At thirteen years of age, I hung out at school with my best friend, Tony Falloon, and Bolivar Franklyn, a light-skinned class-mate with woolly brown hair, turtle-shell spectacles and short khaki pants. At recess times or after school, we stood on opposite sides in most discussions, for Bolivar was always arguing philosophically.
“So, everything we see around us just happened by chance?” I challenged him.
“Just chance!” he stuck to his guns obstinately. “You can’t prove there’s anyone up in the sky
watching over everything!” he continued.
“Nobody ever said He was up in the sky, Franklyn!” I insisted.
“Sky, universe, whatever!” he raised his voice.
“Look at the human body,” Falloon said. “Two hands, two feet, two ears, one mouth…”
“That’s no proof, smart aleck!” Bolivar replied. “Some people have six fingers, what about that? Or the guy with no toes? Everything just evolved!”
Well, that kind of discussion sparked heated arguments during those early schooldays, when the idea that man evolved from simple forms of life had been challenging age-old concepts of God as the Creator and Supervisor of everything.
Therefore, before even considering the possibility of miracles, each one of us must confront the major question of human existence: Is there really a God? Is there Someone, bigger and wiser, watching over us? Or did human beings evolve from lower forms of life? The answer to those questions are pivotal in our search for truth.
A look at the gradual decline of religion in America ought to open our eyes to the reality of what has been subtly taking place that has eroded the morals of today’s most powerful nation, and why the question of the existence of God is so important.
The decline may be traced back to the late seventeenth century. Before 1662, full membership in the Congregational Church required a testimony of salvation, but because attendance at church was falling off, in an attempt to increase membership, the church invented what became known as the halfway Covenant. By 1770, non-believers were being accepted as full and active members, as long as they were respected in the community. Compromise had now fully entered the Body of Christ resulting in the weakening of its spiritual fabric and power.
In 1859 when Charles Darwin published his book, “The Origin of Species,” the foundation for great corruption in America was laid through the theory of evolution. Since then, intelligent people question the belief in a creator, and are more inclined to accept that the complexities of nature evolved from a single cell. For people who defend the existence of God, science stands as the greatest challenge, declaring that man evolved from lower forms of life through gradual mutations over a period of thousands of years.
However, the issue of God’s existence was not the only battle field. In 1878 Julius Wellhausen, a German scholar, instigated a revolution against the church. He postulated in his book, “Prolegomena to the History of Israel,” that Moses did not write the Torah, but that various writers compiled the stories after they occurred. (Int) This brought the Bible into disrepute, and many found it easier to accept Darwin’s theory of evolution, while questioning the reliability of the Bible.
Based upon Darwin’s theory, Sigismund Freud’s publishing of books between 1895 to 1905, added to the moral dilemma. Freud developed a philosophy of psychology and psychiatry that taught that life must be lived based upon our feelings, i.e. we should do what makes us feel good. Since sin can be pleasurable, this opened the door to reject God Who hates sin, and it was not long before unbelieving members warmly welcomed this concept into the shaky foundation of the church.
1925, the year of the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” became a turning point in America’s spiritual history. From its birth the constitution of the United States of America had built upon the concept that God was the Creator of the Universe, and that its citizens were under the sovereign rule of God as their king.
The Scopes trial that took place in a Tennessee court brought to light this nation’s foundational philosophy. State law at that time prescribed that only “the story of the Creation as taught in the Bible” could be taught in public schools. Any other theory was forbidden. Fundamentalists were struggling against the flood of modern ideas in theology and science. National attention focused on this trial as John T. Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution. Soon, however, the verdict was overturned on a technicality, and fundamentalists were mercilessly ridiculed, and their efforts to pin down state laws on their side failed.
However, prior to that, after World War 1, from the 1920s and into the 1930s, a subtle revolution in the behavior of women, both in their dress and manners, had already been taking place. The gradual decline of American culture saw women begin to dress like some of the actresses and prostitutes of those years. By the 1960s, the seeds of various “movements” and “revolutions” began to sprout.
In the 1920s and 1930s also, John Dewey vigorously opposed authoritarian, strict pre-ordained structures in modern traditional education. As an educator, he led the revolution against God in the school system. He postulated that children should be removed from the traditional setting of homeschooling and church schools, and placed in the care of a state that rejected God, and that espoused humanism and self-confidence. This move directly opposed the injunction of scripture that a child should be taught to “remember its Creator in the days of its youth.”