There is a well-known proverb stating one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. The Bible says the same thing using the imagery of fermenting yeast working its way through bread dough: "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6).
In our modern societies, five "rotten apples" have gradually spread around the world, corrupting beliefs and behaviour and distancing us from God and the truths of the Bible.
The philosophy of atheistic communism, developed by Karl Marx in the mid-1800s, took hold in many countries during the Industrial Revolution because of the bad conditions for workers in many areas of the world.
Eventually, the bloody Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia led to the creation of a communist empire, which spread to many Eastern European countries. In 1949, it also became the political system in China, and eventually other Asian nations, like North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba.
Then, in 1991, communism was overthrown in the Soviet Union, leading to similar developments in other countries, but morally the world has never been the same. Communism has always been associated with atheism, which still exerts a powerful influence all over the world.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a dissident who suffered in the Soviet concentration camps and later won the Nobel Prize in literature, once noted: "If I were called upon to identify... the principal trait of the entire Twentieth Century ... I would (say): Men have forgotten God ... Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin...hatred of God is the principal driving force..." ("Men Have Forgotten God," address when receiving the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in London, 1983).
In the 1800s Charles Darwin developed a theory that human beings evolved from lower forms of life. Starting from single-celled amoebas, the lineage of human beings supposedly progressed to fish, then to amphibians, reptiles, mammals, apes and finally to man. This led to the conclusion there is no real meaning to life—that we are here as the result of blind, purposeless chance.
Karl Marx was so thrilled with this idea that he asked Darwin if he could dedicate his famous book on communism, ‘Das Kapital’, to Darwin. Darwin declined, but the connection between the two beliefs is very real.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, focussed on removing guilt from sinful acts and promoting sexual liberation as a way of avoiding mental and emotional disorders. He taught people are instinctually driven by the desire to experience physical pleasure, and he saw moral repression of this drive as damaging to mental health. As Freud's ideas caught on, there was a loosening of society's sexual morals in the 20th century—paving the way to widespread depravity and promiscuity.
The birth control pill was approved for contraceptive use in the 1960's, and helped launch the sexual revolution in much of the world. This is not to say contraception is wrong, as perhaps practiced by married couples to determine when they have children. The problem lies in its use to avoid the consequences of sexual immorality.
Yet, in spite of the birth control pill, there are more unwanted pregnancies than ever before. Combined with the issues listed earlier in this article, the result has been—exploding sexual promiscuity, epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases, broken homes and families, rampant pornography, child abuse, sexual perversion and more.
In 1962 and 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court banned prayer and Bible reading from American public schools, and this removal of God from educational systems has now spread around most of the world.
Randall Price, an archaeologist and religious writer, commented in his newsletter about the impact of these decisions and the 1973 decision to legalize abortion: "These decisions affected our society's moral consciousness ... by making humanism the only religion sanctioned in the public education system and demeaning the value of human life... while expressions of Christian values are prohibited or denounced, these anti-values are marketed wholesale through the entertainment industry (movies, TV, and video games) that saturates our culture…” ("What's Wrong With Our Country?" World of the Bible News & Views, Winter 2012, p. 21).
So what can we do about it? The answer is: We can't change society, but we can change ourselves. Paul exhorts all Christians, “... Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and pleasing to him..." (Romans 12:2).
The Good News magazine