From "Civilization at Risk: Whatever Became of Virtue?" (excerpt from a book by the same name) by Peter Kreeft
How are we weak?
Not technologically, of course. We are like King Midas, swollen with new powers and riches, although at a price: everything we touch has gone dead and cold.
Not intellectually. We learn more and more, though it means less and less. We are overwhelmed with knowledge as well as with power. Our heads are about to burst. Some do.
Nor are we morally weaker. I do not think we are necessarily more wicked than our ancestors, overall. True, we are less courageous, less honest with ourselves, less self-disciplined, and obviously less chaste than they were. But they were more cruel, intolerant, snobbish, and inhumane than we are. They were better at the hard virtues; we are better at the soft virtues. The balance is fairly even, I think.
But though we are not weaker in morality, we are weaker in the knowledge of morality. We are stronger in the knowledge of nature, but weaker in the knowledge of goodness. We know more about what is less than ourselves but less about what is more than ourselves. When we act morally, we are better than our philosophy. Our ancestors were worse than theirs. Their problem was not living up to their principles. Ours is not having any.
We have lost objective moral law for the first time in history. The philosophies of moral positivism (that morality is posited or made by man), moral relativism, and subjectivism have become for the first time not a heresy for rebels but the reigning orthodoxy of the intellectual establishment. University faculty and media personnel overwhelmingly reject belief in the notion of any universal and objective morality.
Moral values have become both privatized and collectivized. On the one hand, the modern mind has fallen victim to what C. S. Lewis calls “the poison of subjectivism”: the idea that morality is manmade, private, subjective, a matter of feeling, a subdivision of psychology. “I feel” replaces “I believe”.
On the other hand, sociology has socialized and collectivized morality; consensus determines rightness or wrongness, and democracy becomes our religion: vox populi vox dei (“the voice of the people is the voice of God”). These two developments, privatism. and collectivism, may seem contradictory, but they have happened simultaneously in the modern West.
Their effect is that we live in two separate worlds. Our feeling life, our inner world of “values” (no longer real goods), is set against the outer world of behavior, a world governed by social “mores” (no longer real morals). . . .
Read the rest of this excellent excerpt.
The one thing no teacher dares to do is to tell anyone he is wrong and needs to change. We dare not confront. There is not a single biblical prophet who would be allowed to teach in a modern public university or to talk on network TV today without being labeled “fanatic”, “authoritarian”, “reactionary”, “simplistic”, and probably “fundamentalist” (which combines all these horrible things). Jesus himself — the real Jesus described in the Gospels rather than the “meek and gentle Jesus” of the selective modern imagination, which is only a thin slice of him — would be the most radically unacceptable of all. He would be crucified a second time, in words. . . .Laurie Higgins, teacher and writer