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Over the last two to three years, public political discourse has become increasingly contentious. In some cases it has gotten to the point that people are criticized, particularly on social media, for even being friends with someone on the “other side.”
Take the recent dust up when TV star Ellen DeGeneres attended a Dallas Cowboys football game and ended up sitting in the same box with George W. Bush. Social media went crazy condemning Ellen for being friendly with “the enemy.” Ellen pushed back saying that she has friends who don’t think the same way she does, and that people should be kind to everyone. A couple of other high profile stars then sided with DeGeneres, only to, themselves, get blasted.
So why is this happening? It is happening because this dispute is not simply a matter of differing opinions, it is a matter of clashing understandings of reality itself. To get at this, we need to see the opposing views that are at play.
The traditional view that birthed the whole idea of freedom of conscience is based upon a biblical worldview. American society was entirely based on the belief that God exists and revealed the nature of reality to mankind in the Bible. Thus, law and morality were seen to have an objectively real foundation – there actually is such a thing as objective Truth. These biblical teachings also include the assumption that human beings are free will creatures and must decide for themselves what they will believe. If they believe rightly concerning God, they will spend eternity in heaven with him. If they choose wrongly, they will spend eternity separated from him.
This concept was then taken and applied to society in general – particularly as it relates to the law and politics. The result was that people with differing ideas were all free to express them in the public square. Not all ideas were accepted, of course, but everyone was free to hold them and engage in public debate. Then, when debate was done, votes were taken and the winner’s ideas dominated. Those who lost accepted it and worked to win the next time.
A naturalistic worldview doesn’t easily allow for that kind of tolerance. Naturalism is the belief that the natural universe is all that exists and that all life is the result of mindless evolutionary processes. Since there is no source for any kind of objective law or morality, human beings must make up morality for themselves – and it is based purely on the preferences of those who are able to gain power and dominate society. The end result is the Law of the Jungle.
Since the entire process under naturalism is based on power politics, and there is no such thing as objective right and wrong, there can be no distinction between politics and religion. In other words, a person’s political viewpoint is equivalent to their religious viewpoint. Many Naturalists object to being labeled religious, but a person’s religion is based upon the “beliefs” they live by. Naturalism is, by definition, atheistic, and it is also a religious point of view.
With that as a foundation, the idea of people being allowed to have contrary ideas is not a natural expression. There are, of course, Naturalists who believe it is a good idea to allow for conflicting ideas and debate, but for them it is strictly utilitarian, not a matter of right and wrong. It is right to them only because in particular circumstances it helps promote order. Taken to its logical conclusion, however, opponents are not to be accommodated, they are to be crushed. This is the reason Ellen DeGeneres was savaged on social media: It was done by people who hold a naturalistic worldview, and who cannot accept ideas and beliefs that are contrary to their own.
As long as Naturalism holds its dominant place in American society, this conflict between worldviews will continue. True tolerance will not return until biblical worldview concepts are able to once again emerge as dominant – and that won’t happen until a massive number of people return to faith in Christ.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
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