Unless you were raised in a monastery or in the middle of a desert, the modern culture has surrounded you and been a part of the air you breathe on a daily basis. You were probably more influenced by television, by your teachers, by your friends than by the traditions of the Church, even if you went to a Catholic school.
The modern world is built on assumptions that go back to the “Enlightenment” and which peaked in recent years when the children of the 1960s ended up in responsible positions, spreading their beliefs throughout our institutions, which are now pretty consistently against tradition, if not openly hostile to the Church and its traditional beliefs. Indeed some days it seems that much of the Church itself is against them as well.
On this page we intend to introduce a series of short essays and instructional videos to familiarize you with what we call the “basic programming” of the modern culture. We call it that because these are the components, or collected presumptions, of the modernist worldview that you have unwittingly been trained in your whole lifetime, perhaps without even knowing it, and because by accepting them, you have in many ways been programmed.
WHAT IS MORAL RELATIVISM?
We must not remain children in faith, in the condition of minors. And what does it mean to be children in faith? St. Paul answers: it means being “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4: 14). This description is very timely!
How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves—flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St. Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.
Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine” seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.
We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An “adult” faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.
We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith — only faith — that creates unity and is fulfilled in love …
— Pope Benedict XVI
In his last homily as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before becoming the Holy Father.
Moral relativism is, in short, the idea that morality is relative. That is to say, there is no morality or moral rule that is true or right, but rather people are free to develop their own morality which is true for them. While ridiculous on first hearing of it, once you really understand the idea that some people believe that truth does not exist you will begin to see that the idea seems to be everywhere.
Here is a good article on how you hear relativism everywhere these days, and below is a video from Prager University showing how moral relativism leads to all sorts of ridiculous conclusions:
For those who want to get to the philosophical roots of the matter, here’s a deeper look at the issue:
WHAT IS MULTICULTURALISM?
Multiculturalism, if it only meant that different cultures must live together in the modern world, would be one thing. However, progressives and modernists often use the word to deliberately imply that the beliefs of all cultures are equally true. That is, what a given culture believes is just as valid, just as true as, say, Christianity.
This, of course, destroys the concept of truth itself, and plays into the modern error that every individual can have their own truth–broadening it out in this case to include larger group beliefs. If this is what is meant by multiculturalism, then of course it is a dangerous and destructive force in the battle for souls.
WHAT IS SCIENTISM?
Scientism is the belief that science explains everything that is, and as such other beliefs are archaic and properly pushed aside. The fact, though, is science does not have a monopoly on the truth, and cannot completely explain even the things we know from our daily lives, and historically the consensus opinion of the top scientists in any age is often wrong.
Probably the most concise, best explanation comes from Bishop Robert Barron:
See also: Science v. Scientism by Joseph Pearce, National Catholic Register.
WHAT IS THE NATURAL LAW?
If moral relativism is the idea that we cannot look at the world and make certain objective conclusions about what is right and wrong, then the Natural Law is the opposite of that–it is the claim that we can do exactly that.
Natural law is a philosophy asserting that certain rights are inherent by virtue of human nature, endowed by nature—traditionally by God or a transcendent source—and that these can be understood universally through human reason.
– Wikipedia, Natural Law
In less peculiar times, the classic example of the natural law was man and woman–they are clearly complimentary, clearly meant for one another, clearly the natural law was telling us the order of things. We could use our reason in looking at the world God made and come to straightforward conclusions.
“Natural law is the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law,” would be how Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas would break it down, meaning that we could understand God’s intentions for many things by the use of our reason applied to what we can observe.
As you can see, this is very much the opposite of the idea that truth is unknowable–it is in fact the opposite claim. As such knowledge of the natural law and its history is vital for modern Catholic apologists. What follows is an interesting conversation on the topic so that you can see the terminology in use.
WHAT IS THE BLACK LEGEND?
The Black Legend against Spain is part of a vast movement started by the enemies of the Faith to destroy the Catholic religion. It is not an isolated case; other Catholic countries like Italy, Ireland and Poland have had their reputations smeared for their adhesion to the Faith. The Black Legend seeks to throw discredit upon the Faith by building biases and prejudices against Catholicism. A current example of these attacks is Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code, a malevolent cocktail of fake scholarship, lies and half-truths. It seeks to instill in Catholics a sense of embarrassment and shame about the way in which their ancestors lived and practiced their faith. The effect is subtle but too often ends by Catholics then doubting the truth of the Faith. . . .
Continued here (a new window will open).
WHAT, THEN, IS MODERNISM?
Pope Saint Pius X famously said that modernism was “the synthesis of all heresies” because it included within it many modern errors. If you review the Oath Against Modernism from his papacy you will see that it combats the underlying assumptions of moral relativism, multiculturalism, scientism, progressivism and other heresies, which all share a hostility to the realities of the supernatural and all deny objective truth at their heart.
Modernism implies that an individual can have a truth, and a culture can have a truth, but there are are no ideas that can be true for everyone–such as the existence of God or the fact that Jesus was Lord and Savior for all (and indeed called himself the Way, the Truth and the Life). Moreover, within modernism you are free to believe in vibes, crystals, karma, or whatever you want as long as you want as long as your beliefs are not traditional, not Christian–and if they are you are dissuaded from expressing them in public or applying those beliefs to issues of the day.
Modernism is a modern, relativistic lie. That is the truth. We encourage you to look into the matter, and begin thinking for yourself. You’ll be amazed what you see now that you know what you’re looking for when you step back from all the programming and see things for yourself.
Please feel free to comment if you have any suggestions or thoughts on this project or the essays we’ve written.