Summary and Critique of Bush's "The Advancement"
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L. Bush in his book The Advancement makes an attempt to prove that in the world of naturalistic ideas faith is the only possible solution that helps to save the soul and live peacefully with the reality. Christianity used to be the main source of inspiration and moral code for a great number of people for many centuries. However, its domination of human thoughts became weaker after the appearance of naturalism and scientific approach.
In eight chapters of The Advancement, Bush investigates into propaganda of Darwinism, popular fallacies, and entire evolutionary discourse. He proposes a new term to define the post-modern era, the Advancement. It is another notion that reflects the combination of the inner poverty and material wealth, the scientific progress that killed the absolute truth and hope. According to Bush, naturalism led to leveling of meaning as a notion. Even those people who believe in God start doubting the truth that is initially subjective and unstable. Bush tries to show the advantages of the Christian viewpoint upon the reality over post-modern and naturalistic thinking. He underlines that Christianity implies stability of faith and world view instead of the constantly changing relativity of Darwinism.
Bush provides the readers with information about the main philosophical ideas that correspond to naturalistic world view and postmodernism. He notes that it is essential for the Christian community to know what they are opposing in the disputes and to avoid compromising with Darwinists. According to Bush, the leaders of Christianity need to understand fully the danger of intellectual compromising. Despite the power the church has over the souls of people, the enemy uses this tendency to compromise as its Achilles' heel.
The author thinks that the modern culture is dying because of the advancement. The order is replaced by chaos, the ideals are destroyed, and it is evident on the examples of contemporary art. The majority of painting is abstract and lacks both form and idea. Music is atonal and aggressive. It is quite difficult to call the contemporary art advancement, comparing to the works of painters and musicians of the 18th century, for example. Bush sees the way out of the chaos only in authentic Christianity. He makes a concise conclusion in The Advancement that summarizes the main idea in one sentence. Bush writes that in fact, the constantly changing world does not change God, and His existence does not need to be proved.
It is really difficult to argue the idea mentioned in The Advancement that scientific progress and naturalism have only positive outcomes. The counter-argument of the Christians that they do not originate from an ape, but if someone wants, they can visit their grandparents in the zoo, is too evident. The theme of Darwinism prompts one to reflect upon such social problem as slavery, exploitation, and Social Darwinism, which is the theoretical ground of such inequality. The ideas of Darwinism and Social Darwinism became the scientific and philosophical basis for labor exploitation of black Americans by rising industrialists in Cleveland after the Civil War. It became a convenient explanation of the racist ideas that were popular in the second half of the 19th century.
According to Darwinist ideas, natural selection is the main issue that determines evolution. That means that only the strongest has the right to survive. Darwinism does not consider a human being to be a creation of God and does not take into account the inner desire of the person to grow. Social Darwinism takes the ideas of Darwinism about humans and animals in the wild nature and applies them to specific social context. According to it, white Americans had hereditary superiority over former black slaves; that is why they have the right to rule in the United States. In addition, Social Darwinist theories suppose that if there are too many people in the world and there is not enough food for them, the poor will have to die because they are inferior to the rich.
The capitalistic reality that was actively developing in the late 19th century became an apt example that supported the idea that people are living in the tough wild world. The concepts mentioned above seem to be unmoral and difficult to imagine from the perspective of Christianity. The idea that someone is worse in the face of God than others is absolutely wrong. That is why the thought of Bush that naturalism is evil and the church needs to fight it without compromising is a strong point in The Advancement.
Despite the fact that Bush supports his ideas about naturalism with a big number of examples, scientific data and references to philosophers, he makes the conclusion unsupported by evidences about Open Theism. He writes that the position of this theological movement is similar in certain aspects to the position of Satan, the garden serpent mentioned in Genesis 3. Bush underlines that it is impossible for a person to see meaning in reality, when even God is not always sure of what is best and true. Such intolerant point of view on Open Theism might be too harsh and unproved.
Another weak point in The Advancement might be the new term to call the era of chaos, moral degradation, and lack of faith. Bush does not give precise information about the period when this degradation and change of morality started. It is unclear what the ideal example of the Christian society the author writes about is. It is possible to refer to the times when everyone was religious, when all people went to church on Sundays, or when the Baptist church appeared. There are certain hints that Bush considers the time after the Second World War to be ideal in the sense of evaluating the Christian community. The decline of morality started approximately in the 1960s with the popularization of the ideas of free love. However, in some abstracts the author refers to the previous centuries, and such shifts in time make the content of the book somewhat dubious.