Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Morality and Human Rights in a God Sanitized Society

Written by: on February 24, 2023

It is not hard to see that we no longer live in a Christian dominated society. The fluidity of thought, values, and the definition of what is right and wrong changes so quickly it is hard to keep up. All the while there is one group or another crying out that their human rights have been violated. Like the winds that come together to form a tornado, these voices of discontent and confusion are growing. What will remain when they collide? Will we come out of the storm a kinder, gentler people or will it destroy everything in its path?

Tom Holland a renowned author of Ancient History and Medieval Christendom.[1] In Holland’s lecture “On Puritanism and Iconoclasm” at the Roger Scruton Memorial Lectures,[2] he takes a historical look at Christianity’s influence on Western morals and thought.

The speaker claims that all thought whether Christian or scientific requires an act of faith. He continues that Humanistic and Enlightenment claims of universal human rights, morals, and values are rooted in Genesis. The Humanistic assumption that people have value simply because they are, without a reason lacks the necessary scientific logic for proof.

Holland cites Darwin to show that enlightened scientific thought apart from Christianity does not lead to the moral “virtues of humility, grace, forgiveness, and charity,” [3] which are at the heart of universal human rights of dignity and freedom. He claims that it was Christianity that introduced society to compassionate acts toward the disenfranchised. The more our society has attempted to rid itself of God, the more it has cried out for those in need. Now that society is legally obligated to care for others,[4] the Christian community still does a more effective, and economical job of meeting real needs.

Holland later articulates that it is Christianity that introduces humanity to the concept of change as a positive factor.[5] The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 2 Corinthians 3:18 that we are being transformed from glory to glory. Essentially, the growth mindset [6] is part of our creative nature as image bares of the Creator God.

Christianity’s “capacity to supply existential significance to any human being regardless of culture, colour and class, or to anchor our reflexive commitments to the transcendent dignity of the human person and the absolute metaphysical equality between human persons” [7] is unmatched. While it is possible to strive for and claim the importance of human rights and freedoms separate from God, it often translates into “various earthly utopias” [8] that fall short of the ideal.

I think about the homeless crisis in Seattle today. The government’s attempts of “compassion” has resulted in an ever-increasing number of individuals on the streets, violence, drugs, crime, and garbage. It is the non-profits that seem to have success in helping people actually getting off the streets. The situation has driven businesses, tourists, employees, and customers out of this once beautiful city.

I wonder if the Western thinkers of today, by turning their backs on the foundations of the universal beliefs they hold dear, they have left themselves open to constant rootless changes taking them further away from the desired outcome.

[1] Tim Keller, “Nietzsche Was Right: Review: ‘Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World’ by Tom Holland,” The Gospel Coalition, September 2020, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/dominion-christian-revolution-tom-holland/.

[2] Tom Holland, “On Puritanism and Iconoclasm” (Roger Scruton Memorial Lectures, Oxford, October 20, 2021), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcPj46PkFlo.

[3] James Orr, “Eternal Resurrection: Review: Tom Holland’s ‘Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind,’” The Critic, December 2019, https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/december-2019/eternal-resurrection/.

[4] Holland, “On Puritanism and Iconoclasm.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Carol Dweck, “The Growth Mindset,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-71zdXCMU6A.

[7] Orr, “Eternal Resurrection: Review: Tom Holland’s ‘Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind.’”

[8] Ibid.

About the Author


Denise Johnson

Special Education teacher K-12, School Counselor K-12, Overseas field worker in Poland,

11 responses to “Morality and Human Rights in a God Sanitized Society”

  1. mm Andy Hale says:


    How have Western thinkers turned their back on the foundations of universal beliefs? What are universal beliefs?

    • mm Denise Johnson says:

      Andy, thanks for your questions.

      Holland gave us an example universal beliefs values described in the Amsterdam declaration. People are “worthy of the individual rights of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others.” He also tells us that adherence to the belief that humanity is worthy of the above value apart from a reason or source falls flat.
      Toward the end of his lecture, he says that the origin of Western thinking morality is within the roots of Christianity. Therefore, sanitizing thought of God or the roots of thought that formed those belief leaves holes in the logic. Or as Holland stated, “When one gives up Christian faith, one pulls the right to Chrisitan morality out from one’s feet.” 34:04

  2. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Denise, thanks for your post. You reference the “compassion” in Seattle and it’s less-than-effective outcomes. When do you think attempts at compassion become enablement? How can Christian compassion help to bring about positive changes in the lives of those who are struggling or disadvantaged?

    • mm Denise Johnson says:

      Great questions Roy!
      The city/state has thrown money into the area for needles, and other drug paraphernalia, diminished police presence, and taken away the consequences for infringing on law abiding residences rights to live. The focus on symptoms verses accountability or relationship keeps people trapped in their issues. They have made it easier to be addicted and stay on the street.
      There are a number of agencies that do a lot. Like Union Gospel Mission, and I Heart Seattle, but for them to actually help people they have to stay away from the “potential” revenue sources of the government because their hands are prevented from identifying the real issues. If you want more specifics look up “I Heart Seattle.” They have some videos. I have thought about reaching out to them when I have a new hip and have a bit more free time.
      From what I have seen, I am really impressed.

  3. mm Jonathan Lee says:

    Hi Denise,

    Ty for your post. I was wondering if there is any differences in Humanistic and Enlightenment cultural definitions you see that is different or similar between America and Europe?

    • mm Denise Johnson says:

      Jonathan, Great Question! I don’t know. From my perspective, they are related and on a spectrum of thought. Either way, they both void themselves from the acknowledgement of God and seeing the value of Christian principles.

  4. mm Eric Basye says:

    Denise, I would be curious from our perspective, and have been back in the state full-time for the last 18-24 months, what changes you have witnessed in regard to Christian ethics/belief at work in the US today (or shall I say, not at work?)?

  5. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Denise: You state “All the while there is one group or another crying out that their human rights have been violated” at the beginning of your post. Did you find this to be a similar experience in Poland and surrounding countries when you lived there or from your perspective is it more of a US experience?

  6. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Denise: The homelessness in Seattle is similar to the homelessness in Portland. Government agencies, at all levels are overwhelmed. Churches and non-profits are overwhelmed. What to do? It is not an easy question to answer but when we look back to history and see how the church came to help in times of social upheaval, it acts as a great starting place.

  7. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Denise you reference that Holland grounds his argument that morals and values are tethered to Genesis. In what you read, what are the ways Holland sees the scene of humans eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil informing where we are now in this time of history?

  8. mm Mary Kamau says:

    Thank You, Denice, for your post; it was a great help for me to learn more about the homeless situation in Seattle. I noticed a large number of homeless people when I visited the city, and I was glad to get some insight which raised more curiosity to know more. Are there specific resources on the homeless, that you can recommend that will be helpful?

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