John Mayer is one of my all time favorite artists. His new stuff is pretty awful but his older albums are so great. Ravi Zacharias and Francis Schaeffer, two of my favorite Christian apologists, talk about how in our modern times the philosophers are the musicians and poets. I heartily agree. This song ‘New Deep’ has been one of my favorites for years because of the first three lines. It helps me stay humble as I sarcastically sing along with him about how I’m so enlightened and so knowledgeable that I can barely survive myself. I think we all know what it’s like when you’re trapped in a state of overthinking, you feel crazy and you try to pick your words so carefully you end up not saying anything at all. But as I gave this song more thought this year, I realized John is really speaking to our culture’s modern ethos. When you study the history of philosophy you see there’s constant bickering, lots of theories, and tons of big fancy words, but there’s not very many solid conclusions. A teacher comes up with a unified view of life and his student comes along and absolutely rips his teacher apart. So where does that leave us?
‘Cause ever since I tried
Trying not to find
Every little meaning in my life
It’s been fine
I’ve been cool
With my new golden rule
Numb is the new deep
Done with the old me
And talk is the same cheap, it’s been
Basically if you stop trying to figure it all out and you’ll be happy. We’ve now left the enlightenment rationalism that seeks to find out the meaning of life and now we’re in postmodern times where the only meaning life has is the meaning you give it. Talk is cheap after all, rationalism becomes irrationalism, empiricism becomes irrationalism and you can’t have consistent irrationalism with out being rationalistic. If all this talk leaves you numb, John says that’s ok, that’s the new deep.
Is there a God?
Why is he waiting?
Don’t you think of it odd
When he knows my address?
And look at the stars
Don’t it remind you just how feeble we are?
Well it used to, I guess
The big questions in our lives are out. Is there a God? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is there purpose in life? Is there truth? Can we know truth? How should we live? Why do we say the stars are glorious? Why are we amazed by the Grand Canyon? and other related questions used to keep people up at night looking for answers. These deep questions used to remind our parents and grandparents how small we are. These questions used to make us think. But where we used to find inspiration for our musing, we now experience apathy, we’ve gone from “oh my God” to “meh”.
C.S. Lewis recognized where western society was heading back in the early 1940s when he wrote “in a sort of ghastly simplification we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful” (Abolition of Man, pg. 25). We think there is no objective meaning in life or that if there is one we can’t find it so we each get to make up our own meaning, then we’re surprised when someone else’s meaning infringes upon ours.
We can’t live without a worldview. A worldview is simply how we see the world. Everyone has one, we all have to. The problem is that many of us millennials don’t take the time to ponder, to muse, to mull over, or to just think. By not thinking out the logical conclusions of our worldview we begin to have assumptions and presuppositions that are founded on nothing and we get extremely offended when someone challenges us. If nothing else, this post is a cry to my generation to think.
I’m a new man
I wear a new cologne and
You wouldn’t know me if your eyes were closed
I know what you’ll say
‘This won’t last longer than the rest of the day’
But you’re wrong this time
These verses remind me of a teenager in rebellion. The parents are saying: there there sweetie, this will all be better in the morning. But the millennial teen knows better. The postmodern irrationalism is the new man, new smell, new look, new deep. He’s speaking to the outdated enlightenment rationalism, you’re out, I’m done with your questions. If it’s worth looking into I’ll make it up as I go.
Numb is the new deep
Done with the old me
I’m over the analyzing
Stop trying to figure it out
(You try to figure, you try to figure it out)
Deep will only bring you down
You know, I used to be the back porch poet with my book of rhymes
Always open to knowing all the time I’m probably
Never gonna find the perfect rhyme
for ‘heavier things’
I get it. Today we are born with a sneaking suspicion that truth is dead and anyone who claims it wants something from us. Skepticism is the new humble and anything more than that is arrogant. Perhaps you’ve heard about the free thinker who’s read 1,000 books and claims to know nothing but the religious person who’s read one book and claims to know everything. We have become numb to antithesis talk, it’s no longer “either or” thinking, it has to be “both/and”. This thinking has given rise to the “new tolerance” where everything is tolerated except claiming to have the truth or the true religion. This “new tolerance” has given rise to the new spiritualism where you can pick and choose a little of this and some of that but you better not claim yours is the only one. This is why we are all “spiritual but not religious” but very few can give a cogent definition of what they mean by that.
I understand. But don’t lose hope. Just because there are lots of wrong answers doesn’t mean there isn’t a correct one. If a teacher gives a test and gets 32 different answers for problem 1 does that mean there can’t be a correct answer? I understand there are a lot of belief systems out there and that can be overwhelming. The problem is not a lack of information, it’s trying to figure out the world without the proper starting point.
For certain big tests in high school we would have our test and another packet either attached to the test or sometimes it was even a separate booklet. This additional packet/booklet thing would have all sorts of information, necessary axioms, formulas, and the like. If you for some reason didn’t have this additional packet you would be lost. You wouldn’t have the proper information needed to even start the problems in your test. All your answers would be wrong since you started without the necessary info. Some would be close maybe.. but still off.
The Bible says that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Proverbs 10:10, Proverbs 1:7, Colossians 2:3). So if the ultimate starting point for wisdom, knowledge, understanding and insight is found in Jesus and only understood if you acknowledge the Trinitarian God of the Bible, then it makes sense that anyone who doesn’t start with God will have problems figuring out God’s world.
So we take a philosophy class and learn about the problem of the one and many, the forms and the particulars, trying to find an ultimate unity or an ultimate diversity. we wrestle with consciousness and personality in a universe that is said to be impersonal. We have to ignore teleology in nature because we are told that random chance acted on matter and produced order from chaos. Things can’t be made for a purpose because we won’t acknowledge the God who made them. Romans 1 tells us that we would do this. We suppress the truth about God that is plain to us because we don’t want to worship Him or give thanks to Him.
When we start with God and His word we understand that we will never find unity without diversity. Why? Because God is both 3 and 1. He is one God, three Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Why are we conscious, rational, personal, capable of metacognition? Because We’ve been made in God’s image and He’s given us those attributes to represent Him. Why is love such a huge part of human desires? Because God is love and we’ve been created by him out of love and for the purpose of love the way He designed and defined it. Why is the human eye so complex? Why does nature seem to be made with a purpose? Because God made it with a purpose, namely to glorify Himself. What is truth? Truth is what God says it is, truth is that which corresponds to reality as defined and determined by God. How can we know it? God made us able to know truth by creating us in His image, revealing himself through His creation and even more importantly by giving us divine revelation throughout history and has inscripturated propositional truth in His Holy Bible.
I’m sure that sounds ignorant or arrogant to some of you reading this. Here’s a couple things to keep in mind as you mull it over: Truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth. 1 Corinthians says that the wisdom of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing. Romans 1 says since we did not honor God or give thanks to him we will suppress his truth and believe the lie. And most importantly know that I’m not claiming to know everything… but I know some one who does. I’m not claiming to be better than anyone, I’ve been pretty evil and I’m still a sinner, but I am better off because He came and got me.
So I totally understand the numbness of my generation. I understand how daunting it is to try and figure out life’s toughest questions. But the problem is not in asking the deep questions. The problem is when we try to take the test without the additional packet full of propositions, axioms, equations, and scenarios that we need to even begin the test. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, come to him all who are weary and heavy laden. Fall on Jesus and begin to know the truth, life begins to make more sense the more you get to know the Author of Life.