This is a very succinct paragraph describing the intellectual culture following the developments of the Enlightenment, which further transformed into an institutionalized naturalism.
“Many people had, in fact, attempted to harmonize the new science with traditional Christian beliefs. It was argued, for example, that only a wise and loving Creator could have fashioned such a perfect universe. One famous argument, put forward by William Paley, used the example of God as a watchmaker. If one were to walk along the beach and find an intricately fashioned watch, one would immediately recognize that this watch could not have come about by chance but must be the result of intelligent design. Thus, the order and beauty of the natural universe clearly exhibited the hand of the Creator, the watchmaker. This argument became considerably less convincing after Charles Darwin showed that apparent order and adjustment can actually be the result of chance and adaptation and need not be the result of rational design. Others joined Darwin in demolishing any coherent notion of natural theology. Various political revolutions evidenced that not all government authority was directly given by God. Karl Marx argued that economic and political exploitation could not be justified by divine design and that God was not the driving force behind capitalism but instead the idea employed to justify exploitation and suppression of the masses. In fact, economic and social history could be sufficiently explained by their own moving factors (such as economic oppression, alienation, and class struggle) instead of religious reasons. Ludwig Feuerbach contended that religious belief could be explained through various social and cultural factors that make it necessary to project an all-powerful authority figure, which then becomes defined as divine. Thus, ‘God’ is merely a reflection or projection of our own desires and needs. Sigmund Feud, finally, demonstrated that we are deeply motivated by unconscious drives, desires, and fears. Thus, what had previously been thought of as ‘sin’ was re-defined as ‘disease’.” (Postmodern Apologetics: Arguments for God in Contemporary Philosophy, Gschwandtner, Pg. 8)
The culture described above, in my view, still remains intact. It is the environment Christian apologists have interacted with and failed to overcome in any meaningful way. For all the preaching, teaching, and defending, American culture still remains overwhelmingly secular and atheistic. The following is an apt description of the modern apologetics project,
“What does all this mean for ‘thinking’ or philosophizing about God today? It means that we have a much harder and different task before us. Perhaps for the first time in history society no longer subscribes to one common and coherent belief system. Hence, a defense of God cannot proceed from a shared starting point or even assume agreement about basic beliefs or presuppositions. Yet, in order to convince someone, one must talk to him or her in a language that is at least on some level comprehensible. One version of contemporary philosophy of religion attempts this by appealing to the paradigms of modernity or science and defending new proofs for God’s existence. On the one hand, analytical philosophers criticize Kant’s dismissal of these proofs and try to show (often by using logical parameters) that they are indeed quite coherent. On the other hand, many thinkers accept the contemporary scientific and philosophical worldview, but seek to demonstrate that Christian belief at the very least is not incompatible with it and possibly even provides the best explanation for it. Much philosophizing of religion therefore attempts to show the coherence of Christian faith in light of secular culture’s ‘knowledge’ about science (and science taken in its widest sense: as natural science, but also as knowledge about human thinking, feeling, and acting, as insights regarding the emergence and behaviors of cultures, thus including the social sciences.) These philosophies consequently assume that ‘truth’ is indeed defined along scientific parameters, that its means verification and certainty, established by evidence and experiments. In many ways such philosophy continues the ‘modern’ experiment and does not subscribe to postmodernism.” (Ibid, Pg. 12)
The original mission of the modernist project and the development of “Enlightenment” thinking was to overthrow ancient perennial wisdom and the Catholic Church. It should be easy then, to recognize that an apologetic utilizing the very tools meant to overthrow Christendom are inadequate to not only for defending the faith, but to save souls in the pursuit of establishing a Christian culture.
– Lucas G. Westman