St. Thomas, in line with patristic Christianity and Greek philosophy, gave primacy to the natural reason as formative in our free choices. The human will, he taught, was inclined to the good, to happiness, to being, to truth, and beauty, and the intellect was ordered toward knowing where these are found. These transcendentals are positive, spiritual realities that attract the will and the intellect. This attraction precedes the free will choices we make. Our freedom derives from the use of reason ordered to truth, and the will ordered to the good, the two uniting to make a choice.The point is that the will being ordered towards the good has been degrading over many centuries now. We are at a point where many don't know what good is or even if it exists. Reason ordered towards truth has taken a beating as well. We have advanced in our understanding of scientific truth but have declined in our ability to grasp deeper truths. We know the mechanism of things but not the meaning.
You see it in politics. When I was young there were still politicians who were trying to do good. Now we are just looking for someone who will refrain from gravely immoral acts. The chances of even that happening are slim and none. Then there is religion. Decade after decade we see a drop in faith and a rise in all sorts or immoral behavior. There is just a lot of bad news.
So where does it go? Is this general decline we have seen since the 13th century going to just continue? I was thinking that the seed of the church is the blood of the martyrs. So once it gets to a point where Christians start getting killed simply for being Christian then the world will see that something has gone amiss. In many parts of the world they are already doing that. The West does not seem that far off.
But look at WWII. The west had to face the reality of evil then. What happened? They went back to church for a while. But the next generation, the baby boomers, they picked up the same ideas as before the war and ran with them. The WWII generation didn't look very deep. They didn't ask what truth were they missing or what evil were they tolerating that allowed WWII to happen. It was more that they were scared. They almost lost their freedom. Many almost lost their lives. So they went back to their old faith. But they didn't go forward to a closer union with God.
The fact that it was WWII should have been a clue. Responding the same way people did to WWI had already proven inadequate. Embracing the faith of your fathers or even your grandfathers is not going to do it. The seeds of the decline of humanity were already in that faith. It was like trimming the weeds rather than pulling the weeds. It was only a matter of time before evil returned.
I do think we will see a revival like that.That is a returning to God as people currently understand Him which is still a degraded understanding based on false philosophical assumptions. That kind of revival happens every once in a while. They are part of the longer story of the decline of man. But will the errors in Christian thinking that this article traces ever become less dominant? That might take longer.
I do think that evil is growing stronger. Man is more capable of violating human dignity and less capable of seeing why we shouldn't. We might be creating an environment where lesser faiths have trouble surviving. Catholicism will always survive. It can take anything the devil can throw at it. Other faiths have survived a long time. Islam is almost 1400 years old. Protestantism is almost 500. But they require an absolute belief in a book without really addressing questions about where that book comes from and why we should believe it is true. With modern technology it is getting harder and harder to avoid scrutiny. Young people will find websites that ask all the hard questions and ridicule their family's faith.
The good news is that God is real. The Catholic church has been growing in it's understanding. As people's questions get more sophisticated the church's answers have gotten deeper and more beautiful. That is the grace of God that has been poured out despite the fact that many have rebelled. God has kept a people for Himself in every generation. So the answer is there when people want it.
The biggest issue is people's desire for good. They have set the bar low. When will they see that? When they encounter a saint. When they see someone living a truly holy life they realize what they are pursuing is junk by comparison. Then they won't need to be arm twisted into joining a religion. They will want it.