The Collapse Of Western Culture -- By: Charles Gregg Singer

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 15:2 (May 1953)
Article: The Collapse Of Western Culture
Author: Charles Gregg Singer

The Collapse Of Western Culture

Gregg Singer

THE catastrophic events of the last decade and the threat of another and even more destructive world conflict have made it impossible for scholars and serious thinkers to ignore any longer this sequence of events which seems to be driving the West relentlessly on toward its final destruction. Diagnosticians from the fields of economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, philosophy and religion have been summoned to the bedside of the patient to bring their respective abilities together in a common effort to render a correct diagnosis which will point the way to recovery before it is too late. In the main, the findings of these scholars have been disappointing. Agreeing that the patient is ill, perhaps with a fatal malady, they have been unable to come to any similar agreement on the causes and nature of the illness. There have been many individual verdicts and as many remedies proposed, some of which were obviously contradictory and most of which revealed only too clearly the failure of these scholars to comprehend the nature of the sickness which has the West in its grasp. This lack of agreement among academic specialists is in itself symptomatic of the disease from which our times are suffering and points to the basic problem—an intellectual and spiritual poverty which has been steadily undermining the foundations of western civilization for the last several centuries.

Until recently the progress of this internal malady was largely unnoticed by the world of scholarship. Blinded by the tremendous expansion of knowledge in many areas of human endeavor and man’s increasing mastery over the secrets of nature the modern mind was simply unaware of the deeper currents at work in its culture. The success which greeted the efforts of man in the material world seemed to mean that man was on the verge of achieving that millennial state for which he had long been hoping. Surely the twentieth

century would see the fruition of the promises of the nineteenth. With its insistence on the inevitability of progress through science and the perfectibility of man through education, the nineteenth century mind was blind to those forces which were working toward bringing about the downfall of all its fondest hopes and brightest dreams. And it is true that the great discoveries in nearly all fields of human endeavor seemed to offer indisputable evidence for the probable realization of this human utopia. There was much basis for the belief that mankind was actually achieving that progress which the age of the Enlightenment had pronounced to be not only possible but the very essence of human destiny. It was confidently expected that the twentieth century would witness the final tri...

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