David K. Naugle‘s, in his book Worldview: The History of a Concept, argues that the enlightenment introduced modernity to the West, and in so doing, destroyed the many myths that existed to explain life and living with a scientific explanation. In other words, the enlightenment reduced the West to only one acceptable meta-narrative, the scientific one.
Modernism, however, was to give way to postmodernism, and if modernism reduced the Western world to one explanation for life, postmodernism destroyed even that one explanation. The modern mind searched for understanding and found it in science, but the postmodern mind soon discovered that though science may help us understand how the world works, science can never help us to understand why the world works. Science has failed as an explanation, and rather than return to the religious myths and traditions of old, postmoderns have rejected all meaning. Since science was not the savior it was hailed to be, postmoderns bought the lie that there is no real meaning in the world.
James Sire says that a worldview is
a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic makeup of our world.
The worldview of the postmodern mind is that life is meaningless and without purpose. Kurt Cobain captured the post-modern spirit well when he sang/screamed, “here we are now/entertain us/I feel stupid/and contagious/here we are now/entertain us.” MTV and the entertainment industry of that time (and ours) existed not to promote music, but to pander to its audience. MTV does not and did not play the music that it thought was great, but rather the music that it’s in-depth consumer studies said would appeal to its target audience and make money.
In other words, even art in the postmodern world has no meaning. It is not self-expression, it is marketing and money-making. So, the youth and young adults of postmodernism stand angry and starving for a reason to live, but they are not given art and beauty leading to truth (as art was once upon a time created to do), but instead given entertainment to satsify their most base urges. But, just as the glutton is satisfied for only a brief time with donuts while his body slowly starves for more significant nutrition, so too the postmodern soul starved of real reason longs for more than junk food. Naugle says it this way,
But Enlightenment denarrativization came at a high human cost, and nobody has understood that cost better than Friedrich Nietzsche. In The Birth of Tragedy he writes, “But without myth every culture loses the healthy natural power of its creativity: only a horizon defined by myths completes and unifies a whole cultural movement.”" Nietzsche knew, however, that the Western world had been drifting slowly toward the destruction of its narrative resources – a kind of “mythoclasm”26 – by its intoxication with scientific rationalism. Consequently, modern humanity, “untutored by myth,” is famished and in search for any narrative morsel on which to feed itself, as the frenzied activities and compulsions of contemporary life indicate. “And now the mythless man stands eternally hungry, surrounded by all past ages, and digs and grubs for roots, even if he has to dig for them among the remotest antiquities. The tremendous historical need of our unsatisfied modern culture, the assembling around one of countless other cultures, the consuming desire for knowledge – what does all this point to, if not to the loss of myth, the loss of the mythical home, the mythical maternal womb?”
The result? A generation longing for reasons to live. This generation seeks out reasons for life in every possible avenue. Spiritism and New Age mysticism is on the rise. The vestiges of modernism that continue to teach and train post-moderns sought to destroy anything that closely resembled a Christian worldview and replace it with science. For the postmodern, however, when science failed and Christianity was “debunked” by their mentors, the vacuum had be filled with something. That something has taken many forms, sexual promiscuity, drugs, and even a rise in Eastern religions.
How then should Christians respond? What is the response of the pastor to a generation angry and longing for a reason to live? The church must answer the call by offering a solution to the problems of postmodernity. This world has been created with a purpose. God created the world with order, and beauty, and purpose. God created people as special creatures bearing his image. In a world devoid of reason, the narrative of Scripture fills the vacuum created by postmodernism.
The solution is ultimately the gospel of Jesus Christ, but that gospel needs to be told within the context of the whole narrative of Scripture. The gospel gives us a reason to live, but only in the context of why we need the gospel. The Bible teaches us that the gospel is needed to set all things right. The postmodern mind may know that something is wrong, but without the revealed Word of God, the postmodern does not perceive of a perfect world (Eden) destroyed by man’s sinfulness and the hopes that this world of bliss and perfection can someday be reclaimed. The postmodern knows that this life hurts, but does not know that this pain is a result of sin and certainly does not know, without being taught, that it is God’s good plan to wipe away every tear. The Christian narrative of creation, fall, rescue, and ultimate victory gives hope in hopeless situations and explains the difficulties of this life. The Christian worldview offers escape, love, truth, and beauty–all things that seem to be very absent from contemporary Western culture.