If we deny God there is no real meaning or purpose to life, and yet human beings need meaning and purpose. We all do, whatever we may say. Where does that desire come from? What could cause it if there was not something real behind it which something would have to be beyond this material world or we could reach complete fulfilment here. And we know we can't. There is no lasting happiness in this world, ever. That is a basic fact known to all cultures throughout human history.
A sense of meaning is necessary for human beings if they are to be psychologically healthy and not fall into despair or hedonism (two sides of the same coin, I would say). Consequently, whenever there is a denial of the true source of meaning we find that people look elsewhere for it which goes some way towards explaining the extraordinary political and social movements of the day. The transcendent has been closed to us, or we have closed ourselves to it, and this has led to the search for fulfilment in this world in all sorts of peculiar places. But we can never find fulfilment in this world. Even the most spiritually dull of us cannot do that for long, and we constantly have to stave off emptiness with entertainment and distraction, whether that be physical, emotional or intellectual.
Modern liberals seek to remake the world, which includes both society and human nature, into how they think it ought to be. But what they think is based on a rejection of transcendent reality. They fail to see that nature is real and that corruption of nature is spiritual corruption precisely because nature is grounded in the transcendent order which is truth. Effectively, liberals deny truth because they mistakenly see the world as clay waiting to be shaped rather than something that has its own natural form. They are materialists even if they believe in God or some form of spirituality because their primary commitment is to this world.
One of the ways we know that transcendence is real, and so know that this world is not the source of itself, is because we can see its manifestation in goodness, beauty and truth. And we can see the corruption of these things in sin, error, and ugliness. No doubt the reason the modern world, through its art and philosophy and in other ways too, has to deny the reality of sin, ugliness and evil (which it does, objectively speaking) is that it would be affirming the reality of God if it accepted them. But the world now takes one of two equally false approaches to God. Either it denies him completely or else it reduces him in significance from transcendent spiritual reality to a figure that is tailored to human feelings and desires as they are in themselves here and now, thereby ratifying these. For us today almost anything can be justified in the name of love but this ignores the truth that while God does love humanity, he does not love the fallen aspect of humanity which is precisely what separates us from him. You cannot have God and sin and, while we may all be sinners, it is one thing to know this and repent of the fact and quite another not only to ignore sin but, as is often done today, actually promote and celebrate it.
I sometimes wonder which is worse. The rejection of God of the atheist or the distortion of the idea of God found in so many modern forms of religion. For example, liberal Christianity which has cut God down to fit its politicised humanistic agenda thereby showing that it has no idea of the true God at all. Church leaders may claim they do this to attract modern people to Jesus, but I call them self-deceiving hypocrites who clearly have no proper conception of the reality of God beyond their text books. They are false shepherds leading their flocks astray, but then the time has come for individuals to cease to be spiritual sheep merely following their leaders and to forge their own inner contact with spiritual truths. While we should lament the fact that so many church leaders lack vision, this does have its plus side in that it can drive those who are ready to look within themselves for truth even if that inner truth must be checked against the reality of Christ and the best of tradition to make sure it really is truth and not just personal inclination.
The modern educated person is more and more detached from common-sense reality and locates his intellectual being in abstraction. That is why theory and ideology increasingly override the fundamental facts of nature in the mind of such a person. It is why the forces of evil have changed their approach and today encourage the retreat into intellectual abstraction (hence separation from concrete reality hence increased separation from God) and are, in the sophisticated West, at least, not so much bothered with 'traditional' forms of sin and evil such as violence, murder and so on. We can all recognise the evils of the past but we can't see the new forms evil takes in our own time and in our own minds. We can all see that the Nazis were bad but we don't see how our attempts to redefine reality according to theory is bad. It actually doesn't matter what that theory is. Though some are, of course, worse than others, anything that derives from the human mind separated from God is corrupt. Anything whatsoever. Why that is may not at first sight be apparent so I will try to explain.
God is truth. He is not true. He is truth. He is what is. If a mind conforms itself to the reality of God, which it can do either in full consciousness or in part or in a basic but real sense because it has not yet developed its own independence, then it thinks and acts in a natural way and, because this derives from God and the order he has established, it is good. But when the mind separates itself from the natural rhythms of being because it has become absorbed in itself and fascinated by the power of its own thought then it risks alienating itself from God-reality and creating or attempting to create a pseudo-reality of its own. This will always be false even if it is true. What I mean by that is that, even if true, it will be the mind's version of truth and therefore constructed and not spontaneous. There will be a division in the person between his thought and himself so his actions will be artificial, external to what he really is. You can see this dualism in many people of the left who display a wide gulf between their thought and what they actually are. It is less common among traditional conservatives who are not ideologically motivated but seek to establish common-sense principles. They may have plenty of their own faults but they are much less likely to suffer from the faults of abstraction which are basically those of a mind that thinks it knows better than God. It is also a mind that artificially seeks to bend its being (and that of others) to ideas and theories instead of naturally abiding in living reality.
In this post I have just followed a train of thought to see where it leads. Hence it might appear somewhat disorganised. Never mind! I hope the points have been made. But if there is something that binds it all together that will be in the title of the post. The mind of modern man has become closed to the transcendent and so it has become separated from reality. This is why it seeks to construct its own false reality which, when you think about it, is more or less what Satan did. He built hell. Are we doing the same?