As we embark on a new year, author Drew Cordell reflects on the relevance of God in Western society
Since the conclusion of World War II, Christianity has experienced a noticeable decline in the Western world. Various theories attempt to explain this trend. Some attribute this shift to the rise of scientific rationalism, while others link it to the growing economic prosperity of a globalised economy. These factors, among others, have seemingly lessened the perceived necessity for God’s existence and the accompanying need for religious expression.
Can we live without God?
Unbeknown to Western society, it has been engaged in an inadvertent experiment: Can we live without God? Over the post-World War II era, this societal experiment has yielded mixed results. While gender and race rights have improved, and standards of living have surpassed those of previous generations, the overall enhancement of general well-being and mental health remains uncertain.
In light of this nuanced assessment, there are two crucial variables that haven’t yet been introduced to truly stress test whether living without a belief in God is feasible: the realities of war and economic depression.
The last three generations have largely been spared from encountering these challenges in their lifetimes. However, history indicates their inevitability. The sobering truth is that these two events, especially economic depression, may be closer to our reality in 2024 than anticipated.
The seeds for potential upheaval were sown in 2008 during the global financial crisis, a crisis that was never effectively resolved. Misbehaving banks received government bailouts that remain unpaid, compounded by additional economic strains caused by the COVID-19 stimulus packages adopted by Western nations.
A potential catalyst – Taiwan
Many countries now grapple with escalating inflation and declining living standards, showing no signs of abatement. Moreover, a looming concern exists – a concerning potential catalyst: Taiwan. As Taiwanese citizens prepare to elect their new government, China fervently seeks to reintegrate Taiwan, whether through peaceful negotiations or, more worrisomely, through military means.
For those unfamiliar with Chinese affairs, the significance of this situation cannot be overstated. Taiwan is responsible for producing 60 per cent of the world’s semiconductors, which power essential devices from mobile phones to electric cars. Additionally, it produces 90 percent of the most advanced semiconductors.
The United States has pledged to defend Taiwan should tensions escalate, but the potential fallout of a conflict on global markets could trigger unprecedented disruptions.
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The God question
Amidst potential economic downturns and societal turmoil, questions arise: If individuals can no longer derive self-esteem or value from their employment, will God still not be of interest? If the ability to provide quality education or basic sustenance diminishes, will God still be irrelevant?
As we stand at the beginning of 2024, it appears we may be on the verge of testing such hypotheses.
Drew Cordell is a business consultant who has worked alongside some of the world’s most successful businesses and their leaders in an extensive corporate career in both London and Australia. His soon-to-be-released book Honest Christianity: Why People Choose to Believe will be available on Amazon and in all good bookstores.