In his excellent book, Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith, Mike Wittmer summarizes the tragic progression of America’s idolatry and the consequences that have ensued.
We have witnessed God’s judgment in recent history. Americans entered the twentieth century with trust in Athena, the Greek goddess of knowledge and wisdom. We put our confidence in science, and it seemed to deliver. We discovered vaccines and surgical procedures that prolonged life, and we invented cars, airplanes, and air conditioning that made life more enjoyable than ever. But the same science that made our lives so comfortable also saddled us with nuclear weapons, greenhouse gasses, and test-tube children who have sperm donors for fathers. And just when we thought we have licked most of the garden variety diseases, we learned that our antibiotics are contributing to more virulent strains.
Athena cannot save us. Her breakthroughs solve one problem with one hand and open a new possibility for our destruction with the other. Not long ago men boarded ships and traveled great distances to fight enemies. Now we possess the technology to destroy one another with the push of a button.
This terrified us, so in the 1960s we added Aphrodite, the goddess of pleasure and beauty, to our pantheon of gods. Maybe free love, unleashed from the conventions of our Victorian past, could save us. But many Americans soon discovered that sex and drugs were not the saviors they were looking for. What has the sexual revolution brought us? Venereal disease, AIDS, divorce, pornography, sexting, and shattered lives looking for someone, anyone, who will love them. Aprhodite is a terrific flirt but she’s a worthless god. Those people who worshiped love learned too late that their sexual partners didn’t really care about them.
Perhaps science and sex are not the answers, but you can’t miss with money, can you? So in the 1980s we turned to Artemis, the goddess of wealth, who promised an ever-expanding standard of living if we followed the rules of unfettered, crony capitalism. How is that working out?
Do you see a trend here? We put our trust in science; technology threatens to take us out. We aim for love; no one has felt loved less. We go for gold; we end up broke. And we have done this as a nominally Christian nation. America didn’t stop worshiping Jesus, we just pushed him aside to make room for Athena, Aphrodite, and Artemis. And because Jesus is a jealous God, science, sex and money have become the downfall of our society (pages 99-100).