Natural Values: Unintended Consequences of Modern Values

I have previously written about natural values here and here. I have explained what they are, and I have talked about how the modern conception of the “teenager” has created a decade of life that is largely based upon unnatural values. Today I want to look at the consequences of some modern shifts in values from the natural toward the unnatural. If you have not read my previous articles on the topic, please read at least the first one before reading any further.

This shift began during or perhaps somewhat before the life of Charles Darwin. It was slow to begin, but it began to move more quickly around the time of Sigmund Freud. This shift was very fundamental and has had far reaching consequences. It was, of course, the shift from theocentrism to anthropocentrism, or, for the layperson, from the putting God first to putting man, the ego, first.

No longer did people see God as first and foremost, and a large portion of them eventually stopped trying to conform to his will, to the principles which he had laid out for mankind. No longer was the person compelled to be patient, cordial, honest, sincere, or respectful. Instead, one was “free” to do whatever one wished. Instead of basing their values upon God and the natural order that he created, they began to base their values upon themselves.

This, in itself, was the most key part of the shift. Instead of placing God at the top of the values list, as he precludes man because he is our creator, men began to value themselves and their feelings most highly. The ego took the place of God in the hearts of men.

What consequently came about because of this shift was rather disheartening. Materialism, hedonism, and nihilism were furthered. Man became the arbiter of what was good and what was bad, and so there was no longer any real standard upon which the morality of actions could judged. This shift ushered in relativism and an amoral era.

In daily life, it is not hard to see where the shift from God based to ego based values has had an impact. Narcissism and depression are both at very high levels. Basic tenets of considerate lifestyle such as manners and chivalry have disappeared. Nowadays, people are constantly saying that they don’t care what other people think about them, and that reflects the fact that people now care more for themselves than for others.

Let’s rewind a little, however, and take a look at the recent rise in narcissism and depression rates. When God is removed from the equation and man is placed as number one, it is really no surprise that people will begin to see themselves as number one. They no longer have anything beyond themselves and their whims, so they focus the entirety of their energy on those two things. On the other hand, a Godless world really has no meaning or purpose, and this naturally gives way to feelings of meaninglessness or helplessness. A universe without any meaning is rather bleak indeed.

One of the best ways to examine a society or time period is through its art. As this article comes to a close, I just want to leave you with the words of Fleet Foxes from their songĀ Helplessness Blues. You can listen to the song here.

I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me

Mankind was made to serve something beyond itself. Natural values reflect this fact, but our “modern” values remove God from the equation and create a world in which the ego is supreme and there is no real purpose for existence. Both narcissism and depression are unintended consequences of this shift, and the less natural our values become, the greater the consequences will be.

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