The ambient spirit

Christians speak often about the “spirit of the age.” By this we generally mean materialism, relativism or a handful of other isms. It’s generally something easy to label and therefore easy to oppose. What we fail to recognize is that this “spirit” is often subtle, cultural, ambient. Like a color filter over a light source, it affects everything and everyone, including us.

I propose that the true spirit of this age is what Stephen Colbert brilliantly dubbed “Truthiness.” To me, this can be summed up in two related axioms:

  • I want it to be true,
    therefore it is true.
  • I do not want it to be true,
    therefore it is not true.

Humans also have a well-documented tendency to make decisions emotionally and then kick in the logical part of the brain in order to justify them. It takes deliberate critical thinking and introspective to combat this tendency; it is hard work and often unrewarded.

It is far easier (and socially acceptable) to pick a side and defend it uncritically. Wonderfully, we are able to convince ourselves that our views are flawlessly logical, moral and patriotic while simultaneously being able to demonize the “other side” for their clearly ridiculous thinking. The ambient spirit has us enthralled; we are willfully ignorant and complicit.

So at the risk of exposing my own blind spots, I will enumerate a few modern flash points that I believe are good examples:

  • I want same-sex attraction to be a choice,
    therefore it is.
  • I want socialism to be fairer than capitalism,
    therefore it is.
  • I do not want evolution to be true,
    therefore it is not.
  • I do not want fetuses to be human beings,
    therefore they are not.
  • I do not want global warming to be real,
    therefore it is not.
  • I want all fiscal conservatives to be heartless ogres,
    therefore they are.
  • I want a vaccine to be the cause of my child’s issues,
    therefore it is.

I could keep going, but you get the picture. You may heartily agree with some of these and strongly react against others. Either way, all I ask is that you take this opportunity to examine the effects of the ambient spirit in your own heart.