Charles Colson – Against the Night #1 – The Ideas that Brought the New Dark Ages

I started reading the late Charles Colson‘s book Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages.  This book was written in 1989, and I’m sure Colson would have far more to say if it were written today.  He writes about the setting sunset and our entrance into the “new dark ages.”  What makes our times dark?  It’s moral decay!  We’ve lost the fundamental truths upon which absolute morality is established.  The age of relativism is bringing down Western society as we know it.

In the first chapter of my soon to be published book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, I address this same problem, but my focus is on religious pluralism more so than moral relativism, but the two go hand in hand.  I trace the origin of this “new dark age” in the West from its religious origins of Hinduism’s influence on Western culture from the transcendentalist movement that began in 19th century through authors such as Whitman, Emerson, and Thoreau. Colson begins earlier in 1610 with the French philosopher Rene Descartes.  Descartes came to the conclusion that the one thing he knew was certain was the fact that he doubted.  He could not doubt that he doubted, which led to his classic statement, “I think, therefore I am.”

Colson sees this teaching as the root of our current age of moral decline and loss of truth:

Descartes’s now-famous postulate led to a whole new premise for philosophic thought: man, rather than God, became the fixed point around which everything else revolved; human reason became the foundation upon which a structure of knowledge could be built; and doubt became the highest intellectual virtue. … Men and women could not order their lives according to what they could see for themselves through reason, and the fetters of faith and tradition fell away.  … For centuries people had established their moral standards according to the discerned will of God or by appealing to Aristotelian concepts of virtue.  Now Enlightened thinkers sought to root morality not within a transcendent authority or classical conceptions of virtue, but within the mind and heart of man.  Moral judgments would be measured by what men and women could know or feel for themselves.

René Descartes

René Descartes – Is this the man we can blame for our current state of moral decay and loss of the belief absolute truth within our culture?

I find it interesting that Colson traces the problem back to a philosophy that ultimately strips God from the picture and makes Man the end all, be all of determining reality, and I traced the problem back to a religion that says everything is divine and thus each of is God!  The two go hand in hand.  One reached the mind through philosophy and the other spoke to the heart through an Eastern religion that is experiential.  The one, two punch combo that has knocked us down.  Are we going to get up?  Are you we going to fight back?  We must reclaim absolute truth, not for ourselves, but for all of mankind who needs a saving relationship with God.

2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises.  He is patient!  He desires that no one perishes, but that everyone comes to eternal life through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.”

One thought on “Charles Colson – Against the Night #1 – The Ideas that Brought the New Dark Ages

  1. Haven’t read Colson’s book. Discussed Descartes statement in Philosphy in college and why he stated it. He hoped to be able to boil things to 100% physical truth. And found that he couldn’t. Beyond the observation that he was thinking. He could find counter examples for everything else. What are you left with if the only thing you know is that you think? You have to start making logical assumptions (I.e. state the items that we consider self evidently true) You then start building on your assumptions. As Christians using the same framework we state that our logical assumption is that all things are rooted in God and everything it built from there. Descartes had an implicit assumption himself, that everything was rooted in the physical world.

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