From Post-Christian, to Post-Truth, to Post-Reality: How Far We Have Fallen!
First it was Christendom, then the world went post-Christian. From post-Christian we descended to post-truth, 2016’s “word of the year.” Can we fall any further than that? We can, and we have. The world has gone post-reality now.
Post-Christianity said each person can create his own meaning. Post-truth sees that and raises it one, offering everyone the power to name his or her own truths. Post-reality scoffs and says, “That’s too easy.” Each person now creates his, her, their, xyr own reality.
Nothing demonstrates this post-reality like transgenderism, and the whole “identify as” craze propping it up. You can speak your reality into existence now! And heaven help the person who dares say there’s another, different reality with a say of its own in it.
Gender is the most obvious example, but post-reality goes much further than that.
- Reality says governments can’t create wealth, but post-real socialism thinks legislative fiat can speak every good thing into existence.
- Reality says the world is decades or more from the capacity to produce the minerals “green energy” would require, yet states and nations in their post-reality delusions think they can make it happen just by making it the law.
- Reality says the United States has done more for freedom and equality than any nation in history. Post-reality says our history is nothing but ugly despotic racism.
Maybe you don’t think much of political examples. Well, okay, then:
Post-Real Humanity and Religion
- Reality says human sexual relations carry incredible social and psychological meaning, with indisputable impact on humanity’s future. Post-reality says sex is mostly for entertainment — including the ultimate in post-real sex, pornography.
- Reality says humanity is unique. Post-reality says chimps and trees and rivers and mountains deserve “rights” as much as we do.
- Reality says Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus disagree on God and ultimate reality. Post-reality says you can pick what you like from all that, and call it your own personal ultimate reality.
- Reality claims its own say in what and Who are the ultimate reality. Post-reality looks at God and the ultimate, and says, “Just who do you think you are, anyway? I’m the one doing the deciding here!”
And I haven’t even touched on technology. Johann Hari, in his book Stolen Focus tells of taking a guided tour through Graceland, and gathering in one of the greatest rooms there in Elvis’s last home. Hari saw a man there holding up his phone before his eyes, calling out to his wife (as I recall it), “This app is so great! Move your phone around, and you can see the whole room on the screen!”
The man’s reality, like many others’, had shrunk to handheld size. Never fear, though! Virtual reality will enlarge it for us again. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg promises you goggles that will immerse you in the Metaverse, a “reality” like no other.
Forbes quotes tech giant John Hanke saying, “The future of the Metaverse is not about escaping from reality into Virtual worlds; it is about building a better reality, a place of purpose, novelty, and community.” Zuckerberg and others are talking about the Metaverse being home to commerce, entertainment, leisure, education.
Sounds like pretty much all of human life can be transplanted there. Everything but survival. That, and … well, pretty much all of human life, if you ask me.
Escaping vs. Re-Creating
This is playing God on a level never seen before. Recreational drug users may talk about escaping reality, or even — “wow, dude” — grokking deep new insights into the current one. That’s small potatoes next to “building a better reality.” I thought it took an actual Creator to do that. And these folks aren’t just out to re-do reality, they plan on outdoing God.
It’ll take more than mere creating. They’ll have to do the law-making part, too, just like any would-be god must do. Authors Cristina Garrido & Anna Gonzàlez ask, “Can you kill on Metaverse? Can you commit suicide? Can you exercise violence or vandalism…?” Never fear, your creators are busy scribbling out answers, which I’m sure will be handed down in the Metaverse book of scripture. (No, silly, they won’t call it scripture. So what?)
The Metaverse has been caught letting children into virtual strip clubs, so they’d better hurry and get that Testament written! You can be sure that when it’s all finally breathed out, it will last until the end of time. Or until the creators glom on to hitherto-unknown glories of virtual pedophilia. Whichever comes first, you know.
Good Hopes …
Obviously post-reality has problems with good and evil. It already has huge problems with God. Its promises are tragically, unspeakably cruel, which I say not only because post-reality cannot fulfill them, but also because they come so close to being the right kind of promises.
We must remember that Christianity, too, speaks of a better reality, where injustice, violence, hunger, need, and hatred are no more. In that light I think of socialist post-reality, and its dreams of money growing on trees. (I’m not making that up.) It’s both wrong and foolish to expect that now, but it isn’t wrong to hope for it in God’s way and in His time.
Revelation 22 speaks of “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb … also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” That’s not money growing on trees. It’s way better than that!
… Evil, Cruel, False Promises
The problem with post-reality isn’t in the hopes it promises to fulfill, but in the lie that says it can fulfill them. It’s not wrong for dreaming of a better world, but for short-cutting God’s good path to take us there. Neither is it wrong for wanting to solve real problems, but for ignoring the ultimate problem, sin, and Christ’s solution to it. But wait a moment; check that, please. It’s wrong for pandering to sin.
Above all it’s wrong for saying God Himself doesn’t matter, His creation isn’t good enough, His way isn’t good enough, and “we can do better than what God gave us.”
But I’m only getting started here. Soon I’ll show just how much this oh-so-modern error has in common with ancient, gods-cut-out-of-stone-and-wood idolatry. The connection may be even stronger than you’d think it is.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.