Thomas F. O'Neill
A few days ago, I was browsing Facebook, and I
came across a video of a Christian fundamentalist ‘yelling’ about how
we the people are living in the end times as foretold in the Bible. He
shouted about the biblical signs, such as the depravity of today’s
While holding Bible in hand, he explained, quite loudly, I
might add, about how people are turning their attention away from God.
“There is no doubt that the world is quite different than the world our
grandparents and great grandparents grew up in” he shouted. He then went
on to say, “there is a much higher crime rate today due to drug issues
and materialism, and drugs are being abused to escape from modern-day
issues.” He then admonished science, secularism, and of course, social
Science and secularism are not the root causes of our
society's problems. Social media is not entirely the problem either
because it provides instant global communication. This is something that
would have been considered science fiction a half-century ago. However,
it would seem that before the world of Facebook, there was more
psychological stability, especially in the world our ancestors grew up
in. One reason for their stability is that our ancestors lived in the
same neighborhoods their entire lives. They were raised predominantly
‘Christian,’ they most likely went to the same churches their parents
and grandparents went to. Their house of worship was a significant part
of their life for their entire lifetime.
The average person a hundred years ago rarely traveled beyond
a twenty-mile radius. Their world perceptions remained the same due to
their religion, neighborhood, town, or village.
Today most people will change jobs five times before they
reach retirement age, and they will most likely move to different towns,
cities, or states, on average - five times before retiring.
Many people today are not consciously aware that their
perceptions of the world are constantly changing due to technological
advancements. There have been more technological achievements in the
last fifty years than in any other time in human history. How we see
ourselves concerning others is also being influenced by science. We are
also becoming less personable through our digital technology due to this
fast passed computer age.
Babies born today will see science and technology double
every two years. When today’s newborns become senior citizens, they may
have a life expectancy of over 100 years. Some of us are asking, though,
what the quality of life will be like in the next century?
Our language is also evolving due to the rate of science and
technology. Future generations will not just have a greater vocabulary,
but they will have a much greater understanding of the world around
them, more so than we ever will in my baby-boom generation.
The super information highway called the internet is also
having a profound impact on the younger generation’s relationship with
the world in which they live. Their perceptions of themselves concerning
others will continuously change as they mature and grow at the rapid
rate of technological advancements. This is something our grandparents
and great-grandparents have not experienced in their lifetime.
I do not necessarily see this as something negative. To be
honest, I cannot imagine what the world will be like 50 years from now,
and I suppose that is where the gift of the imagination comes into play.
The accelerated changes are not just taking place in the United States;
they occur globally, especially in Asian countries.
I disagree with the televangelist who believes we live in the
end times, and I do not place that much literal emphasis on the Bible. I
agree that today’s world is quite different from yesteryear’s world.
Most people today are searching for ways to deal with their day-to-day
stressors, and the majority are also placing less significance on
I was raised Roman Catholic by two devoutly Roman Catholic
parents, but I’m no longer a practicing Catholic like millions of
others. It is worse in Europe –the churches there are empty. In Rome,
Italy, the American University has one seminarian in their undergraduate
seminary. In the 1930s, there were four or five priests assigned to
each church; now, churches are being consolidated due to a lack of
priestly vocations. I do not, however, view this as a negative social
The dynamic social shift away from institutional authority is
also reflected in the number of self-help books published each year.
People are still searching for spirituality to cope with the fast-moving
world. They are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. In
the past, most people accepted religion as holding all the answers
needed for this world and the afterlife. But in today’s world, most
people feel the religious institutions have lost most of their
In the not-so-distant past, those who went against the status
quo were either burned at the stake or excommunicated for being
heretics. For many, there was that great fear of being free thinkers;
this was a great inhibiting factor when it came to scientific
advancements. It was not until the secularization of the free world that
science and technology took great leaps for the betterment of humankind
both in knowledge and achievements. But there must be a balance between
knowledge and its proper application; that is where human wisdom comes
into play. As our society continues to grow in knowledge – our
understanding must be balanced wisely and properly applied. Not just for
the individual’s benefit but for the betterment of society. Science and
Spirituality are now beginning to complement one another. These two
separate disciplines are both searching for the essence of things.
Spirituality is accomplishing this by drawing us inward for greater
self-knowledge. It helps us understand the essence of who we are in
relation to the world around us.
Science is now beginning to recognize the subtle, intelligent
designs of life without quite defining what life is. I suppose that is
where spirituality comes into play. For some - life is the eternal
presence of God - Life, love, and God are all synonymously leading us to
the essence of things. Spirituality brings us ever so closer to who we
truly are in relation to the natural world.
It is easy for the majority of people to get caught up in
social media’s fleeting images and feel as if they are being lost in the
process. On the other hand, Spirituality can help us focus on the
essential matters of life. Our society may seem less religiously
motivated, but there is still a deep hunger for spirituality in our
However, some would like to see society go back to simpler
times when the church and Bible were the vessels of divine truth. Our
world then was the center of the Universe. For the Churchgoers, it was a
religious fact that we were at the center of God’s creation. That was
only common sense among the religious, but modern-day reality does not
conform to those beliefs.
It was not that long ago in human history that Scientists
discovered that the planets in our solar system revolve around the Sun.
The religious establishment quickly declared them heretics because their
scientific findings contradicted the Bible. The Church at that time
refused to acknowledge the world was round because such a notion
contradicted the scriptures. The Bible states the world has four
corners. A round world also defies common sense because we will fall off
if the world is round. Most people at that time also believed if you
sail too far out to sea, you will eventually reach one of the world’s
four corners. What would happen then was up to speculation; some
believed the ship would fall off the edge of the earth.
When it was becoming common knowledge that the world was
round, the church continued to declare it as heretical, and if you were
Catholic teaching the round earth theory, you would have been
In the 1600s, the Catholic hierarchy declared Newtonian
Physics as being heretical because of Newton’s views on gravity. The
Pope at the time declared that any Catholic teaching - Newton’s laws -
would be excommunicated. The Pope made it clear, “God holds men in
existence, not gravity.”
In the late 1700s, during the forming of the new American
government, the Catholic Church declared, “democracy is an immoral form
of government.” The Pope at that time viewed Democracy and the
separation of Church and State as being morally evil.
Later in history, the Church declared evolution to be
heretical, and they still hold the view that man was created ‘fully
man,’ and the belief in human evolution is a fallacy.
The former Pope declared Embryonic Stem Cell research as
being morally reprehensible. This seems to reflect the same historical
pattern within the Church. Their views on embryonic stem cell research
are just another example of their irrational stance against advancements
in science. This level of technology can be used for the betterment of
humankind. Throughout history, the church's presumptions regarding
science have been proven to be erroneous because they seem to stand in
the way of progress.
As for those who believe in the infallibility of the Bible -
the scriptures must not be viewed as a science book, historical
documentation, or a literal, moral guide; the scriptures are simply
theological literature that I happen to enjoy reading. We must also
consider the cultural and historical influences surrounding the
scriptures, such as when the scriptures were written. The scriptures,
for me, are masterpieces of great literature and they had a profound
influence throughout history. This is mostly due to the religious
significance humanity has placed on scriptures and their religious
It is only now that we are gaining a much more holistic
understanding of the biblical text, and that is mostly due to a deeper
understanding of the power mythologies have had on human cultures and
the human psyche in general. Modern Theologians are taking a much more
anthropological approach to the scriptures, and they are studying them
in relation to the historical and the mythological influences on the
scripture writers. The Bible was not written in a vacuum; there were
many cultural factors on the scripture’s development. Our growing
understanding of the ancient writings has given us a much greater
appreciation of the power we as human beings have given the scriptures
Our understanding of the significant impact the Bible has had
on world history, both positively and negatively, continues to evolve
and mature with each passing day. I have also come to understand
intuitively that we can not limit our understanding of God to a single
book. We are spiritually maturing and evolving revelations of God’s
love. We are not just human beings on a spiritual journey; we are also
spiritual beings on a human journey.
I like to remind people that when the mind draws a blank to
the world’s riddles, it turns to the soul for answers, for the soul
knows what the mind seeks. When we reveal the love that is within us, we
become the living and breathing presence of God’s love for others to
emulate and embrace.
There are indeed many great problems in the world, but the
solutions lie in the people who inhabit the world. What we give to
humanity we give to ourselves and what we change in ourselves we change
in humanity. If we want to witness more loving people in the world. We
must change for the better by loving others more fully--this is truly
the essence of God’s revelation.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
U.S. Voice mail: (800) 272-6464
China Mobile 011 (86) 13405757231
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