The Idea of Progress is a worldview mainly promoted by globalists and liberals that argues "that the human condition has improved over the course of history and will continue to improve." It is closely associated with the concept that man is perfectible and at some point in the future will, in fact, be perfect. While popular in contemporary culture, this idea has several serious flaws.
History of the idea
Throughout history, most philosophers did not believe in any idea of progress, although some took various positions which mirrored aspects of the theory. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle – who believed in a cyclical view of history – as well as the Christian philosopher Augustine – who believed in a linear view of history – held such positions despite never believing the theory.
The formation of the Idea of Progress began during the Enlightenment Era, during the 1700s, through the seeds of this theory could be seen in philosophical writings from the 1600s. These philosophers were inspired by the achievements of the Scientific Revolution and believed that the progress seen in scientific advancements could be applied in other fields such as the social or moral realm. These philosophers, unsurprisingly, took an optimistic and positive view of humanity. The idea of progress was promoted by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mill, and other thinkers involved in the radical strain of Enlightenment philosophy, such as the Marquis de Condorcet. de Condorcet argued that all human problems were on the verge of annihilation due to "the development of a new doctrine which is to deliver the final blow to the already tottering structure of prejudice." This doctrine, according to Condorcet, "is the idea of the limitless perfectibility of the human species." In Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Spirit, the Marquis paints a progressive picture of a history that is moving "forward" away from the dogmas of tradition and superstition thanks to the advent of modern reason and science.
Events in the 20th century, such as World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, and the development of nuclear weapons, shook the belief in the idea of progress, leading many philosophers to either moderate their support for or to reject the Idea of Progress.
Liberalism, globalism, secularism, and progress
While many philosophers have rethought their position on the Idea of Progress, most political leaders, as well as Western culture-at-large, has fully adopted the view that humanity is improving in the social, political, and moral sense. They reflect Kant's, Hegel's, and Marx's views that world peace and one-world government is within reach and that humanity must rid itself of any barriers to this desired utopia, including anything that is "outdated."
As they believe that the end result of progress will be world peace and the unification of humanity, many liberals and globalists support the eventual establishment of a one-world government and the end of nationalism and national sovereignty. Thus, they support the War on Sovereignty, mass migration which will help reduce nationalism, open borders, the establishment of international organizations such as the United Nations and European Union, and global disarmament.
Liberals, believing in the Idea of Progress, believe that big government policies and greater government involvement in society – which are used to push liberal values onto society – help advance human progress. Policies such as gun control, collectivism, single-payer healthcare, and the federalization of the government at the expense of states' rights flow from this "Progressive" ideology.
Since liberals and even many establishment "conservatives" consider theologically conservative and orthodox Christianity to be "outdated," "archaic," or "narrow-minded," they believe that wiping out biblical Christian beliefs will only enhance human progress and remove an obstacle to the betterment of humanity. Thus, despite the total lack of evidence, biblical Christian beliefs thought in love are increasingly considered "hate speech" or a "hate crime." Policies such as banning homeschooling; persecuting and marginalizing Christians who oppose abortion, homosexuality, and universalism (such as forcing Christians to pay for abortions or baking wedding cakes for homosexuals); and using every opportunity to teach evolution as fact flow from this worldview.
As an example of the acceptance of the Idea of Progress, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker – a member of a supposedly "center-right" party – commemorated Marx's birthday in the latter's birth town, with Juncker defending Marx, pointing to Marx's views on progress, and advocating for having the EU follow Marx's lead.
Commentator James Delingpole described many modern-day adherents of the Idea of Progress, who he calls "post-modernists":
|“|| Post-modernists, broadly, want to make the world anew on a 'progressive' model which rejects the past, embraces change as an automatic good, which seeks to impose — by force, if necessary — 'social justice' on a world it divides into oppressed and oppressors, and which believes that there is no such thing as absolute truth — only a succession of competing narratives.
Post-modernists are quintessentially Marxist, though they may baulk at the term — preferring to think of themselves as liberals or socialists or social democrats or even "centre-right" conservatives. But this is just semantics and sophistry. As the Polish MEP and philosopher Ryzard Legutko ... points out in his must-read book The Demon In Democracy, the "liberal democrat" model championed in the last few decades by everyone from Hillary Clinton to the European Union is really just communism without the secret police, bread queues and gulags.
Comparison with biblical teaching
The Idea of Progress is strongly contradicted by the Bible, which argues against the notion that humanity is basically good and is progressing toward a better state.
According to biblical teaching, while God created the universe as perfect, including humanity (Genesis 1:31), due to Adam and Eve's decision to rebel against God, humanity, along with the entire universe, was cursed (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12, 8:20). Because of this, the state of humanity is hopelessly evil without the salvation provided by Jesus Christ. As God said to the prophet Jeremiah, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). King David stated that "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5, ESV). When promising to never again send a global flood, God still noted that "the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21, ESV).
This emphasis on the depravity of humanity is also clearly noted in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul devotes much of the Book of Romans to explaining the human condition and the need for God's salvation. For example, he explains how evil all people are – whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 3:9) – and that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, ESV). Not only is this the case, but Romans 8:7–8 makes clear that not only do unsaved people choose not to obey God, but they are literally unable to with their human strength.
While Salvation and freedom from this human condition is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21–31), this does not mean the human condition is now improving. In fact, biblical teaching states that until the second coming of Christ – when everything will be made perfect again – humanity will further deteriorate. 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 makes this very clear and notes the coming of the Antichrist, who will come after the restraining force on Earth leaves and who will cause many to perish. Jesus Himself stated that "poor you will always have with you" (Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7, NIV). While Jesus's statement does not diminish the obligation for Christians to care for the needy, it shows that human efforts to eradicate poverty will end in failure.
Thus, biblical teaching states that, contrary to the Idea of Progress, all of humanity is hopelessly corrupted minus salvation through Christ, and that it will remain that way until the second coming of Christ.
Other arguments against the Idea of Progress
- The most destructive and bloody conflicts and acts of genocide occurred in the 20th century, including the two world wars, the Holocaust, the atrocities committed under communism, the Eugenics Movement, abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Under the Idea of Progress, one would expect to progressively see less violence and death as time goes on.
- The 20th and 21st centuries have seen a growing decline and degeneration in Western morality, as seen by feminism, the Sexual Revolution, the advance of the homosexual agenda, gender confusion, popularization of compulsory public schools and the values promoted in them, and the marginalization of theologically conservative Christianity from the public sphere.
- Contrary to the notion of human progress, the geneticist Dr. John C. Sanford of Cornell University has found that human DNA is deteriorating rather than improving (genetic entropy).
- Murray, William J. (2016). Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World With Central Planning. Washington, D.C.: WND Books. ISBN: 978-1-944229-08-5.
- The bad roots of Progressivism make for a poisonous tree, by Steven Kessler, LifeSiteNews (from the American Thinker).
- Lange, Margaret Meek (February 17, 2011). Progress. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
- Progress, the Idea of. Encyclopedia.com (from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy). 2006. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
- Shanahan, Timothy. Evolutionary Progress? BioScience, Volume 50, Issue 5, 1 May 2000, Pages 451–459. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
- Mason, S. F. The Idea of Progress and Theories of Evolution in Science. Centaurus, Volume 3, Issue 1, September 1953, Pages 90–106. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
- Taylor, Ian. The Idea of Progress. Creation Moments. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
- Multiple references:
- Hale, Virginia (May 5, 2018). EU Chief Jean-Claude Juncker Defies Protests to Deliver Heartfelt Defence of Karl Marx. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Byas, Steve (May 5, 2018). European Commission President Praises Karl Marx’s Contributions to European Union. The New American. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Byas, Steve (April 29, 2018). European Commission President Juncker Set to Honor Karl Marx. The New American. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Delingpole, James (August 12, 2018). DELINGPOLE: Finally, the Brexit Phoney War Is over; Britain’s Trump-Style Revolution Has Begun. Breitbart News. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
- Sanford, John C. Genetic Entropy. 4th ed. FMS Publications, 2014.