter “The Basis for Human Dignity” which is found in the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? by Francis Schaeffer.

Introduction
So far in this book we have been considering an evil as great as any practiced in human history. Our society has put to death its own offspring, millions upon millions of them. Our society has justified taking their lives, even claiming it a virtue to do so. It has been said that this is a new step in our progress toward a liberated humanity.
Such a situation has not come out of a vacuum. Each of us has an overall way of looking at the world, which influences what we do day by day. This is what we call a “world-view.” And all of us have a world-view, whether we realize it or not. We act in accordance with our world-view, and our world-view rests on what to us is the ultimate truth.

Materialistic Humanism: The World-View of Our Era

What has produced the inhumanity we have been considering in the previous chapters is that society in the West has adopted a world-view which says that all reality is made up only of matter. This view is sometimes referred to as philosophic materialism, because it holds that only matter exists; sometimes it is called naturalism, because it says that no supernatural exists. Humanism which begins from man alone and makes man the measure of all things usually is materialistic in its philosophy. Whatever the label, this is the underlying world-view of our society today. In this view the universe did not get here because it was created by a “supernatural” God. Rather, the universe has existed forever in some form, and its present form just happened as a result of chance events way back in time.
Society in the West has largely rested on the base that God exists and that the Bible is true. In all sorts of ways this view affected the society. The materialistic or naturalistic or humanistic world-view almost always takes a superior attitude toward Christianity. Those who hold such a view have argued that Christianity is unscientific, that it cannot be proved, that it belongs simply to the realm of “faith.” Christianity, they say, rests only on faith, while humanism rests on facts.
Professor Edmund R. Leach of Cambridge University expressed this view clearly:
Our idea of God is a product of history. What I now believe about the supernatural is derived from what I was taught by my parents, and what they taught me was derived from what they were taught, and so on. But such beliefs are justified by faith alone, never by reason, and the true believer is expected to go on reaffirming his faith in the same verbal formula even if the passage of history and the growth of scientific knowledge should have turned the words into plain nonsense.78
So some humanists act as if they have a great advantage over Christians. They act as if the advance of science and technology and a better understanding of history (through such concepts as the evolutionary theory) have all made the idea of God and Creation quite ridiculous.
This superior attitude, however, is strange because one of the most striking developments in the last half-century is the growth of a profound pessimism among both the well-educated and less-educated people. The thinkers in our society have been admitting for a long time that they have no final answers at all.
Take Woody Allen, for example. Most people know his as a comedian, but he has thought through where mankind stands after the “religious answers” have been abandoned. In an article in Esquire (May 1977), he says that man is left with:
… alienation, loneliness [and] emptiness verging on madness…. The fundamental thing behind all motivation and all activity is the constant struggle against annihilation and against death. It’s absolutely stupefying in its terror, and it renders anyone’s accomplishments meaningless. As Camus wrote, it’s not only that he (the individual) dies, or that man (as a whole) dies, but that you struggle to do a work of art that will last and then you realize that the universe itself is not going to exist after a period of time. Until those issues are resolved within each person – religiously or psychologically or existentially – the social and political issues will never be resolved, except in a slapdash way.
Allen sums up his view in his film Annie Hall with these words: “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.”
Many would like to dismiss this sort of statement as coming from one who is merely a pessimist by temperament, one who sees life without the benefit of a sense of humor. Woody Allen does not allow us that luxury. He speaks as a human being who has simply looked life in the face and has the courage to say what he sees. If there is no personal God, nothing beyond what our eyes can see and our hands can touch, then Woody Allen is right: life is both meaningless and terrifying. As the famous artist Paul Gauguin wrote on his last painting shortly before he tried to commit suicide: “Whence come we? What are we? Whither do we go?” The answers are nowhere, nothing, and nowhere. The humanist H. J. Blackham has expressed this with a dramatic illustration:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility.79

One does not have to be highly educated to understand this. It follows directly from the starting point of the humanists’ position, namely, that everything is just matter. That is, that which has existed forever and ever is only some form of matter or energy, and everything in our world now is this and only this in a more or less complex form.

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Notes
78. “When Scientists Play the Role of God,” London Times, November 16, 1978.
79. H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

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Francis Crick was in agreement with both Leach and H.J.Blackham’s materialistic views and he concluded, “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that you—your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules” What if all this is true? What if the cosmos and the chemicals and the particles really are all that there is, and all that we are?

“If man has been kicked up out of that which is only impersonal by chance , then those things that make him man-hope of purpose and significance, love, motions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication-are ultimately unfulfillable and thus meaningless.” —Francis Schaeffer in The God Who Is There

“Eventually materialist philosophy undermines the reliability of the mind itself-and hence even the basis for science. The true foundation of rationality is not found in particles and impersonal laws, but in the mind of the Creator who formed us in His image.” —Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds “Can man live without God? Of course he can, in a physical sense.

Can he live without God in a reasonable way? The answer to that is No!” Then there is the problem the longing for satisfaction that every person feels. This is the same question that Solomon asked 3000 years ago in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He knew there was something more.

The Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.”

These two verses below  take the 3 elements mentioned in a materialistic worldview (time, chance and matter) and so that is all the unbeliever can find “under the sun” without God in the picture. You will notice that these are the three elements that evolutionists point to also.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 is following: I have seen somthing else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brillant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. __________

Let me show you some inescapable conclusions that Francis Schaeffer said you will face if you choose to live without God in the picture. Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “under the sun” in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

  1. Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
  2. Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13)
  3. Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1)
  4. Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including learning (1:16-18), laughter, ladies, luxuries,  and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and labor (2:4-6, 18-20).

Solomon had all the resources in the world and he found himself searching for meaning in life and trying to come up with answers concerning the afterlife. However, it seems every door he tries to open is locked. Today people try to find satisfaction in education, alcohol, pleasure, and their work and that is exactly what Solomon tried to do too.  None of those were able to “fill the God-sized vacuum in his heart” (quote from famous mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal). You have to wait to the last chapter in Ecclesiates to find what Solomon’s final conclusion is.

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, Solomon realized death comes to everyone and there must be something more.

Livgren wrote:

“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Uploaded on Nov 7, 2009

Music video by Kansas performing Dust In The Wind. (c) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

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Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

___________

Take a minute and compare Kerry Livgren’s words to that of H.J. Blackham.

Livgren wrote:

All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

The humanist H. J. Blackham had this same message that

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

__

Preview: Edgar Arceneaux in Season 8 of ART21 “Art in the Twenty-First Century” (2016)

Featured artist today is

Edgar Arceneaux

Edgar Arceneaux was born in Los Angeles in 1972. He investigates historical patterns through drawings, installations, and multimedia events, such as the reenactment of Ben Vereen’s tragically misunderstood blackface performance at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Inaugural Gala. In the artist’s work, linear logic is abandoned in favor of wordplay and visual associations, revealing how language, technology, and systems of ordering produce reality as much as describe them. Seemingly disparate elements—such as science fiction, civil rights era speeches, techno music, and the crumbling architecture of Detroit—find a new synchronicity in the artist’s hands, ultimately pointing to larger historical forces such as the rise of the surveillance state.

Arceneaux’s installations have taken the form of labyrinths, libraries, multi-channel videos, and drawn landscapes that change over the course of an exhibition, only ever offering a partial view of the whole at any given moment. This fragmentation extends to the artist’s use of historical research in his work, such as FBI documents concerning civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., where redacted passages are presented on mirrors that reflect the viewer’s curious gaze.

Edgar Arceneaux attended the California Institute of the Arts (MFA, 2001), Fachhochschule Aachen (2000), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1999), and Art Center College of Design (BFA, 1996). Arceneaux’s awards and residencies include the Malcolm McLaren Award from Performa (2015), Rauschenberg Residency (2013), United States Artists Fellowship (2007), ArtPace Residency (2006), Joyce Award (2005), and a Creative Capital Grant (2005). Arceneaux has had major exhibitions at MIT LIST Center for Contemporary Art (2016); Performa (2015); Biennale de Montreal (2014); Shanghai Biennale (2014); MoCA Detroit (2011); Bienal de São Paulo (2011); and the Whitney Biennial (2008). Arceneaux lives and works in Pasadena, CA, USA.

Links:
Artist’s website

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