Amusing Ourselves to Death was published in 1985, one year after 1984, the year popularized as the title of George Orwell’s futuristic novel with its dark vision of a society controlled by fear. In Orwell's novel Big Brother rules everything with a ruthless iron fist. But Postman reminds us that there was another novel written slightly earlier with an equally chilling but quite different vision of the future: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. In Huxley’s novel there is no need for Big Brother, because in this ominous vision of the future, people have come to love their oppression as well as the technologies that strip away their capacities to think.

In our time there is no longer a distinctly Christian way of thinking. There is to some extent a Christian ethic and even a somewhat Christian way of life and piety. But there is no uniquely Christian worldview to guide our thinking, in distinction from the thought of the secular world around us.

I want to look ahead one phrase to what Paul says we are to be: not "conformed," but "transformed" by the renewing of our minds. There is a deliberate distinction between those two words, as I am sure you can see. Conformity is something that happens to you outwardly. Transformation happens inwardly. You will see this at once when I tell you that the Greek word translated "transformed" is metamorphoo from which we get "metamorphosis." It is what happens to the caterpillar when it turns into a beautiful butterfly.

Since we’ve been talking about humanism this week, we also have to talk briefly about relativism because if man is the focal point of everything, then there are no absolutes in any area of life and everything is up for grabs. Some years ago Professor Allan Bloom of the University of Chicago wrote a book called The Closing of the American Mind, in which he said on the very first page, "There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative."1

Obviously, there is a proper kind of humanism, meaning a proper concern for human beings. Humanitarianism is a better word for it. People who care for other people are humanitarians. But there is also a philosophical humanism, which is a way of looking at people, particularly ourselves, apart from God, and this is not at all right but rather is wrong and very harmful. Instead of looking at people biblically, this is a secular way of looking at them, which is why we so often couple that adjective to the noun and speak more fully of humanism as secular humanism.