April 23, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Today, in our increasingly secularized world, there’s an ongoing attack on the transcendent. We’re told the only things that exist are those we can see, touch and measure. Nothing exists beyond.
The one thing that’s held as (sort of) “transcendent” is science. A great cliché of our time is the idea of “settled science” — an assortment of theories, most of which actually aren’t all that settled, but are nonetheless put forth as the answers to everything.
This outlook is really just a twist on old-fashioned materialism, and it’s been with us for millennia. But it got a strong boost in the 19th century from Charles Darwin. His pivotal work, On the Origin of Species (1859), laid out a master plan for the evolution of living things. In reality, that plan was no plan at all. Darwin posited that every form of life evolved by sheer chance from some earlier form.
Applying the evolutionary principle, scientists have been able to explain much about our world, and made many remarkable advances. At the same time, a lot of people have drawn the false conclusion that life thus exists on its own. No superior will or intelligence — nothing transcendent — is required to have set the evolutionary process in motion or regulate its progress. Because there is nothing beyond the here and now.
This is the dominant idea being passed on to our young people today (and quite a few older people as well). It’s caused all manner of misbehavior and destruction.
If nothing is transcendent, then there is no external standard of right and wrong by which people can measure their actions. There’s no such thing as sin, because sin can only be identified in reference to the Law of God.
So — no transcendence, no God. No God, no Law. No Law, no sin.
As the great Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, put it in his novel, The Brothers Karamazov, “If there is no God, everything is permitted.”
Which brings us immediately to another popular line of thinking: determinism. We do not choose to do wrong, because there is no such thing as free will. Our choices and actions are determined by our biology and our environment. Nothing is universally right or wrong. Any rules that exist are man-made and arbitrary. Or so this (scientific) theory goes.
Yet, we know there must be order in society. Individual action must be restrained, or civil life becomes impossible. Anarchy prevails, and anarchy must be avoided. Without any sort of transcendent moral standard, the only recourse is to the power of government. This has been the path taken in Communist countries and other authoritarian regimes.
We are seeing a movement toward this situation in our own country right now. Anti-Christian, ideologically driven groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter are creating chaos in our cities, and threatening to extend that chaos into suburban communities and rural areas.
Our government, corporate, and media elites have provided cover for these activities. The line has been that a little anarchy may be necessary to make America face up to the injustices of our history, and take the proper steps toward reform.
Of course it’s no coincidence that this chaos has been useful to those elites in advancing their own agendas. It will be even more useful when the time comes to crush it, justifying a more complete extension of government power.
Thus, sin raises the danger of anarchy. Anarchy calls forth government power — unrestrained power, that is, since there is no transcendent morality to limit it. And the exercise of that power leads to totalitarianism. Throughout history the result of this process has been endless human suffering, all as a result of denying the transcendent.
So fundamental is this denial that it corrupts not only politics but even science itself. Three recent developments will illustrate:
- Researchers have combined human and monkey genes with the goal of creating therapeutic stem cells.
- Genetic research has given rise to what’s called the Laboratory-Grown Meat Industry. This new business is synthesizing food from the cultured tissues of animals and even human beings.
- There is a movement to legalize composting of the human body after death (it’s already being done in Washington State) through an accelerated process of decomposition.
These undertakings, born of the materialist mindset, reduce us to the status of animals, cannibals, or even just fertilizer. Such are the consequences of denying the transcendent.
A priest of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, Rev. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Florida. He is host of “Action for Life TV,” a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications and online journals. His TV show episodes can be viewed HERE.