God Is Dead?
By Raymond Shipley
The civilization of the West is in a precarious position. Louder and louder are the cries for progress, to abandon the old and make way for the new. No more patriarchy, no more tradition. As Nietzsche decreed, "God is dead."
But with the death of God comes the death of religion; of tradition; of culture; of morality; of the very essence that gave birth to the civilization itself. As Russell Kirk stated, “Men cannot improve a society by setting fire to it: they must seek out its old virtues, and bring them back into the light.”
Throughout antiquity we have seen the absence of religion, and the subsequent presence of moral decadence, inevitably lead to the downfall of civilization. The very word "culture" comes from the word "cult", and is based on a form of religious or spiritual worldview. It is the religion and tradition of a civilization, its culture, that strengthens and ties it together.
Religion provides the set standards that govern a civilization. When the traditional beliefs of a nation cease to be, the nation dies. "There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion," said the historian Will Durant.
In the book "When Nations Die", Jim Nelson Black lists three aspects of decay: social, cultural and moral. Ancient Greece became plagued with disorder. This became apparent with the general loss of respect for tradition and degradation of the young. Only in being conquered by the Romans, with their strict military control, was law and order restored. Likewise, when Egypt was conquered by Alexander the Great lawlessness and violence left the once great civilization open to attack, and it was Alexander that used martial law to restore order.
Carthage, and later Rome itself, fell into decay when its own citizens no longer wanted to fight for Rome and therefore hired mercenaries to do the fighting for them. Without order, and the spirit to enforce the equilibrium of order in a society against enemies, both foreign and domestic, the civilization shall die.
Immorality and the Death of Culture
The decline of education, cultural foundations, as well as the loss of respect for tradition and the increase in materialism all demonstrate the death of culture. From one failed civilization to another, the decline in culture has been a prerequisite to a nation's suicide.
Wrote the Roman poet Livy, "for it is true that when men had fewer possessions, they were also modest in their desires. Lately riches have brought avarice and abundant pleasures, and the desire to carry luxury and lust to the point of ruin and universal perdition." Greed and self-indulgence cannot be denied in relation to the Romans, and the symptom applies to other nations that have pulled the trigger on their own existence.
"For some young men indulged in affairs with boys, others in affairs with courtesans," wrote the historian Polybuis. Boys were paid handsomely for sexual pleasure. "Marcus Cato was outraged by this and, in a speech to the people, complained that one might be quite convinced of the decline of the republic, when pretty boys cost more than fields and jars of caviar cost more than plowman."
Religion serves as a moral compass for society and civilization. With immorality and the devaluing of human life comes the loss of the ties that bind humankind to his own. Under the Emperor Justinian, Roman entertainment grew bawdier and more bizarre. Orgies, homosexuality and bestiality were openly practiced, and abortion and infanticide were commonplace. In Greece promiscuity and drunkenness were a part of daily life. All that which made these nations great was lost, and so too were the nations themselves.
To Preserve and Defend
It is religion that defines culture and culture which gives birth to and sustains a civilization. With the death of religion will come the end of Western culture and thus Western Civilization. It is easy to frown on the imperfections and critique the many blunders through which the West has undergone. But it takes strength and fortitude to stand against the tide and fight to preserve all that our ancestors have built. Egypt, Greece and Rome have all become dust in the wind. It is not yet time for the West to follow them into the night.