Comparing Postmodernism, Modernism, and Theism


Dennis McCallum

The following comparisons form the basis for discussion in chapter 2 and 3 in The Death of Truth.


SubjectModernismPostmodernismBiblical (theism)
Human NatureHumans are, purely material machines. We live in a purely physical world. Nothing exists beyond what our senses perceive.No opinion on this issue, but suspicious of such dogmatic claims to knowledge.Humans are the only beings on earth created in the image of God. They are spiritual and material.
Free Will (autonomy)Humans are self-governing and free to choose their own directionPeople are the product of their culture and only imagine they are self-governing.Human free will has been drastically diminished by a moral fall from grace, but they are still responsible for the use of their remaining free will. People's desire to be autonomousis sinful--we were created to depend on God.
View of ReasonPeople should be "rationalistic optimists." They should depend only on the data of their senses and reason.There is no such thing as objective rationality (i.e., reason unaffected by bias) in the sense modernists use the term. Rationalism is a myth.Reason is necessary but not sufficient for understanding reality. Reason can disclose truth about reality, but faith and revelation are needed in addition.
View of ProgressHumankind is progressing by using science and reason."Progress" is a code word used by modernists to justify the domination by European culture of other cultures.Humans aren't progressing toward any glorious future. However, advances which relieve suffering and prolong life are good.