Perception Changes Everything   Leave a comment

If we want to reach our culture with conservative political/economic principles and/or Christianity (I recognize that not everyone believes as I do), we need to understand the thought processes of the culture around us. That can be sort of hard when the world view of our culture is in flux.

Politically, Modernism strongly influenced the United States. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” is a modernist statement. The following clause “endowed by Our Creator” is evidence that early modernists did not reject faith as having a place in reality. There is truth, our Founders said, and we can know truth if we are open to it.

Unfortunately, Modernism took a nasty turn. It became dictatorial. It increasingly focused on scientific studies as the only way to see the world. Metaphysics were shunted aside in favor of that which could be understood by the slide-rule and microscope.

Postmodernism reacted against Modernism, recognizing that scientists are often wrong and that our understanding of reality is influenced by our perceptual apparatus.

Here’s an example.

To my husband’s sister, it is a verifiable truth that the world is overcrowded. She looks outside her window in a East Coast state and sees a mass of people living in houses that are squeezed together on tiny little lots. She drives crowded highways and shops in crowded malls. She sees television shows that show the throngs of people in Mumbai and Singapore. Clearly, the world is overcrowded.

To me, the world is not all that overcrowded. I look outside my window in Alaska and I see houses on larger lots with just a few people living inside each. My brother can’t even see his neighbors from his deck. I drive on highways that are only briefly crowded during rush hour. I go hiking in the woods and see nobody for days. I wonder why people in Mumbai choose to live on top of one another. I know, because I’ve studied, that the entire human population could fit in the state of Texas standing up with elbow room, and that only about 25% of American land is even lightly used. Clearly, the world is not so overcrowded.

We both are educated people who have access to the same evidence, but our different perspectives color how we view the world. That acknowledgment is a gift of Postmodernism. It’s often stated as “truth is relative”, but in reality, the perception of truth is subjective.

An atheist can look at the evidence of the natural world and say there is no god and there is no necessity for god because the natural world is sufficient in and of itself to create and sustain itself.

A person of faith can look at the exact same evidence of the natural world and praise God for creating and sustaining it.

Perspective changes everything. And, we owe Postmodernism a debt of gratitude for teaching us that. Had we stuck with Modernism, Christianity would have been doomed by the constant insistence that only scientists are qualified to make truth statements. Postmodernism allows for freedom of thought, for divergent opinion. That’s a good thing because in that evironment, if it actually existed, Christianity would just be another point of view with equal validity.

Unfortunately, that’s not really the world we live in, which is why we do not owe Postmodernism our souls and we should be relieved that the postmodern era is slowly giving way to the next.

For once, it might be a good idea for Christians to decide our reaction to this cultural movement early on rather than coming late to the party and looking foolish. This warning also operates for political conservatives. There’s a sea change coming. Are we ready for it?

Posted September 30, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense, philosophy

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